A few months ago, when I had been living in my new house for about six months, my neighbour started filling my empty bins with building rubble. He’s a painter and plasterer…pretty obvious who was doing it. Then there was the fact that my daughter saw him do it, and he asked her to keep quiet about it. Bit of a give away…
It was his way of protesting that sometimes I left my bin down at the street for days at a time. The rubbish bins are emptied on a Monday morning. Sometimes my bin was still there on Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning it would have rubble in it.
This would happen because I was having a flare of such severity that pulling the bin up the fairly steep driveway was too much for me to manage. In fact, I have flares of such severity that the garbage bin sitting on the street doesn’t even make my radar of things to be concerned about.
It sure bothered him though.
The day my daughter saw him putting broken tile in the bin (again) she called me to come home right away, to catch him at it. I was having a good day. I arrived just as he had finished removing the tiles and throwing them into his trailer. Which also sits on the nature strip regularly. This doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
I asked him about the tiles. He said he had removed them. I said I didn’t mind him putting rubbish in my bin BEFORE the garbage truck arrived, if there was room. And before he could say anything else I apologised for leaving my bin on the street sometimes, and explained that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and some days I can’t walk very well.
He didn’t respond. It’s hard to argue with someone who is apologising. I’m not good at confrontation.
That was the last time I had rubble in my bin. I actually forgot all about it. Normal life goes on. The kids next door often throw their balls into my yard. I have a big dog, so I try to get the balls back into their yard before the dog destroys them. They are nice kids. Similar ages to mine.
I heard them yelling over the fence one day because their hockey ball had come over the fence and the dog had it in her mouth. I was having a very bad flare day, but I got up out of bed, and got the ball. I threw it back.
It was a slow, painful walk. My backyard is also steep. But they are nice kids. And I try to treat people they way I would like to be treated.
My neighbour, their father, came out of the house as I was hobbling away from the fence. He watched my make my way to the stairs. He called out to me. I smiled. He asked what was wrong. I told him rheumatoid arthritis, a very bad flare. He said he could see ‘something was not right’ and asked if he could help. I said, no, but thanks for the offer. He said not to worry about the hockey balls. I told him I didn’t mind a bit if he or the kids wanted to jump the fence or go through the gate to retrieve them. They are welcome to come into my yard, and my dog won’t mind either.
He said thankyou. He asked me some more about my rheumatoid arthritis. I tried to explain a little…pain, flares, bad days, better days, no cure but treatments that help many people, to varying degrees.
He listened. And he said it sounds terrible. And he said it looks very painful. And he asked me if swimming helped, because he has a pool, and if I thought it would give me some relief, I was welcome to swim or float in their pool. Anytime.
I was holding back tears at this point…from the pain, from the fatigue, from the side effects of the oxycodone…but mostly from the unexpected kindness.
And yesterday my bin was taken up from the street and left at my gate.