As I was saying, I've got the most interesting neighbors. Years ago, we had The Runner. Some neighbors were certain she was training for a marathon but my husband was not so sure. He was convinced she was running from something in her life. We'd see her many, many miles from home. It was all she did. She'd come out of her door early in the morning and run all day. Thoughtfully, while running, she'd left her young daughter behind at home with her mother. Eventually, many hours later and well after dark, she'd come back.
I think she was running from my next door neighbor Quickhide, the one on my left-who is completely out of her mind. When I first moved in here, I thought Quickhide was charming. And she was Middle Eastern, just like us. The only difference was she was the real deal, a Syrian immigrant. It didn't take too long for the real person within her to emerge. Quickhide would knock on my door at the butt crack of dawn, carrying an empty coffee cup and pretty much invite herself in for a pot of joe. Not a cup. A pot. Subtle hints like starting to vacuum, dust and mop around her, just couldn't get rid of her. Soon, it was all about her. Can you shovel her snow? Can you trim her shrubs? Can you mow her lawn? Can you move her furniture? Whatever the request, it was always prefaced with a complement. "Can your strong and handsome husband do something for me?" When my son was old enough, the question became, "can your strapping young son do something for me?" This woman had adult children of her own who were fully capable of doing her chores. Also, I think she's loaded. If nothing else, she could have paid people to do these things.
I pretty much stopped inviting her into the house. I had to because she never knew when to leave and she couldn't take an outright invitation to leave-let alone a subtle hint. With her around, I couldn't get anything done. Nobody could. She hated being in her home and because of that, she became the entire neighborhood's problem. She was like Velcro-she'd stick to you like nothing else. There have been times over the years when I've watched every neighbor on the block scatter when they saw her coming. Everyone would be outside doing something in their yards but when they saw her coming, it was as if the plague were headed their way. That's when we took to calling her Quickhide. Quick! Hide! Here she comes. Everyone would scatter leaving yard tools everywhere.
If we weren't careful when pulling into or out of the drive, she'd corner us to talk. And talk. And talk. And talk. These were always one sided conversations about her. Or her husband- but mainly her. Poor Rachel has been used as an excuse for years. "Look Quickhide, I'd love to stay and talk, but I can't leave Rachel alone." And, "no, I don't need company. You don't want to go in there because she has the flu, bronchitis, meningitis, pneumonia, malaria, ecoli, cholera, measles, chicken pox AND ebola virus right now." If another one of us was in the house and saw one of us cornered, they'd step outside with the receiver of the phone as a ploy to say goodbye to Quickhide. That person would say, "it's Grandma on the phone and something is terribly wrong." I don't know if she knew it, but there was never anyone on the other end of the phone. It was a prop. She would then move along down the street to corner some other neighbor unwise enough to be caught unprepared.
The other day, I got a call to go out and pronounce a patient's death. Now, I have one hour between the time I get the page, until the time I show up at a person's doorstep when a death has occurred. We don't want family members to be alone during that time. It's stressful enough and this is one of those times they really need us. Unfortunately, I didn't check to be sure the coast was clear before I left the house. Usually, I'm in my car with the windows up when I press the button on the garage door opener. It doesn't matter if the coast is clear this way. There I was standing there in my scrubs with my patient bag, computer bag and emergency box, when out of nowhere, Quickhide shows up and wants to talk. I felt I'd been caught with my pants down. I had to bluntly tell her, "look, I don't mean to be rude, but I have to go." "Now." Five minutes later, I told her forcefully, "look, you have to move out of the way, I'm leaving." I even told her where I was going. That someone had died and there was a family in need. Even that didn't move her. How can a person be this thick? I don't have what it takes to be rude and often find myself cornered by her. After 15 years, you'd think I'd know to send scouts out first to be sure I'm safe in leaving. Someday, surely I'll learn.