Saturday, September 05, 2009

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

So I'm out mowing my lawn yesterday--it has rained for seemingly the last three weeks straight, meaning yesterday was the first chance I really had to mow where I didn't risk putting my mower underwater (though the grass in the drainage ditch did seem to be resting on a cushion of water)--and was just about finished, when I look up to see a neighbor walking toward us.

Now, a thing about my neighbors: We don't know any of them. When we first moved in, Amelia took a plate of cookies to everyone nearby (weren't they supposed to welcome us?), but we were greeted with strange stares. I'm antisocial anyway, and when the houses immediately on our sides switched over to renters, we kind of just shrugged our shoulders, closed the blinds, and hoped they wouldn't trash their houses (they haven't; we still like our neighborhood quite a bit).

Across the street is a family that I can't quite figure out. Lots of teenage visitors, a lady who seems to be late 40s/ early 50s, and like a 6 year old kid, who I'm not sure actually lives there; he may visit with an uncle or something. I don't know, it's odd, for a variety of reasons, but nothing that really bugs me.

Anyway, the mom from this family comes walking across the street, holding a cake in her hands. "How nice!" I think, "Someone's bringing us a cake! It's like a welcome to the neighborhood, just two years later!"

I have my iPod going (Uhh Yeah Dude, of course), so I pull my earbuds out and smile welcomingly.

"Hello!" I say. And then the conversation goes off the rails.

She says, "If I pay you ten dollars, will you mow my lawn too?"

Now, I don't know about you, but I see two problems with this.

1) Ten dollars? Is it 1983? When our lawn mower broke mid-mowing, I had to pay a kid $20 just to do half of the front. I'm pretty sure that's not the going rate any more.

2) Do I look 13 years old? I'm a grown man! Hiring someone to cut the grass means either going for a lawn service or hiring someone on their way home from little league. It DOESN'T mean trying to underpay your 30 year old neighbor.

Needless to say, it got awkward. Especially when she didn't take no for an answer. I tried playing it off with a smile: "Whoo, it's 7:30 on a Friday night! I don't think I can handle any more mowing!" When that didn't work, I tried pawning it off on someone else: "I think there's a guy who lives right around the corner who has a lawn care company. I'm sure they'd do it for you!" When she had a response for that, I went to neighborly but distancing: "Well, if you want to borrow the lawnmower sometime I'm sure that could work."

At that point I think she got the idea that I wasn't interested, but seriously. It's enough to confirm my anti-social tendencies. People don't get it.

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