What An Animal …

So … remember this woman?

Not an actual pictures of the crazy neighbor lady ...

Still not an actual picture of the crazy neighbor lady …

Tell you what … we’ll get back to her in a moment.

Ever seen a dog or cat irritated at eating its food? Either from someone bugging the animal or disturbing theri meal or simply because that’s the way the animal eats? Here … let me give you an example:

Yeah … just like that. Keep the dog in mind while I continue.

So … the crazy neighbor lady …

I’m back at my client’s house to continue with those concrete stairs on the side of the yard, extending them down a precarious slope, and the next door crazy neighbor is out watering.

Now, to be fair, she didn’t make a peep this time around. Maybe it was because she was a mere rock toss away and we could have easily been face to face if she’d decided to pipe up and make a stink just for stink’s sake.

Instead, she finished her watering and went indoors.

No problem, right?

Wrong.

I was doing some excavating in preparation for pouring the stairs when I noticed one of her window’s curtains fluttering as I casually glanced up. She was spying on me, watching what I was doing. My actions were exceedingly interesting I guess.

That’s when an idea came to me: I’d noticed several times over the course of about 20 minutes her stealing looks my way. She couldn’t tell that I saw her doing this because the safety glasses I had on were dark and you can’t tell where I’m looking when I have them on. Knowing this was part of the reason I decided on some shenanigans.

That dog video above? Well … as I was hand mixing concrete and saw her peeking at me, I would stop what I was doing and start a low growl, just like that dog. Growl, breathe, growl a little louder. Mix concrete a little bit. Growl, breathe, growl longer. Stop, mix, growl louder and more menacingly.

I can imagine the look on her face. I saw the curtain dart back in place and then, just as quickly, get pulled back again.

Stop. Growl. Growl more loudly.

I kept doing this for about half an hour, suppressing laughter the entire time I was doing so … which was monumentally difficult. Fun times.

I can only imagine the thoughts running through the crazy neighbor lady’s head …

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Sarcasm Is A Double-Edged Sword

There were a few things needed at the grocery store so up and off I went.

The meat counter was one of the last places I visited. There were stuffed clam and scallop shells at a buck a piece on sale and I’ve come to really like them. 3 or 4 of them make a meal.

With no one in sight, I accessed the handy button telling me to “Ring For Service.” A quick, short push elicited a rather loud bell (which sounded more like a fire klaxon) which, in turn, yielded quite the commotion from behind the scenes in a prep area out of view. Pans and other metal items could be heard crashing to the floor; I could only guess I startled the poor person who was back there.

Seconds later, however, a short, dark-haired girl probably in her late 20s or early 30s came out, rather cheerfully:

“Can I help you?” she asked pleasantly enough.

“Yes, thank you. May I get 4 stuffed clams and 4 stuffed scallops, please?” I asked. She opened the case and began to pull them individually.

“Do you mind if I put them all on the same tray?” she asked.

“No … no problem,” I responded as she continued pulling the heaping shells.

She finished and slipped away for a moment, returning almost immediately to ask one final question:

“Do you know the difference between the two?”

Now, exactly at this point is where about half a dozen rapid-fire responses came to mind. Should I answer truthfully? Should I answer with a quip? Should I fake ignorance to see how her response comes back? I decided that last one wouldn’t work completely being I had specifically asked for 4 of each item so I figured she’d know I knew what I was asking for.

Or so I thought.

I decided to go with the sarcasm. In my biggest smile – and expecting one in return – I replied:

“Well … one is a clam and the other is a scallop … right?”

Now … I wasn’t certain if the gal helping me was the same one I startled by the ringing bell. Or maybe she was having a bad day. Or perhaps I interrupted her from just having sat down to munch her lunch. But whatever the reason, the response I gave her rubbed her the wrong way because, like a shot, she pulled away from me immediately. She attempted as best she could to resist rolling her eyes (she failed spectacularly at this) and let it be known through her body language she didn’t want anything further to do with me. She headed somewhere behind the counter to wrap my purchases.

As she left, I heard her mumble something to the effect of “Well … *grumph, grouse*some people … *hrumph* don’t know … *gruff* … difference *muffle* …” or something like it. There weren’t any epithets I could detect but there was definitely a big heaping helping of attitude that got wrapped up with my stuffed shells.

On her return she handed the package over the counter. I thanked her kindly and, somehow, she mustered a return “You’re welcome” with such economy it sounded as if she’d compressed the words into a single syllable. It was rather impressive.

Moral: Sarcasm is a slippery slope, folks. Even with the best comedic intentions (and the biggest shit-eating grin you can muster) it’s still sometimes difficult to pull it off.

Construction And The Crazy Neighbor Lady

The side of the house I’m working at offers those of a daring nature a treacherously steep passage composed of lovely compacted dirt, shale and clay. Add wetness to the passage and it becomes a slippery slope just waiting for someone to attempt it and go ass over tea kettle.

An initial set of steps have been poured by yours truly to assist in making things a little safer but there’s more work to be done. But before work can be completed, an irrigation catch basin needs to be relocated – it’s currently right smack dab in the middle of the path of the proposed steps.

So, on this day, the digging began. And the drama came shortly thereafter.

I wasn’t 10 minutes into it when I heard the huffing and scuffling at the neighbor’s house next door. A window was thrown open, I caught a head in the midst of disappearing and then an exaggerated exhale of breath. It sounds as if a phone is being dialed.

I can’t quite catch the conversation going on until I hear the loud-enough-to-be-heard-for-my-benefit question/exclamation:

“Don’t you need a contractor’s license to, you know, contract?!?”

I chuckle to myself. All I’m doing is digging a hole. Last time I checked (oh, that’s right: I’ve never checked) one doesn’t need any sort of official license or certificate of excellence in order to put a hole in the dirt. My immediate thought on hearing the neighbor was “No, you don’t, not in this case. Just like you don’t need any kind of certification to stick your nose into other people’s business, I don’t care how good you are at it.”

You have to understand the neighbor next door to the house I occasionally do work at is known as “a crazy lady.” Now … I’m not certain she’s actually certifiable, but I’ve heard tell of past scuffles with others, neighbors and the like having regaled me with those tales. She likes to yell at kids, I’m told, who are doing nothing but laughing to themselves as they walk down the street past her house. I’ve witnessed first hand her laser stare while I’ve been laboring at some chore or another, glowering at me for simply, well, being there. How laboring with my back turned away from her house, minding my own business, is a source of irritation to her is beyond my comprehension.

This particular morning I’m 35′ away, doing my own thing, digging. I’m not bothering anybody. It’s not crack-of-dawn early in the morning (it’s 8:30-ish) so it’s not as if I’m waking someone at an inconvenient hour. I’m not creating any excessive noise or whistling some annoying tune while working. It’s just a simple fact of the crazy lady being one of those people who likes to stick their nose in other people’s business and raise a ruckus for her own purposes. I’m sure you know the type – virtually every neighborhood has one. Sometimes, they’re even a source of entertainment.

But … you’ve got to give her credit: She’s good at what she does. And throughout my time working away on the side yard in the coming weeks, I expect the drama to escalate to a fever pitch.

I’ll keep you posted. And with pictures if possible …

*Above photo not an actual likeness of the real crazy neighbor lady