Tag Archives: neighbors

Hey Bill, I can shovel your sidewalk if you want

Dear Bill Simmons:

We just had a pretty big snowstorm here in New York. The night before it started coming down, the news was telling us to expect at least ten inches. And no, I didn’t get out and measure it or anything like that, but it looks like ten inches, I think. It’s a lot of snow, is what I’m getting at here. It’s a powdery type of snow though, not too dense, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to clean up.


Still, snow is snow, and I had to shovel. I actually got a ticket for not shoveling in front of my house the last time it snowed. Yeah, yeah, I know, I have like a million excuses, like I was working both the night of the last snowstorm and the night after. So it was like, I came home from work, I should have just shoveled right away, but I put it off for the next day. And of course I overslept, I was rushing to get ready for the following night at the restaurant. I told myself, tomorrow, definitely tomorrow. But the Department of Sanitation must have been thinking the same thing, tomorrow, we’re definitely giving that guy a ticket tomorrow.

This time around, I made sure, as soon as that last snowflake fell, I was outside with my shovel. As I was shoveling I thought, Bill, wouldn’t it be cool if we were next-door neighbors? I know you’re a busy guy, and so I’d totally get your walk if you were at work or something. I don’t know exactly where your job takes you these days, I mean, I don’t really know where you do your filming for ESPN. You write a lot about how you’re from Boston, but you don’t live there anymore do you?

Maybe if you moved to Queens, right next-door to me, it would be like a rude awakening, it would snow, you’d have to shovel. How long has it been since you’ve had to shovel a walk? Don’t worry about it too much though, I told you, I’d help out. And maybe you’d be walking home just as I was finishing up the path right to your front door. Would we have met yet? Like, maybe you’d have waved to me every now and then on your way out the door. But a conversation?

“Hey man, thanks a lot, I really appreciate the help. I’m Bill, by the way, I know we haven’t gotten a chance for any official introductions, but yeah, thanks again for the shoveling.”

I’d say, “Hey, Bill, no problem, any time man.” And then it would get tricky, because obviously I’d recognize you, you’re a pretty famous guy. But do I want to come across as too eager? Like, “Yeah, I know you, you’re Bill Simmons, you’re the Sports Guy, I read all of your stuff on Grantland, I actually have a blog where I write you a letter every week begging for a job as a full-time writer. Have you seen it? Have you read any of my letters? What do you think Bill, can I have a job?”

It might come off as a little too strong. Still, anything else, like if I pretended not to know who you are, “My name’s Rob. Nice to meet you … Bill? Did you say it was Bill? Or Phil?” and you’d have to reintroduce yourself, “Bill. Bill Simmons.” That’s cool, I mean, it would have the benefit of you thinking that you could let your guard down around me, you’d go to work in the morning, you’d be the Sports Guy, but you’d come home at night and you’d just be regular next-door neighbor Bill, hanging out with his new friend Rob, a nice guy who shoveled his sidewalk, plus the path leading to his door, all out of the goodness of his own heart, not looking for anything in return.

Which of course isn’t really true, which is why I’d hesitate to go down that route. What if we hit it off? What if we became good friends? You’d obviously start to ask me questions like, what do you do for a living Rob? And I’d have to be like, well Bill, since you asked, I’m an aspiring writer. What about you?

And you’d go into your whole, “Really? I’m a writer too. I’d love to look at your stuff.” Which, yeah, that would be great. Please, read my stuff Bill. But then you’d come across these letters, the whole Dear Bill Simmons column, and you’d see that not only did I know who you were all along, but maybe my generous acts of snow shoveling weren’t as selfless as they appeared.

You’d think, is anything that Rob’s said about himself true? I’d try to explain, that yes, I really am a nice guy, and also yes, I desperately want to write for Grantland. “You moving next-door to me, I couldn’t believe the luck, but I didn’t know how to handle the situation. So, I’m sorry Bill, I’m sorry for coming across as disingenuous, but I just really, really want to work for you. And I also really want to be great neighbors. And maybe friends. But we’ll take it slow. What do you say?”

I’m pretty confident that you’d see through to the real me. I’m a nice guy Bill. And although we’ll probably never be next-door neighbors, we could still be coworkers. You could totally be my boss. And while I won’t push the friendship thing, I won’t close the door on it completely. So maybe like after years of working for you, building up a professional relationship, one based on hard work and writing whatever you tell me to write, maybe we can think about being friends. But first things first. Offer me a job Bill. I’ll say yes. Ask me to shovel your walk. I’ll say no. You’ll say, “But I thought you’d do whatever I told you to do.” And I’ll say, “I can’t shovel your walk. Because I already did it.”

I’m for real Bill. Give me a shout. Give me a job. Please.


Rob G.

Please, won’t you be my neighbor?

We moved into our place like a year and a half ago. The next door neighbors, I guess the woman is pretty nice. She’s always making small talk and stuff, so I appreciate that, trying to get along, peaceful coexistence. But the guy, he’s so standoffish. I don’t know how I should feel. I probably shouldn’t feel anything, but every time I see him I’m like, what do I do now? What do I say?

