Saturday, December 15, 2007

defying authority

The neighbor down the street has actually been operating the carpet cleaning business out of their garage for at least the past year. Although I drove and walked past this house daily during that time ... I never really noticed the three bright yellow vans that were parked there.

Every. Single. Day.

I mean ... I noticed. It just didn't set off any alarms or annoy me. I thought that maybe the people that lived there had white carpeting and three toddlers that liked to drink grape juice from open cups. Which might, subsequently, require the three bright yellow carpet cleaning vans to show up daily.

Maybe it's because my attention is focused elsewhere, but sometimes, it takes me a while to clue in to things. Like last week, one of my friends came over with her triplet boys and I didn't notice until almost an hour after she left, that the same upbeat Nutcracker song had been playing for three hours on the iPod. Once I realized that the song was on repeat it instantly drove me insane and I couldn't get the stereo turned off fast enough. How I didn't hear the gunshot and crack being played over and over again for three hours is a mystery.

When some of our other neighbors came over to join us for Thanksgiving Dinner - they stressed that the carpet cleaning people were in direct violation of the local zoning laws by operating a commercial business out of a residential area. Moreover, they pointed out that in the time that this carpet cleaning business has been operating, the house where the operations are headquartered has gone to shambles. The front lawn and all of the trees in the yard are dead (probably from the carpet cleaning chemicals that are discharged there) and there are unsightly oil stains all over the driveway and garage door.

Because our friends are in the market to sell their home soon, they mentioned that their Realtor was genuinely concerned that the carpet-cleaning-house will substantially affect the marketability and sale value of their house.

Once I heard this information, I started paying more attention to the carpet cleaning house. Every day that I would see the big vans pull up and park in the driveway and street, I started to become more and more annoyed. I became even more annoyed when I noticed that the several cars lining the street belonged to employees of the carpet cleaning business.

Maybe I wouldn't be as concerned with someone operating their business out of their garage if we lived in an area where there were big front lawns and trees and lots of space between the homes. But we live in southern California and because real estate is at a premium, I can literally reach out and touch my neighbor because their house is only about eight feet away from mine.

It's like glorified apartment living.

If someone wanted to leave their Christmas lights up all year or their trash cans out on the curb for two or three days after trash pickup ... even though doing these things are in direct violation of our homeowner's rules ... I wouldn't be launching any complaints. But we live in an established and reputable neighborhood where we spend a couple hundred dollars a month on a regime fee.

We don't live in a strip mall.

If the carpet cleaning people have a business license, they must know that there are zoning laws. And if they are operating a business where they are generating waste water, they must know that there are restrictions for where that water can be discharged.

They know the rules. They just chose to ignore them. They have also ignored the numerous requests by our homeowner's association to move their vehicles to a different location. From what I understand, it can be a lengthy process for our homeowner's association to do anything about their blatant disregard of the Covenant Condition Restrictions (CC&R's).

But once I noticed that they were attaching flex hoses on to the back of their vans and dumping several hundred gallons of waste water out of their vans and down their driveway and I watched that water run down the street, and then another street, before reaching the storm drain almost a quarter-mile away, they afforded me the opportunity to get the local authorities involved.

See the thing is, the only thing that is supposed to go in to a storm drain is water from storms. Hence the term "Storm Drain."

Unlike water that is discharged to a sewer system, water that enters a storm drain is not treated and drains directly to the ocean, or other water body. That is why it is extremely important that chemicals, surfactants (soap), mud, oil and grease be minimized as much as possible. Without going in to too much detail, surface run-off from watering your lawns or washing your car isn't a problem. But, at least in my City, under no circumstances is it acceptable for a commercial business to discharge their waste water to a storm drain.

I wish that I could get a commission on the fines that are going to be levied on the carpet cleaning business. Because they are going to be ... how do I say ... huge. But more than that, they will be required to move their operations elsewhere immediately.

In other news.

Tonight Charlie went to the cooking class, by himself while I stayed home with the children. I decided to take them to the park to burn off a little energy and while we were there, we were joined by eight 10-year old boys whose parents were no where in sight. No biggie thinks I. These are just 10-year old boys that are out having fun before dinner.

But when they started throwing cobble-sized rocks across the playground, I piped up "Hey guys, how about you not throw rocks on a playground where there are small children playing?"

