We forgave them for the days of polyurethane fumes leaking through our shared wall when they had their hardwood floors installed. And I begrudgingly forgave them for putting their yappy little dogs out in the back yard at five in the morning the first week they were here, even though their desperate howling was enough to wake anyone in the neighborhood not audibly-insulated by central air. And I can deal with them occasionally blasting Frank Sinatra records on a weekend afternoons.
What's a lot harder to forgive, thought ultimately futile to argue about, is his constantly chain-smoking on their front stoop. One of the great things about our house is that the first floor stays remarkably cool for most of the summer, because it gets good cross ventilation. But of course, that only works if the windows are open, which we can no longer do, because our living room literally fills up with secondhand smoke. Sadly, that's just something I suppose we'll have to live with.
But there is one offense, which we're not putting up with. The first week they were here, they put their garbage in front of our house, instead of theirs. It struck us as strange, but we gave them them the benefit of the doubt and moved it over to their stretch of the sidewalk, figuring that would be a gentle enough way of letting them know. The second week, they did it again. We moved it again, planning to speak to them about it, but every time I've seen him since then he's been sitting on the stoop drunk, which I don't begrudge him, but it seemed an ineffective time to make my point.
Now, there are a number of ways you can get fined for putting out your garbage incorrectly in Philly. You could put it out too early (which they always do), you can sort it incorrectly (they're using recycling containers for general garbage), and you can put out too much (which they've been coming damn close to). Even if being caught is unlikely, I'll be damned if we're going to risk getting fined for their violations.
So last night, when we went out and saw that they'd once again put their garbage in front of our house, we went over and knocked on their door. We waited several minutes, since we knew they were home, knocking periodically, but they didn't come out. So I decided that if I was going to move their damn garbage one more time, I'd put it where they were a lot more certain to get the hint. So I put all their cans on their stoop, piled in front of their door.
Of course, the instant we walked out of sight of their windows, she stuck her head out and was all startled and flustered. We came back and explained the situation and she said they've never had to put trash out before and didn't know how it worked. "So you thought the right thing to do was to put your trash in front of your neighbor's house?" I asked, hardly believing that I had to have this conversation with a woman in her early 50s. "You really thought that's how it works?"
She apologized and kept pleading ignorance, but I'm fairly certain they knew exactly what they were doing. They were putting their trash out in front of our house, so that he didn't have to smell it on his long night of smoking on the stoop.
I'm almost looking forward to the next confrontation, but far more than that I'd rather have our old neighbors back.