I Feel Kind of Silly

I’ve known my next door neighbor for thirty years, and he’s an old steel mill worker at one of the region’s various former mills (all pretty much gone nowawdays, but back in the day it was good times around this region), and he’s one of those guys who basically did his 40 years than had his pension wiped out by raiders like Mitt Romney, so these days he lives on what is left and has a full time job as a security guard at the casino/race track. At any rate, on his days off, he is always in bed by 8:30 or so. From my back porch I can see his living room and tv, and you can pretty much set your clock on him going to bed at 8 to 8:30 pm. Usually it’s right after Wheel of Fortune. He is in his 60’s and has had a couple heart attacks, so I was just on the back porch having a mojito and a cigar, and I saw his door was open and the tv was still on.

I debated for a bit about going over to check on him, and decided I could deal with him being mad at me for waking him up, but I could never deal with him dying because something happened and I didn’t check. So I went over and knocked, and the poor guy almost fell out of his fully stretched recliner. I told him what I told you above- “You’re never awake after eight and I know you have heart issues so I just had to come check and BLAH BLAH BLAH.” He laughed and told me his sleep schedule is off because he has a couple days off, and then thanked me for checking. I still feel kind of silly.

I kind of do the same thing with my parents. If they don’t answer their cell phones or home phone, I try again, then call the siblings to see if they still aren’t answering and ask if they knew where mom and dad are, and if they have no idea, I head down. Sometimes I don’t want to make them feel old and I just check the garage, and if the cars are gone I drop it.

Had a good day- nice weather, went to a town planning commission meeting (I’m a member), then came home and the Ills and I made some more portabellas, corn on the cob, tomatoes, and some crab cakes. I’ve also perfected the best stevia mojito, because as a fatbody, I really don’t need a shitload of sugar in my drinks.

What are you all up to? I think I’m gonna watch Parker after the Sharks/Kings game ends.

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52 replies
  1. 1
    Justin says:

    I’m certain your neighbour is quite touched, and happy to have you around.

  2. 2
    GMann says:

    Good move. I used to play e-mail tag with an elderly neighbor each day. His out of state daughter, my bride and myself would all await his morning note and then we would chime in. . .

  3. 3
    replicnt6 says:

    You totally did the right thing. Ya big lug.

  4. 4
    TCG says:


  5. 5
    third of two says:

    Just how drunk are you?

  6. 6
    Betty Cracker says:

    I think it’s awesome that you look after your neighbor, and I bet he appreciates it. You should also share your perfect stevia mojito recipe.

  7. 7
    ellie says:

    No, you are not silly. If no one has heard from my mom, and we can’t get her on the phone, a frantic texting chain starts until someone drives over and checks on her.

  8. 8
    John Cole says:

    @third of two: Just four mojitos over about four hours, and with my body mass, that’s not drinking, it’s the equivalent of Bill Clinton smoking without inhaling.

  9. 9
    Ash Can says:

    Don’t feel silly. You did the right thing, and I’m sure your neighbor appreciated it. That’s what neighbors are supposed to do.

  10. 10
    Suzanne says:

    So after her little adventure in the loony bin, my mom is moving out of my house and is gong back to her pad. Her siblings came up with the cash to get her back on track with the mortgage and she’s going to get some roommates. I am nervous and hopeful.

    Anyone in the metro PHX/East Valley need to rent a room?

  11. 11
    BGinCHI says:

    You are living the dream, but with extra interventions.

  12. 12
    Slaughter says:

    I did the same thing with my next-door neighbor, a retired surgeon, when his RV alarm kept going off. I saw him lying in bed from his backyard, and I pounded several times on the window. He woke up startled. Turns out the damn RV was on the fritz.

  13. 13
    Mnemosyne says:

    Now that my dad is gone, we keep hoping to convince my mom to spend her winters here in California with us instead of rattling around her big empty house in Arizona. We’ll see how it goes — she can be pretty stubborn sometimes.