Because if I didn’t say anything, he wouldn’t say anything back. And so, while I don’t particularly mind having silence between us, that kind of a gap can get weird after a while, like after a month or two. And the weirdness is amplified, because it’s not like he’s never around. He’s always outside of his house, obsessively raking, like every time a leaf falls down, he’ll rake it up. There’s a lot of sweeping also.

And I feel bad, like maybe he doesn’t like me because I’m not into the whole raking or sweeping thing. Look, I’m sorry, but I don’t get offended by the presence of leaves in front of my stoop. It’s nature. What are you going stand at your window and wait for every single leaf to fall down? That’s crazy. If I had to make a list, ten things that I’m neglecting that I need to get done right now, and if I were to start tackling this list of stuff that should get done, the raking and the sweeping would still be ignored.

For a while nothing was said. But I couldn’t stand every day going outside, seeing this guy and not having even one pleasantry exchanged. So now I’ve fallen into the habit of just saying, “How’s it going?” very matter of factly. And even though I put a question mark at the end of that question, there’s no question about it. It’s just a no-nonsense way of acknowledging this guy’s presence.

And he’ll give me like a “Hey,” back. Whatever, I’m not super social, not with the neighbors. This is New York, everybody’s invisible, anonymous, but still, every single time. The other day I went outside and did the whole “How’s it going?” “Hey” routine when, right after we were done acknowledging each other’s presences, some other guy down the block called out my neighbor’s name, “Hey man! What’s going on?” “Hey buddy! How’ve ya been?” and I’m just standing right there, wondering how this guy went from so gruff to immediately amiable and friendly. And why not to me?

Because he is gruff. I’ve already mentioned this, but let me again emphasize, even though we always exchange that little hello, it’s always me who starts the hello. And I’ve gotten the feeling from having done this for a while now that it’s almost like a chore for him. Like he’d really rather not say hi, but since I’ve said something, he has to say something, so here you go buddy, here’s your forced hi.

Is it the leaves? The sweeping? Maybe if I swept as much as he swept, there’d be less stuff on my side of the sidewalk that could potentially blow over to his side. Is he bitter about that? Does he harbor expectations of me keeping my side as equally pristine as his side? Because that’s impossible.

The other night it snowed, like maybe eight inches. I’m guessing eight. I didn’t measure it and I’m not going to look it up. But it was enough that everybody had to shovel. I got home late that night from work, like one in the morning late, and the snow was dying down, so I figured I’d shovel before anything had a chance to freeze over.

And while I was at it, what the hell, I’d shovel the neighbor’s walk also. It only took like five minutes, a nice two-foot path across. But the next morning I got up and took a look outside. My neighbor had redone everything. What I mean is, he shoveled clean every square inch of his property, like the curb, the underside of the stoop, everywhere. And he did the same for our side.

Was this his way of saying thank you? Because it didn’t feel like that. It felt more like his way of telling me to fuck off, to not touch his side of the sidewalk, because obviously I don’t know how to do it right, and here’s how it’s supposed to be done, and here’s how you’re supposed to do it on your side.

And maybe that’s reading way too much into everything, but it’s all I’ve got, because the guy never talks to me, doesn’t look at me when I force him to say hi. Man, I don’t know. Maybe he’s crazy. Maybe I’m crazy. I hope they move away. I get along great with the guy who lives on the other side. He’s a Greek guy named Christos. (Seriously, when we moved in, he introduced himself, “I am Christos. I am Greek.”) He’s always telling me that my dog’s too fat, although I don’t see it. Still, a conversation’s a conversation, right?

Hey neighbor

Sorry I let all of those Jehovah’s Witnesses into the building. I’ve never seen them around here before. I just assumed one of the neighbors was throwing a party. Everybody was so well dressed. And smiling, and friendly. Who would turn them away? Whatever, they left eventually, right? No? Well, there are lot of them, had to be like fifteen people. They’ll get hungry eventually. Just don’t give them any food.

Yeah, I’m sorry I left the shower running. I was doing that whole steam iron trick. You ever hear of it? No, it didn’t really work. I mean, it was little less wrinkly, but definitely not what I would call pressed, ironed. And I didn’t even get to wear the shirt, if it’s any consolation, it was too damp, and too cold outside. No, I don’t see how that would be much consolation at all. Did the water do much damage? Yes? Well, that’s what we have security deposits for, right? Haha. I’m just joking, trying to lighten things up here. But seriously, can we maybe leave me out of this when you talk to the super? Just tell him the pipe’s broken or something.

What banging around? What time? Ten? Oh, my workout videos. You can hear that? Is it really loud? Geez, I’m sorry. Maybe I should get a carpet or something. You could always come upstairs and we could do the workout videos together. No? Well, open invitation. I sweat a lot though. It’s really weird. It’s like I’ll pop the DVD in and I’m already breaking out in a light sweat, just anticipating the moving around. You ever hear of plyometric training?

