Try a Little Kindness

Late last Friday afternoon, almost all of St. Louis was under a severe thunderstorm warning, with a chance for tornadoes to develop.  I was worried that my daughter and son-in-law wouldn’t make it to the daycare center in time to get my grandson, so I offered to pick him up.  We all met at my house just before the storm broke.  Thankfully, we didn’t get any tornadoes, but we got a lot of rain in a very short amount of time.

fullsizeoutput_54c2At first it was sort of fun to stand on our front porch and watch the rain come down, once we were sure it was safe to do so.  But then we noticed that the water was steadily rising, and that some of the neighbor’s recycling bins were floating down the street.  Soon the water was up to the hubcap’s of my daughter’s car, which was parked in front of our house.  Our drive-way looked like a river, and we watched, fascinated, as several plastic drainage pipes floated down our driveway, followed by small branches and what looked like an Amazon Prime package.  As my one-year old grandson so eloquently put it, “Oh, no!”

We’ve lived in our house for over twenty-five years and this is only the second time I’ve seen this type of flooding.  When the rain finally let up and the water began to recede,  my husband went around back to see if our garage had been flooded.

The good news was that the inside of our garage was dry.  The bad news was that the mother of our new neighbor behind us was out in her daughter’s yard, inspecting the damage.  And she was, to put it mildly, a little out of sorts.  She didn’t understand how so much water ended up in her daughter’s back yard.  She shared her opinion that the three skinny bushes we had planted between our yards must have caused all that water to back up onto her daughter’s property, and wanted to know what kind of idiot would plant bushes there.  The situation was, she kept repeating, “unacceptable.”

My husband is normally a patient man.  He listened to her complaints, then pointed out that our houses sit at the bottom of our street and that the water from the top of our street flows downhill towards us.  And that the three scraggly bushes did nothing to prevent the thousands of gallons of water from pouring down our driveway, so they’d hardly cause a flood in her daughter’s yard.  But eventually he’d had enough, and came back inside, shaking his head at her behavior.  My guess is that this woman has never been nominated for neighbor of the year.

The thing is, I understood why she was upset.  Her daughter had recently moved into the house, and I’m sure it was very concerning for her to see the kind of flooding we experienced last Friday.  But what I can’t excuse is how determined she was to find someone to blame, and how she took her anger out on my husband.  That, in my opinion, is what’s truly “unacceptable.” We don’t always get to control our emotions, but we most certainly can control how we express them.  And from a purely practical standpoint, it’s never a good idea to alienate the people who live next to you.

Luckily, the young woman who actually lives in the house is very nice, and doesn’t seem to be angry at all.  Which means that I think she will be a nice neighbor, and who knows?  We might even be able to work together to figure out a way to redirect at least some of the water from heavy rains.

But meanwhile, I have to say that I’m hoping that her mother doesn’t visit very often……

100 thoughts on “Try a Little Kindness

  1. Im sorry to hear about the flooding but Im happy you didn’t have any damage. It is difficult when someone needs to find blame. I can only imagine her daughter was embarrassed by her manners. I hope she doesn’t visit often 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know, I honestly feel sorry for her daughter! She’s the one who lives here, and she probably was embarrassed. But it’s all good now…just a bit upsetting at the time.

