Monday, May 23, 2016

Trying to Keep the Wolves at Bay

This is not horse related, but more related to one of the many reasons why I'm not out riding my horses most days:  People.  People have a knack for sucking up my time with their own agendas and by causing me problems that I would otherwise not experience had their paths not crossed with mine.  I am so gun-shy that when I see a human being walking toward me, all I can think is, "Here comes trouble."

When my neighbor first approached me about helping her sell her house, I said no.  She approached me again, and again I said no.  She approached me a third time, and I kept up my broken record of no.  She'd ask why, I'd give her just one of many good reasons, she'd find a workaround, and I'd present another reason.  On and on it went.  She would not take no for an answer.  She offered to pay me well for my time, but my time is more valuable than any money she can offer me.

She assured me that she wouldn't ask me to do anything more than to just unlock her house for home shoppers, and lock up behind them.  By this point in time, her constant phone calls begging me to help her were taking up more of my time than just doing the job, so I agreed to do nothing more than unlock and lock her house.  It was supposed to be a short-term, temporary inconvenience.  That was well over a year ago.

A short time after that, she contacted me and offered to pay me if I'd turn on her water, flush her toilets, and turn off her water.  She was worried that if the house sat vacant for too long, septic gases would build up.  I really, really, really did not want to agree to that, because she was breaking her promise of not asking me to do anything beyond unlocking and locking the house.  However,  I understood her predicament, so I agreed to do that.  Big mistake.  That opened up the floodgates, and a series of other extensive requests came in.

Before I knew it, I was her official property manager and caretaker, repairing broken gates, picking up windblown items, doing monthly home inspections, and cleaning her house.  I was also her reluctant real estate agent, meeting with other real estate agents and their clients, showing them the property lines, asking them what they thought of the place, and reporting back to my neighbor about my impressions, but I always refused to give them a tour of the house.  My neighbor had to answer their questions via phone conference, because I was not going to take responsibility for any misunderstandings.  I felt more comfortable just making sure that all the doors and windows were locked after they left.

Doing the home inspections made me crazy, because I'd always see some problem that I knew my neighbor would want to know about, but I also knew that she would ask me to fix it, and I am not a handyman.  If I lied and said everything was fine, she'd come into town and see the problem and confront me about it, so I had to tell her.  That turned into me making trips to the hardware store and researching how to repair this and that online.  I even had to pull my poor husband in a few times because I didn't have a clue as to how to fix something that was broken, or because something was too high for me to reach or too heavy for me to lift.

The lady has these metal statues all over her property, and the wind keeps blowing them down, so I have to keep picking them up.  I got tired of injuring myself doing that.  I either burned myself, got a hernia, or got a concussion from having these damn statue parts fall on my head.  Seriously, it happened twice.  One time a metal palm frond cut my scalp and another time I got knocked to my knees and was dizzy and nauseated afterward.  So, to protect myself, I told her I would not be dealing with those statues anymore.

Then there's the friggin' flag.  She insists on always having a flag flying from the pole on her roof.  However, every time it gets windy, the flag gets shredded or the flag pole breaks, and I have to climb up onto the roof, up and over walls, and walk on a very flimsy surface that can barely hold my weight to repair the pole or change out the flag.  With my current hip and leg issues, I just can't be doing that anymore.  I've told her dozens of times to just take down the flag and forget about it, but she doesn't feel comfortable unless there is a flag flying.  I guess she thinks it makes the place look lived in.  Anyway, I told her I won't be doing flag duty for her anymore.  If she wants to change out the flag, she'll have to do it herself.  She wasn't happy about that.

Then there's the rodents.  She's been having me lay down poison and traps in the outbuildings, which requires me to go to the store to pick up the supplies, and then she asks me to remove all evidence of a rodent problem every time someone has a house viewing scheduled.  I keep telling her that she has a rodent problem in her main house too, but she just passes me off to her husband who insists that is impossible.  Yet every time I walk into the house, there are rodent droppings all along the baseboards.  She expects me to clean it up, but no sooner do I sweep it all up, and the next day there are more droppings.  They don't seem to want me to put poison and traps in the main house, and I've spent more time sweeping the floors of her house than I do my own.

Well, she recently hired a maid service to do a comprehensive cleaning for a future showing, and already there are rodent droppings and dead scorpions all over the floors.  I've decided to say nothing.  I'm just going to let her see it with her own eyes, because that's the only way she'll believe me.

Anyway, I've been tolerating all these inconveniences pretty well for about a year, but now I'm at my boiling point because she and her husband scheduled a bunch of service appointments without asking me if it was convenient for me.  They just assumed that I'd be available to handle them.  However, in one case, I have my own appointment at the same time, and in other cases, I just wasn't willing to put my life on hold for these 4 to 6 hour windows to wait for the service men or women to show up.  Also, they keep scheduling all these home maintenance appointments in the spring and fall, which are the best times of year for me to be trail riding.  I told her that, and she said that if I could just unlock the house in advance, and lock up at my convenience after they're gone, that would be fine.

