Saturday, October 6, 2012

neighbours - episode 4

A few weeks ago, our little family had a holiday at Sorrento.
While we were away, our lovely neighbours who live in the house on our right at the end of our quiet court - the C family - kindly put our rubbish bins out for collection.

They put them on the nature strip in the front of the house on our left, The S house.
Mr S had strategically parked his car so that it took up two parking spaces in front of his house. The only car free space the bins could be left, where the garbage contractor could empty them, was right next to Mr S's driveway.

We didn't know this, of course, because we had been away on a holiday at the time, and because Mr S did not bother to show us the photo he undoubtedly took of this dreadful mistake.

The following Wednesday night I did the usual rubbish rounds inside our home, putting waste-paper-basket rubbish into the kitchen tidy, then taking the kitchen tidy rubbish outside and putting it into the wheelie bin.
Let the record show that on the night in question, at approximately 7.30 pm, I put the rubbish bin and the green waste bin on the nature strip in front of the House of S. I put them about halfway along the nature strip, in a space between two parked motor vehicles.

At approximately 7.45, our friendly neighbour Mr C knocked at our door to tell us he'd seen Mr S moving our rubbish bins back in front of our own house.
"I called out to him they're not my bins", laughed Mr C, "but he left them there anyway. He's hidden them behind your tree."

No wonder our bins were not being emptied regularly. We are at the end of the court where the truck can barely turn, our street frontage is small and taken up by my little 'purple hurtle', and if there was 1,000th of a chance the garbage contractor would climb out of the truck and put the bins where they could be emptied, he wouldn't see them anyway because they were hiding behind a rather large gum tree.

At approximately 8.00 pm, I put the bins back in front of the S house.

And so, back and forth they went for a third time, by which I was starting to develop a serious case of rubbish rage.

"Right!" I sez to meself. "I'll start taking some photos of my own. They will add some good visuals to the story when A Current Affair airs the next story in their Neighbours From Hell series. And secretly, I was hoping the sight of a camera flash going off would tip him over the edge.
I was shaking so much some of the photos are not even blurry.

Mr S moved them for the final time that night at about 1.30 am, went inside, turned his lights out and retired for the night. At 1.45 I put them back again.


The next morning, TO went to get the newspapers, and was happy to note the bins were still in front of the S House. She emptied the dishwasher and headed off to work.

At around 8 am I could hear the sound of a rubbish truck approaching, and went outside in my PJs to make sure the rubbish got emptied. You wouldn't believe where the bins were. I put them back.

Soon, Mr S who was in his PJs, began hastily moving our rubbish bins back behind the tree in front of our house. While he went back to get our green waste bin and move it, I wheeled our rubbish bin past him to a spot where the truck could get to it.

One or two do-si-do's later, the truck driver was in position and waiting for a bin to empty. While Mr S went up to the truck driver and started yelling at him about our conspiracy of racist harassment against him, I pushed our bin forward and the driver duly emptied it.

Also alerted by the sound of the truck, Mrs C had come out from her house to make sure her bin got emptied. She went up to Mr S and told him the truck driver had nothing to do with it, he was only doing his job, and Mr S had no right to be abusing him in this manner. When the rubbish bins were emptied, the truck driver moved on.

Mr S grabbed our green waste bin and started moving it away from his nature strip. I grabbed the bin and started pulling it in the opposite direction. While we wrestled with the bin, Mrs S came out and tried to subdue her husband, and Mrs C got stuck into Mr S for pushing me.

Some years ago, a government department which is not very popular with taxpayers had provided in-house training on How To Deal With Aggressive Clients. Handling aggressive people is a bit like learning to ride a bicycle. The whole time this nonsense was happening I simply kept up the chant "I only want our rubbish bins emptied, I only want our rubbish bins emptied…", and did it without raising my voice.

Mr S is wrong to think everybody in the court hates him. The last thing I want to waste my time on is hating anybody. The truth is, I really only wanted our rubbish bins emptied.

