Lose/Win Situations

The complex I moved into last October gets interestinger and interestinger.

We moved in October 1st, from a 2-bedroom apartment to a 3-bedroom townhouse. The apartment was like some New York City building, not in its surroundings or sophistication, but more in that neighbours really didn’t know each other. I mean, we knew our friends two floors up; my friend and her husband who bought their place after they saw mine and liked the building, and there was no avoiding getting to know the busy-body neighbour who was always spying on everyone and reminding the rules of the building whenever you bent them, causing one to believe the guy must have had secret cameras trained in every room of the building, and of course I unwillingly had no choice but to get to know the single dad down the hall, who always seemed to be in the hall at the same time I was, and when he wasn’t jawing my ear off bitching about his ex-wife he was escorting different scantily-clad ladies to and from his apartment. No judgment.

So anyway, we basically didn’t know any neighbours. Here, however, I got to know about 100 neighbours in the first week after moving in. This because we had a two-month old puppy that I had to take outside roughly every 20 minutes during the largely unsuccessful potty-training phase (that lasted roughly 6 months and is now 100% successful – time to rip out these carpets and put in floors because even though those pet cleaning products seem very convincing on their labels, they don’t work worth a crap or I’m doing something wrong), and happily, oodles and oodles of neighbours also have dogs.

So for the first couple of months, as it works in doggy-owner circles, I was not known as Veronica, but “Lucky’s Mom”. Whatever – I overlooked that no one learned my name because even though I was told everyone’s name and their dog’s name, I retained none of them. I have a serious problem retaining Anglo names. If everyone were a Francisco or Alejandro or María Cecilia, I’d know them all. I still call my neighbour Shelly, Stacey. Or maybe her name is Stacey and I call her Shelly. I’m not sure – but she never seems to care. Wait – I think her name is Sandy. So they can go ahead and keep calling me Lucky’s mom.

Anyway, everyone’s super nice, and every time I’m out, someone is also out and we chit-chat. There are like 300 houses in this complex, and the 20 or so families on my street all know the kids, the dog and me, and though it took getting used to not having the anonymity and privacy we had at the condo, I quite like this new setup and can knock on anyone’s door for a cup of sugar, as it were, just like in a Brady Bunch episode. It’s great. Our very-next door neighbours, whom we met on the very first day, even have a key to our place and they are absolutely lovely.

Okay, so it’s not all perfect (I’m sorry you guys, this isn’t what this post is even going to be about but I wanted to give some background). One of the reasons we bought this place was because of the green space behind our house. It’s perfect for the dog. All the neighbours down our stretch don’t have fenced yards, so it’s wide open. And this dog of ours needs tons of exercise daily or she bounces off walls. It’s my understanding this phase only lasts about 2 years (OMG). So recently, rather than walking the dog to the dog park (an exercise in frustration, as she’s always so super excited to GET to the park that she pulls and strains on the leash, and as a result I have to stop her every single step and make her sit like a good girl so she learns not to pull, then she gets up and pulls again, and what should be a 10 minute walk usually turns into a 20 minute walk, by the end of which I’m ready to pull my hair out (JK – I would never go that far. I love my hair. I’m like Samson).

So recently, rather than taking her to the park, I just slip out our back door and throw the ball down the stretch for her 20 or 30 times and she gets exhausted, and she is happy, and I am happy, and everyone is happy. The neighbours even come out on their balcony and watch, and we chit-chat and catch up, and everyone is happy. It’s awesome.

Until one evening last week, when my daughter took Lucky out for her exercise and one guy from the other end of the complex came out and told her how he didn’t “appreciate” us running the dog out there because Lucky, in her zeal, was tearing up the “grass”. It’s a green-space, okay. By definition, it’s surrounded by trees and is completely shaded – there’s no grass, it’s MOSS. So yeah, after a rain, when everything’s super-soft, that moss gets shredded by this pup. None of the other neighbours have ever said a word. Until this guy, who freaked my daughter out. Tough guy, giving heck to a 9-year-old.

This did not deter me. I still went out and threw the ball for the dog, wanting like mad for Grumpy Neighbour to come out and give me hell. Our one next-door neighbour, John, was out walking Lola the pug one time while I was throwing the ball and he got annoyed by the story I told him (“it’s MOSS, not GRASS, what a creep”) and he even figured out who it probably was.

Yesterday morning, at about 7am, I was out again. And lo and behold, grumpy neighbour came out, hair all wild and looking like a typical grumpy neighbour, as though he were cast in a movie.

