It started with a faded, beat-up panel van parked across the street. At first, we wondered if our elderly neighbor (Sydney) was having work done. And then we noticed a man driving a white Explorer parking behind the van, and then driving the van away. In the morning, picking up the van. In the evening, parking the van. Every morning, our dog barking. Every evening our dog barking (and waking RR up). Never once did he go inside Sydney’s house or even wave at the window in a halllo! nice of you to let me park here! sort of way.
We thought he might be part of the construction crew working a nearby endless road construction project. A month passed, the roadway finished, the van stayed on. Bothered by both the eyesore and the stranger danger aspect, we thought about leaving cookies and a note, “It doesn’t seem like you live around here. Would you please move your van?” And then it stopped moving. For a week it sat, tree branches and leaves gathering around it. We consulted the city regulations for rules about abandoned vehicles and called to complain.
Maybe you’re wondering, what’s wrong with a van? Or you might be saying, it’s a public street, he can park there if he wants. There really isn’t anything wrong with it, except that it’s a stranger inexplicably in the neighborhood. It’s not as though we’re on a busy city street. The houses have a bit of space between them and, while there is room for a couple of cars to park in front of each house, all of them have driveways and street-parked cars are usually just visiting.
Then a new van showed up. Shiny and respectable, it bore the logo of a well-known local repair company. And shortly after came the white Explorer for the swap. And then the man started parking his Explorer in front of our house. The dog lost his mind. Time for action and further investigation. Debra called the company to inquire whether work was being done in the area and I popped over to Sydney’s bearing a check for her daughter’s diabetes fundraising. I admit it, I was willing to pay for information. The course of the conversation eventually turned to the van (see paying for information).
Wouldn’t you know, Sydney was also bothered by the van(s). The man, she said, lived at the end of our street (a few blocks away) and is the grandson of her neighbor. He complained there wasn’t room in front of his house for the van and used to park it in the driveway of the neighbor on the other side of grandma until that neighbor got tired of negotiating around the van. Then he moved the van in front of grandma’s house where it caused visibility problems when both grandma and Sydney were backing out of their drives. So he moved in front of Sydney’s house. She was plenty tired of him parking there, she said, especially since he hadn’t asked. She wondered why the Explorer was now residing in front of our house and suggested we amiably ask him to move on.
Overnight, all of the vehicles disappeared. I felt a little guilty but relieved that our dog had stopped barking (he doesn’t, for the record, bark at any of the usual residents) and that the stranger had stopped parking his car in front of our house. I drove down to the end of the street to see his house (easily identified by the vans) and there is plenty of room to park, though, with his minivan, explorer, and vans, it does look a little shabby. Still, I’d rather he keep his vehicles in front of his house.
This morning, Sydney popped over while we were weeding to ask if we’d talked to the man. We hadn’t, we allowed, though we were happy it had moved on. She said grandma was blaming Ann, whoever that is, clearly there’s a bit of bad blood there. Sydney was just as happy as we were to see it gone and we agreed to let the mystery of the van fade quietly away. Between you and me, the local repair company surely didn’t appreciate the bad business.
This is what it takes to distract me that I am 13 days past ovulation and probably not pregnant forever. We’ll see. At least I’ve had the vans to distract me.