My Racist Neighbor

I’ve had a very busy Saturday. I don’t typically enjoy very busy Saturdays. I prefer them low-key, but sometimes, it happens.

This morning, I had to go back over to my old house to remove the last piece of my property–a car that’s been sitting there for a couple of years. I bought that car new in Massachusetts. It had fist sized dents in the hood from when Monster #2 tried to kill both me and my car. That car moved all of my stuff cross country in a trailer bigger than it was and I still drove it for a number of years after that. I put 214K miles on it and then the transmission died. Her name was Lucy.

Nobody would take Lucy from me, because nobody wants to replace a transmission on a 1997 car with 214K miles on it, including me, so I parked it in back of the garage. It sat there for a few years because I’m an out of sight, out of mind kind of person. I should have taken care of it years ago, but because it was parked behind the garage, I forgot about it. As long as I was living there, it wasn’t an issue, but then I moved out and left it there like an inconsiderate jackass.

Seems trustworthy.

Seems trustworthy.

I called around to all the “cash 4 cars!” type places and found one willing to come get it on Saturday for $100. That is, they’d pay me $100, not the other way around, which was nice. They said they’d be there at 10am. I was there at 10am, greeted by the people who live there now, an uptight friend of ours, her husband and their two small children.

To give you an idea what I mean by uptight, she has been an absolute pain in my former roommate’s ass. She said my room smelled like dog. There are brand new floors in my room, installed after I left because there wasn’t really a floor while I lived there. The floor I lived with for four years was basically wood colored contact paper. I wiped down all the walls. I even cleaned the little niches in the door that collected dust. There is absolutely no way my former room smells like dog. It has a brand new floor.

Before they moved in, she came over to inspect the place for like the ninetieth time and complained that the house wasn’t childproofed. My roommate was still living there at the time. The closest he comes to toddlers is having been one many moons ago. Who the hell complains about a house not being childproofed when no child lives there?

Now, she is demanding that he install a dishwasher in the house because there isn’t one. Can you imagine telling a landlord to install a dishwasher in a rental unit? Most landlords would laugh while wishing you luck in finding a place that came with a dishwasher. What fun!

Anyway, there I am standing amidst small child debris, with a toddler and baby in a helmet. I’m not kidding you. The baby wears a helmet all the time apparently. That’s one way to childproof a house I suppose.

I looked at my phone and saw that I missed a call so I returned the call thinking it was the tow guy. Nobody answered and I hung up. A few seconds later, the same number called me again and a voice said, “Hello? I got a missed call from this number.” I replied, “I got a missed call from this number.” “Oh, are you the lady in Burbank?” I thought maybe it was a clandestine code. I almost replied, “Yes, the crow flies straight at midnight” just to see what would happen. Instead, I told the truth, “No, I am not now nor ever have been a resident of the city of Burbank.” “Oh, I see you now. I called to tell you we’re running late. We’ll be there in 15 minutes.” This was at 9:56. Ten seconds later, I realized I forgot the damn key to the car. Oopsies!

I had to run home and grab it. The problem was that I had no gas in my car. My original plan was to take care of the old car and fill up the new one at the gas station on the corner. I had not anticipated adding a trip home and back to that before I got gas. My car tells you how many miles you can go before you run out of gas entirely. I watched it anxiously ticking away. When I pulled up in front of my old house again, it said I had 1 miles until stranded on the road dead. Great.

I walked back into toddler world and tow guy still wasn’t there. All that rushing for nothing. I went into the backyard under the guise of inspecting the car, but really just wanting to escape baby in a helmet. Babies are creepy enough on their own, but put them in a helmet and they’re doubly so. Wait wait wait.

Finally, tow guy showed up with a flatbed the size of Texas. There was no way to get the car out of its semi-permanent home with it. We’d have to push. So, tow guy and I began pushing. I was wearing a skirt. All of a sudden, my former next door neighbor who I had only ever met in passing came over to lend a hand. How completely neighborly!

Tow guy had me fill out all sorts of paperwork and then he had to get on the horn with his boss because his boss neglected to tell him how much to pay me. In the meantime, former neighbor guy and I chatted. He said, “You’re not moving away are you?” I said I already have. This was the last of my property to remove. He asked who was moving in. I said it was a married couple with two small children. Then things got hinky.

He said, “What are they like?” I didn’t know what that meant and said, “They’re a normal couple I suppose.” Then, he said, “They’re not like this are they?” and nodded at the Latino neighbors who had come outside at the sound of Texas and the tow guy speaking Spanish on the phone. It took a second to understand what he meant since I am so unused to dealing with racists in real life. My jaw dropped. I picked it back up. Fortunately, I didn’t have to say anything because he was already off on a tangent about how he’d lived there for thirteen years and has watched the neighborhood decline. Decline meaning, become more colorful I suppose.

The thing is, it’s a very strange neighborhood to live in if you’re a white supremacist. Crazy cat lady next door and Mr. suddenly racist are the only white people for blocks. The rest of the neighborhood is all varying degrees of color. I liked it that way because a bunch of white people all gathered together creep me out. They creep me out because some of them are like Mr. suddenly racist and I don’t want to be a party to that. I have lived in mixed race neighborhoods all my life.

This ridiculous conversation pissed me off to no end. I can’t help it that I’m white. None of us can help the color we were born with, but just because our colors are the same, that doesn’t mean we share anything in common. I had more in common with tow guy who was friendly and nice than I did with Mr. racist. I wanted to punch him in the snout for assuming I think like he does. I guess he didn’t know that my roommate’s fiancé for the last two years we lived there was black.

