Thursday, August 9, 2007

Chester and Me

This morning I wrote my name and phone number on a blue sheet from my notepad and set out to do something I had been procrastinating for two years. I was going to introduce myself to my elderly neighbor.

When I went over I saw a note on the old man’s door, “Go to back”. So I walked around his tidy yard and let myself in through the back fence, careful not to let his tiny dog escape. The door on the man’s back porch opened directly into a den, which I figured was the epicenter of his convalesence within the home. I knocked on the window and through the curtain I saw my neighbor's skinny silhouette rise from a recliner. He opened the door and our conversation started something like this:

“Hi, I’m James, your neighbor. I just thought I’d come and introduce myself.”

“Eh, ok, well, come on in and sit down.”

The old man said his name was Chester and that he was originally from Pennsylvania, but had lived in the house since 1962. His wife had passed away some time before, but he had a couple of kids who lived in the area and helped him take care of his yard and stuff. I told Chester a bit about myself, and we talked about VIMS and all the new buildings going up there. Chester was a really nice guy who seemed quite sharp guy despite his advanced age.

Before you start thinking I’m nice or something, let me tell you about my ulterior motive for visiting Chester. I was sore about his son having poisoned the vegetation along both sides of the fence between us. The copious quantities of poison applied took out my beloved lilies, irises, and bird-of-paradise flowers along with the weeds I’d let run wild. I guess Chester’s son assumed that since I wasn’t grooming the yard I wouldn’t care what he did with it. So I really can’t blame him. More than anything I was just kicking MYSELF for not opening up lines of neighborly communication early enough to prevent the ecological disaster. I’m willing to weed all day long, if it will prevent an ugly omni-poisoning.

Anyway, I did tell Chester that I would be happy to weed along my side of the fence if it would prevent his son from spraying there. He may or may not have caught that this was a key motivation for the visit. When I left I gave Chester the sheet with my name and phone number and told him to call me if there was ever an emergency or something he needed help with. Hopefully this morning’s neighborly exchange will the first of many, and will increase the harmony of our side-by-side existence.

Epilogue: After I left Chester’s house I pulled out and raked up all the dead plants from the edge of my yard, and disposed of them in my other neighbors’ waste pile. It was hot and miserable but things look better now.

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