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neighbor relations


Are you good at neighbor relations? Want to be better?

After talking to the Tigard police and the woman who owns the house the Tigard police event centered on, what’s next?

One of the men who drives a diesel farm truck up and down the quiet roads sat in his rig while I mowed my yard.

I needed to find a way to talk to him about his tearful mother without confrontation. It’s a challenge.

What can I say to him to motivate his behavior, to show I care enough to step outside the usual hostile bubble we blow around us when people keep doing the same thing for years?

My idea come after I cleaned my push mower, the one with the reel blade. I’ve got two of them.

I pushed the mower I didn’t use across the street to the man in the truck. It’s the first time I’ve talked to him since reporting that I offered his traffic a glass of water on a hot day while he waited for his runner to come back from the house.

His mother and I had a nice talk about police activity where she cried and cried.

Now it was his turn for some neighborly pep.

It went like this:

Hi. Hello. Say, did you just hear me mow my lawn? No? It’s because I used a push mower like this one.

I saw you concentrating and thought it a good idea to keep things quiet.

Call it neighborly. I don’t use my leaf blower much because another neighbor said too many yard service companies make too much noise.

By the way, would you mind if I put this push mower in the back of your trunk? You haul stuff. This might make some money.

No? Okay. By the way, have you talked to your mother lately, the owner of the house you live in?

She’s not your mother? Right, well the woman who owns the house was here crying yesterday. She’s upset with so many policemen coming up here.

Does she cry at home a lot? She sure seemed upset to think something bad might happen if so many policemen show up regularly.

She’s upset with the neighborhood association? That’s why she’s crying? She started while we were talking about police and guns and traffic to the house.

You had a runner last Friday that they brought a police dog to help with. Maybe you met Baxter?

He sheds and has a gray muzzle. We’ve got lots in common, me and Baxter.

neighbor relations

What happens next is up to you.

Yesterday your mom was crying to me, not you. She was crying at the idea of losing one of her kids. Maybe she was thinking of you.

If it was my mom crying, I’d do something about it. Are you married? If it’s your wife crying you do something.

As long as you don’t do anything different, or help your mom, events will keep sliding to the usual conclusion. We’re looking at a bad end here.

I’m a neighborly type. I don’t see anyone else coming out for a talk, but here I am. With a lawn mower you don’t want.

See, it’s not about the lawn mower, or your mom’s tears. It’s about being a better neighbor, about neighbor relations.

We all get the idea of freedom in America and after nine police officers showed up and didn’t take anyone away, you’re apparently not breaking any laws.

Call this one of the unwritten laws: When your mom cries talking to people in the street, something’s wrong.

I’m not here to explain right and wrong to a grown man, but something’s wrong with your mom inside her house. She seemed frightened. Tears of fear.

Let me ask you a question. Do I look like someone concerned about tears, someone’s tears I barely know? When you see this face does it look like one that worries if someone cries themselves dry and blows away?

My wife, my kids, those are tears of concern. Now I’ve got your mom. Yes, I know, she’s not your mom. But she is an old lady living in the same house as you and I’m asking you to help calm her down.

I did my best, now it’s your turn. If I see her crying the next time we talk we’ll know it didn’t work.

Try and do the best you can. Now I’ll take my lawn mower and go home.

It’s okay now if I toss it in the back of your truck?

Take care of your mom first, then we’ll talk about it. Do some neighbor relations in your yard.

Start there, not here.

neighbor relations


About David Gillaspie
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