Fuck you, racist guy. I’m not racist and I am insulted that you would think I am just because of my skin color. I’m so glad I don’t live next to you anymore. Get bent.

There are 36 comments

  1. 1jaded1

    What a moron. We can’t help what color we were born. I wish he could spend a day in the life…just to gain some empathy. It probably wouldn’t matter, though.


  2. NotAPunkRocker

    It’s amazing what some people think is appropriate to share. Never mind the fact that they think it, but why the hell do they think I am on their side?

    Baby in a helmet could be a result of the whole back-to-sleep for SIDS; it can lead to misshapen skull development and the helmet helps correct it. Or she can just invest in bubble wrap if it is all her idea :-)


  3. gentlestitches

    You nailed it. Why does he live in a multicultural neighbourhood? Because he likes to feed his diseased brain. Hilarious story. the content wasn’t hilarious but they way you described it was! :)


  4. rarasaur

    I’m so happy you got rid of the old car, just because I’ve tried to get rid of old cars before and it’s a major headache. Despite the stress, it reads like a fairy tale to me, haha. :)

    As for racist guy, yep, they’re around. It’s weird and uncomfortable and it happens just as often in reverse-land. I can’t count the number of brown people who’ve come up to me to gripe about the “white folk” who moved in. There’s so many valid things to gripe about when you life in close-communities, that I don’t know why people don’t focus their energy on that instead of skin color.

    For instance, I had a neighbor who used to tell her kids to play in my (private) parking spot because Dave and I were always out during the day. It was one of those spots that you sort of parked blindly into– because it was right on the other side of a wall. It got to the point that I was too terrified to go home for fear of almost hitting a fleet of kids who were specifically told to go play there. When I complained to the landlord, after trying to deal with the mother directly, the landlord asked “What they were’. And I said, “Kids, they’re kids!” and she said, “No, the family… what are they?” I was completely confused on how to answer this until I realized she meant color. Oi! Of all the things. I don’t care if the mom was tangerine, she was risking her kids lives and my sanity. When neither Dave or I could remember what shade the mom was– only that she shrieked a lot and wore a lot of blue– the landlord called us weirdos. La.

    It’s a weird world.


    1. goldfish

      White people don’t have a monopoly on racism. It’s just that I’m white and that’s the only skin color club I belong to, so that’s the only kind I’ve personally experienced. I just wish people would look beyond appearances. How superficial can you be? As Bill Hicks once said, there are enough reasons to hate people individually without resorting to stereotypes.

      It is a weird world.


  5. Caron Eastgate Dann

    A woman I know recently went to a dinner party at the house of some longtime good friends. Another couple at the party started making racist remarks. She could either say nothing and hope the conversation ended soon, in the interests of keeping the peace, or, explain clearly that she found such talk unacceptable. She did the latter. The hosts did not appreciate it at all. But she says she’s sick of having to keep quiet when people make racist “jokes” or comments at social events.


    1. goldfish

      Good for her. I’d much rather be thought of as rude than a racist. I did manage to squeeze in a comment to racist guy’s diatribe that I didn’t appreciate that kind of talk. Plus, I avoided telling him anything about the couple who moved in. They’re Jewish. Ha!


  6. Becki Duckworth

    Asshole jerk, happens to me quite a bit, not in Portland but the outskirts. I love the reaction when I stop the person dead in their fucking racist tracks and, say I am married for almost 20 years to a black man. Just because my hair is blond, my eyes green and I am white does not mean I am a token KKK member.


    1. goldfish

      Lol. Awesome! I mean, not awesome that you’ve encountered that, but that you can immediately stop them from thinking that you agree. I don’t understand racism. I really, truly do not get how you could hate someone you’ve never met based on their skin color. It’s just pigment.


  7. draliman

    I’ve never actually met a racist (at least not knowingly), thank the stars. I’m not sure how I’d react if I did but I’m sure it would leave a bad taste in my mouth the next few hours.
    I’m currently looking around as I’m intending to move house as soon as I find somewhere (that’s why I’m so behind on my post reading/writing) and one of my biggest worries is “what will the neighbours be like?” You can’t usually tell until you’ve moved in…


    1. goldfish

      I have never met a racist in LA before, but I’ve encountered them elsewhere. It’s so weird. What pisses me off most is that they would assume that I’m racist too.

      Good luck with your house hunt! I hope you don’t end up next to a racist.


  8. completelydisappear

    Being Asian myself, I never thought about racism before until I went to take English course in another country for 6 months. At that time, I didn’t think about it too till my Korean friends told me about their experience of racism. Then I started to ponder whether I ever encountered something like that. I think maybe once or twice I could feel that but I just didn’t care about that too much. Like I rarely think of racism when people weirdly act, I usually think that they are just weird or in a bad mood. It might because I never meet violent or dangerous events of racism.

    By the way, I couldn’t help chuckle when I read about baby with helmet. Very funny, just imagine about that :D


    1. goldfish

      It’s probably best just to ignore it altogether. I don’t really think about racism until I’m confronted with it like with my former neighbor. It’s just so weird to me how you could hate so many people you’ve never even met.


  9. Melanie

    Pushing a car wearing a skirt. Awesome! That sounds like something I would end up doing too.
    The former neighbor is an ass, and what makes it worse is as much as he has “watched the neighborhood decline” he doesn’t seem to be very observant about the actual movements of people around him. How long have you been gone and he had no idea you were gone?


    1. goldfish

      I wasn’t expecting racist neighbor OR having to push a car that morning or I might have dressed a little differently.

      I know! I thought the same thing. How observant you are that both my roommate and I moved out, the new family moved in and you didn’t even know. Weird asshole racist.


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