I’ll be honest with you. I truly don’t know the last name of my next door neighbors. Still, as I plan to write this blog about them, I have to call them something…so I’ve settled on Mr. and Mrs. Jerkface…which, frankly, is fairly gracious of me.
Over the 6-7 years we’ve lived in this house, Mr. and Mrs. Jerkface have only “communicated” with us a few times. The first was several years ago when our upstairs A/C went out and I had repairmen out to fix it. Turns out the fix was done with the wrong part, which caused the unit to vibrate and rattle a bit. Mr. Jerkface came over and “explained” to me that I better get someone out to fix it because he and Mrs. Jerkface like to drink coffee on their back porch and the rattle was, you know, annoying. So, I called the repairmen out again and got it fixed as well as I could and he complained again. Whatever. Once the right part was put on, it was quiet again.
Mr. Jerkface came over again to tell me that weeds from my yard were growing through his fence. Because, you know, I wasn’t going to take care of it the next time I mowed or anything. I invested in some good weed killer and tried to keep it from growing into a problem for either of us. Both times I noted that Mr. Jerkface talked to me like I was 12 years old and clearly didn’t know what the Sam Hill I was doing. That’s okay. I’m a gracious guy. I let it go.
I’ve waved to Mrs. Jerkface a time or two but only get ignored. Whatever. I’m too kind to knock on their door in the middle of the night when their dog is yapping at God-knows-what. And, when the UPS guy brought their package to my door, I walked it over to them, rang the bell, and then handed it over to nary a thank you. That’s fine. I don’t need thanks for doing what’s decent.
Then, yesterday, we discovered that our long problematic plumbing was leaking a bit of sewage into the side yard between our house and the Jerkfaces’ backyard. We found out when Mrs. Jerkface let herself into our back yard (the gate was closed but not locked) and knocked on the back door, which drew the attention of my children. They know not to open the door, but they looked out and were told to get their parents because “there’s an emergency.” Ember came upstairs to get us yelling that the neighbor need us quick and maybe she’s hurt or something. No. She just wanted to tell us about the leak. Glad she did. Good on her. She shouldn’t have come into my back yard or talked to my kids, though.
My wife went down and assured her that we didn’t know about the leak but that we would call someone and get it fixed. She then went out and shoveled the waste that had leaked to keep it away from the neighbors’ yard until a fix could happen.
A few hours later, I guess, Mr. Jerkface decided to get in on the action. He came knocking at the front door. Loudly. I confess that none of our previous interactions had me anxious to greet him at the door, but I did. I am—on my good days—a grown-up and figured that, perhaps, he didn’t know that his wife had already told us. I’ll try to give you the short version of my conversation with Mr. Jerkface:
Me: Hey, how’s it going?
Jerkface: We got ourselves a real problem here. You got sewage leaking in that side yard and it’s gonna get into mine.
Me: Your wife let my wife know about it earlier. In fact, my wife went out immediately and made sure it didn’t get to your fence. We’ll get someone out to fix it.
Jerkface: When? Because it can’t wait. It needs to be fixed now.
Me: I understand that. We’re working on it. Already put a call in to the plumber.
Jerkface: When are they coming? Because it needs to be fixed now.
Me: They’re going to call us back. We have to go through our home warranty, and—
Jerkface: No. I don’t want to hear that. I don’t care about home warranty. You need to fix it now.
Me: I understand that you’re upset, but I’m not sure why you’re speaking to me this way. I’m standing here talking to you like one adult to another and telling you that we’re taking care of it as best we can and as quickly as we can.
Jerkface: No, you’re talking to me about a warranty and saving money. I don’t care about your money. I want it fixed now.
Me: Again, I’m trying to talk to you calmly and rationally and you’re barking at me. I understand you’re upset. We’ll take care of it.
Jerkface: I’ll give you the number for my plumber. He’ll come out today.
Me: I appreciate that but unless he works with my home warranty—
Jerkface (yelling now): I don’t want to hear about your warranty. I don’t care how much it costs you. You fix it now or I’m calling the health department and they’ll fine you a fortune!
Me: Why are you talking to me like this? I’m telling you it will be fixed. I can only do what I can do.
Jerkface (storming away): You’re gonna get it fixed today!! You hear me?
Me (finally fed up): You stay out of my yard and off my porch. You hear ME??
Jerkface: F- you! I’m calling the health department!
Me: Okay. Do what you need to do, just stay away from my house.
So he called the city on me and you know what they did? They cleared the line and told me to feel free to call them any time I had a problem and they would help me out. They also offered to run a camera down my line next week to pinpoint any other problems. So, I got free plumbing service from the city instead of a fine. Take that, Jerkfaces.
Mrs. Jerkface then returned to knock on our door with more threats and nonsense about how we needed to cap those cleanouts NOW. Well, the kids and I were already leaving for church and H was headed to work the night shift. So, H thanked her for letting us know about the problem, but in the future to stay out of our back yard and not to talk to our kids. Mrs. Jerkface had the nerve to say “we saved you thousands of dollars by calling the city out and you don’t even care. You’re just going to leave!” As if they called to help us and not to try to get us fined. Whatever.
I don’t like having that sort of nonsense with a neighbor and I’m not usually inclined to tell someone to stay away from my home, but even I have my limits. I’m not a macho nutjob with a Napoleonic complex like Mr. Jerkface, but I’m not going to stand there and let someone order me around like some kid on my own porch. Sorry, Mr. Jerkface. My folks raised me to be gracious, but not to be a doormat to a neighbor that can never be bothered to return a friendly wave.
Still, I’d like to think I was fairly gracious considering the heat coming off of the screaming loon I call a neighbor. When Mr. Jerkface was barking at me, I totally refrained from telling him that the leaking sewer line didn’t contain the only piece of you-know-what in my yard.