Where Did All the Neighborhood Niceties Go?

What to post on…what to post on…I’ve got a million things ruminating within the confines of my mind.

The idiocy of Rush Limbaugh

T-minus three and counting before our departure for Disney World

Two out of three kids still sick and spiking 102 degree fevers

Why people let their dogs poop in other people’s yards.

Yeah.  Poop.  That’s it.  That’s the post for tonight.  (Bear with me…it’ll all come clear shortly)

So, I was outside playing with my soon-to-spike-a-102-fever-son this afternoon when we jointly discovered a huge pile of rust-orange colored dog doo in our front yard.  We’re talking saint bernard sized excrement.

I quickly warned Gabe to stay away from the pile–lest he step in and subsequently slip on the heap.  My mention of the neighborhood social faux pas of course only captured his attention.  In his motivated, yet still apraxic style, he kept hollering at me, “Powp!  Powp, Mommy!”

I didn’t really want to clean it up.  I didn’t want to clean up someone else’s dog’s poop. But Gabe wouldn’t drop it, so I had to.

Now, if you can imagine how wet the ground around our house is right now while a winter’s worth of snow is gradually melting into the not-quite thawed ground, you can imagine how difficult this particular pile was to scoop up ala two double-bagged grocery store plastic shopping bags.

I did the best I could.

But, Gabe was not satisfied.

POWP, Mommy!  POWP!”

I tried my darndest to explain to him that I’d cleaned up the best I could and that whatever ensuing spring rains (or snow storms) coming our way would take care of the rest of it.

And then I discovered the next pile.

While playing pooper scooper in my own yard–a yard belonging to a family who currently owns no pets whatsoever–I couldn’t help wondering, what kind of jerk lets their dog poop in other people’s yards without cleaning it up? And further, what does that very active decision to turn a blind eye and walk away from one’s pet’s mess say about a person’s sense of community?  Of neighborly relations?

Like the one or two Audi or Cadillac-SUV-driving yahoos who tailgate my rear bumper within an inch of a cricket’s life every morning while I’m leaving the neighborhood to drive my kids to school?  Do those people think about what kind of message it sends to tailgate their very own neighbor?  To leave their dog’s shit in my yard?

And how about the loss of social graces when a new neighbor moves into the hood?  I swear, I’m the only one in my 300-household neighborhood who bakes cookies and takes them over to a new neighbor’s house after move in day.  Andrew and I have moved six times in our almost thirteen year marriage.  We have never received a plate of cookies from a neighbor after our arrival.

In a culture where sense of community is quickly fading as lives get busier, worries grow taller and commitments more pressing, don’t we all need some sense of community to hang onto?  Don’t we need a next door neighbor or two who we can call in a pinch to pick up our mail when we go out of town unexpectedly, or when we need to borrow a cup of sugar?  (Do people bake anything that requires sugar anymore?)

I want my children to grow up understanding what community and neighborhood mean…or can mean…or used to mean. I want my children to learn to respect their neighborhood, and the people who live therein.  I want to be able to borrow a cup of sugar every now and again, and I want the people who live around me to feel that they can call me up and ask for that same favor in return.


Filed under family, Kids, Living

4 responses to “Where Did All the Neighborhood Niceties Go?

  1. If you have a receiver hitch, this will stop the tailgaters: http://www.sparebumper.com

  2. Hhhmmm..interesting product, Jeff. Not sure it would neccesarily stop people from tailgating…but I can imagine how it would reduce damage to the front person’s car in the event of a rear-end collision. Thanks for the heads up…

  3. Lisa

    If you move to our neighborhood in Seattle, we’ll bring you cookies! My husband noticed a big moving truck unloading stuff at a house a couple doors down last week, so he did the honorable thing and whipped up a batch of very chocolatey treats. But then he discovered that it wasn’t actually a new family moving in…it was just a realtor who was staging the house before it went back on the market. Ah well.

  4. @Lisa,

    Ha! I love this story! You know I grew up in the greater Seattle area, right? (Do I know you? Did we go to school together? Maybe your hubby and I are long-lost cousins?)

    Thanks for sharing…it’s good to know there are like minded neighbors out there.

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