Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Neighborly Conversation

I need to be at work at 8:30, it takes me 25 minutes to get to work and it is 8:05.  I just moved into this neighborhood and have not met all of the neighbors.  As I am leaving my house I see a man accross the street in the yard of a house.  I park in the street so my wife can have the parking space, because I am a fucking gentleman.  I am not a very social person, I am very friendly but I dislike small talk and bullshit.  

Approaching my car I make eye contact with the man.  It is unavoidable, I have to talk to this guy.

"Good morning" I say.

"You must be my daughter's neighbor".  Responds the man.  The man is in his early sixties.  He is thin, with grey hair and very Caucasian.  

I have only met two of the families directly surrounding my house, so I didn't know if he was referring to someone I already met or not.  "I'm not sure.  Who is your daughter?"

"Oh, she lives there" gesturing to the house behind him.  

"Ah, I have not met her yet, we just moved in a few weeks ago."  I say.

He introduces himself as John, and I give him my name.  Thinking the pleasantries are over and I am obviously on my way to work, I assume that I am free to say "nice to meet you" and drive away.  Nope.

John starts in on a very depressing and awful story.  I am not completely unsympathetic but I do consider myself "emotionally unavailable".  I have enough of my own problems for me to give much of a shit about someone else's horrible existence.  But I am also depressingly polite in social situations.  He talks and I listen, occasionally chiming in with an "oh, that is just horrible"  or  "I am so sorry to hear that"  or  "that is insane, I can't believe she survived."

John spins me the yarn about how nine weeks ago his daughter, who lives in the house accross the street, was in a horrible car accident.  She has been in the hospital ever since.  He has been taking care of the house and her kids.  

I get every detail of the injuries, the entire car wreck scenario (which I blanked out on or I would have described it) and the entire build plan of the ramp he is going to have to build so his daughter can wheel her ass into the front door.  Simply fucking aweful.

I was charmed with such statements as.....

"We don't know if she will ever walk again"

"Her stomach was split open from here to here"

and John's magnum opus   "All she wants to do is die but I tell her she can't because we are too old to raise her fucking kids".

By this point I have five minutes to get to work.  My work is flexible so I don't get in trouble if I am late, it just means I have to stay late to make up the time.  But still, I want to leave.  John keeps talking and talking and is not taking any breaks.  He is telling me some pretty heavy stuff and I don't want to come off as a dick so I keep acting moderately interested.  After ten more minutes I reach into my pocket and take out my car keys.  Five minutes after that I start shuffling my feet and slowly backing towards my car.

John keeps talking.  I start turning my head towards my car and try to say something about how I gotta go and nice to meet you, sorry about your daughter etc...  John sees my uneasy swaying and says "I guess you WANT to go to work then, huh?"  He said it very sarcastically like I am the one being the time-wasting dick.

"Yeah, I gotta go to the cubicle farm, you know" I said with a chuckle.

"What!?" John said narrowing his eyes at me, his jaw clenched.

"Yeah, gotta go to work. Nice to meet you."  I say with a calm smile.

He stared at me for several seconds, said "Yeah" and turned his back on me.  

I just have to say.  Fuck that guy!  I did not need that shit dumped in my lap first thing in the morning.  I have never met this guy but he gives me every detail of his shitty life.  Does he do this to everybody?  "Paper or plastic?"    "My daughter wants to die!"    And then he takes an attitude with me after he delays me for 35 minutes.  I was nothing but polite.  

John has since constructed a monstrosity of a handicap ramp made of 2x4s and particle board in the driveway of the house.  I have been late to work a couple of other times because John was loitering in the yard across the street. I would wait for him to go into the garage or house and I would dash to my car.  Anything to avoid another painful life story.  

Yes, I guess I am an unsympathetic dick.  Oh yeah,  the car accident was completely her fault.

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