We had gone several days without breaking a single rule, and then yesterday afternoon, we heard a knock on the door. In Alexandria, a knock on the door might mean a nice neighbor is bringing you a loaf of banana bread or offering to blow the snow out of your driveway. However, at Pebble Creek, the knock belonged to a “helpful” neighbor there to remind us about the garage door rule. (Rule #837: Garage doors must be kept closed at all times unless the house’s occupants are physically in the garage engaged in some type of garage-related activity.)
Back in Alexandria, of course, a closed garage door means you’re not home. Everybody leaves their garage doors up and we are regularly treated to displays of tools, garbage cans, bikes, fishing boats, snow blowers, lawn mowers—the usual collection of garage treasures and junk. However, in Pebble Creek, even if your garage walls are painted, have baseboard and crown molding (like ours), and all garage tools are tucked behind neat oak cabinet doors, your neighbors do not want to see the interior of your garage, even for five minutes. The rule: Drive in, shut the garage door, go in your house. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
We have never seen a posted list of the rules, so we’re just breaking them by accident as we live our normal lives. To our advantage, I think when we open our mouths to apologize in our Minnesota accents, there is a certain amount of condescending forgiveness (after all, they’re from Minnesota—what do you expect?).
This experience has helped me to understand what a totally slummy, tacky neighborhood I live in at home. We have barking dogs, open garage doors, garbage cans that sit at the curb for days, Christmas decorations left on house eaves until March, RVs and campers parked in driveways and alongside garages, street parking—and the worst condition of all, actual children riding bikes up and down the streets and playing in their yards. Yes, it’s going to be hard to go back to living among the slumdogs of Alexandria.
Thank goodness the eight inches of snow that fell in Alexandria this week will probably keep the dogs, kids, and garbage cans out of sight—and yes, may even help people to remember to close their garage doors like civilized people do.