This Nosy Neighbor Needs a Dossier

On days when I spend a fair amount of time working on the computer, I see a lot of what happens on my street. As the gears in my brain squeak and grind, I look out the window and watch cars and people go by. We live on a cul-de-sac that can be surprisingly busy and since I’m home during the day, I feel it’s my duty to see what those strangers are up to. It’s amazing how many unmarked white vans drive by. When I mention to my husband what I’ve seen on any given day, he always says the same thing: “Did you write it in your dossier?”

It’s become quite a joke, both for me and for him. He thinks I’m nosy. I say if some van pulls into someone’s driveway and starts loading up furniture, or worse, bodies rolled up in a rug, the cops are going to want a description. And, I think, are you kidding me with dossier? It’s pronounced ˈdȯ-sē-ˌā, according to Merriam-Webster, and it’s a file you keep of detailed records on someone or something. I had to secretly look it up the first time he said it because who in the world says that? I’ll tell you who: the same man who pronounces vase as vozz. Someone who didn’t have a brother to beat him up for saying fancy words, that’s who.

Who is my husband calling nosy?

So back to my dossier, or lack thereof. If I had one, it would be pretty lame: a hawk on my porch, people walking their dogs, pest control, a man wearing a bathrobe and I hope something under it rushing to get his trash can to the curb—hello, fuzzy slippers. And several dozen of those white vans. They always creep me out because all of the crime shows my husband makes me watch start out with some nondescript work van and the ring of a doorbell. Ding-dong! “I didn’t call for a plumb…oof!”

Our house backs up to a nature trail, and one day I saw a guy peeing in a big holly tree. Now that’s something I don’t see every day and am happy not to. My kids play up in that big holly tree. I banged on the windows. “Hey, you! Man with the wee-wee! Put that thing away!” I ducked so he couldn’t see me. Sometimes I have to protect my territory while others are away. No one said this job was easy. People can’t be marking my turf.

I’ve also seen some suspicious things driving through the neighborhood. A man parked on the side of the road brushed his teeth. I can’t begin to imagine why. And another day something in a remote corner between neighborhoods looked kinky and I assume it wasn’t legal. But I didn’t get a good look at that.

I consider myself more of an observant neighbor, a watchdog. But sometimes people like me take the heat. Call me nosy if you must. But if a white van pulls up in my driveway, I just hope somebody’s watching out for me.

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30 Comments

Filed under About Mom, Everyday Life

30 responses to “This Nosy Neighbor Needs a Dossier

  1. Hee! I love that you tagged it ‘dossier.’

    My great-grandmother was the nosiest of nosy neighbours. We’d go to visit her when I was young, and catch her laying on her stomach on the floor by her sliding glass doors…with binoculars. There were trees separating her driveway from their house, but if she got down on the floor, she was able to peer under them. She would then report to us “well, there was a car with Nevada plates there for TWO DAYS, and he’s out of town, so I think she’s got something going on on the side.”

    Not even joking.

    Oh, and my five year old is also a bit of a Gladys Kravitz. He keeps track of every car that drives down our street for me, and makes sure I know if there’s anything unusual going on.

    • That is so funny! I really don’t use binoculars, just so everyone knows. But we have had break-ins in our neighborhood and why do people in unmarked white vans feel the need to drive very slowly down a street? Don’t they know how suspicious they look? I know another man on our street has written plates down. Maybe he has a dossier.

  2. I call my husband “Mrs. Kravitz” after the neighbor in Bewitched who kept track of all the odd goings-on outside her window.

    So, I totally understand why you might want to know who is doing what near where you live. (Especially open air peeing guy. Ew!)

    Your essay/post reminded me of something important, which is that keeping track of unfamiliar cars and activities around the neighborhood sometimes does turn into an heroic act.

    In our last neighborhood, this awareness actually helped three of my neighbors stop a robbery-in-progress!

    So, dossier or no, you are, in your own way, giving your cul-de-sac the gift of your attention and awareness. That’s wonderful.

      • In your further defense (as a neighborhood watch-person), it was my FEMALE neighbor who raised the alarm and stopped the would-be robbers by blocking their truck with her body.