They seemed nice enough and moved 20 feet off the playground before resuming their rock throwing activities.

Then, one of the boys decided to use the trunk on William's tricycle as a receptacle for the sand pit he was digging. Because William was on the swing and not using his trike, the boy just dragged it over to his sand pit and started filling the back of it with handfuls of sand.

All three of my kids went crazy yelling "Mommy!! Dat MY twicycle!! He no trow dirt on MY twicycle!!" At first I was confused thinking that the boy obviously didn't realize that the tricycle's owner was at the playground and perhaps he thought it was an abandoned toy.

I told the boy "I'm sorry. That's my son's tricycle and although he is not using it at the moment, I would prefer that you not fill it up with sand. Perhaps you can use ..." my eyes are scanning the playground and spot a plastic cup that blew out of the trashcan, I point "... that cup over there."

I'm walking back to the swings with the tricycle in my hand and the boy follows me. When I put it down, he tries to pick it up again. When I give him a puzzled look, he says "No. I don't want to use a cup, I want to use this. I'll give it back in a little while."

I wish that the first thought in my head was "Oh, this poor boy. He has no toys or parental supervision. Of course he can play with my child's tricycle." But alas, I'm not that good of a person. Because the first thought in my head was "I can totally take this kid. If I need to, I can knock him flat on his fanny and send him crying for his mama."

Turning around to face the boy I firmly said "I don't want you to fill my son's tricycle with sand. You'll need to find something else to use."

He stood there for a minute, giving me a dirty look. The next minute, he rejoined his other 10-year old friends and they started throwing sand on one another. I decided that it was in my best interest to move my small children to the other side of the park, so I unloaded the kids from the baby swings and started to walk away while pushing Henry in the stroller and summoning for everyone to follow me.

The girls did.

William hung back, completely intrigued by the "big" boys.

I called for him. Once, twice, three times. Finally, in an overly stern voice I said "William. It is time to go. I want you to come over here, now. If you don't listen, I am going to come pick you up at the count of three."

I count to three, pick him up as he is screaming "NO HOME!!" and as I'm holding him, I explain that I don't feel comfortable with us playing near the big boys. I'm afraid someone might get hurt and I want to go to the other side of the park, where everyone can ride their tricycle and scooters.

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice the sand digging boy, come running around in front of me and rush the girls who are standing on their little pink Princess scooters, with their Princess baskets on the front. The girls jump off and come running towards me with huge frightened eyes, just as the boy picks up both of their scooters and declares "I'll use these to hold my sand."

I put William down and remove the scooters from the boy's grasp, while considering for the second time in less than five minutes, knocking him on his tush.

But I don't.

Because I'm an adult.

And from what I understand, adults aren't supposed to open a can of whoop ass on bratty children at the playground. Isn't that right??

I inform the boy that the scooters also belong to us and gosh, I hope he can find something else to use for his activity. While I'm walking the scooters over to the sidewalk, the boy gets down at face level with William and screams something unintelligible at my young son, while shaking his fist. William was petrified and erupts in to a cry.

Sadly, my telling the kid that he deserves a stocking full of coal didn't have the desired effect. And because I'm an upstanding citizen, I didn't do something that would have made him cry. I certainly could have because I've learned a lot about inflicting harm from watching William's karate chop and Carolyn's eye gouge technique.

'Tis the season to be jolly.

I'm making friends everywhere I turn.


  1. I'm still so impressed at your ability to get the carpet cleaning business taken care of so fast. You are so totally the next Erin Brokovich...without the trashy clothes, of course.

    I have to agree with you - there is something completely and utterly maddening about big kids at the playground. I find myself wanting to shake them and scream "what is the matter with you?!"...until about .2 seconds goes by and I realize that doing such a thing would NOT be setting a very good example. Unfortunately.

  2. Oh wow. I would SO have asked for his parent's names and phone numbers.

  3. Ha ha Jen! I'm just going to live my life through you. Although I have 15 month old triplets, my life just isn't as exciting as yours. :)
    I would have been SOOO tempted to open a can of whoop ass. What a punk.
    Thanks for the Saturday morning laugh!!

