Our neighborhood group has turned into an exhausting string of email complainers. Someone’s dog pooped on someone else’s grass. Someone else’s dog pooped on someone else’s grass and failed to bag it up. Someone else’s dog pooped on someone else’s grass and the dog’s owner took it upon themself to place the dainty orange plastic bag atop the same neighbor’s garbage bin, rather than place it inside. Someone else did this the week before, but left the untied bag inside the garbage bin only to create a stench that wafted towards the house when the wind blew just so. Apparently dogs and dog owners are at the heart of many evils here in Bay Valley. It’s a pretty big deal.
Then too, there are black trucks trolling. You know the ones with the loud engines and rumbling exhaust pipes that tear through neighborhoods at all hours, flying in the face of anyone who might be trying to get some rest. An official apology from one, a teen-aged boy, appeared several months later, perhaps his mother’s wishes were finally granted so that he could become un-grounded. Sometime after that, an email appeared from another young trucker who, having recently spent considerable time and energy souping up his truck, promised to try to enter and exit the neighborhood more quietly. He sounded genuinely contrite, surprised even, that his noise became an issue.
One neighbor took to the ethernet to complain about the half-way house behind her home. Noise, foul language, and a messy back yard was making her life miserable. These people just didn’t care. Not about her, not about the neighborhood, not about how their fence crumbled at the property line that separated them. Then too, she noticed a rumbling black truck driving slowly by that house on multiple occasions, probably drug dealers.
A pandemic takes its toll in a variety of ways. A minor irritation can become a major Mount Everest of an ordeal. One email exchange between two residents suddenly turns into ugly vitriol, ending with a final “this pandemic has been a shit show for all of us, so don’t go crying about the deaths and suicides you know of…” Since the election of Joe Biden for President, one neighbor chimed in that anyone in our neighborhood flying a Trump banner should now be considered seditionists. It sounded like the “Come and Take It” response from the folks flying the banner. I sat shaking my head, quietly pondering what is happening to our neighborhood.
I don’t want to read this stuff, I really don’t, but every once in awhile a voice emerges worth listening to. I never know when, so I wait for it. A neighbor writes to remind us how to care for one another, how to overlook minor annoyances to consider the bigger picture of humanity. To stop nagging at one another; this planet is suffering a pandemic for heaven’s sake and our leadership is anything but providing useful guidance. Occasionally we find out about a neighborhood outdoor concert, or neighbors advertising free items on their patio for the kids. Someone else thanks an anonymous plant donor, and offers to leave something on his patio in exchange. Another we can always count on to advise us of latest city bulky trash pick up dates as well as the situation with hazardous waste drop off.
But when the string of complaints becomes so long, so heated, so petty, I’ve decided to propose that we all “be the P.O.O.P.”–the Person Offering an Occasional Platter. I believe if people show they care about others, others will show care and concern for them. This may not work, but it’s worth a try as we close out what some refer to as “the dumpster fire year” of 2020. My replies will be to “be the POOP” so often that I may inadvertently become known as the “poopy lady.” But I’m ok with that. I know not to drive a loud black truck or drop any untied stink bombs in anyone’s trash bin along the way.