However, I know her, and that's never enough.  In the days preceding these appointments, I got inundated with phone calls and emails from her reminding me of the appointments, and giving me very specific instructions on how to handle them.  If I couldn't be there, I was to leave notes on doors, and was only allowed to unlock or open certain doors and gates.  They had scheduled these inspection and repair appointments after the house cleaning appointment, and so now she's worried that people will mess up the floors.  Somehow that ballooned into me getting roped into escorting people around the property in order to prevent them from walking on the clean floors (which she doesn't know are not clean anymore because of all the rat shit).  I refused to agree to any of it.  She made her bed.  She needs to sleep in it.

I said I'd unlock and lock the doors, and put up notes, but I would not sit home and wait for these people to show up.  What did she do?  She called all of these service people and gave them my name and phone number with specific instructions to call me and meet me at her house.  So, my damn phone has been ringing off the hook and I can't get anything done for myself.

I got so pissed that I just stopped answering my phone and hoped that the service people would go to her door first and read the note instead of coming to my door and getting my dogs all riled up.  I've asked her repeatedly to not tell these people where I live, because it's disruptive having people knocking on my door and ringing the doorbell.  I've also asked her to tell them not to block the gate to the bridle trails with their vehicles, because I'm sick of having to cancel rides because of that problem.  One time I even got trapped in the desert by someone who parked there.  I couldn't get my horse through the gate, so I had to ride half a mile out of my way to get home.  She has a driveway.  People can park there.

These service people never show up within the promised window of time.  They either come early or they come late.  At any rate, they almost always show up right when I'm eating my breakfast or lunch.  I can't tell you how much food I have had to throw out because it went bad while I was handling a service call either for myself or my neighbor.  Don't service people take lunch breaks?  And if they aren't interrupting my meals, they are interrupting my coffee break and as a result, my coffee gets cold.  Reheated coffee just isn't as good as the fresh stuff.

My main issue is that my neighbor can't just ask me to do a job, and trust that I will do it.  She pesters me relentlessly, and all the communications leading up to the appointment take up more of my time than the actual appointment.  I can't concentrate on anything because of all the interruptions.  I feel like I'm being robbed of my time.  No amount of money is worth this.  My end goal is always just to get her off my back, because she won't leave me alone until the job is done.  But then there's another job right around the corner.

So, what do I do?  I'm thinking of taking the route of just totally flaking out and not doing anything she asks so that she will know that I am not reliable, and hopefully, she'll have the sense to get someone else to do the job.  She actually did try to get several other people to do it, but they all knew her really well and just stopped answering their phones.  She used to have real real estate agents do all this work for her, but she was dissatisfied with their performances.  That's how I got roped into it.  Now I'm wishing she'd fire me too since she won't let me quit the dang job.  I think she needs to face reality and recognize that she's asking way too much of me as a neighbor.  She needs to hire a professional house sitter.

There have been a few other incidents of different people imposing their agendas upon me and messing up my own plans as a result.  I've been doing my best to do the least for them.  I think when I get done with all these people who keep adding tasks and appointments to my schedule, they're going to make my middle name "Flaky".  At least, I hope so.  Then maybe they'll leave me alone so that I can have some time to take the dogs to the salon for nail trims, and ride a horse every now and then when my legs let me.

While I was finishing up writing this post, I heard barking in my backyard.  (Teresa - I suggest you stop reading here.  This will bring back bad memories for you.)  I looked out the window to see two Pit Bulls running along my arena fence.  The horses trotted out of the barn to investigate the dogs, and then Gabbrielle went into full-on attack mode and charged them.  There was a fence between my horses and the dogs, so she was running alongside of them bucking.  Just when I was hoping the dogs had the sense to move along, they started chasing Gabbrielle and came back up the other side of the arena around the front to the barn where they could crawl under the gate.

I flipped out because I knew that either those dogs were going to shred my horses or my horses were going to kick the dogs to death.  I ran outside in my bare feet and screamed at the dogs, who were so focused on the horses that they totally ignored me.  I grabbed some rocks and chucked them as far as I could, trying to hit something that would make a loud noise and scare the dogs away.  When that didn't work, I jumped up and down clapping my hands while screaming, "Go home!"

Fortunately, my commotion caught the horses' attention and they all held still to watch me.  The dogs then passed up my barn and ran around the round pen down into the wash.  I thought they were gone, but they came back up out of the wash and began chasing Gabbrielle again.  Rock and Bombay tried to come to her rescue by running after the dogs.  Lostine was cowering in the barn.  I ran into the house to get my slip on shoes and couldn't find them.  I was so frantic.  I had to stop those dogs.

