I feel violated.
And, it's partly my fault.
When I got home today and checked the mail, there was a note in the mailbox. It was printed out on white paper. It was folded up in half and then in half again. It opened, "From the ********** Neighborhood Association:" (I'm leaving the neighborhood out). Right there, I got a little nervous.
The note went on to say, and I'm paraphrasing, that my lawn was disgusting and that I needed to take care of it. That my lawn was driving down the property values. That if I didn't want to take care of my lawn, I should move.
Yes, I have a dandelion problem. Part of my front lawn is more dandelion than grass. Weeds happen. And, it's true, the dandelions were tall and plenty. It's nice to know that someone is paying attention to us.
Though, I guess they didn't notice the grass was cut last weekend. I guess they didn't notice the rain on Friday and Sunday. I guess they didn't notice me spraying dandelion weed killer on Saturday. I guess they didn't notice my son cutting the grass on Saturday and running out of gas while my wife and I were away. I guess they didn't notice my wife has not been home for nearly a month. She's been waking up to go to work until 5pm then heading to the high school to work on costumes until Midnight. In the last week, she was there until 4am. But, I guess they didn't notice that.
I guess they are so absorbed with my lawn that they neglected to notice all that. Not to mention the other lawns in the neighborhood that have dandelion problems. I guess they didn't notice that because of my wife's hard work, that I've basically been a single dad for a month. I imagine they didn't notice their dogs crossing the street and pooping in my yard (that's not to say the people across the street left the note; their dogs crossing the invisible fence and the street to poop on my lawn is something I notice). I guess they don't notice that when *I* walk our dog, I carry a baggy with me and pick up after him - ON MY OWN LAWN! Nevermind that the neighborhood dog's seem to think my lawn is the place to poop on.
Friends, I feel violated.
For what it's worth, the lawn is completely cut now. We've had time to finish it (since it's not raining).
Well, the note still bothered me. I brought it to my neighbor since he's on the Homeowner Association Board. He is the neighbor who cuts his grass every other day. Yeah. Every other day. Believe it or not, I do respect that. It's not what I want to be, but it works for him.
I showed him the note and he agreed that it's not from the Homeowners. It's not on any kind of letterhead or even signed by anyone. It would be one thing to get an "official" letter from the Homeowner's Association. That would be embarrassing. But, it's very obviously not. It's very obviously someone in the neighborhood. And, that's what is especially bothersome.
This, however, is not embarrassing. It's creepy. And the worst part of it is that whoever left us that note now thinks we can be intimidated. After all, the grass was cut the same day. Worse yet, now that my wife is done with the show, we have time to weed the strawberry garden by the door. And, I have had plans to buy a weed-whacker with our economic stimulus money. I had already bought a hedge trimmer with some Christmas money. The fact of the matter is we have been on the verge of yard work beyond just mowing. Just needed the time.
But, now that we have time, this neighbor is going to think it's all because they left me a note. And, that's the saddest part of all. That's the part that makes me want to let my lawn turn to complete shit.
But, I won't.
If there's a lesson to be learned from this, perhaps it's the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Luke 10:25-37 In this passage, Jesus asked what must we do to inherit eternal life? He responds basically, "Love God with your all," and "Love your neighbor as yourself." I'm not making the obvious point. The next words to Jesus are, "But, who is my neighbor?" and Jesus responds with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In the end, the neighbor is the person who had mercy on a man who was robbed. But, it's the last 4 words that have the most meaning,: "Go and do likewise."
I read that passage and I realize I haven't been a good neighbor. I'm not referring to my lawn aesthetics. I mean, we've been here for two years and we don't really know anyone. We've had a few conversations with the lawn guy, mostly about our dogs. We don't see our other neighbor much. We like her though. She's an artist and from Russia. But, that's about the gist of it. I couldn't tell you the names of the people in the cul-de-sac across the street.
And there is probably the root of all problem. Whoever left us this note doesn't know us. Granted, no one has made a real effort either way. Still, I can't help but feel that we could have done more and could do more to be... neighbors... and learn to care for the people here.
UPDATE (5/14/08): We found out yesterday that we weren't the only house hit. Our Russian neighor came over and told us she had gotten the same letter. The worst part for them is her son got the mail that day. He gave the note to his mom and said, "I think we have hate mail." Poor kid. The President of the Homeowner's Association also called to assure us that the note was not from them and there were several houses that got the same note. It's at least nice to know we weren't the only target. But, that several homes got this note means there's the neighborhood has worse problems than our lawns.