Yesterday I had to call the police on my neighbor.
I’m not some crazy chick who doesn’t understand the law.
I’m a retired Attorney.
I deserve respect.
We all do.
But, instead, you might have guessed it, I was mansplained at — by the Officers.
Last year, on Good Friday, a holy holiday my Mom and I observe, at 7:00 in the morning, I hear this pounding on my front door. I was already awake but unless I’m expecting someone I don’t typically open my front door to anyone. I thought, they’ll pound once, then leave us alone. Wrong.
This entity kept pounding and pounding and pounding. He was a relentless pounder, and I became a very angry recipient of that not fun pounding on my door.
Time out. I’ve mentioned I have Fibromyalgia, but I don’t remember if I told y’all what mornings look like for me. It’s agonizing to get moving, if my body will let me at all. Think about a play-dough doll that is scrunched up but not yet hard that you really need to return to its original look, and that’s kind of what I look like. My feet and hands are the worst. To get my feet going is problematic at best. Yes. Every single morning.
Time in. So with my feet fighting me I get them into shoes and go downstairs to see what the emergency is. Because it better be a GD emergency for someone to be relentlessly pounding on our door at 7:00 A.M. on Good Friday.
When I open the door I’m not pleasant, and I don’t regret that at all. Being obnoxious earns and warrants a tough attitude in reply.
There are two men standing there. My neighbor dressed in a jumpsuit, and a worker he had clearly hired to do what he thought he could do on this day, which was trespass.
Oh, and don’t forget that COVID was still very much a problem around that time last year. And I was about to encounter an agressive man and a gentle one, neither of which gave me the coutesy of wearing masks. Like, however you feel about the mask thing, if you’re going to be obnoxious and ask something of your neighbor at 7:00 A.M. on a holiday they might observe, maybe err on the side of — maybe the people you’re about to bother would prefer you — a stranger — in a mask.
Y’all have to understand. Once you get through law school and you learn about torts and real estate law, you can’t unlearn or unknow it. It’s there on your mind forever. And I was already riled up for other reasons on top of what was about to be my legal interface.
“Hi!” my neighbor greeted me cheerfully.
“What’s the emergency?” I reply. “Because there must be something incredibly dire going on for you to disturb my family at 7:00 in the morning on a very religious holy holiday which we happen to observe, by the way. And, my Mom — the best hardest working woman in the world — has a rare day off — which means she gets a little extra sleep — and what you just did is absolutely one of the rudest things you could do. I swear to God if you woke up my Mother — I just can’t imagine what you need at this time of the morning so desperately. Enlighten me.”
“Well — right. That’s exactly why I’m here today. I know it’s a holiday which is why I’m trying to get this done today. You know the fence between our yards?”
It’s impossible not to know the fence between our yards.
I say nothing.
He continues, “well since I have the day off I thought it would be the perfect time to fix it since it’s leaning. Have you noticed the leaning?”
It’s impossible not to notice the leaning.
I say nothing.
“So he’s here to just go in your back yard and see what he needs to do on your side of the fence so it doesn’t lean anymore, and I’m going to have it fixed today since it’s a holiday,” he concluded, motioning toward the worker who looked embarrassed about what was happening.
“No,” I say. “That will not be happening. And not just because I’m absolutely disgusted by how early you interrupted my home. First, as I already told you, this is a very holy holiday that we observe, so fence nosies and working with wood and whatever else would not be appropriate on a day when we pray because our Christ was nailed to a wooden cross and died. And second, the owner of this home would have to give her consent. The owner being my Mother. And I’m telling you right now — I’m not waking her up to ask — but I can guarantee her answer. It would be ‘NO.’ And third, I’d tell her to say ‘no’ to you because of the liability issue. So no. Not without me writing up a legal document indemnifing us of any liability, accident, problem, injury, whatever you can think of really — that you and your workers will have to sign before coming onto our property again. Technically you’re trespassing right now — and I do not give you a license to be here.” (License means something like “permission to be on my land” in the way I meant it, not like a driver’s license).
“Okay, so I’m just going to have him take a look back there to see what needs to be done. And can you ask your Mom to let me know if we can proceed?” this man says to me.
“It’s not happening. And no he can’t go look. You do not have permission to be on our property.” I reply, as calmly as I can.
