Clueless in the Cul-de-Sac

Who are these people in my neighborhood? As the official Gladys Kravitz (the nosey next-door neighbor from the classic TV series “Bewitched”) of my hood I’ve been flummoxed by the number of people out and about in the streets that I don’t know.

And while I’ll admit brain fog at remembering some of my neighbors I pride myself that I at least know their dogs and I’m seeing canines I never laid eyes on before. At first I just thought the whole, “Who are these new people?” syndrome I was experiencing was me, you know, just being me.

But, then when my husband who’s not known for being blessed with my keen sense of cul-de-sac observational skills remarked, “Did we get a bunch of new neighbors?” I knew I was on to something. This meant an investigation was called for.

What I discovered was shocking, truly shocking. It turns out I’m an embarrassment to the Gladys Kravitz name. I, a self-proclaimed neighborhood know it all, was woefully clueless. The people forced out into the streets to seek the solace of sunshine during the lock down were not just part of my extended neighborhood but we live on the same street.

This prompted another fact-finding mission. How could I have been so unneighborly as to not, well, know my neighbors? I was raised on Mr. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” Rogers couple that with being from the south where you didn’t just know your neighbors you had a dossier on them should mean I have the training to be a super neighbor.

Oh, and it gets worse. I’ve worked from home for years. My desk overlooks the street. I literally have a bird’s eye view of all the comings and goings. Plus, I walk my dogs daily this means I’m like a beat cop patrolling the neighborhood.

If you want to know who’s doing home improvement, putting in some new landscaping or even getting their chimney cleaned I’m your girl. I also can forecast whose getting their home ready to put on the market by all the above being done to the same house.

So, where was this know your neighbor disconnect? I had to search inward and discovered that while I know houses I don’t know the people that live in them. Not wanting to do anymore self- flagellation I decided it was time assign blame on something other than myself. The culprit, I surmised, for my neighborly failings is the garage door opener.

This invention made us all stealth. You basically never have to see your neighbors. You enter and exit your vehicle from inside the comfort of your closed garage. Back in the day when you physically had to get out of car to open your garage door it was open season for some neighbor-to-neighbor conversation and or as my Grandma Stella liked to call it “cross examination.”

I have memories of this woman, the original Gladys Kravitz, sitting on her front porch and sprinting like a gazelle on the African Savannah chasing its prey when she saw a neighbor pull into their driveway. She said it was for church pray chain inquires but even at the age of eight I knew better.

Although as much as I would like to blame my lack of neighborly inclinations on the garage door opener I can’t. I have to admit that while I’m nosey, ahem, make the graciously curious, about the coming and goings about a house I need to work on getting to know the inhabitants.

Of course, I need to do this without going full Grandma Stella and true confession time that just might be the hardest part.

Dear Snarky – I Have a Trash Peeping Neighbor

Dear Snarky,

I have a neighbor that is so nosy she is literally going through my family’s trash cans. I have seen her many times looking at our trash after we take it to the curb on trash pick up day and then when I see her she makes comments about our lifestyle based on what was in our trash.

She’s mentions everything from the number of boxed wines cartons we had in our recycle can to how many fast food bags we had in our trash. One time she even commented on an empty prescription pill container.

We have kids in the same school so I don’t want to make an enemy of this woman but it needs to stop. My husband says we should call the police and report her for invasion of privacy but I think that would be going too far. Please help us.

Signed, Trashy Neighbor Problem

Dear Trashy,

First, know that you’re not alone. I also had a neighbor that enjoyed peeping into my family’s trash cans and then making snippy comments. So, here’s a couple of tried and true ways to get your neighbor to back away from your cans.

You could go the boring route and pile rocks on the tops of your trash cans making it much harder and much more conspicuous for her to open the cans. You could also place something icky on the top layer like your dogs refuse OR you can do something that is more fun.

Go and buy a cheap diary. The key here is that it has to say diary on it in big bold letters. Then on the first page write – “Dear Diary, my family fears for the sanity of our neighbor. She keeps rummaging through our trash and my husband is ready to call the police. I also think I need to tell all the other neighbors about what she is doing and we’re planning to call an emergency neighborhood meeting to address the problem. Hopefully she stops soon and the matter will resolve itself before things get anymore messy. I would hate for this woman to have to go through the embarrassment of being trash peeping shamed.”

Your next step is to place this diary on the very top of your trash can. Trust me she won’t be able to resist  doing a little lookie loo and she’ll get the message – big time.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Gladys Kravitz 2.0

I’ve entered the full Gladys Kravitzgladys_kravitz zone, and even worse, I’m not ashamed. Not one little bit.

For those of you who aren’t acquainted with the wonder of Gladys she was a character on the 1960/70’s TV show Bewitched and was legendary for her super nosey nature. Being that it’s 2017, I think of myself as the upgraded Gladys. Gladys 2.0, if you will. Because not only am I curious (such an improvement over the word “nosey”) of my surroundings, but I’m also the purveyor of unsolicited advice.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “My that sounds like a delightful personality combo,” and of course, you would be correct. It’s all because I’m a giver and I’ve reached a stage in my life journey where I feel like it’s okay for me to interject myself in stranger’s lives and offer my wisdom whether they asked for it or not.

My husband is certain I’m going to get myself killed or at the very least a beat down by someone who is not appreciative of my charms. I’m willing to take that chance.

Just this morning some lawn crews were doing the leaf suck up thing at my neighbor’s with perhaps the loudest blower ever created. I hate to digress from this treatise on my greatness, but just what the heck on the blowing of leaves? Why do some crews blow the leaves and then vacuum them up? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to go straight to vacuum? That’s your deep thought for the day. Now back to me.

As the crew was using blowers with a decimal rate of a Saturn Moon rocket blasting off I became increasingly concerned with their lack of hearing protection.

So, I did what any advanced middle-aged mom would do who lives with teenagers that don’t listen to her and feels a need to seek out folks who might want to benefit from her awesomeness — I grabbed my yellow ear muff hearing protection headset and ventured off to the unsuspecting lawn crew.

At first they ignored me. I didn’t take it personally. I was sure the sound of their blowers had sent them into some kind of trance. It took me jumping up and down and waving my hands to get their attention. It didn’t matter at all that they looked at me like I might be lacking the full use of my facilities. Heck, I’m very used to that look because again — I have teenagers.

Once I had the crew fully focused on me I gave them an extremely riveting lecture on hearing protection and why they should be using it. I even offered them the opportunity to try out my 3 M Turbo Hearing Protection with AM/FM Tuner. Sadly, I got zero takers. So, I went to Plan B — handouts.

Not just plain handouts, mind you, but color because it made the scary and sobering stats from the Hearing Loss Association of America look even more important. I sweetly suggested they read the packet ASAP then perhaps share it with their associates. Again, all I got were blank stares.

This was starting to hurt my feelings. I’m trying to change lives here and I’m getting nothing. Finally, a woman on the crew reaches up to her ears. At first, I think oh my perhaps she’s going to use sign language because she’s already experiencing catastrophic hearing loss. But, um yeah, that wasn’t’ exactly the problem. She plunged her fingers into her ears and pulled out some impressive looking ear plugs.

“Sorry,” she says, “We can’t hear you what with the ear plugs and all.”

After turning three shades of red I proclaimed, “Excellent, glad to know you’re using hearing protection” and then sprinted back to my house.

Embarrassed? Sort of. Will I stop Gladys-ing? Never. One doesn’t turn their back on a calling.