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Sometimes Good Fences Make Good Neighbors



By John Reynolds/

There's a famous poem written 100 years ago about two New England farmers mulling over whether to continue rebuilding the stone wall dividing their properties. The narrator didn't see any reason to keep the wall anymore, while his neighbor kept repeating an adage he learned from his father, "good fences make good neighbors."

Anyway, the weather broke last week. The temperature hit 40 degrees and the roads were clear, so I decided to take the motorcycle out for a ride. I rolled the bike out of my garage and turned towards my neighbor's house so I could head down the driveway. As I was sitting on my bike, warming it up, I stared at the pile of junk that has been sitting in front of my neighbor's garage for the last three months – I had enough, and decided to take matters into my own hands – I got off the bike, went into my garage, grabbed a hammer, and headed over to my neighbor's house with bad intentions.

CNBI started pulling nails out of the stack of press boards that were sitting in their driveway – waiting for someone to step on – then gathered up the pieces of broken mirror lying on the ground that once belonged to a vanity set, threw them in the trash, then moved the pile out to the curb.

My neighbor's house has been deteriorating the last few years. The owner lost her job and couldn't keep up with the bills. Her problems mounted, and unfortunately, she passed away 18 months ago. Her sister assumed control of the house, never bothering to probate the will, and decided that while the bank was in no hurry to foreclose, it was an opportunity for her two unemployed friends to crash there rent-free – the house is owned by a dead person and has been occupied by a couple of deadbeats.

Her employment-challenged friends have been living next to me for a year and a half now. I've been cutting their grass and occasionally picking up trash on their property that I got tired of looking at and apparently they didn't have time to pick up. Being I work at least forty hours a week more than they do, I'm guessing their time management skills suck. Cutting their grass one day last summer, I noticed a pile of plastic bags accumulating on their patio out back. I thought maybe they were collecting something, then saw one of them placing their dog's droppings into a plastic bag and throwing it on the pile – rather than throwing out the crap, they were saving it. Maybe they were waiting for the price of crap to go up so they could make a killing in the crap market.

Another time I was about to ride my bike down the separation strip between our driveways, and noticed a trash lid lying on the ground. I picked it up, threw it in front of their garage, and headed out. The next day I noticed the same trash lid sitting on the same spot. What? I picked it up, and as I was about to toss it in front of their garage again, I saw a broken bottle in the spot where the trash lid sat. After a moment of incredulity, it took my brain 2 seconds to start working again. Those lazy !@#$%s dropped a bottle, and instead of picking it up, covered it with a trash lid. It took me 30 seconds to place the fragments of the bottle in the trash. I sometimes stretch the truth a little to make a story more interesting, but I ain't making this up. They must have been waiting for the government to send someone out to clean it up.

I didn't see their old, beat up car parked in the driveway for a few weeks, and assumed the bank booted'em out. I went out back and peeked in a window. There was no furniture in the living room and kitchen, the rugs were trashed, the walls had holes in them with wires hanging out, and junk was strewn about. "They must have cleared out," I thought.

The next day I noticed a Century 21 sign in their window. The sister, or whoever is pretending to be the owner, is short-selling the house "as is", including the bagged crap out back and soiled-sheet window treatments . A few days later, I saw one of them walking out the door smoking a cigarette.  "Maybe she came back to clean up", I fantasized. Nope, she was hanging around the following week and must still be living there. I can imagine the real estate agent showing the house to a prospective buyer, "don't mind the person sleeping on the floor, or the holes in the wall."

After living next to those two for the past 18 months, my tolerance for lazy government-subsidized bums has dropped a few notches. In today's collapsed housing market where it takes New Jersey banks up to three years to foreclose on a property, and the law makes it tough for banks to evict deadbeats, a "ten-foot-high brick wall makes better neighbors."

I went to Gloucester Catholic in '72 and currently live in Gloucester Township. If I offended anyone, feel free to unload on me at my blog



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