Monday 10 March 2014

PNS (Problem Neighbour Syndrome), Episode 2: the Peevish Petter


I like to get along with my neighbours, and generally speaking I do. Our new next-doorsies, Charles and Sheila, are the dog's whiskers, and I've had many friendly chats with other building folk — including the (in)famous Truck Guy.

It would be an exaggeration to say that the exchange I had in the lobby and parking garage yesterday morning ruined my day — I went on to walk Freddie and take pictures and row out to the nine o'clock gun in a quad — but it certainly took the flap outta my flag for a while.

Coal Harbour Quad — photo credit to the inimitable Coach Annette!
(I'm the one in red.)

Scene 1: Freddie and I are in the lobby. He is sitting politely by the front door, waiting to go out (see photo above). The elevator door opens and a woman, 60-ish (?), wearing a nice raincoat, emerges. We exchange hellos (I've seen her before, but this is the first time we've spoken); Freddie remains relatively calm, but his rear end is on the verge of losing contact with the floor.

Neighbour: [approaching Freddie] I suppose you'd like to say hello, wouldn't you?

Freddie: Yes, yes, I would! And what have you got in that big bag? Can I smell it? Please?!

Me: Freddie, sit. [to the woman] It's probably best if he doesn't say hello right now. He's working on staying calm when he meets up with people in the building.

(As I'm explaining, the woman disappears into the short corridor that leads to the parking garage, but I hear her reply.)

Neighbour: [peevishly] Can't pet a dog? Ridiculous.

Huh? Did she just accuse me of being ridiculous because I wouldn't let her pet my dog?? I stand there in the lobby for several moments, stewing, then decide to follow her out to the garage. Friendly conversation worked wonders with Truck Guy, so I'm optimistic that Ms. Pet Peeve and I can establish a more neighbourly rapport.

Scene 2: Ms. P.P. is shifting crap around in the trunk of her car. I approach, keeping Freddie behind me. Ms. P.P. surely knows I'm there but doesn't look up.

Me: Excuse me ... sorry to interrupt you.

Ms. Pet Peeve: [glances up, says nothing]

Me: It seemed you were maybe bothered by our interaction back there ...?

Ms. Pet Peeve: [snitty and distracted in tone] No.

Me: It's just that my dog is training to be a diabetic alert dog ... [speeding up as P.P. marches toward the dumpster with a bag of garbage] ... and he needs to work on ... sort of ... ignoring people.

Ms. Pet Peeve: [over her shoulder] Oh ... nice.

Nice? Spring daffodils are nice.

Part of me wishes I hadn't bothered with the alert dog business. Freddie wasn't wearing his jacket at the time, and even if he were "just" a pet, there'd be a hundred valid reasons for me not to want a stranger to interact with him. But my evil side is also hoping that my particular reason has Ms. Pet Peeve feeling just a little bit guilty, a little bit shitty about the whole brief and stupid episode.

(This huge building above is not ours, but those familiar with Vancouver will recognize it. It's next to the south end of the Burrard Bridge — featured in many of today's shots!)

But to return to the business of the Peevish Petter ... I suppose there are a million or so possible reasons that my neighbour might have been feeling shitty even before she ran into me and Freddie yesterday morning. Maybe she and the husky guy who grunted past me on my way back to the lobby had had a fight. Maybe she was tired of wearing a damn raincoat, even a stylish one, every single day.

Whatever the case, she and I were speaking different languages ...
... looking at things from different perspectives.

The bird above is a woodpecker, I think. It was pecking away on this metal lamp post in short spurts, like a one-bird steel drum band. Then I heard another set of the same sounds, coming from a block or so away. A duet! Call and response. Neighbours having a friendly chat — or maybe working out some kind of territorial arrangement. Excellent birds.

Have a nice day!


  1. Yes, if one is charitable, one could say that she may have had something bad happen which put her off her feed - and manners. Or, maybe she's just a bag.

    On a completely different subject - the Kingshead Inn is resurrecting?? I used to be a regular there back in a completely different century.

    1. "Put her off her feed" — ha!

      Yes, the Kingshead is alive and well! I actually hadn't known it was dead. I, too, used to hang out there on occasion, then I moved out of the 'hood and lost track of the place. Must check out the new incarnation ...

    2. I was at the Kingshead with a friend last week. There are two little plaques in the upstairs corner, one for Leigh and one for Heather. The contents are quite different, however ...

  2. Sometimes it's best to let peevish be peevish and stay out of the way. It may not have had anything to do with you or Freddie - It's best to know you tried, and now it's up to her to make amends if that were to ever happen.
    Your shots make me long for a 6 hour trip to Vancouver...but I doubt I could do it with the dogs in tow...Perhaps this summer I can revisit Stanley Park, The Gaslight District, and many of the other wonders I have missed since I was last there in 1988...

    1. Yes ... hindsight now tells me I maybe should have kept my trap shut and just blown it off. If/when I run into her again, I'll act as if nothing happened!

      It would be a pleasure to raise a glass of Brockton IPA with you. :) If only the dogs could come. They would love the Pacific Spirit trails!

  3. They would! But I fear the drive would be too long for Skally...and I must renew my passport - it lapsed last year while I dealt with my mother and moved her down here from Port Angeles...I do want to meet you and Freddie!


What say you?