Neighbourhood Tensions Rise

Neighbourhood Tensions Rise
Stormy orange sky over a street with small one-family houses next to one another, and an uneven sidewalk cutting a path between big old trees and overgrown landscaped yards, illustrating a post about how COVID-19 is causing the social life in this neighborhood to fray.

COVID-19 has thrown some of us closer together. But not always for the best. At least, not in my neighbourhood.

I live in Vancouver, Canada, in a trendy urban neighbourhood. Here, small one-family homes crowd close together. Old trees and thick hedges surround them. Crows, ravens, woodpeckers, and songbirds fill the landscape. So do racoons, skunks, squirrels, rats, and the occasional coyote. Nearby, there’s a Main Street lined with late-night bars and eateries.

But even here, tensions are rising. Dramatically so, this last week.

Early one morning, I heard a neighbour yell. “Fucking moron. You fucking moron. You’re a fucking moron.”

But there was no argument. No fighting back. No second voice at all.

Maybe he was yelling at a badly parked car. Or at whoever left a pile of garbage on his lawn. Maybe he was even yelling at himself. 

Midday, I heard a teenage neighbour wail. “No, mom!” she cried. “It’s still an animal.” 

“We have to kill it,” mom said. Mom was loud and firm. Matter-of-fact.

“No, mom! It’s still an animal.”

“We have to kill it.”

I couldn’t see them and they couldn’t see me. Still, I walked towards the hedge that separates our homes. “Whatever it is, throw it in our yard.” 

At least, that’s what I planned to say. But before I could speak, the daughter howled, “No no no no no no nooooo!” And I knew it was over.

I have no idea what they killed. Maybe it was a poisonous spider. Or a rat, already dazed by their dog. But whatever it was, I still can’t get their voices out of my head.

Late that same night, I heard a young man shout. “Get out of the road, asshole! What’s wrong with you!”

I stuck my head out the window. I saw two burly men in a car. And one, more slender, man standing on the curb. He seemed a bit tipsy; clearly he had just staggered across the road. But now he was typing on his phone, probably texting a friend to pick him up.

But the driver was still upset that he had nearly hit a pedestrian. He may have been tipsy himself, heading home from a Main Street bar. So he continued to berate the man on the curb—the one he had almost killed.

Then the driver got an idea. “Come here,” he called. The more drunken man stepped off the curb and approached the car. “Show me your wallet,” the driver said. So the drunk put his hand in his pocket.

“Come on, guys!” I yelled in my I-am-a-grandma-so-WTF-is-this voice.

Caught and shamed, the driver started his car and left. I looked around for the drunk, but he had fled, too.

You might think all this is mild. But it’s not. Because screaming at yourself, killing a harmless animal, and stealing from a drunk are not good things. They are clues that our social fabric is fraying.

P.S. Please note for the record that I am not actually a grandmother yet.

Here’s another neighbourhood story, a sad but sweet story of kindness, from a less stressful time.

4 Comments
  1. Good morning thank you so much for sharing I myself have went through some of screaming at other about getting to close to me because I am a senior and I have underline issues,through all of these things that are happening we all need to show a little more compassion toward each other and not to mention where is the love? I hope you best in life

    1. Thank you, Betty. I’m so sorry to hear that. Yes, it is true, in times of stress, so many people lose the ability to pay attention to others when that’s exactly what we need to do more of. Stay safe and well.

  2. I find it so sad that in this time where we have an enemy we can’t see, covid 19, people just dont bother ro take hands and stand toghether.
    I do enjoy all the interesting and motivating things that you write.

    1. Thanks so much, Elizabeth. Yes, it is sad. But, what I often see, if we’re not very conscious about what we’re doing, is we just take things out on the nearest person. Stay safe and well.

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