Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Crazy Neighbour 1

I had seen him around the halls, but we didn't speak to each other until we crossed paths in the laundry room. A good-looking guy, a couple of years older than me, he was my next-door neighbour. I'll call him Joe.

Joe was a delivery guy for FedEx. A respectable job. He always looked clean and groomed. Every once in a while we'd hear him singing along with the Doors at the top of his lungs: "Come on Baby, light my fire!" That was okay. We all need to blast the stereo once in a while.

I had him pegged as an average guy.

As we sorted our laundry into the machines, we got to talking. At that time I was taking writing classes . It must have come up in the conversation, because he told me that he writes poetry. We should exchange writing and give each other feedback on our work, he said. I thought that seemed harmless enough. He knew that I was living with Ken, so I trusted that this was not a pickup attempt.

I told Ken about the conversation. Ken's Spidey Sense was tingling. He said: "That guy's a weirdo. You shouldn't get involved with him." I was all, oh, you're so suspicious. You always think the worst of everyone. What's the big deal?

A few days later there was a plastic bag hanging from the doorknob when I got home. Inside there was a manila envelope from Joe, with a note asking for me to give my opinion on the contents.

At the time the Toronto Transit Commission, the organization in charge of all public transit in the city, was having a competition for a promotional poster. Joe had created a poster that he planned to submit.

No word of a lie, this was his poster:
There was a photo of an old 1970's sedan, rusted and junked out in the middle of the desert. The car was riddled with bullet holes. The slogan under the photo read "TTC: The Better Way".

This wasn't meant to be a joke. He was completely serious. And clearly, completely crazy.

Yes, I suppose taking the bus is preferable to dying because your shot-up rustbucket of a car stranded you in the middle of the desert. But I don't think that that was what the TTC was hoping for by way of a promotional campaign. It's just a wee bit over the top, yes?

There was some other stuff in the envelope along the same lines, but nothing else that I remember quite as clearly as that one piece. He had also enclosed a letter to me, hand-written in cursive on lined notepaper. It was a melodramatic ode to the wondrousness of writing, in which he beseeched me to keep writing, because when I most needed it, it would "save" me.

OK, so he was right on one count... But that didn't make him any less looney.

I returned the materials to him, with a note stating that Ken wasn't comfortable with our arrangement, and I requested that we just go back to saying "Hi" in the halls, like we had before. Fortunately, he respected my request.

And just in case you think I was making too much of the situation, he proved Ken right when he found a girl to move in with him the following year. She had serious problems - you could tell just by looking at her that things weren't OK. They had terrible arguments. The screaming went on and on. Twice, when I started to hear crashing along with the screaming, I called in the police for a domestic disturbance. One of those times the girlfriend was so wild and out of it that they took her away in an ambulance.

Yeesh. Now when Ken has a bad feeling about someone, I listen to him.


Keera Ann Fox said...

I have no Ken, but I do have my own spidey sense. Fortunately, I have so far avoided the people who like pictures of shot up old cars.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

That's why I make it a point not to talk to my neighbors. They are all crazy. Of course they can say the same about me.

Aurora said...

I don't know why or how some people "just know." I'm impressed, though. Somehow there must have been a sign he picked up. Cool.

jameil1922 said...

wow... i get feelings about people too. and i'm like ron. i don't talk to my neighbors. lol. mostly tho b/c i have no intentions of staying here and most of them never stay long either. and my schedule's so weird, what's really even the point? you know you said neighbour, right? yay canandienne!! lolol. i actually think his ttc poster is hilarious. hahahahahaha.

Dianne said...

I have come to always trust my spidey senses.

Sounds like you really dodged a bullet with this guy.

Funny - I dated a Fedex guy - he was nuts! Just a coincidence I'm sure ...

R.E.H. said...

They guy sounds crazy alright... but so must I be - I actually thought that poster was funny ;)

In a bizarre way...

San said...

Red, there was a movie--with Dudley Moore I believe--a comedy about advertising. The DM character had suffered some kind of trauma and decided he wanted to start an advertising campaign for an airline based on "truth." He wanted to put the statistics on airline crashes in the ads and show that this airline "had fewer crashes." Your neighbor's transit poster reminds me of that. Wonder what trauma he's suffered. :-)

Thank goodness for your Ken doll.

Jenski said...

Too bad that Ken was right and you didn't get any more good reading you could blog about. :) I can only imagine the poetry he wrote when the girl moved in!

Karen said...

Reminds me of a guy I met at bar once. He was writing a screen play and I exchanged business cards with him. He sent me at least 45 packages of drafts over the next few months. LOL. I never acknowledged any.

Sparkling Red said...

Keera: Ah, good! Trusting your gut is the best policy.

Ron: Ha. Crazy is in the eye of the beholder! I don't talk to my current neighbours, but that 's mainly because most of them only speak Korean.

Aurora: He's more than a little psychic. He can see energy around people, and he's also seen a couple of ghosts.

Jameil: Last time I wrote a post, I almost spelled "shop" as "shoppe", the Ye Olde Fashioned Way, because that's how I like my words - with a decadent abundance of letters. Bring me long words with silent h's and extra u's!

Dianne: Now that I think about it, I guess delivery jobs are well-suited to people who don't get along well with others. You don't have to work with people, just drive around in your truck and handle packages. It's the perfect gig for marginal nuts.

R.E.H.: Yes, the poster is funny, but only now that I'm not living next to him anymore! He really meant it to be taken seriously. Can you say: "out of touch with reality"? I knew you could. ;-)

San: That's exactly what it was like! I do believe that he must have gone through some pretty bad stuff in his life. He'd obviously chosen to live in a bubble of sorts, disconnected from normalcy, and filled with his own odd brand of passion. He didn't seem like a bad guy. I certainly don't wish him ill.

Jenski: I wish I'd kept the letter he wrote me. It had such a high icky factor that I had to get rid of it. And the girl... she was a real mess. I felt bad for her. I think he wanted to save her from her demons, but she really wasn't doing well.

Karen: Oh man! 45? That's wild! You just never know when you first meet people. They can seem perfectly alright, but then they turn out to have these strange obsessions... The thing is that you can never tell how far they'll take it. That's the scary part.

Anonymous said...

Yikes! You can't deny the Spidey Sense. Ken knows best.

Anonymous said...

None of my neighbors speak english so I can't really talk to any of them.

Nicole said...

I started listening to hubby's intuitions as well.
Not as much as he sometimes wants too, but he knows that HE IS paranoid ;)
And usually I have that gut feelijng about some people anyway and I have learned to trust it.