You don't want to mess with my neighborhood. Earlier today the Lovely Louise was riled up. About two months ago she hired a new pool company, and they were doing a very nice job. They told her they would send her a bill after the first month so she could set them up on automatic payment from the bank. The short story is that we never received a bill, e-mail, or phone call until yesterday, which put us two months behind. No problem, she figured she’d just set them up in the bank account and pay it in full. That is, until she started hearing from our neighbors. Instead of contacting Louise about the oversight, this pool company started contacting our neighbors and informing them that we were delinquent. That’s right. They didn’t call us, they called our neighbors. First thing this morning Louise was ready to head to the pool company, credit card in hand, pay them off, and then fire them. Before she could leave however, a meeting was held by our neighbors who also use this pool company, and at the end of the meeting everyone decided to fire them. After the meeting, Louise headed out to do battle with the evil pool company, and later returned triumphant after giving them a piece of her mind and paying them off. Another neighborhood meeting was then held about Poolgate, and everyone discussed what to do about this egregious violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. I suggested that with about forty homes in the neighborhood we should all negotiate a group pool contract with one pool company. We’ll unionize! A collective bargaining agreement is what we need. Being the rabble rouser that I am, I further suggested that since all of us have different landscape companies to keep our lawns tidy, we should negotiate the same way for neighborhood landscaping. This is becoming a movement. I haven’t suggested it yet, but I think we should apply the same concept to plumbers, electricians, air conditioning, and who knows, maybe even pizza delivery! We’ll just all get together and buy in bulk. We’ll form a non-profit group and negotiate our own health care and property insurance. Maybe even a neighborhood discount at the local liquor store. Our neighborhood is a very close one. Closer than any I’ve ever seen. Every evening, most everyone in the neighborhood gets together for a walk around the circle, which is about a quarter of a mile. It takes over an hour to make two circuits. It starts with everyone gathering at the street corner, where they wait for everyone to come out. People come with their dogs, none of which are big enough to take on a good-size cat. They come with walkers and canes and sometimes a wheelchair or two. People bring treats for the pets they meet along the way. Some time ago Louise suggested that instead of bringing treats for the dogs they should bring treats for people. Today they now have a cart filled with wine, liquor, and snacks. This cart is pushed by a ninety-year-old woman who uses it as her walker. I believe this is because public drinking is illegal—in case the cops show up, everyone can take off and leave this poor woman alone to face the gendarmes. What are they going to do? Arrest her? During this walk, they all discuss the state of the country and the state of the neighborhood, and tonight I’m sure they’ll be discussing the state of everyone’s pool company. They are truly a wonderful group of people, and everyone looks out for everyone else. There are parties and cook outs, and sometimes people have a get-together at their house just for the hell of it. I am not a social person but even I enjoy these occasional get-togethers. I’ll give you one example of why. Yesterday I had a new gas tank installed in my boat, and the old one was left on the deck until I could transfer the remaining gas and get rid of it. My next door neighbor smelled gas and noticed that there was a leak from my old gas tank. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to mobilize the neighborhood brigade. In short order Jim and his wife Karen headed over to help. Karen had a siphon to use to transfer the gas and Jim volunteered to help lift the old tank so we could drain it. Shortly, Linda from across the street noticed the commotion and came over to see if she could help. With an army of neighbors we got it under control and saved the environment. That didn’t happen in my neighborhood back on Cape Cod. We’ve lived in our house there for almost eight years and still haven’t met any of the neighbors. Not one. While I may not be the most social guy you know, and I still can’t get used to people just “popping in,” and I’m really not comfortable with everyone in the “hood” knowing all of my business, if I had to pick one place to live it would be this city in this neighborhood with all these crazy people. Why? Because in this neighborhood everyone’s got your back, and that’s why you don’t mess with us.