I updated my Facebook status this morning ( as I do most mornings ) and this is what I wrote:
Hey Annoying Neighbor! The chances of you being discovered and given a recording contract while twanging on your front porch are about a zillion to one. The chances of me coming over there and smashing your guitar Pete Townshend style? Getting better every day.
It got a few likes and a few comments. Another neighbor agreed that this guy was among the most irritating people on the planet.
I knew it was negative and nasty; but it was also funny. Funny usually trumps negative and nasty for me. Uh oh. Now I sound like Bill Maher. Not a road I really want to go down. We'll save that post for another day.
So, I began to think about why this guy bugged me so much and what it meant for me as a wannabe good and kind and peaceful person to write this about him.
Sure, it's a joke (sort of) and he won't ever see it (maybe), but does that make it okay?
You know that saying "if you have to ask you already know the answer"? Yeah. Well, I do. Making fun of this guy makes me no better than him.
Sure, he drives me nuts. When he's not twanging out of tune on his front porch, he's yelling (yelling is his communication style of choice) at his kids or weed whacking. These seem to be his only hobbies; except in winter when it is yelling and snow blowing.
I am aggravated that my dear husband (who is so much nicer and more tolerant than me) cannot even be in the front yard when this guy is out there, or he will get caught up listening to him for an hour or more. There is no give and take with this guy; just "here is a laundry list of my problems and some anecdotes that I will blather on and on about until you literally turn your back and walk away from me". Sometimes, even walking away is not good enough to deter him. He is the human version of a remora. Or the animal version of a burr. He is very hard to shake off.
There is also the fact that he is milking the system for an injury sustained on the job, when he is clearly not injured anymore.
And then, he complains about the "system". And I just go ballistic.
So, what does it mean if I can't be nice to this guy? Am I a bully? I kind of feel like one. The more I think about it, the more I see that he is just a little bit off center; not quite in the range of what one would think of as "typical". Maybe he's got a diagnosis, but probably not. I'll bet he did poorly in school, though. I'll also bet that the silly, attention seeking stunts he pulls (like yelling so we can all hear him and playing tuneless ballads to the neighborhood) are holdouts from his childhood. Maybe he was the kid that tagged along but never fit in. Maybe he wasn't invited to play.
Then, I feel sad for him because I know that feeling. And though I certainly don't think my kids are (by a long, longshot) annoying, they do have some trouble socializing and making and keeping friends.
I'm not sure that I could ever be friends with this guy, but I need to look at myself when I plead with the world for tolerance and acceptance for my children and anyone who doesn't fit the neurotypical mold.
Maybe I need to give this guy a break before I expect one for my kid.
Maybe I'll be a better person if I take a moment to put myself in his shoes.
And maybe I won't post anymore mean status updates.