I pray for my downstairs neighbor.
She’s almost 100 years old. She’s lived practically forever. She’s certainly lived downstairs in this building forever. Ask her.
Right around the time I moved in, her perfect boyfriend (yes, older people have boyfriends) became unperfect and they wound up splitting. Right around the time I moved in, her perfect heart became unperfect and she wound up going to the hospital. Right around the time I moved in, her perfect upstairs neighbor of the prior ten years became unperfect.
A plumber reseats my wobbly toilet. Four hours later, we learn that one of the flange screws nicked an improperly-placed hot water pipe under the floor. By then, my downstairs neighbor’s bathroom ceiling and adjacent hall carpet are wet with hot water.
My plumber and I feel awful. We industrial-vacuum, clean up the mess, and offer to power-dry Amanda’s carpet and repair her ceiling the next morning. She accepts, but when the crew we hired shows up at her door as agreed:
“Oh, no–I’ve changed my mind.”
The crew, BTW, still has to be paid. Over the course of the next three days I hear:
“You know you’re going to have to replace ALL my wall-to-wall carpet.”
“I’m going to have to speak with my lawyer about this.” (To think I bought her apology flowers!)
And the best of all: “You’re clearly in the HABIT of doing this type of thing!”
I’m confused. Does she think I’m the Mad Pipe Piercer whose rain of terror wets carpet wherever I go?
Weeks later, I am chatting with one of my other neighbors. I am new here, and go out of my way to be social, which is hard for my Aspie-shy self. This neighbor and I have become “stop-and-chat friendly”. Today, he asks “Have you heard about that awful, awful woman who flooded Amanda’s place with her terrible plumber?”
Now I know why neighbors have begun giving me dirty looks. The Amanda News Network must be widely-followed. THIS explains why even people who’ve never met me somehow know me well enough to hate me.
I Couldn’t Choose–Pick Your Favorite Illustration!
8:30 at night. I’m home alone snuggled up with author Bill Bryson. One of us is laughing my #ss off. The phone rings. Prissy, precise tones needle inside of my ear:
“This is Amanda. Your shower’s been running for over an hour. That’s a big waste of water.”
I check down at my body wrapped up in my blankies. Dry. Not one soggy segment.
“Amanda, I have no water running anywhere.”
Never mind that if I choose to have hour-long shower sex, it’s none of her business. (Fang only wished!)
Happily, I then receive the following gracious apology:
“Oh. It must be someone else then.” (CLICK!)
Now I’m carrying in groceries. Out pops the old woman from under the stairs:
“You need to clean up this mess your workers dumped off your balcony!”
My workers would have needed four-foot arms to dump a mess where she indicates. “You mean this mess all tinged green? The color our building was just painted by the condominium painters?”
Tiny eyes squinch up in bitterness.
I’m actually nice enough to clean up the painters’ mess, feeling sorry for the elderly Amanda and her changed circumstances. What a sap.
My new kitchen counters are finally being installed. The re-tiling of my shower will be done by the same very sweet man over the next two days. Suddenly, the condominium’s head of maintenance rushes through my open front door:
“She says she’s calling the city on you right NOW.”
No need to ask who “she” is. Even the Maintenance crew are somehow aware of her hate for me.
“WHAT?!” says my installer. “I’m not doink anytink wrong! For why would she call the city? I’m allowed to be doink dis!”
“I know, but she says there’s too much noise, and if she hears any more noise she’s calling the city.”
And THAT is the last day I see my tiler. He was the friend of a friend of a friend. I can’t afford other tilers right now due to large expenses this year and last (I’m not exactly destitute–it’s complicated).
I have taken no shower or bath inside my own home since.
Last week, I got a call from the condominium manager.
“I’ve had a complaint.”
“Really. Let me guess from whom.”
“She says your balcony plant water is dripping down onto her patio.”
I take a breath before answering.
“Well, Sam, let me explain how I water those plants. I take one Boston fern…
…carry it in from the balcony, across my hardwood floor into my bathroom, sit it in a big mixing bowl of water on my bathroom floor, leave it there for an hour, come back and lift it out of that bowl, sit it in a dry bowl until it stops dripping, pick it up and shake it to make sure there’s no more water—because I don’t want it dripping on my hardwood floor—and then carry it across my hardwood floor back out to the balcony. When I get finished watering all four ferns, I have a big mess of fern leaves on my hardwood floor—but no water.”
Sam takes a breath before answering.
“Thank you, Babe.”
I pray for my downstairs neighbor.
I pray that peace will come to her heart.
I try not to pray that it is the permanent kind.
It is now many months since Amanda’s damage from the leak was “made whole”: The leak was fixed that night, and an insurance check was paid for her ceiling repairs (no new carpeting was deemed warranted). But it turns out that, from Amanda’s perspective, this is still an open issue.
She hired a plumber just this week with the stated intent that he would enter MY home to inspect ALL of my plumbing.
Do you think Jesus would do THAT?
Realistic illustrations of a real Amanda1 would show, instead of the buffoonish photos and cartoons used herein, a highly-attractive woman who looks nowhere near her age.
1 If there even is such a person–someone so petty and vindictive, who’s waged a campaign of harassment which has caused such stress that I literally got the shakes from her recent phone calls and my disease symptoms flared.
Thank goodness no one like that really exists and none of these awful events really happened. And thank you, God, for my sense of humor.