        (They were attempting a quick egress.) She was joined by two burly men from the block, and the driver (a young girl) was apprehended at the scene.

        In other words, they blocked the driver’s side door of the open-bed truck so the driver/would-be thief couldn’t bolt.

        Isn’t that amazing?

      • Hmm. I don’t see myself blocking any trucks with my body. I think that would not end so well. Don’t you feel so much better to have this woman as your neighbor though? Fearless.

  3. Lisa

    You and my parents have a lot in common. If they hear an ambulance in the neighborhood they’ll call me and make me stick my head out the door so I can see if it’s near by. I think it’s a sure sign of getting old.

  4. We’re moving into a cul-de-sac, and the office is right by the front window. I’d better add a pair of binoculars to that list of things I need!

  5. When we lived in a downtown Vancouver apartment building we could see right into the living room windows of the highrise across from us. Without a word of a lie, the condo on the corresponding floor to us would leave the blinds open while they filmed *ahem* ‘adult’ videos. Made for some awkward dinner conversations…

    It’s hard NOT to be nosy in the city 😉

  6. If you start installing hidden cameras and motion detector lights aimed at the teenager’s house across the street, I’ll worry about you and call you Erland.

    I laughed outloud imagining you ducking after pounding on the window. It was fun reading this.

    • Yes. I totally did that. The banging on the window part. Workmen were “beautifying” the trail and I didn’t want them to get too comfortable, too used to relieving themselves back there. I made a big scene and he was looking all around. I haven’t seen it since, so I’m hoping it worked.

      I know better than to mess with teens. I don’t want to spend my weekend mornings cleaning toilet paper from my lawn.

  7. This is hilarious! I work from home and also live on a cul-de-sac. I probably need to pay more attention than I do. My Wii asks me if I tend to tune things out. Guess I better get more aware, so I’m on my toes if one of those creepy white vans ever rolls up!

    • Yeah. Who buys those things? Why not promote your business, buy one with windows? An unmarked white van has creepy all over it. Watch, that will be the moron who wants to date my daughter. No sir.

  8. My husband does the same thing. Mr. Neighborhood watchman. He wonders why cars stop in front of our house all the time. I have to remind him that there is a stop sign in front of the house! I come home to license plates written on everything. He has been right a few times though…got to give him that.

  9. The current state of the world DEMANDS vigilance in order to ensure our continued safety, unfortunately.

  10. Ha! I love this. We live near the top of a dead end street that is connected to a cul-de-sac (does that make sense??). Anyway, I am completly with you. If I had a good view of the road, I too would be noting any going-ons and perhaps jotting them down in my own dossier. It is good to know the whos and whats in your hood.
    p.s. I have never used the word dossier and that was just the second time in my life I have ever typed it. I am feeling a wee bit more educated then I was just a short minute ago. 🙂

  11. I write at the computer while looking out at the neighborhood as well! It is a great way to keep and eye on things haha! My mom used to sit in front of our front window back home and watch. She always new who got a new car, who had company, and one time she actually did witness and call the police on a robbery! So keep at it!

  12. Very funny! Now, if you had Wonderbutt, you would not need to be on the lookout. However, you might be even more tense because he alerts at everything that moves. In fact, some days I wish the white van would pull up so I could knock on their window and ask them if they would be interested in taking my bulldog for a long joyride.

  13. I love your photo in here. Hilarious. I would be right there with you doing the Encyclopedia Brown thing if I could. The only front windows to our house are in the bedrooms. I’ve never found a discreet way of sticking my head out of a bedroom window to spy.

  14. There is nothing wrong with being vigilant. It’s all fun and games, until the police come knocking at your door. My office faces the front of the house and I’m always looking and observing. Aw, hell, I do it when I’m in the kitchen facing the back of the house. Some people are just lookers!

  15. HA HA HA HA! Love it! I hope my neighbor’s are keeping their eyes peeled. You never know when a man will try to mark on your territory! Angie

  16. Pingback: The Reality of Summer With Kids | Mom in the Muddle

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