      Like

  2. We surely can’t change how people act – especially ones like that mother who behaved so inappropriately. We can only change how we respond, and it sounds like your husband did it well. We never know what is going on in someone’s mind/heart/life when they are reacting in such a way. Often times we later find out there was an underlying issue. So responding in kindness can make a huge difference. Let’s look at it as an “opportunity” :). I love the opportunity to change that person’s attitude with our response. It is one of the most fulfilling things! Glad all is ok there! I can fully imagine how you felt about picking up your grandie! Love to all!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Jodi! And I think you are right, she probably over-reacted due to something that was going on in her own life, which had nothing to do with how she acted toward my husband. (Maybe she didn’t want her daughter to buy the house in the first place?) But for whatever reason, I’m glad that my husband kept his cool and didn’t return anger for anger. I think that helped! And sometimes we can turn a bad situation around with our response. I sure hope he did, anyway! Thanks for your continued support….that’s the kind of relationship that makes life so much easier!! Love to you and your family too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Something similar happened to us two years ago in early spring, when the bears come out of hibernation. When they find little food, they move in and prowl around our backyards in search of food in our garbage cans. One bear ripped our garbage can open and pulled out a bag and dragged it over to our new neighbour’s yard from Alberta. There the bag’s content was scattered all over the place. While I was already picking up all the junk from his yard, the ‘friendly’ neighbour verbally attacked my wife with many swear words within his 5-minute barrage, which I have not heard in my entire life. Yes, he had reason to be annoyed, but he had no control over his anger. Two years later, we are beginning slowly to say hi to each other.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, that would be hard to forgive someone verbally attacking your wife, especially over something that was clearly not her fault. I understand people getting angry and frustrated, but I really don’t think that excuses them taking their anger out on someone else. That only makes things worse, and can be very hard to get past!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, we’ve had alternating rain and then a few cool days, then rain….it’s creating all kinds of problems with lawns and plants this year! Luckily, it’s dry in our house and that’s what counts the most.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh wow (floods and the word flood from the neighbor)! Glad you didn’t sustain any flooding damages and hope the words don’t do long term damages either. I’m a caregiver for an Aunt and she constantly has word floods and they can be very damaging, so I’m with you…., hopefully her visits are few!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, that’s hard when you have to endure it on a regular basis! Our experience was annoying, but we were able to move past it more quickly knowing that we didn’t know this woman and probably will have very little interaction with her in the future. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with it from an aunt you are taking care of!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I do think she was just super stressed and upset, and not thinking about what she was saying. In her defense, she didn’t know those were our bushes. But still, my husband didn’t need to be the target of her anger, and we all need to think before we “let it rip” on someone! Thanks for your comment…

      Like

    • You’re so right, human really are the same, no matter where they live! And I do think that the incident was one-time. The mom doesn’t live there, and my guess is that once she calmed down, she realized that she was a bit out of line.

      Like

  5. Maybe she doesn’t want her daughter staying there and amped up the 3 little bushes to prove her point.

    Whatever her excuse for behaving that way, she missed the bigger issue – that it could have been a tornado and a whole lot more damage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the way we felt! With all the warnings out..tornado, major storms with damaging winds and hail, etc., we were actually quite relieved to deal with nothing more than temporary flooding in the street and yards. Sometimes, gratitude is the only response that is needed!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it could have been so much worse, based on the predictions. My guess is that the fact that this was her daughter’s new house had something to do with her reaction. Maybe she thinks this happens every time it rains? Which it doesn’t (and my husband did try to tell her that). We just got so much rain in such a short time that the storm sewers couldn’t handle it, and the water backed up into the street and yards.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am glad you are okay, and that the flooding was not any worse than it was. It is a scary thing to see the water rising like that. And we never know in a storm if it may get worse. Thank God, there was not a tornado. Sadly, it is very hard to know how to deal with a person who is irrational. Your husband did show kindness and compassion with this lady who was so misguided. It is to his credit that he remained cool, calm, and collected under the circumstances. He tried to explain the obvious, but he did not take her on and argue with her. Arguing with a person like that is useless. It is a wise person who knows when to walk away and not become part of another person’s drama.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, he tried to reason with her, but she wasn’t really ready to hear facts. So he handled it well… When he walked away, she even said “It was nice to meet you!” So maybe she was already calming down and realizing she was being inappropriate. We were just glad that there was no real damage and no one was hurt. They were predicting much worse!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think sometimes when we do not react negatively to another person’s drama, they realize that they are behaving badly. They think they are going to make you mad, and then that does not happen. It sort of changes everything up. I am not surprised that she said it was nice to meet your husband. A kind reaction is not what she usually receives. Perhaps, she will think twice next time, and take a new tact…that of being kind herself. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this lesson. “We don’t always get to control our emotions, but we most certainly can control how we express them”.
    Most of the time unknowingly we hurt someone which is of course avoidable.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly! We really can choose how we express our emotions, and in doing so, we make sure we don’t pass our pain along to others. Personally, when I’m really mad, I try to take the time to “cool off” before I speak to anyone. That really helps!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Me too! But overall, we’re very lucky with our neighbors. They’re all nice people and easy to live by. I am, however, glad that the mom doesn’t live behind us, even though I suspect she is usually a much nicer person than that. Hope so, anyway!

