Cigarettes, Shadoobies, and Section 347

5 Apr

It happens everyday. Here she comes down the street. A short, bitter, gray haired woman walking her dog. In one hand is a cigarette; the other, an apple. I’ve never seen the color of her eyes because they are always squinting in disapproval and veiled by the smoke from her most recent exhale.

She is home all day, every day. Watching. Any time I look out the window I see her standing in various yards letting her dog leave shadoobies all over the place – all the while staring into their windows and garages like their home is on some sort of tour.

I try and be tolerant of other personalities but it is hard when every day for six years you watch someone let their dog take a shit in your yard while puffing on a cigarette and staring into your window.

If you have ever lived in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, you know what a pain they can be at times. I like the idea of them so that all properties don’t have tires planted in the yard, paint buckets tipped over and dead cats laying around, but sometimes it’s a little over the top.

For a while I had a group of girlfriends that would come over each Tuesday night, and one friend would always spend the night. She would park out on the road so she would not block our cars. After several weeks, I received this letter in the mail from the HOA:

Dear Homeowner, You are parking in the street overnight, and according to Section 347 of 1867 this is unacceptable. Please use this Response Paper to explain how you will handle this situation in the future, and to let us know if you need a copy of the covenants for review.

The only thing I wanted to read 1867 sections of was US Weekly. I grabbed my pen and wrote them back:

Dear HOA, In the future, I will not allow her to park in the street unless I collect a fee.

A few weeks passed and I received a “Second and Final Notice” letter. This seemed a little dramatic since my old neighbors used to play naked badminton in their back yard and I don’t recall them getting a letter.

I wasn’t sure what to do so I called and asked them for suggestions. I needed to know what happened after the “Final Notice.” Do they kick you out? Good, enjoy the mortgage payment.

The conversation went something like this:

“Neighborhood Management, This is Robert.”

“Robert, hi. This is Kari Green. I have…”

“Oh, yes. Miss Green. Hello. I received your letter.”

I was a little taken aback.

“Great, so then you know why I’m calling.”

“Actually, Ms. Green, let me stop you. Your neighbor across the street is the one that is complaining. They are having issues backing out of their driveway when the girl with the silver Honda parks on the street.”

“What? Well, maybe you could contact them and suggest that he take a driving class again so he can successfully back out of a driveway.”

There were a few moments of silence.

“Being able to accomplish such a feat would help him in the long run and be less of a nuisance to others.”

“Miss Green, that’s enough.”

“What if he’s in an emergency situation and he can’t back out of the driveway because he’s a moron? Not my problem!”

I hung up the phone. I was not going to be told “That’s enough” by someone who worked on unpaid neighborhood patrol.

Another week I received a letter that informing me that I left my trash can out too long and that it was due back in at a certain time on trash day.
Rolling my eyes the entire time, I responded:

Dear HOA, Sometimes it is hard being a single girl and having all of these responsibilities. When I get home at 10pm and it is freezing and raining outside, the last thing on my mind is walking outside to roll the nasty garbage can back into my garage so that it will drip water all in the corner and puddle up and be potentially unsafe.” I signed it with a frowny face and wrote “PS – I can’t do everything by myself.”

Over the course of the next few years I would get an occasional letter about some weeds in my front flower bed, a couple more about the parking situation if I had friends over, and another one about the garbage can. I would just respond to each of these with something like, “Thank you for stating the obvious. Make it a great day.” Two of them even came certified mail so I literally had to drive to the post office to go and pick them up. For these response letters I took a picture of myself in front of the post office and in one hand I had the letter wadded up into a ball, and the other hand was giving a “thumbs down.”

My favorite letter of all came while I was dealing with a leaking roof. I had already spent several months and several thousand dollars to repair the problem. When I opened my mailbox to find a letter that told me that there was some roof staining that needed to be removed, I went off on the Girl Scout going door to door selling cookies. She was the only person outside.

I threw down the rest of the mail, stormed inside and wrote the following:

Dear HOA,
Congratulations for making me dread walking down my driveway every day to check my mailbox. I have a constant headache. Every time I open it I have another pain in my ass letter telling me that I can’t have friends over, I’m too lazy to bring up the trash, and now I apparently can’t take care of my house. You know what? I pay my dues on time and I would like to make a personal guarantee that I have the most fun house in this neighborhood. I would also like to take this time to make a suggestion to you since you have no problem making suggestions to me. Why don’t you save the money that you spend on paper and stamps mailing me regular letters and certified letters, and install garbage cans around the neighborhood where people can clean up after their dogs take shits in my yard. I don’t know how many more steaming piles I want to look at in my front lawn from the lady down the road who walks her dog, lets it roam around and use the bathroom there while she smokes a cigarette and eats an apple. It’s gross. It’s all gross, and I don’t have time for it. I have now wasted ten minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. And please don’t contact me again on this matter and by the way I just spent $6,000.00 on a new roof so there will be no more stain so you can save that letter too. This should result in no more letters. And if it does, I am not guaranteeing that I will read them. XOXO–Me.

After this outburst, my mailbox went silent. Life was good. Then I planted some rosebushes that exploded in size. I knew that I needed to have them cut back, but I just had not found time. One day, as I’m going through my mail I noticed a letter from the HOA. Here we go, I thought.

Dear Homeowner,
According to section 697 of the covenants, shrubbery must not exceed three feet. The front flower bed on your property does exceed this. Please use the enclosed response paper to let us know how you will handle this situation.

I debated and then decided that I could not pass this up.

Dear HOA,
Thanks for another letter, I was starting to get worried. I know that my shrubs are very tall. I’m just thankful that I have shrubs. Have you seen the neighbor’s backyard? They don’t even have grass, let alone beautiful, budding rose bushes. I realize that I need to get these shrubs trimmed back, and it will be done next week. Thank you for being so diligent in contacting me any time I leave a lamp on overnight. Also – I was wondering how the progress on the garbage can installation was coming based on our last conversation. A lot of things have changed since then. We don’t park on the street, I move my trashcan in on time, and I have a new roof. You know what hasn’t changed? The Smoking Lady letting her dog take shits in my yard. Every day I will see them coming. She’s puffing on her cigarette, chomping on her apple, and the little pain in my ass dog is straining one out in my yard. Maybe that is why my rosebushes are so tall. See, it’s the vicious circle of life. You may think the language in this letter is offensive. You know what is more offensive? Walking outside to enjoy some coffee and stepping into a steaming pile of dog shit. Please use the enclosed response paper and let me know how this will be handled.
Signed, Tired of Talking About This And Getting Your Letters

When I finally decided to put my house on the market and sold it, I received a letter from the HOA stating that they wish me all the best and will miss me being a part of the neighborhood. For some reason, I don’t believe them.

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