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Article Archive >> Community

Daze Of My Life/In This Neighbor’s Hood

by Ken Lourie

Call me crazy, as some have, but my newest neighbor, whom I have not met as yet and who resides approximately 100 yards north through a thicket of trees, bushes and grasses, should not be running a chain saw at 6 in the morning on a Saturday, unless there’s some kind of emergency, some kind of health and welfare issue, right? We’re not located in southeast Florida, smack dab in the eye of a hurricane. We’re located in Burtonsville, MD, in the northeast corner of Montgomery County, hardly tornado alley. And it’s November, during a relatively benign weather pattern: no rain, minimal wind, low humidity and below seasonal-average temperatures. In fact, the weather doesn’t get much better than this, so what’s my neighbor’s urgency in chain-sawing wood before dawn? And why do I even have to be asking this question? And moreover, how does my neighbor not know the answer? Granted, we’re not exactly on top of one another, but certainly his other neighbors, adjacent to and across from, are. It must have been obvious that neighbors’ homes he could see would probably be affected by sounds that he could hear. And most of you no doubt are familiar with the whirring, grinding and whining sound of a gas-powered chain saw cutting its way through wood. It’s not pleasant. Nor is it pleasing or relaxing in any way. On the contrary, it makes the sound and feel of a dentist’s cavity-filling, crown-molding, root-canaling drill seem like sweet inspiration.
So the issue now becomes, how do I proceed? Do I walk over to my neighbor’s house, knock on his door, introduce myself and then ask for some consideration? Do I find out his phone number instead and telemarket, as I so often do at work, my way into an introduction and subsequent conversation and hopeful resolution? Or do I dispense with such diplomatic trivialities and call the County Noise Ordinance Residential Division directly and file a complaint and wait for the other shoe to drop?
I suppose the complaint could be made anonymously, but if not me, whom else is my neighbor likely to suspect? You? And besides, wouldn’t that kind of not talking directly to my neighbor and calling the municipal authorities first be (A) kind of cowardly on my part and (B) breaching an unspoken trust that exists between neighbors?
Doesn’t my neighbor deserve the benefit of the doubt? I mean, as egregious a sin as I’m making this incident/oversight to be, nevertheless it’s still his first such inconsideration-of-his-fellow-neighbor’s-type infraction. And supposedly he’s entitled to a second chance to make a first impression. He’s not interviewing for a job: Presumably he’s trying to improve his surroundings (his wife is pregnant), so I can’t fault him for that. But I can’t help wondering why it wasn’t obvious to him that running a chain saw on a weekend morning-in the dark no less-was disturbing to his nearby neighbors, and if he thought it wasn’t, then what exactly would be disturbing, or doesn’t he care?
Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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