    I did use Gex’s experience in a conversation with my mom yesterday, basically telling her that another person I know who lost her spouse couldn’t stand to stay in the house and ended up selling it and moving into an apartment. I think it made my mom feel a little better that she wasn’t the only one who felt that way. But she’s lived in that house for a long time (at least 20 years) so she’s having a hard time with the thought of giving it up.

    Or, as G said, “The good thing is, that house is full of memories. The bad thing is, that house is full of memories.”

  14. 14
    jl says:

    That is a nice neighborly story. Thanks, Cole. My new SF Bay area neighborhood is like that. I didn’t know there were any like that left around here.

    But, this post reminds me, anyone got regular welfare checks set up for Cole yet? I thought it was agreed he needs them. They guy is trying to open cans, going up and down stairs, going in and out of doors, even trying mop the floor an a regular basis.

  15. 15
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    You should not feel silly, John. That was a kind and thoughtful thing you did.

  16. 16
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    Beautiful day here. I did some more car shopping and eliminated a couple of choices pretty quickly. Whipped up another batch of frozen treats (that will all become clear with Friday’s recipe exchange). I basically worked half a day and then goofed off the rest of the day.

    I think it’s great you checked on your neighbor. My neighbors and I are all close and constantly check on each other. If I’m down with a migraine they’ll stop over if they haven’t seen me for a day. Makes me feel secure.

    ETA: To add that right this moment I’m watching one of my cats daintily eat food from her bowl with her paw. This is new. Cats. Inscrutable.

  17. 17
    Mnemosyne says:


    Is she close enough to ASU to attract some graduate students as tenants?

  18. 18
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Ya’ did good. Don’t second guess yourself too much.

  19. 19
    Keith says:

    Nice of you to do that. I’m not old (just turned 37) but have severe kidney/heart issues. When my mother died, she wasn’t found for 3 days, so that kind of thing terrifies me. I live alone and rarely hear from friends(?) any more, so I can definitely appreciate knowing that there’s still someone out there who does do that for people.

  20. 20
    Gmann says:


    Suzanne, will keep my ears open!

  21. 21
    Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn says:

    You had me at mojito and cigar. And then my mind got caught up in that scenario.

    So, uh, was your neighbor OK?

  22. 22
    Roger Moore says:


    But, this post reminds me, anyone got regular welfare checks set up for Cole yet?

    What, following him on twitter and his blog isn’t good enough? If he hasn’t updated either in a day (or notified that he’s going offline for a while), we’ll get worried.

  23. 23
    JustRuss says:

    You did right. I know someone who was in a similar situation and she did nothing, and it turned out the guy was dying. Autopsy revealed he couldn’t have been saved, but she still has guilt over it.

  24. 24
    Gmann says:

    @Keith: Keith, considering grabbing a couple of the folks from right here and get a morning e-mail foursome together. . . You could grab 6 of us and usually get 3 or 4 individual responses. . .

    Kind of keeps you on your toes. . . You try and stay witty day after day . . . Knowing that the true mission is to

  25. 25
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Please. This is one of the made up stories you post to feed your carefully crafted loveable Teddy bear image.

    Not all of us are entirely credulous, Cole.

    Love ya!

  26. 26
    Gmann says:

    BE a good neighbor, that should be. . .

  27. 27
    Suzanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yes, she’s about 15 minutes from ASU, near the 60/101 interchange.

  28. 28
    Roger Moore says:

    Better to feel silly for overreacting in a way that makes you seem caring and neighborly than to feel guilty for failing to act on something important. IOW, you’re just been too self conscious.

  29. 29
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    When my mother insisted on staying at her home as long as possible it worried us all, but we checked in on a rotating basis and took her shopping and so on and did what we could. One of my siblings wanted her to move in with her but she wasn’t interested, which of course we could understand also, but it was worrying to have her alone nonetheless. During those years the neighbors were a great reassurance and help, the ones that would check in with her routinely without ever being asked to or who we knew we could call if we ever didn’t get a response from her, which usually meant that she’d left the phone off the hook accidentally. One of them was the first responder when she finally fell and pressed the alarm she wore, and hung out with her while the ambulance, and one of us, was en route.

