LMC – The Neighborhood Watch

The Neighborhood Watch

 You can pick your job, your home, and your nose, but you can’t pick your family or your neighbours. 

 Police statistics reveal that the majority of calls they receive these days are from irritated folk who have had enough of their neighbours’ noise.  The din of stereo’s, grinders, barking dogs, revving cars, kids on motorbikes, out of control parties, and, you may not believe this, the clatter and clang of wind chimes, is starting to tip many people over the edge. 

Unfortunately, things can get worse once the police leave.  I learned this in Brisbane when our peaceful existence was shattered by the arrival of our new neighbour in his roaring V8, complete with blaring music.  It was so loud that I couldn’t hear the TV over the din.  Being a practical sort of person, I strolled across the road, and made some elaborate hand signals in his direction, then  watched in mounting horror as he unfolded himself from the drivers’ seat.

“What’s your problem?!” he snarled.

I gaped up at him, taking in the tattoos, scars, and bulging muscles, “Oh, just welcoming you to the neighborhood,” I squeaked before skittering back to the safety of my house.  That was the start of the month from hell. 

Day and night he played his terrible music at full volume, either in his car, or on the stereo in his unit.  When he grew bored with this, he would tune his car up by revving it loudly late into the night.  The police were called constantly by nearly every house within a four kilometer radius of his flat, but he had ESP, and every time a squad car appeared in the street, deafening silence would descend, and the boys in blue could do little more than give him a warning before departing.  Within seconds of the police car disappearing over the hill, the music and revving would start again, but accompanied now by the prolonged beeping of his air horns.  We were dealing with a regular sociopath here. 

Several covert neighbourhood meetings were held to discuss our options.  A lot of our elderly neighbors wanted me to take him to task.  I dismissed this option immediately, as I’ve spent a lifetime keeping my teeth in my head, and wasn’t keen on having them sprayed all over the street.     

Then one Saturday morning while he was at work, a removalist truck arrived and two cheerful young men in overalls started moving gear from his flat.  The entire street turned out to watch, and one of the old ladies up the road even doled out tea and biccies to the delight of the toiling men.  It was lunchtime when we waved farewell to the truck, and opened a few beers to celebrate the welcome return of peace and quiet.       

He turned up later that night, no doubt to check that everything had been done to his satisfaction, but moments later the street echoed to his cries of “Help!  I’ve been robbed!  I’ve been robbed!”  

I sat in stunned silence for a moment, then did what the rest of my neighbours did; turned off the lights and sat in the darkness biting my nails. 

A short silence was followed by the sound of my front door being hammered off its’ hinges by a very unhappy man.  “You in there!” he roared, “You must have seen something?!  You’re always watching my place!”   

For some reason I started laughing, which didn’t help matters.  “I’m calling the police mate,” he yelled, “we’ll see who’s laughing when they’re finished with you!” 

He called them.  They had a look round his empty unit, then interviewed all of his neighbours.  Apparently, not one of us had seen anything out of the ordinary that day… 

He left that night, never to return.  At least he didn’t have to worry about sorting and packing his possessions.  It was a lesson to all of us: be a little thoughtful toward your neighbours, as they might prevent your stuff being removed by a couple of cheerful men in overalls while you’re at work.  And if you’re real considerate, they might not even bother calling the ‘special removalists’ in the first place!

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Filed under Columns, Writing

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