Ms C was standing on the front decking of the C house, filming the whole kerfuffle. Her mother insisted Mr S had pushed me, and went inside her house to call the police.
Because Mrs C had accused him of pushing me, he started accusing me of pushing him.
And throughout all this I just I kept saying "I only want our rubbish emptied", while Mr S ranted about parking and conspiracies and racism and taking us all to court, and Mrs S kept patting her husband on the shoulder and asking him to go inside.

Surprisingly enough, the Aggressive Client strategy worked. He started to calm down, because no matter what accusation he threw at me, I stayed focused on the bin. If someone throws a grenade at you, the least sensible thing is to throw it back for him to use again.

Eventually, Mr S had even calmed down enough to tell me he had anger management issues.
"That's okay," I said, "every body has their story and their problems, but I'm not the problem." 

I also pointed out to him that whenever we had to "move the Torana to get the Camira out so we could shift the Kingswood", we never parked in front of his house.


Mrs C made me a cup of coffee, and we sat on her deck waiting for the police to arrive.
"No, he didn't deliberately push me," I said. "We were just like two three-year-olds fighting over a toy, and so focused on what we wanted that we were probably pushing each other and totally unaware of it."
The man does have anger management issues, but I didn't feel physically threatened. In fact, I was starting to feel decidedly embarrassed about my attempt at rubbish bin wrangling, and guilty about the police having been called over such a trivial matter.

On the other hand, better to tackle the problem now before it escalated even further. 

And secretly, because I was miffed, I was hoping he would get a parking ticket because he always parks his car facing the wrong way. I was hoping for some Carma.


The Police came and discussed the situation with us. Then they went to the S house and discussed the situation with him. Then they came back to report on the outcome.

He had calmed down, they said. Mr Plod pointed out to him that the only thing wrong he could see was the way Mr S had his car parked, and that they could book him for that. 
He accepted that we have to put our bins out, but showed the cops lots of photos he has that will prove there is a conspiracy of racist harassment against him when he takes us to court.


Naturally, TO was disappointed to have missed all the fun, and wanted to hear every tedious detail several times.

I explained to her he believes everyone hates him unfairly. Nobody talks to him. Nobody has even ever introduced themselves to him.

"That's not true," TO jumped in. "Whenever someone new moves in, I always make some rock cakes and go around to introduce myself, and welcome them to the neighbourhood."

I've tried her rock cakes. Once. I decided not to state the obvious out loud.

On Thursday our bins were emptied - out the front of the house of S - with no drama.
Things returned to normal, and Mrs C knocked on the door that night in search of a carrot for their coleslaw.

Today the letter from council finally arrived, with a map showing where we must put our bins out the front of his house.

The only bad part of it all - apart from my having behaved like a childish prat - is that Aunty had been watching and spent several days feeling quite stressed, despite my assurances that I knew he was not going to hit me.


And so, the producers have decided to can this series. How can we expect anyone to tune in to a soap that has no murders, bushfires, floods, thefts or adultery?



  1. That's a lot of rubbish drama.

    Extremely frustrating.

    I guess it's hard to make room for trash and cars.

    Hopefully Mr. S will learn to deal with his anger.

    If he was so against your bins in his nature strip; could he come up with workable alternatives?

    TO's rock cakes. It's like Hagrid in Harry Potter. And I know you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. But maybe TO will ; )

    1. Yes, a lot of unnecessary rubbish. Or just too much detail as usual.

      I sort of feel sorry for Mr S. I have a feeling he has migrated away from an Eastern European country where dreadful violence was happening. And I don't think he realises how intimidating he seems to people.

      I'm sure TO will know what you are talking about. I'm sure she'll tell me!

    2. Thank you Dina; your reference to Hagrid produced a very beamish smile :)

  2. Battle of the Bins in the Burbs was a good read. Many times I have witnessed accusations of racism when race has nothing to do with the matter. Someone being a prick is the problem.

    1. Oddly enough, Andrew, when people are being deliberately racist, the recipient rarely feels the need to point it out.