Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Crass neighbors

I never realized how very sheltered I've been till A and I moved to our apartment here in QC. For years I've lived in my parents' house in Antipolo and after that, because of work, I'd invariably lived in a condo building in Makati, then my lease-to-own 10th floor studio in QC (which I had to eventually give up ), always not bothering to know the neighbors, never even pressured to make conversation with them in the elevator. How anti-social, 'no?

But it's totally different out here. There's parking space in the compound for at least nine cars (why A and I chose the place, in QC it's a luxury)--six in front of the apartments, and three in the unpaved area where the residents hang their laundry. Before we moved in, we knew there was only one other car that was going to be using the parking space aside from A's and my car. Little did we know we were going to be sharing parking space with this truck (!) owned by somebody down the street, and a host of cars--different sorts, I can never keep track of how many they are--whose occupants call at the first and third doors (who are related, by the way). So to avoid inconveniencing and being inconvenienced by the moving of cars whenever our neighbors had guests A and I just graciously opted to share the unpaved parking with the truck and the laundry, oh, and the compound's garbage and the caretaker's mangy flea-infested dogs (yecch!).

Well, anyway, there was this time when I came home very late at night--around eleven PM, and as I pulled into my unlit, unpaved parking, a car was immediately behind me which pulled into the paved driveway in front of the apartments. Well, naturally, I thought it was Eric's from the second door's. He always comes in late. So because I was near the gate, I did what I thought was the good neighborly thing which was to close the compound gates for the night. When suddenly, incredibly, I heard not a word nor any recognizably articulate humanly expression, but an angry and frantic "Sssut-sssut-sssut". And as I looked in the direction of the apartments where the sound was coming from, there was this backlit fat woman flailing her arms which my brain instinctively recognized as an instruction to not close the gates because the car apparently was not Eric's but a guest's which had just dropped off the woman. In the dark the woman obviously mistook me for one of the compound's maids.

I was incredulous, not to mention indignant, and I walked as fast as I could toward the brightly lit driveway so that I could make the woman realize her mistake. Because I was so very upset and feeling very insulted (not for being mistaken as a maid but rather at being subjected to such a gross behavior), I could not immediately think of anything to say. (To anything, I've always been known to react very belatedly.) But at that point the woman had already quickly disappeared behind the first door anyway. I just hope she had a good look at me before she did. I was near tears when I got inside our apartment. Then I told A what had happened and it made him very mad, I had to stop him from going to the first door to confront the woman.

Now the woman, I noticed, is always in a hurry whenever she walks in front of our apartment. Maybe she did get a good look at me that night and realized her mistake after all. And I always make sure I throw her a dagger look whenever she happens to walk by our apartment. But the frustrating thing is, she carefully avoids eye contact and walks straight ahead.


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