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Know Thy Neighbour

This morning was garbage collection day. I was still in holiday mode and was feeling just a little bit happy with myself that husband and children had been dispatched out the door on time.

At our new-old place (with emphasis on old), the driveway is so narrow that I have to reverse the car out to wheel the bins to the road. No big deal. I grabbed the car key and did just that. As I could hear the rubbish truck approaching from a few streets away, I crammed in a few more rain-sodden packing boxes into recycling, and one or two dry ones into the neighbour’s almost-empty bin. Then, the wind blew the front door shut. It was the kind of heavy wooden door that locked on closing. Did I mention that the house keys and phone were inside and that all the other doors were locked? To make matters worse, I was still in my Elmo pyjamas.

Life is all about opportunities to grow. Glaring at the front door, I pondered this along with some choice and best-not-repeated other thoughts. Make lemonade out of lemons, I tell myself often. I was getting pretty sick of lemonade. Lately, I’d been making the stuff like bootleg.

What were my options? A. Drive to work and get keys off husband. Nope, not happening. B. Break in. This could be an option. The place was so rickety that an asthmatic wolf could blow it down. C. Use a neighbour’s phone and call husband home with keys. Was this the best way to meet the new neighbours? Putting to one side how impressed Dear Husband would be to get a message from Dear Wife saying come home – I’ve locked myself out – in my Elmo pyjamas …

I’m not ordinarily one to preconceive conversations, however, I started to think how to approach the neighbours in my pyjamas without them calling the police. I couldn’t approach the renters across the street, the ones who never wave back, because I couldn’t see a happy ending to that meeting, any way I looked at it. Then there were the extremely prim and proper retirees who knew my mother. Not happening. Then, there were the other neighbours who wave back. But I didn’t want them to regret being friendly. How would the conversation begin? Would they look through their peep hole and pretend to not be home? Would the pajamas be an ice-breaker? As in, the darling children picked them … I’ve locked myself out … may I use your phone? I’d probably cry with embarrassment and not get any words out at all, then they’d call the police and maybe even the ambulance. Nope, not going there.

I followed the cat around to the back door. She looked at me with her slightly cross-eyed yellow saucers, expecting me to let her in. As if to demonstrate, she launched eight kilos of claws onto the fly screen door and hung off it until the beading popped out, peeling the fly screen all the way back. Reaching through the fly screen, I could pull open the glass sliding door. Brilliant! It was unlocked. The cat and I made our way inside, as if nothing had happened. We pushed the fly screen back into place as best as we could. No-one will ever need to know, other than you, Dear Reader.

So, the moral of today’s story is, get to know your neighbours well before you ever have to call on them and make the rubbish bins someone else’s responsibility.

NB. Some details of this story have been changed for dramatic effect. Eg. the cat insists that she’s closer to 6 kilos.

Categories: Life, Pets, Social Commentary
  1. Dan
    July 19, 2010 at 8:33 pm


    That is a classic.

    So you finally found a useful use for cats?

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