Tuesday, August 16, 2011

...and No One's Growin' Grass like Mimi Cass!

Two or three times each summer, whether it needs it or not, Mimi Cass hires Bob The Thief (not their real names) to spend three days mowing her suburban quarter-acre, cut back brush and blow the refuse onto county park land. Here is why I don't mind that my Neighbor From Hell is an enormous, lazy oaf who's proud of her unkemt yard and her two teenagers who ignore it.
  1. It demonstrates to the world she is who she is -- too many Neighbors From Hell wear a more social mask when interacting with the world beyond their immediate neighbors, and people dropping off their kids or simply driving by can see she is cloaked inside a jungle, isolated from a society that generally prefers to keep up with its chores and responsibilities.
  2. I don't need to see Bob The Thief any more than two or three times a year, shirt off, cigarette dangling, his criminal-in-training tween son made to work by his side.
  3. If I need to skip a few days of mowing my own lawn, it still looks like an elegant garden beside her yard.
  4. If you're a racoon crossing the street from the park, which house would you choose to visit for some garbage can snacking and nesting?
Now, if you haven't read the book or visited the message board in a while, you may not know who Mimi Cass is.  She's the woman I asked years ago to stop leaving her yappy dog out overnight, who then, despite our having a fine relationship beforehand and despite my very diplomatic approach, began belting out a song, and engaged in a harassment campaign to retaliate, telling all my good neighbors what a jerk I am.  Due to her size and her singing "talent," I named her Mimi Cass (her real first name is Mimi -- am I clever or what?).

Bob The Thief, meanwhile, is her handyman, an ex-con other neighbors and I had hired and later had to fire for, you guessed it, theft -- along with simply not knowing what he's doing.  I've had to redo all the work I'd paid him to do, and my neighbor on the other side had to replace their roof and front steps because of his "work."

My own neighbor problems pale in comparison to those of so many people I work with, so I take as much of a humorous look at mine as possible.  It alleviates the stress of conflict close to home.

Anyway, if you have a neighbor who needs lawn assistance, such as an elderly neighbor, someone who's disabled, or someone who's working several jobs just to stay afloat, go ahead and help them by mowing their lawn for them, expecting nothing in return.  That's what good neighbors do.

If they suck as a neighbor and fail to keep up their homes, don't get too stressed.  Does it impact property values?  Probably.  Does it draw more pests?  I don't know, I'm in the People's Republic of South Jersey, where mosquitoes rule the summer, and I just don't know if Mimi's yard makes it better or worse.

Most people I work with don't much care, in the scheme of things, if their neighbor keeps the lawn manicured, so long as he or she is otherwise neighborly.  But if he or she is otherwise a Neighbor From Hell, the eyesore is that much more noticeable to us.  And upon giving it more thought, I realized it needn't be.

I like the mask being off.

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