Wednesday, January 1, 2014

a concerned neighbor

I have been sick for the last 13 days with a sinus infection.  I have had a hard time getting better.  Is it because December seems to be one of the busiest months with work?  Last minute Tax Planning with clients.  Last minute Accounts Receivable work.  Last minute Year End Deadlines and Projects.  Or is it because my immune system always seems to be down in the winter?  Or is it just because people get sick and spread germs?  I don't know, but I wasn't sure that I was going to have any fun New Years Eve Party, but as the day wore on, I felt like I had the stamina to do it and made plans to hang with some friends.  A quiet evening in their home by the fire, laughing, visiting and sharing in each others lives...oh and of course eating!  I needed this.  My emotional spirits were down.  I needed my friends.  I actually stayed up to ring in the New Year...of course, I slept in today to make up for the late night hour!!!

After getting up today, I made a fire, sat in my club chair turned towards the fire, knitting some baby booties for a little girl born two months ago, an hour into listening to a Coaching Call when the doorbell rang.  My hair was not presentable. I was still in my pj's. And most importantly, I wasn't expecting anybody.

It was my neighbor behind me.  Jack.  He said they were concerned when they saw smoke coming from the house because they thought it was vacant and it was a really nice warm day to be having a fire.  I laughed and said, I have lived here for 7 years and though I travel each week some on business, I do live here and the house is not vacant.  I think he then realized that he knew me and that we had talked before, though only two other times and both times about fence repairs he did.  I think he flat out didn't recognize me initially.  I told him that I appreciated his concern and checking in on me.  

I then let him know that I had gone over to talk to them two other times to see if they wanted to split the cost of the back fence that I replaced this year but had never caught them at home.  I told him that I didn't want him to feel obligated, but that if he wanted to contribute I would get him a copy of the invoice.  Little did I know I was opening the door for him to let me know how irritated he was at me for putting in a new fence and taking his down.  He was nice about it, but I could tell the irritation ran deep.  I was shocked.  This was my fence, what was he saying?  I kept my mouth shut and let him talk.  I just listened.  As he talked, regret gripped me in the fact that I wished I had been able to connect with him prior to the install of the fence, but I couldn't undo that. I had tried and we had not connected.  I could have left a note, I didn't.  I wanted to mend things even though until now I never knew there was a problem, I didn't want an upset neighbor.  They were obviously kind people to come over and check on my place thinking it was empty.  

I said Jack, I am sorry.  I thought the fence was mine, even though it was turned backwards with the nice side out, it went around my complete property line.  Though I have reversed that now so the inside faces me, I still never thought of it as your fence.  I am sorry.  What can I do to make things right?  He stated not to worry about it.  I tried again.  He stated not to worry about it.  He then went on to let me know that when the fence was put in, they were out of town and had someone house sitting.  The people let them know that they were surprised they had a pool and no fence.  He asked them if they were sure they were at the right house.  I am sure the whole deal got blown way out of proportion because of all this taking place when they were out of town and then to top it off, he thought it was "his" fence.  We chatted about 25-30 minutes and shared stories about the issues we are facing with our houses, what improvements we have done, what he does for work, what his wife does for work (I learned she owns a local flower shop not even a mile from my house), and where they go to church.  

I am amazed at how little I know my neighbors and how kind some of them truly are.  I plan to make an effort to get to know some of them better.  I also plan to send them a note in writing to say I am sorry for the fence issue and thanks for looking out on my place.

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