Thirty Years Of Joy Destroyed

No quote today, just a thought.

We bought our house thirty years ago. Nice house, but no front yard landscaping, just lawn that ended at the sidewalk in front and the neighbor’s driveway on one side, separating our houses. We had two young boys, they a young boy and young girl, all about the same age. All the kids got along fine and played in the two yards. We had taught ours to stay in our yard unless the other kids were out to play also, and then they could run back and forth between the yards. But, apparently, the neighbor kids hadn’t the same restriction, they’d play in our yard – as well as their own – even if our kids weren’t out to play. I wouldn’t have necessarily minded except, after having a few occasions together with their parents and listening to how excessively they focused on money. I became concerned that – if their kids managed to hurt themselves on our property – we’d probably be sued.  So I planted a row of privets between our properties and along the front sidewalk, and told all the kids no more crossing back and forth between yards, and my boys – if they wanted to play with the neighbor’s kids – to play in their yard only.

Thirty years later (and now with new neighbors), those privet plants had grown into a hedge some four feet high and four feet wide. It was a beautiful hedge that went down between the two properties and across the front of ours, ending at the other neighbor’s fence, with an opening for our driveway and walk to our door. It was a nicely maintained and shaped hedge that perfectly framed our home. I’d complain about the work it took, but whenever I’d look out our front window, or pull into our driveway, I truly loved it. And all the compliments we got from family, friends and other neighbors over the years reinforced my decision long ago to plant it.

And that beautiful hedge ended in a mangled mess Sunday evening.

A drunk driver of an oversized pickup truck – for whatever reason – jumped the curb, took out a beautiful Crepe Myrtle tree I’d planted on the island between the street and our front sidewalk, careened into the hedge, ending up parallel to the sidewalk and street, where he became stuck. In an effort to free himself, he gunned his engine, rocking forwards and back, tearing into the hedge in both directions, utterly destroying half of it as neighbors up and down the street came out, hearing a gunned engine racing, to see what was happening. 

I had the presence of mind, having my smart phone with me, to begin taking pictures of what was happening, capturing his attempt to free himself, of his face through the side window, and his license plate, until he – after many minutes – managed to free his truck and get back onto the street while my otherside neighbor was on his phone to the police.

Did he stop to apologize, share his license and insurance info, offer to pay for the damage? No. He proceeded to speed off, up the street, where he subsequently managed to strike two parked cars, only to continue to run.

But he didn’t get far. 

Neighbors, there, somehow managed to pull him from his truck and – rather forcibly (an ambulance was required) – detained him until the police arrived. (The police called it “neighborhood justice”. They frown on it, but don’t ask a lot of questions of bystanders when they arrive on the scene, apparently.)

Now I’m faced with waiting to see what will happen next, dealing with getting estimates of the damage and its removal, obtaining the police report to find out who he is and his insurance company, if I’ll have to sue, what the District Attorney is going to do….etc., etc.

And, what I’ll do with what hedge that is left. I can’t very well replant, I won’t be alive another thirty years until it’s whole again.

Thirty years of joy destroyed.

– Bill


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