      Like

  8. The woman’s targeting your three little bushes seems a little bizarre to me. It seems she feels more comfortable finding blame instead of searching for possible solutions. But you’re right, it’s never a good idea to alienate neighbors.
    I must admit I like the part about you and your grandson having fun watching the streets fill up with water. There’s is something fascinating about watching this process from the safety of your porch. Your grandson’s cute and concerned reaction was perfect!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You know, the more I think about it, the more I think she was searching for something…or someone…to blame because that way, the problem could be solved. As in, dig up those bushes and no more flooding. Which, as my husband pointed out, was not the case. When you live near the bottom of a hill, sometimes your yard is going to get flooded! But yes, it was fun to stand on our porch (which sits up from the street so we never have to worry about the water reaching our house) and watch the rain. Especially since it was just rain, and no damaging storms. Our mood was almost festive, and I also loved hearing that little voice saying, “Oh, no!”

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My ex-wife must be the lady your husband dealt with. I know that sounds like a joke, and it partially is. It very well could be a person who lives under a victimhood umbrella. I was married to someone who believes whatever calamity comes her way must be a vicious attack aimed at her by someone else. A flood would be a great example. If an act of God, it must mean someone of human form near her must be getting punishment from God and thus she is also a victim of residual. All that to say, the woman might have some mental issues. Meanwhile, you’re saving on your water bill. Glad you were able to dodge flood damage. God’s grip. -Alan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! I should have been collecting that rain water….I would have enough to tide us over for a very long time! But yes, I do agree that there are some people who see themselves as perpetual victims and there’s not much anyone can do to please them. Others seem to operate solely in “disaster mode,” lurching from one catastrophe to another, and if life is good, they’ll actively look for a problem to ruin it. I’m sorry you had to live with that during your first marriage, as that can’t have been easy. Take care!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post Ann. Unfortunately, people are always looking to blame others for flooding woes and many hire attorneys for compensation (my husband is currently involved in at least two flooding cases at his law firm.) Let me know if you need any irrigation advice. I just spent the past several weeks shoring up my yard and diverting water to try to have some semblance of a lawn. I also live on the bottom of a hill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you! Then you know what we live with. Honestly, we’re okay because about fifteen years ago, the sewer district replaced the storm sewer line that runs next to our house, and when we poured our new driveway, we left a bit of ditch next to it which diverts the water than runs behind our house out into the street and into the storm sewers. This flooding occurred because the rain came so fast that the storm sewers were over-loaded. But yes, people certainly do sue over issues like this, especially if the flooding is a result of a neighbor building something new. We live in a crazy world, don’t we?

      Liked by 1 person

    • No, it is never productive to simply complain and pass the blame. I remember years ago, when we lived in a different house, and the city paved our street. In doing so, they raised the lip to our driveway just enough that the rainwater diverted into our next-door neighbor’s front yard, and straight into his attached garage. He called us and asked, very nicely, if we would ask the city to come out and fix that so his garage wouldn’t flood any more. And of course we were happy to do that! The city came back out, took off the lip, and my neighbor had no more problems. Sometimes, all it takes to solve a problem is the willingness to be civil and work together!

