Love Thy [Unknown] Neighbor

The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus’ answer: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (22:37-39).

Today, we were having a leisurely, lazy day sitting on my honey’s porch, while drinking coffee and both of us looking at social media. He lives on a busy state road, so I didn’t hear the car alarm at first. I have partial hearing loss, so I didn’t hear it until there was a brief pause in traffic on the normally busy road. Then, once I heard it, I looked around, annoyed. “What the heck?”

My ever-calm boyfriend says, “It’s a car alarm that has been going off for about 5 to 10 minutes now.”

“Well, I wish that person would hear it and take care of it. It’s annoying.”

He looked at me, very seriously, “…OR, maybe its a signal for help?”

I paused. I hadn’t thought of that! How perceptive of him! I remember seeing a Rescue 9-1-1 episode where an elderly lady had fallen and used her key fob to turn on her car alarm for attention. He’s SO perceptive! I stood up and started looking across the street from neighbor’s house to neighbor’s house. I located it down the side street, across the street from his home. A Cadillac, parked in its carport, had its trunk open and the alarm was going off with its lights flashing.

“Wow,” I said. “Good thinking, babe! Maybe I ought to go and check it out?” My boyfriend stated that he thought an elderly lady lived there, as we’d both seen her leave her house occasionally to get her mail out of her mailbox.

“Okay, but be careful,” he said, hesitantly. He knows that if I put my mind to it, I’ll definitely go and do it.

I put my rain jacket on, with the hood up as it had started sprinkling, as I walked down the driveway. As I was about to cross the street, the car alarm stopped.

“Come back, babe,” he said. I spun around to do so, but then the car alarm started going off again. I turned back around to see another neighbor knocking on the carport side-door, then going to the front door to knock and look in the windows. After that, the neighbor walked back to her side of the street. The car alarm stopped, then started again about 10 seconds later.

I looked back at my boyfriend. “I’m still going to go over and check it out.” He nodded, seeming just as confused as I was.

I walked down the street, seeing other across-the-street neighbors standing outside their own houses, just looking at the house where the car alarm is coming from. “What’s going on?” I asked. “Do you know the lady that lives there?”

A very nice older man stated that another neighbor had just looked in windows and knocked on the doors without anyone answering, and that she just didn’t know. “Maybe we should just shut the trunk?” he asked. “I bet that would shut the alarm off?”

I nodded, but had this impending feeling that my unknown elderly neighbor came back from the grocery store, was taking in her groceries, and fell and hurt herself badly. “Maybe,” I said. “But maybe we should call the police to come and do a welfare check instead?”

He nodded in agreement. “Good idea, young lady.”

I called the local sheriff department’s dispatch, giving my name, requesting a welfare check, giving the lady’s address and re-confirmed my phone number and name, also stating my boyfriend’s address. The dispatcher stated that she’d send an officer right out.

After I hung up, I turned to the older man I had been speaking to, to let him know they were sending an officer right out. “Good job, young lady!”

As he and I were having this interaction, an older lady came out of her house right next to the man’s. She started shouting at me, gesturing. I had a hard time making out what she was saying, due to the car alarm and part of my hearing loss, but she did NOT look happy with me. She had her hands balled into fits and was pointing at me agressively.

I finally was able to make out what she was saying, although she seemed to be getting more aggravated with me. “I’ve called that lady’s daughter. She’s on her way. Now, go home! We’re taking care of it!”

I looked at the man I’d been conversing with and he just shrugged. I told him I was not calling the Sheriff’s department back, that the welfare check wouldn’t hurt anything. He agreed and thanked me for what I did. I did my best customer service smile and nodded at the angry woman. The car alarm had started back up, and the angry lady was STILL yelling at me — not realizing that the alarm was censoring her rantings. I decided to walk back to my boyfriend’s house, where he was watching me from his porch, the entire time.

As I was crossing the state road, I saw the mystery lady’s relative [daughter?] pull up into the lady’s driveway and run into the house. Immediately after that, the police officer pulled onto the road, up alongside the house. The police officer approached slowly and then the car alarm went off. He went inside. 20 minutes later, another officer pulled up and checked with the initial officer, then left.

The initial officer stayed inside for about 45 minutes, before leaving the residence and driving away. The relative left soon after. We watched in concern, to see if everything was okay or if a ambulance was needed, but thankfully no ambulance showed up. All is now quiet there.

I will most likely go and check on her tomorrow or Monday, and introduce myself, but I’m relieved it looks as though nothing traumatic occurred. The one angry lady’s behavior puzzled me. I am not sure why she was quite so angry, but I wasn’t willing to risk it. I didn’t know her and I wouldn’t be intimidated by her. I was also encouraged that the officer stayed for so long, ensuring that the woman was indeed safe and okay. Even if Adult Protective Services comes and looks in on her, to follow up, I feel secure that I did the right thing. Elderly people can go downhill so quickly, especially when they live alone.

I take classes to help trauma victims and to thwart suicide. I work as a public servant, in my day job. I just could NOT sit idly by and not check. I love my neighbors, even if I’ve never met them. People can hate for no reason, so I can love for no reason.

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