“Excuse me, excuse me, I don’t appreciate you having your dog run out here, she’s tearing up all the grass, and I don’t appreciate it.”

Grass. Just the word I was waiting for.

“That? It’s not grass – it’s moss. The sun never hits it, grass will NEVER grow there.”

“Humph, humph, humph, well, she’s tearing it all up!” (points)

“That? That’s no one’s backyard. That’s not your backyard. It’s the open space.”

“Well…well…well…the dog’s not even supposed to be off the leash anyway!!!!!” (storms off)

Me, sing-songy, “Thanks, I’ll check with the strata about that!”

Okay – so then I went to get ready for our garage sale. I’d found out the week before that the whole complex holds an every-house garage sale every year, it’s hugely popular and people come from all over. I had some things, not many, that I wanted to get rid of, so I was excited. I started by moving the car out of the driveway and parking it across the way (sort of in front of Grumpy Bastard’s house). Then we set up our things and tons of people started coming by, we met new people, it was a beautiful day, and much fun was had by all. I even made $50 selling an old PVR. Win!!

Okay, now we’re at the beginning of my story.

It got to be about 1pm, I wasn’t being successful with selling our other things, my daughter was invited to a friend’s for lunch, and I decided to go get my son and myself a couple of Subway sandwiches. So I went across the street, hopped in the car, and took off. The complex is full of speed bumps, and over the very first one, it felt like the front of the car kind on scraped on it. Weird. Anyway.

Then I hopped onto the main road and I realized I had to really pull the wheel. I let the wheel go, and the car pulled crazily to the right. First chance I got I pulled into a parking lot (where the liquor store is) and I got out and looked at the right side. The front tire was way flatter than the rear one. I ran into the liquor store, grabbed a bottle of wine (which I meant to do anyway) and kind of rushed to the till. The lady there said, “Wow, you know what you want!” and I just told her I wanted to hurry because it looked like my tire was losing air and I wanted to get it over to the gas station to pump it up. She took one look outside, and said, “Oh, honey – you’re not driving that car anywhere. You’ll wreck your rim.” I looked outside and the tire was now completely, absolutely flat. I have never in my life had a flat tire. I wanted to cry. I didn’t know what I was going to do – I was in a hurry to get back to my kid, who was minding the store back home.

I said as much to the liquor store lady, and told her I had a spare tire and could probably figure out how to change it, and I needed to get back to my kid with his sub, and she started marching out of her store, and said “You have a spare? Sal will change it.” I didn’t get a chance to ask who Sal was because she was already gone.

I went out to my car, and she came out of Sergio’s Pizza a couple of doors down, with Sal, who was wiping his hands on his apron and whose bald head was gleaming with sweat from being in a blazing hot kitchen on a blazing hot day. Liquor store lady was showing him my car, and I was introducing myself and saying hi, and he busily asked where the spare was, I opened the trunk, and he grabbed everything he needed and got to work. He had the spare on there in 5 minutes flat, told me not to drive over 60 and to get the tire fixed as soon as possible, as a spare is really just a temporary solution, it’s not meant to be permanent. He even told me where to take the tire. He showed me the tire, and there was this nail with a big head on it protruding from the rubber. Liquor store lady said “Oh, honey – you got good.”  I got my wallet out to thank him and give him something for his trouble, $10 from my $50 earnings from that morning, and he absolutely refused any money. I went to shake his hand but he showed me they were covered in tire-yuck, so I just squeezed his shoulder and thanked him profusely.

I called my son and gave him the story, to which he replied, “Does this mean there’s no sub?”, and I reassured him there would be, he’d just have to wait a little longer. It took me 4 minutes to get to Kal Tire, where Sal sent me, and I walked in and told my story to Jesse behind the counter, who explained they didn’t have time right then to change the tire, but to leave it, they’d patch it and call me when it was ready. I asked him how much that would be (I’m a single mama on a tight budget – I need to know these things beforehand, if only to know if I could afford a 12-inch versus the 6-inch at Subway). He said, $30 plus HST (goddamn you, HST!!!) and I said, perfect! After all, I’d still have roughly $15 left from my morning sale.

Then Jesse came to the car to get the tire, we went to open the hatch where it was, and Jesse said, “Oh, hey! You’re a Habs fan!” – obviously from the “FAN ON BOARD” with the CH in my rear window. I asked if he was too, and he said yes, and I was temporarily distracted by this happy coincidence, and grabbed my Habs car flag from the trunk to show it to him while he retrieved the tire, and then Jesse said, “Hmmmmm. Uh oh.”

