Too Effin Close for Comfort

By Jim Hagarty
2012

A friend send me a bit of a nasty email. He has a bad habit of doing this. Almost every time he hits “send”, his list of real-life friends gets a little shorter. I hang in there, but it isn’t easy.

I replied to this latest email very carefully, as I always try to do, in order to avoid the mountain-molehill phenomenon. I kept writing, then backing up and erasing and starting again, to choose better wording. At one point, a part of one of my sentences read, “…if you want to…” I erased that line and wrote something else. But maybe I didn’t get rid of it all. Just before I hit send on my reply, I notice some stray letters at the very start of the message, right at the top. They were: “f you”. They were left over from “if you want to.”

A Freudian slip? My true feelings? I don’t know, but I broke out in a sweat, deleted the f you and sent the message.

Maybe I should have left those four tiny letters in. Or maybe I’ll use them in my reply to the next nasty message which I know will be coming soon. The worst thing that ever happened to my friend was the invention of email. Seriously. Worst thing. Ever. And I am not effin’ kidding.

Home And Away

By Jim Hagarty
1987
A fellow I know used to say happiness is wanting to go to work in the morning and wanting to go home at night. I think that is one of the truest things I ever heard. If either one of those things are out of whack, it is hard to be happy. I have had times when I would wake up in the morning, dreading the workday ahead of me. And periods when I liked being at work but was not enthusiastic about going home, for a variety of reasons, at the end of the day. Who knows how those two things come into balance but show me a happy person, and I will show you someone who fits the formula more or less perfectly.

The Bin Of Plenty

By Jim Hagarty
1987

When the huge, steel garbage bin arrived on my front lawn, I couldn’t believe my good luck. This thing was so big, I’d have no trouble at all getting all the junk I had into it with room to spare. Lots of room. How can the company which delivered it, I wondered, afford to rent out such gigantic containers at such reasonable prices?

Relieved at the knowledge one bin would do me, I went up and down my street on a mission of goodwill inviting neighbours to throw in any trash they might have sitting around and getting in the way.
Everyone seemed genuinely and appropriately impressed with the offer.

“That’s awfully nice of you, Jim,” was an often-heard reaction to which I graciously replied, “Don’t mention it,” “What’s a neighbour for, anyway?” and “Well, I’ll sure never fill it up with the little bit of stuff I have.” And it occurred to me that being a nice guy is worth all the little bit of effort it takes.

The first day, a neighbour hauled a large pile of long grass and weeds out of his garden, across his yard and into the bin. I was glad to see someone accepting my offer. I gave him a happy wave.

Second day, neighbours across the road held a yard sale and threw into the bin all the items that didn’t sell – a lifejacket, fishing pole, table, wooden cabinet, shoes, an old mattress. Appreciation was expressed. I was just glad to help, I said. I flashed a broad and friendly grin.

It was a few days before I got around to putting anything of mine in the bin, but of course, there was still acres of room left when I did. After I finished putting a new roof on my house, I filled up the back one-third of the container with the old shingles. The amount of room left was ridiculous. I thought of taking out an ad in the newspaper, offering free space in my bin to anyone in the city.

Over the next couple of weeks, more and more neighbours started taking me up on my offer and they came from farther and farther down the street. Each day when I’d get home from work, there’d be a bit more refuse in the bin. An old window frame here. Some burned out fluorescent light bulbs there. Lengths of old eavestrough. Boxes. And lots of boards. Sometimes, overnight, almost like magic, more junk would appear in the bin, and I’d look out at it each morning like I was seeing the first snowfall on the lawn in late autumn. But, the morning after that, half of it would be gone again – taken away who knows when to who knows where by who knows whom.

If I ever felt like I really fit in a neighbourhood, it was around this time. I’d look out the window, see men, women and children heaving their litter over the walls and into the centre of the bin and I’d feel good all over. You can never overestimate the value of getting along with others. Do even one nice little thing for someone else, and you’ll be repaid ten-fold, somewhere down the line. Generosity, good will, glad heart. Do unto others. These are the things for me.

By Saturday, my bin overfloweth. There were tree limbs and tin cans, glass and grass, posts, pots and paint pails. There was cardboard and plywood, arborite and aspenite, stones, sticks and several snythetic substances. In fact, the only things not in there by this time were any more room and – all of my stuff.

You know, they really should make those garbage bins a lot bigger than they are.

It’s remarkable how fast they fill up.

My hope now is that the raiders of the front yard will come back again in the middle of some night and make off with more of the good junk.

If they don’t, I am looking at renting another bin.

The neighbours will be pleased.

The Sounds of Silence

A young man leaves Scotland to study in New York where he gets an apartment. His Ma calls a few weeks later to see how he’s doing. “Terrible,” he reports. “The guy in the apartment beside me screams all night long. And the guy in the apartment on the other side of me bangs his head against the wall all night.” Ma is concerned. “How do you cope with all this, Laddie?” she asks. “I just play my bagpipes to block out the noise,” says her clear-thinking boy.