Monday, May 12, 2014

It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here

A close friend, soon to turn 65, reported a kerfuffle he'd had with a neighbor.  The neighbor, a 30-something employee of a local high tech firm, had removed the stakes that marked the lines between their properties.  My friend complained; and furthermore, he complained that the young neighbor had been throwing his yard waste onto my friend's property.

During the course of their heated exchange, the younger neighbor told my friend, "Go home, old man!"

My friend was deeply wounded by this remark.  It was the first time that he had been called "an old man."  

I told him that the answer was to have a survey done, the legal property line re-established, and then to have a privacy fence constructed post-haste to prevent any further conflicts with this ass-hat neighbor.

The next day my friend reported that he'd heeded my advice, but that the local surveyor was already at work establishing the legal property line -- at the young neighbor's bequest.  "Fine!"  I said.  "You're already ahead of the game!  Let him pay to have the property line established!  Then all you need to do is erect a fence along that boundary."

"Good fences make good neighbors," at least according to Robert Frost.  So it would seem that the "problem" was soon to be solved.

I will say that the young neighbor was not only mean, but shockingly short-sighted.  I have always strived (despite provocation) to maintain a cordial relationship with my neighbors, if for no other reason than that we never know when we will need their help.  But he is young, after all, and probably has never lived anywhere for longer than a year or two.  What does he know of the reality of communities?

So today, I was entering the building where I work.  I had to walk around a couple of young people (late teens / early twenties) loitering on the steps, listening to music.  As I passed, I heard the young woman say, "What's with all the old people around here?"  I looked around: there was no one else in sight.  "Are you talking about me?"  I asked.  The girl hung her head in embarrassment and said nothing.  Perhaps she had assumed that I -- at the advanced age of 58 -- was so deaf with age that I wouldn't hear her.  

"I hear you," I sympathized.  "We're everywhere, aren't we?  And more of us, everyday!"  I laughed, and went on.  

But I was roiling with age and boiling with rage by the time I got to my class.  I know this because I immediately told the story to my students ("leaking" my anger, once again).  They responded with little outrage on my behalf, but some sympathy.  Their pity made me angrier yet.

But note to self:  This resentment is bound to grow as Baby Boomers -- arguably the most entitled generation ever -- consume ever more resources, and insist on being kept in the style to which they are accustomed at the expense of the Millennials.

"We need to look look into retiring in Ecuador," I told my friend.

You think I'm kidding?

1 comment:

  1. I'm an only child, and was raised primarily by my grandparents. I never understood this attitude when I was young. The young people you encountered may have been raised away from contact with anyone above their parents' age. Many of my friends came from such an environment, and were always weirded out by how easily I interacted with adults. In fact, I was often considered the "favorite" friend by parents, because I was the only one around of my age who would engage them in conversation!

    I'm middle-aged now, so I've lost my advantage. :-)

    To your other point: never feud with your neighbours! Why would you allow frayed relations with people you live near? They can make your life ,easier, or harder, in so many ways.


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