We live on a pretty short street. It’s quiet and there are several elderly people here who have been in their homes for 30 or more years. It’s a nice little suburban setting with people walking their dogs, kids learning to ride their bikes and weirdos mowing lawns barefoot.
Wait, let be back up. When we moved in the woman across the street who is about my mother’s age, came over quite a bit to chat with us as we were playing outside. One of the first things she mentioned was Bob*, the neighborhood odd-job man. “He’s a little odd.” she said “but he’s harmless”. If I remember correctly she said he grew up on the street and was just a normal kid. He went to college and came back a “little off” as she said. Having lived here now almost 3 years I’m going to guess that Bob had some kind of mental episode while at college because the dude is not right. And he creeps me out.
He does indeed do odd-jobs for many of the older folks on our street. He mows lawns, walks dogs, rakes leaves. But he does all of this barefoot and early in the morning. Every Thursday all summer long at 7:45 AM we’d hear the mower start up next door and sure enough he’d be out there, rain or shine, mowing their lawn. Ever see someone mow grass barefoot in a thunderstorm? Weird.
He wears the same thing just about everyday – cut off jean shorts, a ball cap and an old ratty t-shirt. Buddy Holly glasses. No shoes. A bright yellow rain slicker if needed. I would guess that he’s in his mid-fourties or early fifties. He moves between the close-set yards quickly and quietly, often cruising up a driveway on his bike. It never fails to startle me to see him walk by my kitchen window that faces our neighbor’s driveway.
I always thought Bob lived in a slightly unkept house a few doors down as he seemed to come and go from their property a lot. Then, this summer, our new babysitter who has lived in the house catty-corner behind us her whole life, revealed to me that he lives in her neighbor’s garage! He lives in his van right behind us! Turns out that the house behind us is vacant – has been for over 5 years (and here we thought it was old people who were snowbirds). The house is now owned by the son of the previous owners and he allows Bob to live in the garage during the summers in exchange for keeping up the house and property. I had heard music coming from that garage in the evenings many times and had always just assumed someone used it as a workshop. Silly me.
Now is the time of the year that Bob disappears for the winter and I have to say I am relieved. He seems harmless. He’s very kind and we even had him mow our lawn once while on vacation. I’ve never heard anything but good things about him. But he still gives me the creeps. And I’m never totally comfortable with M playing alone outside when I know he could pop up just over the fence anytime. Call me over-protective if you want, but the dude is weird.
So, who are the weirdos in your neighborhood? The people that you meet /when you’re walking down the street/ the people that you meet each day?
*You know his name is not Bob, right?
UPDATED: In case you were wondering, today (11/11) he started at 7:41 and is wearing a winter parka and an ear-flap hat with his jorts.