What Prevents People from Listening?
Our development hired people to power-wash the exterior of all the homes. Yesterday, the association stuck a note in our door saying that we had to remove all the furniture from our deck and take off all the window screens.
So why did I have to argue with my family about moving the furniture? It went something like this:
“Dad, help me move this planter inside”
“No, we don’t have to move that. It’s too heavy. They’ll just push it around when they get here.”
“I don’t think so. The letter said to move everything. What about the table and chairs there?
“They’ll move that too.”
“But Dad, look over there next door. See how they took all the furniture off the deck and it’s sitting on the grass? We’re going to have to have to do that too. The letter told us to move everything.”
“No we won’t. Don’t worry. We weren’t even here when they did it last year.”
I start moving the planter inside. “Give me a hand here.”
“No! They’ll do it.”
“Dad, go inside.”
I moved most of the planters by myself.
Ten minutes later, I was out on the other porch and I was a fool. I tried to have a conversation about what to do with the gas grill. I said, “Now I’m just thinking here… maybe we could unhook the gas and they could roll it around the porch when they’re cleaning it. I’m not going to try to roll it inside.”
After reading the letter, looking at all the neighbors’ homes, and watching me move stuff for a few minutes, he replies, “Just leave it.”
“Dad, get out of here.”
I went downstairs and started moving items out from under the upstairs porch. While I was doing this, a workman standing at the next house saw that the planters had been moved inside but the furniture was still on the porch. He said in his broken English and waving his hands to help get the point across, “We going to lunch now. You move that, up there [pointing to the furniture].”
I came back with a nice smile, and pointing to help get the point across as well, “After lunch, we’ll move that off the porch together?” He nodded and smiled. A few minutes later, they went off to lunch.
While I was still moving stuff, my next-door neighbor came out to look at his 3/4 power-washed house. I’ve known him for a few weeks and he’s pretty nice. But today he was a grumpy old man. He gripes at how they missed some spots and how the workmen are no good. I point out that they only stopped for lunch. He gripes at how they dirtied up the windows with the water (yes, he was complaining about water on the outside of his windows). I tell him that they’re here to do power-washing, not windows. He still gripes. I look closer and point out how they have power-washed one of the windows and it looks really good; ,”hopefully they’ll do the other windows when they come back from lunch.” He gripes at that.
He asks me if they’re going to paint the windowsills. I say, “I don’t remember, I think it’s in that thing they slipped in our door. I know they’re going to seal the deck.” He says what a pain it was to get the screens off and asks if they’re going to paint the sills. I say, “I don’t know. It’s written in the contract what they’re going to do.” My dad pokes his head out and I ask him to check the paper and see if they’re going to paint the sills. He goes and says that yes, they will. I point out the one screen he couldn’t get off, saying that they won’t be able to do as good a job painting the sills with that screen on. That they might get brown paint on the white screen and that wouldn’t look good at all. He says that he doesn’t care. I smile and nod that neighborly smile and nod.
I then took another 20 minutes walking around the whole house, removing screens and moving planters and such away from the house.
An hour later, I’m downstairs on my computer and I hear a higher-than-normal-pitched cry from my mother, “Lee! Can you come up here?” I get up there and the two of them are out on the front steps. She starts in on me in a nasty accusatory fast-paced yell, “You were supposed to move all this stuff! Why didn’t you move all this! Now we’ve got to move it before they come. What were you thinking?”
I had had it. First I get yelled at to not move stuff, now I’m getting yelled at because I should move stuff. Even though… get this… I -did- move everything. So I turned it on and redoubled her nasty tone and pace, “I did move everything. LOOK! Do you see how everything is away from the wall they’re going to power-wash? I moved all that! Look. They are going to power-wash this wall [touching the shingled wall] and they are not going to wash this wall [touching the stone wall across from it with some planters lined up against it]. I’m done.” She kept silent. I went back inside.