Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Oil Stains and How Not To Make Friends

When I first moved here one of the things that impressed me about the neighborhood was that there were no oil stains on the asphalt. You might think this is crazy, but I notice random things like that. Well, one day I had my car towed to a mechanic, the truck driver couldn't get it out because it was at a weird angle so he suggested using diesel to let it slip out. At first I was hesitant, I intended to ask if it would stain the asphalt, but I didn't say anything because diesel is gas, right. Well the next morning I realized I was wrong, the guy left a huge stain and streak in front of my neighbors home. I felt so guilty that had created this oil stain problem I decided to clean it up. I thought Kitty litter would work so I borrowed some of Charlie Cat's litter to lay on the stain, and while I was at it, on other little stains on the block. I left it there to soak up, but forgot to clean it up, then it snowed. As the snow melted a couple of days later, I realized I had created a disaster. I eventually cleaned up the sticky goo and cat litter stains when it got warmer, but I began noticing that oil stains started appearing all over the block, it annoyed me because I couldn't figure out which car had been making the multiple stains. I became obsessed with oil stains, noticing them in other neighborhoods, other blocks. I noticed how pretty the asphalt looked in Oak Park or in other suburbs and wished for my asphalt to look the same. I decided if I couldn't figure out which car was making the messes, I'd just clean up the messes. So I learned laundry detergent and a good scrub works, litter on fresh oil works, gasoline works. Just don't try cleaning up oil with you 5 year old, they step in the oil and you'll be obsessed about where they step after that. It came to a point where I lost all composure and was checking underneath cars I suspected as oil leakers and watched carefully for any drips. One night, I found a drip, a culprit, and doing what any sane person would do, I drafted a letter telling the car owner that they were leaking oil all over the block and need to get the problem fixed. I gave them my name and phone number I'd they wanted to discuss anything. This made Katie, Eric, and Emily upset and they felt embarrassed for me, how i sound elitist, and sad that crazy is how I want my new neighbors to perceive me. I told them of how proud I was for saying what needed to be said, how I was protecting the beauty of our block, and that it probably helped the individual whose car was leaking, that they were happy to know they had a problem they didn't know existed and now it would be fixed. Two months later while working low to the ground, I looked up and noticed the white car I put a note on, roll up to the curb. Out came my neighbor's wife, she barely acknowledged me. Then it clicked, now I know why my neighbor didn't let me use his edger hog.

No comments: