Honey versus Vinegar

Some days, humanity amazes me, for better or worse.  Today was, unfortunately, worse.  The Gardening Beauty and I came home from running errands and we were immediately accosted by our retired next door neighbor.  Our very nice duplex neighbor had inadvertently backed his trailer ever so slightly onto her property, by the barest of margins, and she wanted to know where he was.  We guessed he was in his apartment and roused him.  He came out and she, loaded for bear, unloaded on him.

This is where some history is in order… she has lived next door to our duplex for 30 years, and has had some really bad experiences thanks to drug addicts, goofballs, thoughtless cretins and completely insane tenants who have revolved through our place.  She is understandably wary of anyone connected to our duplex.  The thing is, and she seems to forget this, we are NOT them.  We are relatively reasonable and understanding and willing to compromise, if she would just calm down and give us a chance.  And so is Nice Guy Neighbor.

So, she unloaded and had just about spent all her ammunition and was headed toward the land of reason, when her daughter emerged from the house and turned up the negative energy by a factor of 100.  She began ranting and raving about Nice Guy Neighbor destroying her property (not HER property, by the way, but when you’re a hundred and eighty pounds of whack-a-doodle, facts mean very little, apparently).  At this point,  the Gardening Beauty had enough and entered the fray.  That is when the neighbor’s daughter began the most childish behavior I have ever personally witnessed from an alleged “adult”.  The mocking tone, condescension and outright hatred came right out of the bully playbook from grade school.  I stood by and witnessed until she began insulting the Gardening Beauty.  That was enough and I attempted to defuse the situation.

I tried to use a reasonable tone and asked her if she might get what she wants by softening her approach.  Her response?  “This has nothing to do with you!  Mind your own business!”  Then she turned to Nice Guy Neighbor and said, in a tone that can only be approximated by the most spoiled, bratty child you have ever seen, “You want me to ask nice?  Fine.  Will you Puh-leeze move your truck?”  Well, sorry, I tried reason, but obviously, she was unwilling to listen. It was like being thrust into the middle of some second rate reality TV show predicated on conflict and the lowest common denominator.   The only thing I could think to say was, “Are you a child?”  Obviously, that helped things not one bit.  She railed and ranted and raved on.  Meanwhile, all Nice Guy Neighbor wanted to know was where exactly the property line was so that he could avoid any issues in the future. (But he was very quickly losing his cool, as well)

Finally, she marched off in a huff, her negative energy spent and dripping all over us.  We turned to our retired neighbor and talked reasonably to her, and she responded reasonably.  Her excuse for her daughter?  “She was just defending her mom.”  I left it unsaid that she had not done a very good job.  In any case, the Gardening Beauty approached her and asked, “Can we start again?  I want us to be neighbors”  (Such a good heart in that one)  The neighbor agreed, we talked for a short time, assured her that if she had any concerns, that she should feel ok raising them to us in a respectful manner, and parted… well… neighbors of a sort.

I feel bad for giving up on her daughter, but there are some people who are just, for lack of a better word, icky.  There were a million approaches that would have been productive and positive, and she ignored all of them and jumped to full-on jerk.  And when faced with someone who was willing to maintain a reasonable tone with her, she doubled-down on the stupid.  Somehow, I am sure she is someone I am not interested in ever getting to know.  And that is sad.  When being nice is so easy and being a jerk takes so much work, why would anyone opt for the latter?

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