Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nosy neighbours, nerve and not losing it

I’ve written quite a bit about rage recently. Road rage, parking rage, inspector rage, supermarket rage, pregnant rage, dentist rage and when I find the time I will share with you the joys of the little one’s Naptime Rage but it all pales in significance with the rage I experienced today. Nosy Parker Rage.

Over the last two weeks, my brother and I have been driving two hours (each way) to our parents home to sort through their things as they’ve now both passed away. Packing up, not just a houseful of stuff, but a home full of memories is hard work. It’s exhausting both mentally and physically and it’s an absolutely HUGE fucking task. It was our sixth full day at this.

Somewhere around noon, a woman I’ve never seen before in my life and who I will name Busybody Betty had the nerve to walk uninvited into the kitchen of my mum’s house, where I was sitting on the floor going through the contents of a draw and have a go at me for throwing things out.

“Excuse me, but I hope you’ve been taking things to the Op Shop.” She said in a tone that was completely condescending. Quite stunned and not sure whether this person wasn't slightly unstable, I got to my feet. I smiled and nodded as I ushered her towards the door.
“Oh yes, 10 or 15 loads*.” I said sweetly, stepping into her so that she had no choice but to exit out of the house.
“She had a lot of very good things, all her patterns, wool, sewing machines. We’ve been absolutely crying over the things you’ve thrown away.” (I’ve not thrown away any such things).
“It’s under control.” I said still smiling sweetly. “Thanks for stopping by” and just as I was about to swing the door shut I heard her say something about going through the skips. Whatever.

I stood in the kitchen for a few moments wondering if I’d just been the victim of a very poor taste practical joke. Once I was sure she’d left I ran out to the backyard shed where my brother was dealing with a white ant situation and told him what had just happened. My brother, who is forever telling me to calm down when I start to get stabby and who is always urging me to avoid confrontation was completely outraged!

“What the fuck?!? Is she still here?” He charged down the driveway with me in toe (nothing’s really changed since we were kids) but Busybody Betty was long gone. “You should have told her to fuck the hell off!” he said and then ranted for a few moments about the absolute nerve of the woman. “Wait, what did she look like?” he asked suddenly and we soon realised that Busybody Betty was the same woman who had had a go at him on our first day there for taking so long to sort out the house. “Finally some action. It’s been sitting there empty for too long”.

So, it seems we can’t leave the place as is but we can’t throw anything out either. Her unwanted intrusion into my space pissed me off so much I was physically shaking. Who the hell does she think she is? What business is it of hers? Who walks into another person’s house and starts lecturing them on what they are doing? Seriously, what could she possibly be thinking. How is that OK in any world?

When my mum died in December I was 6 months pregnant. While she had been ill for about a year prior, I did not expect her to die that day. I was with her at the time and her death was sudden, horrific and traumatic. It has given me nightmares on more occasions than I care to remember. Not long after the funeral my brother, the only other member of my family of origin, returned to New Zealand where he was working.

Pregnant, orphaned and grief stricken, the last thing I even wanted to think about was trifling through my parent’s house. I needed my mum more than ever before and every time the baby moved I felt just a little bit heartbroken, scared and alone. It’s no easy feat trying to reconcile the grief over the death of a loved one and the sublime joy of being pregnant with your first child.

Fat Cat
So I put it off. I focused on the happy stuff. I put my energy into the little person that was about to join us and took comfort in Fat Cat (my mum’s cuddly 15 year old cat who came to live with us).

Not that I owe anyone an explanation. If we choose to sit on the house and contents for 6 months, 6 years or 6 decades that’s our choice to make. If we choose to throw out, keep, sell or give away the contents of the house, that is also our choice to make. There is no right or wrong in these situations.

I’m kind of proud of myself for not losing it with her and for giving her the least satisfying response that could possibly have been given. I can guarantee that when she brings it up with her sewing circle (or who ever she gossips with) and they ask her “What did she say to that?” Busybody Betty wont quite be able to recall and when they ask about the stuff she mentioned, Busybody Betty will realise that I didn’t actually give her any answers. That will no doubt annoy and infuriate her, albeit not quite as much as a punch in the nose would have.

*I should also mention that BOTH of the Op Shops in the town told us after several full carloads of things that they just couldn’t handle any more stuff. Plus I completely filled one of those clothing bins. They also can’t take electrical goods, bedding, furniture, baby stuff, mattresses or intimate apparel**.

**I don’t even want to know who buys second hand skivvies.

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  1. Well done you for having the presence of mind to respond the way you did. Who walks in somebody's home and does that? Who are these people?!

  2. Bonus points if, next time you see her, you call her a bush fart. Bush Fart Betty.

  3. When a person professes to have been crying over the fate of someone else's possessions but can't muster the decency to pay respects to that person's surviving family members, then that person is clearly not worth much consideration.

    I think one of the most infuriating things about incidents like this is thinking later of all thing things you wish you'd thought to say or do at the time that would have been so much more satisfying. You did the right thing by quickly isolating and removing the offending party, of course. And yet, I'm sure you've thought of a million comebacks and things you wish you'd thrown at her since she had the temerity to intrude upon you. All I can say is, I hate people like that and I tip my hat to you for handling it as maturely as you did.

  4. @Redact That - LOL Bush Fart Betty! I love it. I'll try and work that in if she's silly enough to return.

    @Travis McClain You raise an interesting point and one that my brother also mentioned. This woman was not known to my Mum (Mum would have mentioned her) and she definitely didn't attend the funeral. My brother also wondered if watching us get rid of so much stuff has brought up issues of mortality in herself. Personally, I agree with you, she's not worth consideration.

    And yes, I thought of so many comebacks it's infuriating lol You really do need a pause button in life sometimes.