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True Grit

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

This has nothing to do with SparkPeople.

Except, each learning experience makes us who we are.

This is about GRIT coming from an unexpected experience.

On 10/18, I opened my front door and saw a vehicle from the Utility Company's tree service contractor, parked in front of my house. Although I was expected by a neighbor to give her a ride somewhere, I walked around to the back, where our trees were, and saw 2 tree service company employees piling cut logs in the center of our rear lawn (just inside our "woodsy" area). From any window that faced that direction, all you could see was the affront of carelessly tossed wood chunks (ready for splitting into fireplace logs). Any "Joy" we felt when looking out onto our backyard was GONE, gone, gone!

No one had even asked us about doing anything on our property. We had authorized nothing. There was no Emergency. There was no legitimate reason for the Utility Company to order such work.

It happened that my DH was hunting, and he was unreachable. BUT... I knew I needed to act then, decisively, to demand redress. I submitted a complaint to the Utility Company that demanded that within 48 hours that they remove all the wood that they had piled up to create a disgusting view from any rear-facing window in our house. I stressed that we had not even been notified that they were coming, and we had not authorized any work to be done on our property. They had dumped wood from the easement area onto our property that was NOT part of the easement area. Had the Utility Company needed to work in the easement area, they would not have faced any problem prior to this action. I reminded them that this met the definition of TRESPASSING.

Within 48 hours, the Utility Company and their contractor mitigated the Flagrant Eyesore. I thanked them for doing so, but reminded them that there was still the issue of the TRESPASSING.

After some protective hemming and hawing from the Utility Company, who said we should hear from them "within 30 days", we called a group leader for the tree service company, with whom we had worked with successfully in the past. Actually, my DH called him. My DH assured him that we were not trying to pin blame on his tree service company; we held the Utility Company liable for issuing the work order. As a result of that call, we received a call from the team leader for the group that executed the offensive work order; my DH assured him that we were not after the Tree Service Company, but we needed to speak with the Utility Company representative that issued the work order. Ten minutes later, that man called our house. Long story short, that man and his tree service expert came to our property the same day. We all met, wearing masks and maintaining social distance.

The man who sent the work order admitted he was in error. He had succumbed to the harrassment by the Impossible Neighbor after 3 months of saying "no". We said, "Surely you realize that you created a Big Problem for the [Utility Company]. All you had to do was to CONTINUE to say no. By saying "yes", you legitimized his request. By saying "yes", you allowed him to Weaponize the Utility Company for malicious intent. You have been abused, but you still needed to say "No." Us: "For your actions, do you realize that you have jeopardized the entire easement agreement, and we can effectively bar all access to the main easement area for doing the work by restricting the Utility Company to the legal 5-foot easement, even in times of legitimate Utility Company emergency?" "You have 3 other properties you could use to access this easement area; perhaps you should use one of those in the future, because none of the Utility Company's equipment can fit on 5-feet." (I can see that the easiest access is from our property, but that does not allow the Utility Company to abuse the easement restrictions. It does show that it would be imprudent for the Utility Company to provoke our displeasure.)

So, where did this determination and fearlessness come from?

Let's go back to the 1970s, when I lived in another state. I began receiving obscene phone calls. They were mildly obscene, but getting 5-10 calls a minute for an hour at a time was abusive. At first I was scared - it could be someone who knew where I lived, but I had no clue who it was. Was it from using a credit card at a gas station??? I involved the police, and the phone company traced all the calls. The police narrowed the culprit down to one house - but was it the father or his teenage son who was making the calls? I was unable to identify the exact person (who speaks in a regular voice when making obscene phone calls!), but I figured the wife/mother gave them both H*LL. From this incidence, I decided the best policy was to Prosecute to the Full Extent of the Law and cause as many problems for the perpetrator as possible.

Around 1980, I moved to Maryland. This time I received one Obscene phone call which was very graphic, left on my answering machine (who is dumb enough to do that?). I had a hunch that the perpetrator was part of a group that I attended; so at the next meeting of that group, I shared that I had received a very disturbing and distressing obscene phone call, but what made it easier for me was that I unequivocally was ready to prosecute to the full extent of the law and make public to that person's community the full shame, hoping to destroy that person completely. No more calls...

One of the things I learned: if you are abusive of other people, know that the other people will be outrageously happy to read your obituary.

Taking charge eased my mental anxiety, and bolstered my self-confidence. I now had GRIT.
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