“Good morning!” I cheerfully said to the neighbor as I tripped out the door this morning.

“You know they won’t pick that junk up unless you call them.” My neighbor hollered at me as I walked out the door to work. The hollering wasn’t necessary, I was about ten feet away. But then, I’ve noticed she yells at everyone, even her dogs. Maybe she is going deaf. . . quiet possible.

A week ago I had spent the better part to two hours hauling refuse left behind by inconsiderate repairmen and painters to the curb for pick-up. It had been hot, buggy, dirty work. I was attacked by ants at one point. My landlord isn’t the most thoughtful person and didn’t provide me with contact information for the workmen, I couldn’t call and complain to the foreman that his workers had left behind a mess that I had to clean up. I broke two nails despite wearing gloves and I got a huge bruise on my leg and a scratch on my elbow. And I had done it to make the yard look nicer and to please the neighbors.

“Oh, really.” I said,  “I was told by another neighbor to put things on the curb and the county would pick it up once a month, I’ve done it before. I don’t know which day it is, but I thought I would get it to the curb to be ready.”

“Well, they don’t.”

“Really, that’s funny, last time I tried it, it worked!”

“How long has that been sitting there?”

“Um, less than a week.”

“Ah, see, you have to call someone.”

“Um, but it comes once a month.” I said with a puzzled expression on my face.

So I switched to diplomatic mode, she was being difficult and I had a bus to catch: she brought it on herself. Diplomatic mode involves my voice getting a little softer and innocent, my eyes a little larger, I start talking with the hands, and I stand taller, and I put emphasis on certain words. “Do you really think you have to call? Perhaps the other neighbor was mistaken. But I can’t call, no one has ever given me any information to call. I’ve tried looking for a web-site, but I couldn’t find any specific information, I don’t think the site has been recently updated. Perhaps you have some information? What? You have that information? What a coincidence! How lovely. Well, perhaps you could give it to me, yes that would be nice, wouldn’t it. You can put it in the mailbox. Okay. Thank you so much! I really must be going now, I don’t want to miss my bus, have good morning!”

I had to hold my arm tight by my side to keep from doing the princess wave, that would have been overkill. Diplomatic mode usually leaves people stunned, they aren’t sure what to do because they were hoping you would blow up at them, and then they find themselves promising to give out valuable-top-secret-information, like trash numbers.

As I walked away I wondered if she knew about the stoned/drunk bum I found on sprawled on her lawn one night. He was screaming profanities on the top of his lungs at 10:00 p.m. And she didn’t do anything about it even though I know she was home and her dog wouldn’t stop barking. I called the police. At least my curb junk isn’t threatening her safety for what I can tell.

Then I looked down the street, other neighbors had hauled their huge piles of tree branches and lawn clippings, and random 2x4s to the curb. I sighed. At least I got a contact number for the county trash out of the incident.

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