What’s with people?! And I’m sorry to point fingers, but it’s usually men who talk to me like they didn’t hear what I just said, or they did, but they think they can — like — trick me into changing my mind — or even just do what they want despite what I’m saying because that’s what they want.
I’m overwhelmingly dismissed in situations like this — with men.
I want to be really really REALLY clear that I’m not saying this pertains to all men. I’m saying that when a dispute arises between me and a man like the one I’m describing now — I’m overwhelmingly looked over as a totally irrelevant component to what is going on.
My neighbor tried to do it to me that day — and the Officers did it to me yesterday.
And the Officers did it yesterday after this same neighbor had the nerve to drive to the front of my house, park behind the Officers’ vehicles — motion them to him — to which they complied — and spoke no more than 20 words to them — causing the Officers to react orally like this: “Yeah, I got you man, I’ll explain it to her,” and, “We’ll tell her.”
So back to last Good Friday.
“He just needs to take a look to see what he needs. It’ll be really quick,” my neighbor unbelievably says to me.
“Are you not hearing me? I can come closer, though I’d rather not. It’s not a matter of the amount of time he’ll be there,” I say, super uncomfortably speaking about a man who is present in front of me, “no means no. You do not have the owner’s permission, and it’s not happening.” I retort, beyond livid at this point.
“Okay, well I really want to get it done today. So can you ask your Mom when she wakes up? Perhaps no later than noon?” my neighbor asks.
“Look, I’ll take your phone number, and if she wants to call you, she will. No promises. And noon is when we begin silent prayer for three hours. So don’t expect to be doing work until after 3:00 P.M. if at all.” After this reply, I go inside get a pen and notepad of paper, bring it outside, and as I look at him indicating it was time for him to give me his name and phone number, he grabs the pen and notepad and writes it down himself.
I later threw the pen out and sprayed the notepad with Lysol, you know, because COVID.
My neighbor hands me back the items and I notice that during the course of the exchange between us, the worker who my neighbor had — full of certain hope — brought along had been backing away from my neighbor bit by bit. I liked this man. He had even smiled when I explained about the wooden cross.
“Okay. I’ll tell my Mother everything,” I say.
“Great. Just make sure she calls me as soon as she wakes up,” my neighbor says.
“This is not a good time to knock on anyone’s door unless they’re expecting you, for future notice. Please do not do it again,” I emphasize the “do not.”
“Sorry,” he says, not at all concerned about what I just said.
“Okay, please leave now.”
“As soon as he just quickly checks out the fence.”
“Do not dare go further onto this property right now. I was so incredibly clear that he cannot do that, you cannot do that, and it’s time to leave.”
Later, I would even created a Hold Harmless agreement for when we anticipated he’d come back — but more on that and my Mom’s reaction later.
My neighbor says nothing, and finally walks away. I watch him and his companion get into his car, and I close the door, beyond irate with this privilege this asshole believes he has.
Not 2 minutes later, as I’m scrubbing my hands, do I see the worker checking out the fence in my yard.
I ran outside to find my neighbor the furthest down the driveway he could get — not wanting to risk dirtying his shoes on what could be mud I’m betting.
“Excuse me!” I yell. “Seriously, get off our property right now! I told you no! Are you kidding me right now?!”
“Okay, okay, we were just looking” my neighbor says to me as if he hadn’t done a thing wrong.
I look at him with the wrath of 10,000 suns colliding into him. He beckons the worker, and they slowly walk to his car. I follow them the whole way. Because this time, in utter disbelief at the nerve of this asshole, I make sure he drives the fuck away before going inside.
So, yesterday morning when I noticed a different man on our property, I went outside and told him he couldn’t be there. He said he couldn’t speak English well and shoved a phone toward my face. I told the person on the phone that he could not be on my property under any circumstance. I told her that no one was permitted to be on our land at all and he needed to leave. She rudely told me she understood.
But I knew it wasn’t over. So I went to my computer, opened the door so I could listen for the suspicious crunching of leaves, and went to work. So when the crunching came, I was not surprised.
And yesterday, while the mansplaining Officers tried to explain how fences work because I guess they thought that was the issue I needed educating about target than listening to why I called them in the first place — (I was a Real Estate Sorry for 6 years — and I bet everything I have that I know more about fences than them) — I wasn’t listened to my trying to explain to them my concerns regarding trespassing and liability. I’m so disgusted by what happened.
TO BE CONTINUED…