    So no, I wouldn’t feel silly.

    Or, put in a way more befitting this hothouse of caustic snark:

    Naked midnight mopping and Rube Goldbergian nightmare accidents on a regular basis with cats and ladders flying everywhere, and this is what you feel silly about?

  30. 30
    Mnemosyne says:

    While the site was down the other night, I wandered onto the Streetsblog LA site and discovered that I’m front and center in one of the photos from the Ladies’ Night ride from last week. I’m willing to post it because the photo is blurry enough that I’m unrecognizable to anyone who doesn’t already know me. It’s about 1 minute into the photo montage and, hey, that’s me in the bright pink jacket on the nerdy 3-speed bike.

  31. 31
    mai naem says:

    @Suzanne: You guys should put up an ad at ASU. Bet you’ll find a college kid who would rent. Might end up being a symbiotic relationship with them keeping an eye on each other.

    John – I hope you have your neighbor’s family’s phone numbers. And, hell, no I wouldn’t not feel stupid. I knew a guy who fell in the shower and wasn’t found for 3 days. He apparently didn’t keep in close contact with his kids and a son found him on the 3rd day. He went from being an independent guy, driving,volunteering with the Jaycees etc. to being an invalid.

  32. 32
    cbear says:

    @TaMara (BHF): @TaMara (BHF):

    What type of car are you thinking of getting?
    I hope you’re not trading in your present ride, are you?

  33. 33
    notorious JRT says:

    Cole, do not over-think your kind heart. Just follow it.

  34. 34
    Ruckus says:

    Lived in a WLA apartment building in the 70’s, a lot of law school students, college students, and working folks. One was a gentleman early 60’s. Very nice, we all saw him regularly but not every day. Everyone I knew well was mid-late 20’s, we had mid-late 20 lives. We all asked each other one day if anyone had seen the older gentleman, no one had for a few days. So far nothing unusual. 3-4 days later the girl that lived below me and next to this gentleman noticed a smell. Not a good smell. The police went in and found him in his bathtub. He had most likely slipped and hit his head. A week-week and a half before he was found.
    Always be a good neighbor. Hopefully you will get to laugh about being too nosy rather than too late.

  35. 35
    third of two says:

    @John Cole: OK — but I don’t even know what a mojito is. For your sake I hope its dietetic.

    Seriously, dude- drop the weight. You’re like 3 yrs younger than me but look 10 yrs older. Quit fucking around in the kitchen and learn to ignore food. (It really is that simple…and difficult. But not complicated)

    Get your fat ass to the gym and/or walk a few miles a day. Plus, no more booze and/or tobacco until you drop 50 lbs; until then its water, walking and workin out. Boil a chicken or eat bugs; which incidentally, don’t taste too bad. Chili sauce is approved sans gut issues.

    Whatever. Do you live to eat or eat to live? (incidentally, a lot of projection here: I eat to love…oops I mean live)

  36. 36
    moderateindy says:

    Last year i had just moved into an apartment inside of a house that was broken into 3 apts. I had what I thought was a mild sciatica attack. It lasted a couple days until I woke up one Sunday morning and couldn’t even sit up because of ridiculous pain and violent leg twitches when attempting to get to the edge of the bed. I couldn’t reach my phone to call anyone. As the day went on I began to hallucinate and develop a high fever. I literally shouted repeatedly for help over the next day and a half to no avail. It was hot as hell so everybody had their windows closed and air-co’s on. The neighbor that lived in the adjoining place in the front of the house ignored the ocassional shouting because shouting happens in the upstairs apt on a regular basis. Finally about 6 p.m. Monday morning I heard her walk by a window that I was able to open a little from my prone position and she heard me and called an ambulance. Turns out I had an infection that ran the entire length of my spine which probably would have killed me had I been there much longer. Later on she told me she thought something might have been wrong but she didn’t want to seem nosy and figured it was probably just upstairs drama again.
    So don’t ever feel stupid for going the extra mile.

