It’s been three weeks.
Three straight weeks of my next door neighbor moving our trash cans from the side of my driveway adjacent to his property, and putting them at the apron of my driveway, right behind my car.
Everyday I move my trash cans back, slide both of his trash cans over to make room, and leave my trash cans to the left of my driveway next to the sewer.
When I return from work, I find my trash cans blocking the entrance to my driveway, get out of my car, slide both of his trash cans back over and move my trash cans back near the sewer.
The street we live on is narrow, hilly and woodsy which makes it feel more like a Vermont road than a street in Shelton, Connecticut. Parking is limited and I can’t put my trash cans to the right of my driveway because my landlord has had a vehicle parked there for over a year. (Another irritation)
To make matters worse, the Garbage Can Nazi next door thinks he owns the street in front of his house. He has gone as far as placing cement deck anchors on the road in front of his house so that no one can park there. Note: The road is public property, just for the record.
In case you aren’t familiar with what a cement deck anchor looks like, I’ve posted a photo below. Great way to add just the right touch of curb appeal to your home if you’re thinking of purchasing a few.
The Garbage Can Nazi has also taken the liberty of driving green metal stakes into the ground between our yard and his to mark a property line that he determined without consulting a surveyor. (Yet another beautiful upgrade to his home so feel free to swing by if you’re looking for some trendy new ideas)
I need all this stress like I need a hole in the head… yet, I have continued day after day, and week after week, to move my garbage cans out-of-the-way of my driveway only to find them moved back again.
This week was the final straw.
John had planted a patch of sunflowers in a rock garden on the left side of our drive way. Sunflowers are my favorite flower and I was so happy that they were growing so rapidly, each plant about a foot tall.
I was at work when John text me, “The Garbage Can Nazi weed wacked all of our sunflowers down… well, except for one.”
I was furious but I didn’t confront our neighbor about the sunflowers as the garbage can wars waged on…
I guess because I work nights and the Garbage Can Nazi works days, we have each continued to move the trash cans at off hours from each other’s schedule, leaving us no time to run into each other…
Until last night.
It was dark, maybe about 9:45 PM, as I carried the kitchen recycling bin out to the street, while wondering what it would be like if I had some teenagers who could perform this task for me… oh, wait, well, that’s another post entirely.
As I lifted the lid on the recycling bin, I heard a voice. When I lowered the lid, there he was standing before me in the pitch dark, the Garbage Can Nazi.
“I want to talk to you.” Bellowed the Garbage Can Nazi through a thick accent.
“Well, I don’t want to talk to you.” I said, as I turned and headed up the driveway, fully intending to go directly back in the house.
“This is mine!” he yelled, “Mine, mine, mine! This is MY property!!”
I dropped the recycling bin, spun on my heel and approached him as quickly as my injured knee would allow.
“Please explain to me HOW I am infringing on YOUR property?” I questioned, “You cut down all of our flowers, sunflowers, which are my favorite flower. All except one!”
“You can come talk to me and ask me if you want to plant flowers.” He replied.
“Talk to you? These flowers are on OUR side!” I yelled as I touched the one remaining sunflower, pointing out its position well below the crooked green metal stake that he had driven into the ground.”
“I am a nice man.” he said.
“I am NOT going to ask your permission to plant flowers in my own yard! Furthermore, what kind of nice man moves a trash can behind a neighbor’s car so that they have to move it in order to get in or out of their own driveway?” I replied.
He stood, hands on hips, towering above me on the elevated ground that was his yard.
“This is my property. This is mine.” He reiterated.
“What are you, two years old?” I yelled. “Mine, mine mine! That isn’t how the world works… at least not my world! You act like the garbage can is taking up a space the you actually use! Like your wife and kids are sitting in lawn chairs next to the sewer on a daily basis! The street is public property! I am not wasting another minute on this argument because life is too short! My father died, my mother has cancer and I have a teenage boy that is in distress, not to mention I have an injured knee and you have me dragging heavy garbage cans out of the way so that I can get in and out of my own driveway…”
Suddenly and unexpectedly, I burst into tears. I’m not sure why, I’m generally not a crier but I think that this was about all I could take.
The Garbage Can Nazi raised both hands, open palm, in front of his chest, like I was holding him at gunpoint.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He said as he slowly backed away and retreated into his house.
I don’t know if last night was the grand finale of the garbage can wars. I hope so, but only time will tell.
What I do know is this, life is too short to waste your time and energy on things that aren’t at all important in this world and I hope that starting today I’ll be able to smile at my neighbor and say hello.
Kindness, consideration, love and compassion are free to all who seek it, as is forgiveness.
And as far as I’m concerned, those are the only things that I want to call mine.