For What It’s Worth

Testing good neighbor policy

Thankfully, our neighbor immediately to the south, Fred Sawatzky, operates with a good neighbor policy. But, I’m starting to wonder if I’m putting that policy to the test.

It’s not that Fred has done anything that overtly suggests he would like a change in neighbors. He hasn’t turned off his lights to make it look like no one was home when he saw me coming to his house. Nor has he stopped me in the yard to ask if the rumor that we were moving was true. Nothing like that.

I think it’s just a compilation of things. For instance, Thursday afternoon Carol and I were leaving the house, and on the way out of the driveway we had a flat tire. Turns out two screws had punctured the tire. I have a small air compressor tank, and I took it to a service station to get air in it. It’s old and wouldn’t work.

But Fred would have one; he’s a tools guy.However, he wasn’t home, so we used our other car and left for the evening. It was about 9:15 p.m. when we returned. The light was on, so I dashed over to Fred’s to see if he had an air compressor. Wouldn’t you know it, this was one of those rare nights he was already in his robe and house shoes. Being the kind guy he is, Fred nonetheless said let’s see what we can do.

With him in his robe and me not in my kerchief, we entered his garage, found his compressor, and wheeled it over to my car. He insisted on airing up the tire right then, saying it would be better for it not to sit flat overnight. This evening he told me that he woke up last night about 4 o’clock walked over to check the tire. Flat as a fritter.

I had kept his air compressor just in case and aired up the tire this morning. It held while I drove the car to the shop to get the tire repaired.

Fred smiled last night while helping me, but he did mention that having things happen at my house was beginning to be something of a saga. Helping me trim trees in my yard or sometimes mowing the lawn would not be what he’s referring to. At least, I don’t think that’s it. More likely it’s the squirrel and the snake.

About three years ago, if I remember correctly, we were playing dominoes with Carol’s mother at her house and my cell phone rang. Fred was calling and suggesting I come home because every time my air conditioner came on there was a loud thump, thump noise.

Arriving home, I walked around back of the house to the air conditioner unit, which sits on the patio area under our deck. Somehow, a snake had crawled onto the unit and draped himself over one of the slats in the grating. He was hanging in, I suppose, joyful repose when the AC came on. The thump-thump, whack-whack noise was the fan blades whopping the snake in the head as the fan whirred.

Snakes are not Fred’s favorite creature, so he had not removed it. It was my house, my AC unit, my job to do. I slid a stick under that critter’s belly and extracted him from the AC unit. He was about five feet long. We curled him into a large jar and kept him on display for a short time.

Strange noises seem to be part of life in my neighborhood. One day a year and a half or two years ago, I heard a scratching noise coming from the French drain on the northeast corner of the house. No water was draining, and I was puzzled by the sound. Finally, it dawned on me. Apparently, a squirrel had somehow gotten into the drain and was trying to claw its way out. Of course, it couldn’t get traction on the metal and was stuck.

Of course, I had to have Fred come check this out. He agreed with my diagnosis. We worked the rubber portion of the drain loose and pulled it to the side, hoping to provide an escape route for the squirrel. The next day I could hear nothing, so I closed up the drain. I’m supposing that somewhere today in the neighborhood a squirrel is still telling a harrowing tale of escape from entrapment in a dank, dark French drain unless, of course, he is too ashamed to tell how he came to be in the predicament.

Maybe I’m a test to Fred’s good neighbor policy, but at least we have adventures to talk about.

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