Broken windows and good neighbors

Broken windows and good neighbors

As I went out this morning at 6:15 to get in my car to go to work, I noticed the neighbors across the street out by their minivan, sweeping up broken glass. Someone had driven by last night and heaved a huge rock through the large side window.

The police had just left and now they were cleaning up. These are very nice people—they have three Pug dogs that Isabella goes crazy and they’re very nice with her—and they said they couldn’t think of anyone who would do such a thing. They’re immigrants, Brazilian or Portuguese, and they keep their yard very neat.

(The town of Peabody has a large Brazilian population and our neighborhood has many Brazilians and Portuguese because of Our Lady of Fatima parish around the corner. You can tell which houses have the Portuguese-speaking people living in them: they have the neatest and most beautiful yards and gardens.)

I think the vandalism was just a random act of some punks who saw a big window and threw a rock at it. It could just as easily have been our van across the street in our driveway or my car parked in the street.

That’s the worst kind of crime in when you think of the quality of life in a neighborhood because it is a kind of friction that wears down the bonds of neighborliness and makes everyone wary. It’s the sort of thing that makes people stop saying, “We live in such a nice, quiet neighborhood.” I hope it’s an isolated incident.

N.B. In a matter unrelated to the vandalism, but related to neighborliness, about a week ago, at around 8:30 or 9 at night, a guy two houses down started lighting off fireworks, which are illegal in Massachusetts anyway, thank you very much. I would have let a few firecrackers or bottle rockets go, but they kept coming until finally I stormed out of the house and yelled down the street, “Hey, I’ve got a baby trying to sleep here!” I didn’t yell, but only muttered “dumb (another word for donkey)”. He yelled a sheepish “Sorry” and that was that.

In another kind of neighborhood my reaction would have led to a confrontation. In another kind of neighborhood, I would have been unwilling to take the risk of an escalated response. I don’t want to live in that kind of neighborhood. My neighbor got the message and we can be cordial. Mistakes are made and that’s that. This is the way it should be. I just hope that rock wasn’t meant for me and just went in the wrong direction.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli