New Castle News

Lisa Madras

July 9, 2012

Lisa Madras: If you’re itchin’ for a fight, I’ll argue against it

NEW CASTLE — Do you attend every argument you're invited to?

A couple of months ago, I was in my garage packing for a camping trip while my son rode around the yard in his go-cart. All was well and fine until my neighbor (with whom I've had a normal, amicable, 10-year relationship) storms into my yard, stomping, waving his arms, and shouting something I didn't quite hear.

As he grabs some empty pop cans that we'd set on a stump (in MY yard) and throws them into MY burn barrel, he demands that my son keep his go-cart out of his yard so that it doesn't look as terrible as MY yard does. (Ouch.)

To add insult to injury, the yard that my son had "trespassed" onto was still MY YARD. I have to admit here that I'm not a very territorial person, and when this neighbor had told me years ago that my property line stopped a good 10 feet before it actually does, I didn't argue. Because I didn't care. If it made him happy to believe that, I didn't have a problem with it. Until now.

And because I was caught off guard by this normally pleasant, though reserved, neighbor, I didn't have my usual honey badger attack ready. I apologized, instructed my son to stay on his normal course, and watched my neighbor storm away — as I stood there and fumed.

There's nothing worse than being right and having to eat crow to the person who's wrong.

Or is there?

I continued to stew in silence for the next couple of weeks as the neighbors moved my garbage cans further onto my property, and even went so far as to pick up litter that was in their yard and throw it into mine. I'm furious when strangers act like that, but even more furious that my once seemingly perfect neighborhood now had "that" kind of people in it.

To mollify my inner honey badger, I printed out copies of my deed and a property map, and tacked them to my kitchen wall to be ready for the next attack, at which time I planned to shove the papers in their faces and tell them that I would call the police if they didn't stop bothering me.

The funny thing is, as I was readying my covert counter attack (which seemed like inaction to the neighbors) they seemed to stop their offensive as well.

Turns out it takes two sides to keep a fight going, after all.

I'm not saying that it was easy to let this person disrespect me, and honestly, I still really want to put up a fence so that I don't have to deal with him ever again. But deep down in my heart, I know that I'd truly be putting up a fence just to prove that I'm right.

And even though it was a lesson I learned accidentally, I've found that I like this position of peace much better than I like the position of rightness.

I like it so much, in fact, that I just may start declining to attend most of the arguments I'm invited to.

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Lisa Madras
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