Friday, November 15, 2013

Good Fences

For the past 14.5 years, I have lived on the same street in Jerusalem, a dead end with three buildings, and I have jumped from one to the other to the other. 

Approximately seven years ago, a drunk boy (now a "reformed" Ultra Orthodox man) driving back from a party hit my parked car and severely dented in its side.  What resulted was a series of accusations and a lack of cooperation from the offender, which led us to court, which led to several dirty acts of retaliation by the hands of the family members of this boy.

As it happens, the boy and his family are now my downstairs neighbors.  Awkward.

Awkward when I moved across the street and started parking in the new lot, only to find verbally abusive anonymous notes on my car, demanding that I park where I live and not in "their private spaces."  I responded by posting a note on the door of my new building saying,
"For the general information of the residents:  the blue Scenic and its owner now live here and we are your neighbors.  We have as much right to use a parking space as you do.  And by the way, the blue Scenic and its owners also have a cat named Harry. He is not a street cat and he has a collar, so if you see him sitting next to the door waiting for me to let him in, do not chase him away.  Thank you."

More awkward when this week I went to my car, an automobile that stays parked for most of the time, except for a few excursions to the supermarket or the very occasional drive to Tel Aviv for a Chiropractic Board meeting.  I noted that for no reasonable explanation, my car, Cher*, which had previously been the color navy blue, was now spotted with a sparkly white paint, everywhere.  On the roof, on the windows and the sides of the car.

After several inquiries around the building, I discovered that my neighbors, the same French neighbors who years ago behaved badly as far as my car and I were concerned, had in fact been painting this week, and that the paint job of several of the other neighbor's cars had been destroyed in the process.


I girded myself for battle, trying to figure out the best way to approach the situation:
"You ruined my car and you must compensate me!"  (Nope, too direct and immediately belligerent, even for Israelis.)
"I know you were painting this week, and I know that you are aware of the damage your painter caused!" ( Nope, still a touch on the belligerent side, leaving very little room for kindness and negotiation.)
"Tell me, do you know if any of the neighbors were painting inside their house this week?"  (Nope, I cannot pull off the Stupid na├»ve thing, and I need to start with a certain position of strength.)

Finally, I knocked on the door and started with, "Hi, I need to ask you a question."

Before I could proceed, the woman of the house said, "And I already know the answer to your question."  She continued, explaining that her painter ("who is a very trustworthy and honest man...") tried a new machine for spraying the paint, and that he was unaware of the damage he had caused until after it happened; and that they had been so busy this week that they hadn't had the time to come to me before I came to them; and that they are already looking into estimates to get the cars of all the neighbors fixed and polished.

Then she suggested, with kindness of course, that they would be willing to buy me a tarp to cover my car until it was repaired, since it now looked so hideous.

OK then.  Much less traumatic than I had anticipated, and that is a good thing.  Now begins the waiting game, but with several families breathing down their neck, here's hoping these people don't take too long to take care of the problem.

*  My car's name is Cher because the first song that came on the radio when she was new and shiny was "I got you Babe" by Sonny and Cher.  Figuring that I did not want to name my baby after a former Congressman who smashed into a tree and died while skiing, I went with his partner's name instead.

1 comment:

Batya Medad said...

love it, great story, babe...