      Liked by 3 people

  11. I feel sorry for the daughter, probably having to smooth over his mother’s excesses for most of her life. Maybe the mother was just overwhelmed, with no intrapersonal skill to read her feelings and understand her own discomfort. Sad, because she might gather some (much needed?) kindness to herself if she wasn’t such a complainer/blamer. Maybe she’s fine when the rest of the world is…
    Glad, though, that the floodwaters stayed out of your yard!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we were fine: there was water in our yard and in our driveway, but none in our house so no damage was done. And I’m guessing the mother just sort of “lost it” and lashed out without thinking things through. We’re all protective of our children, I think. But as you say, her actions didn’t help her daughter at all. I hope this isn’t how she usually acts, or her daughter must be used to smoothing things over!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Yikes, that’s a lot of rain. I’m glad it wasn’t any worse with significant damage, especially inside your garage. But your neighbour’s mother sounds like she’s riding high on her horse, being rather snooty trying to blame and point fingers to justify an unavoidable ‘act of god’ on someone else. It does help to try to see it from their point of view – ie. her wanting a reason and to be able to blame because she’s upset for her daughter and I imagine the flooding is quite worrying and stressful. Nonetheless, I think you and hubby did well keeping the frustration under wraps! I hope there was nothing too valuable in that Amazon package, I wonder how drones would have got on attempting a delivery in that sort of weather? 😉
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! I was hoping that it was just an empty envelope rather than a full package, but it disappeared so I’ll ever know. And that’s one more reason why I’m not a fan of drones delivering packages! And thanks for the kind words. I was proud of my husband for keeping his cool and dealing with the situation so well. I’m not sure I would have had his patience. I like to think I would, but I can’t say for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! Yes, we didn’t see this response coming. I can understand her frustration, I just can’t excuse her taking it out on my husband. But she did calm down by the end of the conversation, and we’ve heard no more about it.

      Like

    • Thanks, Rachel! My husband was the one who talked to her, and when I heard what she had said, I was upset on his behalf. (Although I didn’t say anything to the mom.) But now that I think about it, I really think she just was lashing out in anger and frustration. Hopefully, if there are future encounters, they will go better!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The problem with flooding is that with climate change now well upon us, there will be many more worse floods and severe weather in every form (heat, drought, rain, earthquakes, hurricanes) of course. It will become the norm for us all, sadly.

    Your neighbor…. haha. Reminds me of a neighbor we had when my kids were in middle school. She lived behind us and we had very few interactions with her until one day she came to the house demanding to know which of my sons had used a bbgun to shoot fruit off her fruit tree! I told her that NONE of my sons HAD a bb gun, so it was none of them. No matter what logic I used, no matter how kindly and firmly I told her, she had made up her mind and there was no way to get through to her. Finally I shrugged my shoulders and “shook it off”, making a mental note to avoid her should I ever see her again… Ohhh, some people just LOVE to blame others. It makes life so much easier for them!!

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, you’re right about the flooding. With the ocean’s waters rising, flooding is going to become more and more common.
      As for that neighbor of yours: my goodness, that is a weird way to look at things! For her to decide that your sons must have shot the fruit off her tree and then stick to that story no matter how much you talked to her is almost a sign of being out of touch with reality. Hope you never had to deal with her again!

