It is rare that I get to complain about Wisconsinites acting badly. In my everyday life, I mean. I am staying out of politics on this blog. I mean it is rare that I encounter someone as I am going from the gym to the store to the library and back home who is rude or inconsiderate.
Which means I almost never have a chance to exercise valid righteous indignation.
Sometimes, though, we all want to rant indignantly. Don't we? Or is it just me? I did give up righteous indignation for Lent several years ago and noticed that nobody told me that they missed my rants. Maybe it's OK to want it. Not OK to do it so much.
But yesterday, I ran across clueless rudeness.
And I ranted about it. To the people who were being rude! That's rare - usually, I take my annoyance out on SH, which is not fair because it's not his fault. But he does the same thing to me - he cannot go through one story in the Sunday paper without sounding like a grumpy old man. The World is Going To Hell, he'll growl. Things Are Getting Worse. The Worst They've Ever Been - so we're even.
Yesterday, at 7:15 a.m., I noticed two men in our back yard. I went outside to see what was what.
The one with the baggy overalls and the ironic wool hat with the long ties took his cigarette out of his mouth* and said, "We're going to be working on the roof next door."
I shrugged. "OK."
"Would you move your car so we don't accidentally hit it?"
That seemed reasonable. I didn't want old roof shingles falling on SH's car. He is very protective of that car. We didn't want the Song of Something Bad Happened over a scratch.
I moved the car. An hour later, I left for the gym. I had to get one of the roofing guys off the truck from which they were unloading materials to direct me out of the driveway. The materials truck was blocking the driveway on one side and they had another truck on the other side. I did not want a repeat of last year's Light Bumping of the Fender.
When I returned home at noon, I discovered our driveway covered with tarp, which was OK because I did not want to find roof nails with my feet or the tires. I pulled into my neighbor's driveway, then went to her door to ask if I could park there while the workers were there.
I also discovered roofing supplies filling the back part of our driveway - the new part that we got last year instead of a vacation or an early retirement - and our yard.
I went inside. Found SH. "Did they ask if they could put their crap on our yard?" I asked him.
"No!" he fumed. "But I didn't know if they'd asked you!"
They had not.
We fumed together for a while, then I said, "I'm going to say something. Yes! I am!"
Saying something is Not My Way. My way, as you know, is to whine and complain to everyone but the person who is bugging me. What if I confronted the bugger and he got mad at me? Then what?
You see my dilemma.
But they had gone too far. I am a big believer in property rights. As in, if you want to use my property, you ask. No, I don't mean the neighbor boys running into our yard when they play baseball or frisbee, but grownups who should know better.
When we had our driveway done, I talked to my neighbor and apologized that there would be noise for a few days. "I know you're at home during the day," I said. "This is when we are scheduled to do it, but if those are bad days for you, then we'll try for the next week."
She waved me off. "Don't worry about it."
Which is what I would have done if someone had actually said, "Hey. They're going to be roofing and there might be noise and crap. I'm sorry about that."
I took a deep breath and walked outside. Cigarette Guy lumbered past. "Are you the one in charge?" I asked.
He shook his head and pointed to a man standing on top of the roof. He was too far to hear me.
I turned back to Cigarette Guy. "Tell him that you guys could have asked to put your junk in our yard," I directed.
He shrugged. "We can move it."
"That's not the point!" I said. "You should have asked!"
The boss moved to the edge of the roof. I shouted up at him, "You should have asked to put your stuff on our driveway and lawn!"
He shook his head. "I have to have room to work."
That made me mad. That's up there with "It's not my job" as an unacceptable answer from any working person.
"I know that! All you had to do was ask. IT'S ONLY POLITE!"
He turned away and returned to work. I was flabbergasted. Maybe he was from out of state.
I stomped inside and grabbed my phone. They had put a sign in the front yard with the company phone number. I called and explained the situation to the woman who answered.
"I can have them move it," she offered.
Lord have mercy had all these people lost their brains? Was there a brain-sucking ghoul traveling through the cold Wisconsin night?
I took a deep breathe. "Just tell them to ask first, OK?" I said through gritted teeth. "It's not that complicated."
I hope that is my annual encounter with clueless.
* If this were Hollywood, the cigarette would signify a Bad Guy. They are used now in lieu of black hats.
Photo credit: The Big Factotum