My neighbour’s a good guy.
Usually I only see him over the fence. He works many nights and most weekends on his yard, often with his family tending fruit trees, scaling ladders, moving dirt and rock.
I’m usually wearing painting shorts, Crocs and a wife-beater and I wave at them from Dandelion Alley secretly hating him for making me feel lazy.
He’s one of those horrible handy-men who can re-pack the bearings on his truck, shingle his own roof and probably tile his own bathroom. And when he’s not working on his yard and house, he helps his neighbours maintain theirs. He’s also better looking, in better shape and I can’t catch him at ball hockey, but I digress.
Because somehow the joke is on him. Not me.
Back in 2001, I think it was, I wrote about problems in my neighbourhood. We were governed at the time by a regional district best suited to handling rural issues. To illustrate its lack of sophistication in a rapidly urbanized area, I pointed out that some idiot let my neighbour use rubber tires for a retaining wall.
Little did I know, they were new neighbours. And they knew me. And they knew I was talking about them. And we see each other all the time. Awkward....
They apologized when we met at some neighbourhood or school function. Rarely do I feel bad about things I write in a column, but that was one. It’s been this weird thing between us ever since. Ok, mostly me feeling bad.
Over the past couple of years, he started replacing the rubber tires with eight-pound bricks, no small task. This year, they pushed through to finish it all—hundreds of pounds of gravel and sand and hundreds of bricks. Looks great.
But here’s the problem. What do you do with hundreds of old tires? Times have changed since those suckers were first stuck in the ground. We have great new recycling rules to protect us from this horror.
Tires are much like pop cans now, donchaknow? You pay a recycling fee with each new tire so they can keep them out of landfills. Instead you bring your old tires back to tire places. Four of them only.
A couple hundred tires minus four tires is still a lot of tires. Thanks government!
Worse, he’s learned that the finest methods of rubber tire retaining wall construction has transformed many of them into hazardous materials. Cutting them exposes leather-glove-ignoring metal spike belts and no one will take them; nearly impossible to get rid of.
He’s been driving these things around town for weeks begging people to take them, sometimes four at a time, calling in favours and... now he’s down to a final giant truckload.
He’s too good a guy to consider dumping them; I know plenty of people who would. He’s going to keep driving around with his truckload of tires hoping someone will take them, four at a time, till they’re gone.
But here’s the cost of doing the right thing.
Work like he’s doing takes time and in my experience, to make things look great, you first have to make them look ugly. No way around it. As they worked on the wall, they pushed the tires down the hill and into the ditch. No big deal.
But my other neighbours apparently don’t have forums for mass communication to vent their frustrations. Instead, some guy walking his dog started yelling and swearing and I presume shaking a fist at him for leaving the tires. Another day, some jerk went way, way out of his way to transplant one of the tires from the backyard to his front porch. Sending a message or something, I guess.
Poor guy can’t catch a break. He’s done more to clean up the neighbourhood than anyone. And here he is, knee-deep in Dandelion Alley and my dying cedar bushes talking to the guy in the wife-beater who started all this.
— Marshall Jones is the editor of Infotel News.