  37. 37
    ruemara says:

    @Suzanne: Only if Mesa mans up and hires me. Not sure how I’d do in a reddish state.

  38. 38
    Nicole says:

    Sweet story.

    I banged on the door of one of my neighbors (apartment floor) when her smoke alarm went off and kept going off. She finally answered, and was very apologetic, but I realized she thought I was mad about it, when in fact I was just worried she was dead or passed out from smoke and that someone needed to rescue her and her dogs. I think we have a natural inclination towards suspicion, even with our neighbors. In NYC, we spent most of our time complaining about them, when it might be nicer to worry about them instead. :)

    And hey, there was that recent story in Australia about a woman who left her fortune to her next-door neighbors, because they actually bothered to check in on her, rather than her family who hadn’t visited in years, so kindness is rewarded, sometimes.

  39. 39
    hells littlest angel says:

    I wouldn’t have checked on him, and if he died I wouldn’t have felt guilty about it, but that’s because I’m a heartless bastard. So let’s see… that makes Cole a good guy.

  40. 40
    Lavocat says:

    You really are a good shit at heart, Cole. But, don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone.

  41. 41
    sweaver says:

    Nice, John. You’re a good neighbor.

    @moderateindy: Wow, what a story. So glad you were finally heard.

  42. 42
    Tim O says:

    You’re a good dude. Never hesitate.

  43. 43
    Wilson Heath says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    Yes. You can’t dangle that without putting up at least an approximate mojito recipe. I’ve got a ton of mint coming up and it’s not gonna drink itself.

  44. 44
    wilson says:

    LTL, Balloon fan. Love the Cole posts & rants. But this one’s special.It’s a real straight shooter. Thanks for sharing.

  45. 45
    Shakezula says:

    Late to the party – Never, EVER hesitate to do this sort of thing. It is what good neighbors do. It is what makes a neighborhood a neighborhood instead of a bunch of adjacent housing units.

  46. 46
    charluckles says:


  47. 47
    The Moar You Know says:

    Don’t feel silly, that was absolutely the right thing to do.

    Heard something weird one night, like a cat but not exactly like a cat. Finally got up, threw on my robe and went out to look. Was my neighbor across the street, old (late 70s/early 80s) guy, had fallen getting out of his car and had fractured his pelvis. If I hadn’t gone to look he’d have been out there for hours. And he probably would have died.

    Yeah, it’s somewhat intrusive. But that’s why we live within earshot of each other. If you’re that much of a recluse go live in the mountains.

  48. 48
    Matt Smith says:

    Nice one, @JohnCole. I could have written the first part of your post myself – grew up in steel/Ford country, the community enjoyed good times for a while… and now, not so much. That’s part of why I dig Elizabeth Warren every time she talks about keeping our promises to our seniors, who spent a lifetime paying into the system and deserve to reap the benefits.

  49. 49
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    My wife and her mother have an agreement that my mother-in-law always post a face book message every night so the body will be found within a day and not be too decomposed before somebody notices.

  50. 50
    Dave says:

    …and you’re sharing the BJ World HQ Mojito Recipe™ when, exactly?

    And, just to agree with your cut-down-on-the-sugar thang, I’ve managed to lose over 50 pounds these past two years simply by cutting out 90% of the sugars and breads (read: carbohydrates) from my diet. Still have some in there, and there are certainly days when pasta or bread or beer figure into my diet, but my body feels better with fewer aches and pains and the weight stays off.
    So, in summary, a sugar-less cocktail is great to have.

  51. 51
    phein39 says:

    For us diabetics in the audience . . . where is that mojito recipe?

  52. 52
    Sondra says:

    Bravo. It’s always right to do the right thing. He is your neighbor and that’s what neighbors do.

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