The doorbell rings. Again. I know who it is. There is a group home across the street. One of the new guests at the home is a tiny little woman with some kind of learning disability. Before I knew she had a learning disability I had threatened her off my property with a blunt object after she rang the doorbell seven different times in one day. Now that I know she can’t help herself, I have resigned myself to the hell of living next to a profit-making group home that doesn’t understand its obligations to it’s paying guests.
I try ignoring the doorbell, even though it grates on my nerves. The Wife says “come smell the bread. It’ll make you happy.” She’s baking bread again. It’s a good sign. We’ve just gotten back from a walk in Bartholomew park, a walk where I spent quality time and energy moving shopping carts up out of the park and onto the road shoulder where the local HEB would be able see it’s errant carts and come get them. I wasn’t able to do more than move them up to the street because I can’t leave the Wife unsupervised for long in her current drugged post-surgery state. She was looking for me as it was and was almost in tears when I got back to her.
That is me not leaving to others what I can do myself. Internalizing the work that needs doing and getting it done because someone needs to do it. This is me taking the overworked staff of the nearby HEB into account, people whose jobs I once did as well, and doing my part to help them out. One of the kids biking through the park was mystified by my behavior. “Are you working?” he asked me.
“No,” I said. “I’m doing what somebody else should have done a month ago.” The grass had grown up around some of these carts. I knew they had been there for weeks at least. Like most people these days, this child had no idea of the meaning of civic service, of maintaining public spaces for the benefit of all. Most people understand that externalized costs; in this case, leaving the carts for someone else to pick up and move, will profit them with more time and energy. They don’t understand that the costs come out of everyone’s enjoyment in using the public space, out of our pockets in increased prices at the stores that have to replace the lost carts.
There were more carts in the park than I could move, and the Wife cajoled me back into the car rather than let me wear myself out doing the work that other’s wouldn’t do. Got me back in the car to drive back home, only for us to be confronted with even more work being left undone. Work that others were actually being paid to do. Paid to do, and shirking in their paid duties. The doorbell rings twice more.
Knowing my state of mind and fearing a further tirade on my part, the Wife mercifully answered the door for me and shoed the poor woman off with encouragement to do whatever it was she felt she needed to tell us about before doing. She’s bothered neighbors up and down the street now by ringing their doorbells. She’s pestered the school across the street to near distraction with her insistence she needed to go visit the children in the school.
However, she isn’t the problem. The group home is the problem. There has been another guest over here recently, someone has been stealing water out of our front hose bib. I’ve caught him in the act more than once. It’s not that I mind the occasional bottle filling, what I do mind is these intruders leaving the valve open and letting water run out all over the yard for days, costing me hundreds of dollars in wasted water because I don’t know someone else left the tap on.
The more recent visitor has complained that the water isn’t available to the residents of the group home. I don’t know how true that is, but it would explain the visits to fill bottles before setting out on a daily meander. A daily meander that probably shouldn’t be carried on unsupervised if the individual in question is just going to wander onto private property and take things.
The management of the group home is being paid by the caretakers (family or state, whoever they are) of the residents to keep staff in residence to assist these people with their daily needs. They are being paid and then they let their charges roam freely about the neighborhood. Let them annoy neighbors with their demands which remain unsatisfied by the people who are being paid to take care of them. Externalize costs, internalize profits.
What do they care? They’re making money. So what if the lives of the neighbors are impacted by their dereliction of duty?
The original owner of the house, a man I knew, had his own problems that impacted the neighborhood. He ran an automotive shop out of his garage, and this aggravated a lot of neighbors. The difference here is, if one of us wanted to talk to him, we knew where he lived and could take up our complaints with him or have the city intercede on our behalf.
After he lost/sold the house it has passed through several hands, none of them good hands. We’ve joked over the years about the quality of the neighbors gradually becoming more hellish. First it was a migrant workers home, packed full of dozens of people. Then it was a gang den, a drug dealer’s delivery center, and now it is the cannibal’s house. They should be exhuming body parts out of the backyard any day now unless the final form of derelict property owner, a flame-enshrouded pitchfork wielder, turns the property into a gateway to Hell itself and swallows it and the neighborhood whole. How I miss the days when it was just broken down cars sitting in the driveway across the street.
Now there is the weekly visit from police/EMS/HHS, lights flashing, sirens blaring at all hours of the day and night. All because the management of the group home, Grace & Mercy Supervised Living, doesn’t have a presence in the neighborhood that can be held to account for their dereliction. The owners of the venture fled with the the proceeds, the company now in arrears. Just another Trump, just another Kushner, just another slumlord profiting off the misery of others, leaving the real work for other people to do.
No wonder that child in the park couldn’t understand what I was doing. None of the people who are held up as behavioral examples for him to model would ever stoop to doing real work in public, especially if they weren’t being paid to do it.