  4. Wow Jen - You're patient - I think on the second scare I would have gotten on my cell and called the police - I then would have sat back and thoroughly enjoyed the show! I don't think nice policemen like little 10 year old punks! I also probably would have given him an earful of not so nice words!

    On a side note - I am so enjoying reading your blog and stories! I find myself checking in regularly to see what you are all up to! I especially love when your Mom chimes in - she always has such calm advice - years of experience under her belt! (Hi Noni if you're reading!)

    Your old neighbor! :)

  5. Jen- I know this will be hard to believe, but MY neighbor is operating a carpet cleaning business down MY street too! Only he dumps his in his septic, because we don't have sewer or storm drains. Since all the homes on our street are on 1/2 acres or acres, it seems we are the ONLY people NOT operating a business out of our home, although I have been accused of operating a daycare without a license. We have the "welder" two doors behind us. Then we have the "landscaping" business across the street. Directly behind us, the guy runs a music studio. Then we have the "drywall" owner guy who I also call Chicken Man because he has the chickens. Keep in mind, we live 10 minutes from the Strip right smack in the middle of Vegas. It's not like were out in the boonies! So, yeah, I LIVE in a strip mall! But when I start selling insurance out of the house, I guess no one will be able to complain!

    You should have karate chopped that little brat! Where do you find these people???????

  6. Your stories made me WEEP WITH JOY.

  7. Rough day, my friend. I'll be getting out of the house most evenings next week--after full days of caring for the boys while still recovering from hernia surgery, I'll need the time away to detox. Pick any night and you and me will step out together. Nothing crazy, just a cup of hot cocoa up the street and a chance to kick back without any screaming, illegal dumping, or rock-throwing. Unless we're in the mood to do it ourselves. Let me know.


  8. A group of 10 year old boys with no supervision would make me leave a playground in two seconds flat!

    You were so patient with them. Other than running away as fast as I could, I do not know what I would have done in that situation!

  9. Oh, no. I can't even muster a chuckle after hearing about the little hoodlum that made your children cry. How infuriating.

  10. where to begin here?

    aw, the heck with it. you rock (tho i would have totally bought a ticket to watch you open a can of whoop ass on those punks)!

  11. Fricking little brat! Where are his parents? I must applaud you for not knocking him upside the head I'm not sure I would have the self control that you displayed

  12. You go Jen!

    Tracy B

  13. Rebecca in RHR12/15/07, 10:46 PM

    You tell him, Jen! Yes! Oh, can you give him a lesson on the proper usage of there/their/they're also? He must've missed that day in 3rd grade.

  14. Jenn... I bow down to you! Hurrah! Well said!
    Rooth - part of the 'condo police' and lovin the sanctity of a real neighborhood where children can play and familes can grow and love and business's are in business parks where they are properly zoned. Well said GF! YOU ROCK!

  15. great response Jen !Touche .

  16. vety the nuts mom12/16/07, 12:33 PM

    That boy needs a helicopter parent. You are very patient....even right now I'm trying to think of something to say that would have scared the crud out of that stinker of a boy.

  17. I am seriously delinquent in coming over here and thanking you for leaving a comment on my blog. Sorry about that. I have been very bad about posting lately and my blog may file official abandonment papers soon.

    Anyway, thank you...

    As for this little sand kid... BAH! You exercised a lot of self-control. I don't think I would have left until I made that kid cry. Because I'm mature and think that bullies deserve to be bullied. What a brat!

    (Okay, I'm not that bad -- I probably would have been stunned into muteness.)

    Can't wait to hear what's up next for the carpet cleaners!

  18. Maybe the carpet cleaners will move? We have a house up the street that is running a trucking business from their home and the HOA won't do anything. They frequently park their semis in front of their house. Imagine my glee when I saw the sale sign go up last week! Our property values will skyrocket! LOL

  19. oh my god...this is seriously funny! why are there so many weird children at your playground??

    sometimes i still can't believe I'M THE MOM and i need to keep my cool. those kids are lucky you didn't give it to them!

    too funny. and i love the family santa photo. you look great!

  20. I feel your pain...even though i'm a semigrown 25 year old, I have a 13 year old sister. She has a few "friends" who only hang out with her when they don't have anything else going on. I once watched her sit down next to two of these girls and they immediately stood up and went to sit down somewhere else. I've never had such a strong urge to slap someone as i did with that 13 year old!