My aunt was furious at the neighbor who spent all day cleaning his car

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I witnessed firsthand; used with permission.

Did you ever have one of those neighbors who didn't mind their business?

My aunt was one of those neighborhood women who inserted herself into everyone else's affairs. If anything was happening within view of her house, she had an opinion about it.

She had one neighbor in particular whose activities infuriated her for no reason.

The man who lived next door to my aunt washed his car on Sunday—every Sunday—and he washed that car all day long.

My aunt's neighbor used his own supplies to wash his car. He used his own water, which sprayed from his own hose. The water ran down his driveway into the gutter without wetting my aunt's property. Yet, my aunt was furious every time she saw him roll his car out of the garage and park it in the driveway for his weekly washing.

His car washing didn't affect her life in any way, shape, or form, but my aunt still took it as a personal affront.

"Why does he have to wash his car every Sunday?" she'd ask me every Sunday.

I shrugged. "He likes a clean car. I think it's nice that he takes pride in his vehicle."

"He's just doing it to annoy me," my aunt would counter.

"I don't know. It seems like a lot of work just to annoy you. Besides, how would he even know washing his own car would bother the lady next door? It doesn't even make sense."

"He knows," my aunt would say. "Oh, he knows."

I don't think he knew.

Fortunately, my aunt wasn't bold enough to storm over to her neighbor's house and confront him about his propensity for washing his car in his own driveway once a week, but she came close a couple of times. Once, I even caught her marching out the front door just as I pulled into her driveway to deliver her groceries.

"Where are you going?" I asked.

"Nowhere," she replied, looking sheepish.

We both knew exactly where she was going. Fortunately, my arrival drove her back into her house before she could start any trouble.

"He's just trying to wash his car," I said.

"Yes," she replied. "But does he have to do it every Sunday?"

"I don't think he thinks about it. He's just doing what he wants to do with his day."

"It's my day, too," she said. "It ruins my Sunday whenever I see him out there."

"But it doesn't stop you from going outside or using your yard, does it?" I asked her. "He can wash his car in the driveway without affecting your life at all. Why are you so bothered by it? What difference would it make if he didn't wash his car every Sunday?"

She shrugged. "I just know that if he washes his car one more time, I'm calling the cops."

Of course, my aunt never called the police. If she had, they probably would have responded by telling her to deal with it herself, since the man wasn't breaking any laws.

My aunt continued to have strong opinions about everything her neighbors did—even the things that didn't affect her life in any way whatsoever were cause for criticism and judgment on my aunt's part—until the day she died.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

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