We have a neighbour whose car makes an incredibly loud noise. It's a bit of the soundtrack to our lives that we could all do without. I don't know cars, but it's large, white and has a very large and aptly named spoiler on the back.
On Friday, I was going out when the familiar noise drew my attention to the car. I looked over and there was no one in the car. It looked like an arrogant remake of Knightrider. It seemed odd that the engine was running while it was empty. It occurred to me that the driver might be in some sort of trouble and I walked over to the car.
I stood next to the very loud vehicle and was surprised to see the window was open. There was no sign of anybody around. I could see the key in the ignition and for a moment I was tempted to take them out for the benefit of all in earshot. I resisted the temptation. The nearest door opened and a burly man leaned out and said simply "Get away from the car."
I should point out that although I was stood next to the car I wasn't stood in its parking space and was closer to the next car over. I ignored his lack of courtesy and asked why his car was making "that noise".
A brief and unenlightening answer came, "It's warming up", before he chose to embroider his original comment as "Get away from the f***ing car."
I declined. He reached behind him, pulled a big dog into view by its collar and said "Get away from the f***ing car" once more. I declined again. I don't really know what I would have done if he had actually become violent, but after recent events, I wasn't willing to be threatened on my own doorstep again.
His wife or girlfriend came out and he and the dog went back indoors. She was far more polite and attempted to placate me. She made excuses for her other half, not for the first time I'm sure. She agreed that he had no reason to talk to me like that, but no apology was forthcoming. When I mentioned that he brandished the dog in my direction she countered with "Oh the dog wouldn't have done nothing", but took it slightly more seriously when I suggested it was still obvious that he intended it to be threatening behaviour.
We had a discussion about the car and its noise. Apparently the reason for the excessive noise is because the car has a turbo-charger that needs to warm up or it "runs bad". I would have assumed that the more you spent on a car, the more convenient it would be for you, but it looks like I was wrong. I asked how long it took to warm up and she didn't know, but said that a dial inside the car had to reach a certain number before it could be driven. I reminded her that no one was in the car to check on it and so presumably they left it for a set period before driving it. She didn't know how long that would be. For the record, we have regularly heard it run for between half an hour and forty-five minutes.
I suggested that if the car was going to make this much noise, then they needed to be humble about it and that the confrontation helped no one. She didn't disagree and said that if anyone was inconvenienced then they just needed to let her know. On behalf of my neighbours I said that everyone was inconvenienced and that if they could expect a welcome as warm as I received then they were probably more than a little intimidated as well.
Our entire conversation was calm and reasonable, but because we were still stood next to the roaring engine it was a full volume.
When I told Sarah about it, it renewed talk that we should move home. This was something we had discussed after what has become known as "the incident", but that I resisted, not wishing to be driven out. Now I was seriously considering it. What does it say about me that I can handle an attack by knife-wielding maniac better than some idiot boy racer full of sound and fury? I felt really silly admitting it, but I hate where I live now more than ever.
I replayed the confrontation in my head again and again. After "the incident" people talked about flashbacks and that Sarah and I would need to keep an eye on each other in the days and weeks afterwards. We felt fine and seemed to be able to put it behind us fairly easily, but I can't put this experience out of my mind. Nothing happened and yet I can't put it out of my mind.
I wonder whether one experience has compounded the other? Are these sorts of effects cumulative? Or whether I'm just more appalled than I realised that his first reaction was hostile and his second was threatening.
I hadn't heard the car in question again until yesterday afternoon. It growled into life again, but Sarah pointed out that it was revving so he must be behind the wheel. I looked out of the window to see that he was manoeuvring his pride and joy into a garage that we didn't know he owned.
I don't know if it makes me a bad person, but I took a certain amount of pleasure in seeing that the back of the car is currently missing its lights and number plate, is covered in scratches and it has obviously been in some sort of collision.