      Like

  14. Ah, neighbors. Do your best to love them and keep your temper. Sometimes I have to strongly remind myself that someday we may all have to pull together in an emergency. But honestly, it can be easier to stash some extra food to help cover them in said hypothetical emergency than actually talking to them sometimes. People can be astonishingly egocentric when it comes to their own little kingdoms…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved that last line! Because you’re right, it’s so easy for people to think that their house and yard are theirs and theirs alone, when in reality, there are things that can happen to them that are far beyond our control. Natural disasters, the city deciding to build a highway right through your property, or even a neighbor’s tree falling on your fence….all this stuff happens. And all we can do is try to deal with it with dignity and civility towards others.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. It is so easy to blame someone else for all our problems. Yesterday, I had a small issue concerning my car and the garage door. It was my mistake and I was thinking of ways to put the blame on the garage door, the motor, the car and even the dress and shoes that I chose to wear. And I had 2-3 points to blame each of it. In retrospect, all of that seems so funny. The truth is that I was not careful and that is why I hit my car on the garage door. But all the effort that followed the incident made me grumpy and the least I could do was to transfer the blame on to something else. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Deepa, I think you hit the nail on the head: it is just human nature to want to blame someone or something when disaster strikes, no matter how big or small. I guess this is just an area where we have to learn to ignore our baser instincts and take the high road. Thanks for this comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Flooding can be so unnerving can’t it Ann. As can the behaviour of some people. No wonder your husband became exasperated. It’s hard to fathom the way some people overreact.
    And what strange weather we’re seeing lately. Today, on the 6th day of spring we experienced a freak hailstorm and plummeting temperatures. Crazy really.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the weather has certainly become more unpredictable, and I’m sure the fires in Brazil will make it even worse! But this flood wasn’t bad for anyone in our neighborhood, we just had flooded yards, driveways and streets. I’ve read in our neighborhood newspaper that lots of other people had water in their basements, which is far worse. I think that woman should count her blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. We have been experiencing the people around us are mostly blaming others and really it’s so easy to point finger at someone to blame but as your husband and you held patience, the world need it in this advanced era. And trust me it’s in our hands to beautify this world with Peace and Love by just treating with such good behaviors and patience. Hope we individuals with this kind attitude can spread the love and peace worldwide 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • We were very lucky, in that the waters receded very quickly and none of it got in our house (which, thankfully, sits well above the street as our front yard slopes up). We saw in the papers this weekend that lots of others weren’t nearly so fortunate, and had their basements flooded! So really, our neighbor’s mom had very little to complain about, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Some people always have to find someone to blame for something and they always have to complain about everything! Thankfully it’s the daughter who lives next to you and not the mother… Imagine that!

    I’m glad there wasn’t much damage done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we’re thankful for that, too! The daughter is quite nice, and I’m sure she’ll be a good neighbor. Sometimes, things just happen. And as you say, there wasn’t any real damage done, so we were all quite lucky, I think. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  19. This behavior sounds like Bipolar Disorder (from which I too suffer.) There are times when the mind knows that something shouldn’t be said, but the mouth lashes out, like the leg does when a Doctor raps the patella. I think an angry outburst like that can also be signs of Alzheimer’s or some other dementia-related disorder. I think your advice to just avoid confrontation is good. In the meanwhile give the old gal, the benefit of a doubt. 😉 BTW, thanks for visiting my blog. 🙂 and further BTW, I just spent 8 mos. in The Lou,, working for Boeing. I’ve got a Love/Hate relationship with STL (Mostly Love, but the weather, as you mentioned sorta dominates life. We ppl in NorCal are wimps and don’t appreciate the upside of our boring weather.)

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Sorry to hear you have such unreasonable neighbors, Ann. All the weather problems are blamed on upi and your bushes? She thinks very highly of you, sort of like you having divinity in controlling the external situations. Perhaps its time to move 😉 Have you ever considered joining us here, in Florida :)?

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Oh my! I totally get that you hope your neighbour’s mother won’t come too often to visit. 😂
    I’m really sorry about the flooding, I know how scary that can be. What I don’t get is how that woman practically ended up blaming you for it! But I bet she’s not the only one acting like that, there are bound to be lots of people like her. Let’s just hope they live all in one neighbourhood together. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, I think she was just shocked by what happened. The flooding was scary, but in our immediate area, none of it got into our houses. (Surrounding areas weren’t so lucky!) Luckily, the mom doesn’t live there, and my husband talked to her daughter a couple of days later, and she was as nice as she could be. Plus, he showed her the video of how deep the water was in our yard and street (far deeper than her yard) so I think they got that this was just a very rare thing, and not one that can be solved by removing three scrawny little bushes!

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.