I drove my partner to visit his mother in Pittsburgh for a quick two-day trip over this past weekend. I did some chores around her house, including (finally) heavying up the electrical system so I could install central air conditioning. None too soon — it was over 90°F (37°C), so the cooling was very welcome relief.
Unfortunately, my mother-in-law’s neighbor is a real sorry excuse for a human being. He called the cops on me twice while I was there.
First, he complained loudly, using profanity in every other breath, that I had mowed the lawn three inches (7.6cm) on his side of the property line. My goodness, how petty. Three inches over and you call the cops, really?
The cop who came was quite young — all they can afford to hire in this dingy old little borough that borders the city. We had a civil discussion, and the cop told the neighbor that there was nothing that he could do. After all, I apologized and promised not to do it again. But this guy wouldn’t accept that I made an honest mistake, and carried on with the cop some more and kept taunting me with kiddie insults like, “you’re stupid” or “if you had a brain…” and things like that. Instead of losing my cool, I turned to this guy when the cop was there and said, deadpan with a serious look on my face, “look, for a Christian Minister, you sure have a lot of anger issues. I’ll pray for your soul, because you sure need all the help you can get.” That made him even more angry.
Even after the cop left, this guy became angrier because he couldn’t get me to respond with anything but a laugh. He began to sputter, fume, and scream even louder. Seriously, I thought he was going to keel over from a heart attack by how much energy he was wasting with angry, nasty, rude, but mostly just plain silly rants. Eventually, when he realized that I wasn’t going to say anything, he went into his house and slammed the door. I just shook my head in pity for the poor fella, who is upside down on his mortgage, had his car repossessed twice, and has other “issues.”
I thought this blow-up was over when, a few hours later, the same cop arrived again. This time, I am up on the telephone pole connecting a 220A wire so I can heavy-up the electrical system in my mother-in-law’s house so she can have central air conditioning. The cop asked me to come down, and said that he had an anonymous complaint (yeah, anonymous my boot) that “someone was doing illegal electrical work.” My response? I showed him my permit and electrician’s license, and explained what I was doing. The cop said, “that’s fine.” He got in his cruiser and began to drive away when that moron of a neighbor stopped him and talked to him through the window.
I can just imagine what was said, but it didn’t matter. I was doing everything legally. And man, did that air conditioning feel GREAT! We were finally able to get rid of those small window air conditioning units that did not work very well and made the house so dark. We slept great that night! (though I must admit, I was very sore and tired.)
My partner did okay on this trip. He tried to help, to the best of his ability, but most of what he could do was keep his Mom out of my way while I worked.
It is very sad that the entire borough where my mother-in-law lives is so hard-scrabble, rough, and on edge. I swear, everyone has an angry look on his/her face. I know life in that area is rough for many people, but everyone is so sad. I’m praying for more than my mother-in-law’s neighbor; I’m praying for them all.
Life is short: keep your composure, don’t lose your temper, and you will be better than those who can’t control themselves.