What, uh oh?? And Jesse broke the news to me that the nail was in what’s called the “side wall” and that that wasn’t good.

“What do you mean, that’s ‘not good?’ What does ‘not good’ mean?”

“Well, we might not be able to fix it.”

“What does that mean?? Don’t you just have to stick something on the inside and fix it? What if you can’t?”

“If we can’t you might need a new tire.”

My mind wildly calculated what one new tire would cost, okay, that’s way more than what I made for the PVR, and said, “Look, Jesse: You can’t give me bad news. I can’t afford a new tire, I’m on a tight budget, and I don’t want any bad news! NO BAD NEWS!” And he nodded, said he would do his best, and to leave the tire and he’d call me close to closing time so I could come get it put back on.

I drove away, calling out the window, “No bad news, Jesse!!” then made my way to Subway and got my kid the footlong and went back home and packed up our unsuccessful shop and took the dog for a hike. I decided to just enjoy my day even though I was going to have the unexpected expense of a car repair that would negate the bonus $50 we’d made that morning – in fact it was going to end up costing me more, but hey, at least it would be $50 cheaper thanks to the sale. Just look at the bright side.

It got to be 4pm, and I was back home and rehydrating after losing about 3 litres from the hike in the blazing hot sun, realized I’d have to go get the tire soon, and called Jesse. He said, “Don’t worry my dear, your tire’s next on our list, and I’ll give you a call as soon as it’s ready.” So he basically still had no news. It got to be 4:50 and I knew they closed at 5pm, so I just grabbed my cell and hopped in the car to go to Kal Tire. 5 minutes later, the phone rang and it was Jesse, telling me, “You can start making your way here, my dear,” and I said I was already on my way!

I got there and had to wait a bit while Jesse tended to another customer, wringing my hands because I just wanted to know if he’d fixed it or if I needed a new tire. He finally got to me and gave me the AMAZING news that they’d managed to fix it and I was so happy I don’t remember the rest. He took the key to the car, pulled the car into the shop, and the guys got to work putting the tire back on. Jesse came back to the counter, was giving me the spiel about keeping an eye on the tire to make sure it wasn’t losing air, and I was digging in my wallet for $40 of my $50 ($30 something + HST (goddamn you, HST!!)) and he had the invoice out, didn’t take my money, handed me the invoice, I scanned it, and the total was….$0.

I looked up at Jesse, and he said, “It’s on the house. From one Habs fan to another.” I could have leapt over the counter to hug him but instead put my open palm up, he put his up, and I smacked it with one of my signature palm-stinging hi-fives. He didn’t even wince, which is formidable since my hi-fives usually elicit an “Ow!! Why do you smack so hard?!!” (Because I hi-five the same way I shake hands or hug tight – I mean it!!!) I took off again, and Jesse said “Remember – keep an eye on it!” (which I have – it looks wonderful) and as I drove away, I reflected:

The neighbour came close to ruining my morning: Lose.

I met nice new people and made $50 during the garage sale: Win.

I got a flat tire for the first time in my life: Lose.

Sal the Angel from Sergio’s Pizza changed my tire and refused payment: Win.

Jesse told me I would probably need a new tire: Lose.

Jesse told me he was a Habs fan too: Win.

He was able to fix my tire so I didn’t have to buy a new one, AND he didn’t charge me: WIN.


Habs fans are awesome, and so are pizza chefs. For all kinds of reasons. And nice, awesome neighbours way outweigh 1 Grumpy Bastard who has nothing better to do than be perched at his window waiting to ruin a hyper puppy’s fun.

(Is anyone else wondering if Grumpy Bastard put that nail in front of my tire the one time I didn’t park in my driveway? Me too.)

P.S. I just realized I had no trouble remembering Jesse’s name! Even though it’s an Anglo name that starts with a J, which I always have particular trouble with. Must be because he’s a Habs fan.

P.P.S. I forgot to mention that liquor store ladies are awesome too, even though that goes without saying!



  1. Great post, always good reading material at your Blog!

    I too have a pain in the a** neighbor. Amongst other things he likes to insist on my receiving the weeks flyers for both apartments. He does so by hiding his inside my bag of flyers.

    I’m pretty sure he sabotaged your tire.

    But hey, your latina. And if your anything like my latina mom, you’ll get him back LOL.

    Thanks for sharing this V.



  2. You can almost put money on the fact that grumpy bastard neighbour put that nail in your tire! I’m glad the good out weighed the bad… and nice to know there are awesome, amazing, decent people in this mad crazy world!


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