I finally found the shoes and ran outside to chase the dogs away.  They did run off when I ran at them.  When all was said and done, I managed to twist my right ankle, get a thorn in the bottom of my left foot, and I pulled my right shoulder while chucking rocks.  Once the dogs were gone and I calmed down, I limped into the house wondering how I even managed to run down to the end of the arena with a twisted ankle and thorn in my foot in the first place.  (I started out having a decent "hip" day where I didn't need to use my cane.)  It's amazing how you can block out pain when there's an emergency situation.

I wish people would do whatever is needed to keep their dogs contained.  Not only are loose dogs a threat to other pets and kids, but they are a threat to wildlife and their own safety.  Also, now that there have been stray dogs on my property, it's tough getting my own dogs to focus when I take them out to do their business.  They want to follow the scent of the Pit Bulls.

We just started the dogs on a new dog food, and it makes them poop and pee a lot.  They wanted to go outside, but I didn't want to risk taking them out until I was sure those Pit Bulls wouldn't come back.  I can't manage a five-way dog fight.  It was hard enough keeping those dogs away from my horses.  I was trying to get my dogs to do their business "really quick", and of course, Stewie had to get a turd stuck to his butt.  He's a clean freak, so he get obsessed with stuff like that.  I couldn't get his nose out of his butt long enough to get him into the house, so I had to grab a paper towel off the garage wall to clean him up just so I could get him indoors and back to safety.

Man, I feel more comfortable having a pack of coyotes and rattlesnakes around my dogs and horses than I do having stray domestic dogs in the vicinity.  I hope those Pit Bulls find their way back home and their owner fixes the gate or fence or whatever the problem is that allowed their dogs to escape.  Now I'm back to icing my most recent boo-boos and wondering when I'll get to ride a horse again.


ellie k said...

I do the same thing, someone asks me to do something and then it grows into a bigger and bigger job and more and more time. I really don't mind helping people but a lot of them want to take advantage of your kindness. I think you are going to have to just tell the lady to hire someone else and you step completely out of the job. Give yourself a few days of light duty and then try to enjoy your own horses and house. You are not responsible for this other property, and you need to tell the lady, its not fair for your husband to have to do it either.

Crystal said...

Ya your neighbor sucks. Id say just quit doing more than you agreed or just quit overall and get back to doing what you want to do.
And Pit bulls such a hard breed, I don't think they are naturally aggressive but they are sure easy to rile up. When I was in college 2 came and attacked the super pregnant sheep and killed at least 4 and caused numerous others to go into labour what a mess that was.

Mrs Shoes said...

Holy Moses Nuz...
There may not be any amount of money that makes it worthwhile for you to do it, but maybe there IS an amount that would give your jerk neighbour reason not to call you. Maybe you should ask her for an astronomical amount, in advance, to keep you - like $5000/month (or more, if 5K doesn't seem like a small fortune). If she can't afford your services...

Running dogs - where was your slingshot? If I remember correctly, you are pretty good with a rock in a sling! Is there Animal Control services there who might fine the owners or confiscate the dogs?

In the rural area where I live, people will not hesitate even a half second to shoot a dog(s) running livestock.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Mrs. Shoes - It all happened so fast. There was no time to grab the slingshot. It was a miracle that I found my shoes. My husband said I should have called Animal Control and waited for them to come and catch the dogs, but in the time it would have taken me to look up their number, someone would have been hurt or killed. I was risking having them attack me. My plan was to jump into the tack room if they charged me, but fortunately they thought better of it.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

OMG. I just checked my email and she set up ANOTHER appointment for me to handle. That makes five in one week! Pretty soon she's going to have me buying birthday gifts for her friends and forging her signature on the cards.

TeresaA said...

Wow. what an ordeal.
thanks for the warning about the dogs. I appreciate it. I know I'm Canadian and generally we don't shoot things but if you have a gun I would shoot those dogs- they will come back for either the horses or your dogs.

As for the neighbour- I would write a letter resigning effective immediately. I would not be doing any of those things and I would accept that she would be upset with me and consider it worth it.

Mrs Shoes said...

I am a proud Canadian farm wife, & we keep a loaded .22 in the closet for predator control (our children are grown). My husband & son have shot nuisance coyotes, skunks, & raccoons when they have had to do so.
Our neighbour shot a 100lb timberwolf who killed his dogs & stalked ours; another neighbour shot a black bear who ripped the throat out of a $3000 cow - both these incidents happened within 1/4 mile of our gate.
In town, or in semi-rural areas, it may be up to the authorities to handle nasty dogs & their owners, but on rural farms it is perfectly acceptable practice to shoot dogs who come onto private property running livestock, or behaving in an uncharacteristic or threatening manner.

Brenda said...

Your neighbor is expecting waaaaaay too much of you. Asking way too much. I like Teresa's idea of sending a letter to officially resign. She's not going to stop having you do things for her and I have real issue with her giving your name and number to all these strangers and setting up appointments without checking with you first. That's so wrong.

I'm glad you were able to chase the dogs off. Hopefully they won't be back. It was nice of you to warn Teresa like that, too.