The cops come to my house yesterday. They were responding to a neighbor’s complaint about my RV. By the way, there’s nothing more enjoyable than having the police show up at your door because someone called them on you, listen to your story, then leave after apologizing for bothering you. Well, actually it wasn’t the ‘police’, but the security guards here in this gated community where we’ve been renting a house. The reason for the complaint? I had a 35′ Winnebago motor home parked outside my house. Now, anybody who’s read my stuff should realize that out of all the things I’ve done in my life that could’ve required police intervention, parking an RV outside falls way down on the list.
And before you get all eco on me, let me explain exactly why we even have an RV. My wife attended the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, and we bought the RV to set up as a mobile field research lab. An injury put an end to that dream, but to our surprise, we found out that we actually liked the RV and despite what you’d think, it’s actually a very inexpensive way to travel, especially if you have dogs. Sure, it uses a lot of gas, but when you compare the numbers…hotels, restaurants, airfare, car rentals, etc., you actually save money. And unless you’re driving everyday, you don’t even use much fuel. You go maybe two hundred miles and park it for a week. Ours is 11 years old and it’s only gone 30,000 miles and looks like new.
Anyway, we finally decided that we were gonna move into the RV on our property while we finished building our house. So we parked it outside (legally, by the way) and started cleaning and packing it up. I was outside when the old lady from next door came over.
“Will that…thing…be out here long?” She asked abruptly. I was surprised. She and her husband own an RV themselves…what’s called a ‘Diesel Pusher’, a couple hundred grand worth of rolling palace. And although RV’ers are usually really nice people, diesel owners do tend to quietly look down a bit on gas machines. Diesels are far more expensive and pretty opulent while ours is just really nice. Still, her rudeness caught me off guard.
“About 72 hours,” I replied, “That’s what the rules allow.”
She sniffed, “It’s just that we’re trying to sell our house and that thing looks terrible sitting there.” Remember, we’re talking about a spotless motor home in great condition and suddenly it’s like I’m toothless and about to launch into ‘Dueling Banjos’ or something.
“Just cleaning it up, then taking it out.”, I say politely, somehow forgetting to mention we we’re only taking it out for the required twelve hours to have it’s emissions checked, then bringing it right back for three more days. It’ll be my little surprise.
Well,” she replied, “if we have any house showings, I’d like you to take it around the block or something. You see, our house is special, and buyers won’t want to see…that…next door.”
‘Special’. Lady, this is California in 2010; do you have any idea how many ‘special’ houses are up for sale? There’s at least fifty in this community alone and anyway, ‘special’ just means that you customized your house to the point where only a very small subset of buyers will even want to look at it. These guys have attached a forty foot long, thirteen foot high garage to it for their own RV, a very salable commodity if you have a school bus or want an indoor basketball court.
So I’m dealing with a woman who’s living in dream land and has just insulted both me and my motor home to boot. So I take it to the shop and imagine her satisfaction that this horrible thing is no longer 300′ from her ‘special’ house. Then, the next day, I bring it right back. An hour later the security guard is ringing my doorbell.
“You’ve got a complaint from the neighbor.”, he says. I tell him the story. He silently stares at the RV for a bit…it really looks pretty, all washed and shiny. Finally he says, “I wish I had something that looked as ‘terrible’ as that.” He apologizes for bothering me and leaves. With the quiet satisfaction of knowing that an obnoxious old woman with a superiority complex is fuming next door, I start thinking that maybe I’ll keep doing this…taking it out for a night and bringing it back for three days again for the next month until we move, just to drive her crazy.
The moral of the story? When you’re selling your house, the last thing you want to do is annoy your neighbors. Off the top of my head I can think of fifty ways to make their house undesirable without breaking a single rule…heck, just having me next door can do it for most people. This is a pretty conservative place and I’m, well, me. After all, I annoy Conservatives for a hobby and I’m pretty good at it. I think I’ll mention to the folks who live on the other side of her that she doesn’t like their old truck parked in their driveway either, you know, get the whole neighborhood involved.
After all, you gotta make you’re own entertainment sometimes.