I thought I gave you your drill back months ago. I didn’t? Are you positive? I remember going to Ikea. Yeah, I borrowed the drill but I don’t even think I used it, because they just give you those little wrenches with the furniture. Did I give it back? Well it’s not here. I could look. I actually haven’t looked yet. I will look. Look, I’ll look for it. It’s got to be around here somewhere. What was it, a drill, right? What color?

OK, bad news, no drill. What about next door, did you ask them? Well, it’s just that they’re always asking me to borrow stuff and, I don’t know, maybe I gave them your drill. Yeah, they did move out a couple of months ago. Geez, that’s embarrassing. Can I just buy you a new one? Three hundred dollars for a drill? OK, well, I have a couple of ideas here. Either I can give you a lump sum, right now, cash, but it’s going to be significantly less than three hundred dollars. Or, I can pay you five dollars now, and any time you need five dollars, just let me know, door’s always open, and, you know, I’m sure everything will even out over time. It’s like buying drinks, right? I’ll get this round, you get the next round. Lump sum?

Look, if you need anything drilled, and I know this isn’t the ideal situation, not until we get you a new one, but I’m actually really good at drilling things without a drill. I can just press really hard against the wall with a screw and a screwdriver, and I can slowly drill it in there. I’m like a human drill. But, again, much slower. Do you have a hammer? Well, I just realized that I wanted to hang up some pictures, but I can’t find my drill anywhere. Do you have any nails?

What if I do the workout videos earlier? What if I take off my boots?

Oh yeah, and sorry about the fire escape. What fire escape? I mean, yeah, what fire escape? I didn’t say anything about the fire escape. What? No you don’t have to check it out. Yeah, why would anybody be out on the fire escape? Forget I said anything.

Honestly, there’s nothing I can do about the phone alarm. It’s the only thing that wakes me up. And yeah, I need like three of them, because I always just shut them off after like twenty minutes, so I need them staggered. Just, you should be up by then, so I don’t see the big deal. But that’s kind of a non-negotiable. Everybody’s got to get up in the morning.

Well, look, it’s easy, just take their literature, tell them you’re really interested but that you’ve got to go, and then tell them to go downstairs, that the tenant right below is leading a really sinful lifestyle. Then lock the door and don’t answer anymore. That got rid of them for me. It’s almost three. They’ve got to eat dinner eventually. In the meantime, you want to do some work out videos? This one’s all about isotropic stretching. Oh duh, your drill’s right there. I just … I’m sure the drill bits are around somewhere. Maybe I gave those to the guy next door. Bet you wish you took that lump sum while you had the chance, right?

My friend is friends with Keanu Reeves

I’m so pissed off. One of my friends moved into a new apartment building a couple of months ago. “You’ll never guess who lives in the building with me!” he started telling me. He was way too excited, way too happy. I could just tell by the look on his face that I’d wind up resenting whatever words came out of his mouth. “Keanu Reeves!” Yup.

I tried to at least not look pissed off, but I probably didn’t do too good of a job. At least I didn’t go right ahead and tell him exactly what I was thinking, which was, so what? You live in the same building as Keanu Reeves? Big deal. Seriously, how is that at all news, at all something to be even remotely happy about let alone gushing with excitement? I live with tons of other people. I don’t even know anybody’s name.

What, do you think all of the sudden because you happen to live in close proximity to a celebrity that you two are going to somehow hit it off? Be friends? “Maybe he’ll knock on my door someday to borrow a cup of sugar!” my friend offered. Please, nobody borrows sugar. That’s ridiculous. If ever found myself in the position where I was in the middle of cooking or baking something, and I realized that not only did I not have any sugar, but I needed a whole cup, like a whole package of sugar, I’d either run to a store and buy some, or more likely, I’d just give up the whole project right there and throw everything away. Because obviously I hadn’t thought this through. Obviously I got way too impulsive about baking, about just throwing a bunch of ingredients in a bowl without even bothering to stop and think to myself, wait a second, do I have any sugar? Do I know how to bake? I tell you what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to start knocking on a bunch of random neighbor’s doors asking them for free groceries. If somebody ever came to my house with an empty measuring cup in hand, I’d take the measuring cup, tell them to wait there one second, and then I’d go inside the house and lock the door. I wouldn’t answer for the rest of the day.

But that’s not what I’m pissed off about. I mean, yeah, I guess I got a little pissed off there, but what I’m really pissed off about is the fact that he did it, my friend, he’s actually like friends with Keanu now. I don’t know how it happened. Well, I know the details of the how, but I just can’t figure out why. They were in the elevator or something and my friend couldn’t help himself. “Oh my God! I loved you in The Replacements!” or something like that. If I were a celebrity, I’d be so annoyed. But not Keanu. They hit it off.

They did like a karaoke night thing at his place the other night. And guess who wasn’t invited? “Oh, you know how it is,” my friend tried to tell me, “I don’t want to impose.” Yeah, he didn’t want to impose at the party, but he had no problem imposing on Keanu’s elevator ride. Isn’t that like an invasion of personal space or something? And it didn’t work for me. I spent like an entire afternoon riding up and down in that same elevator, hoping I’d get my own celebrity run-in.

And I did, I got it, Keanu finally showed up. But it wasn’t just Keanu and me, there was also some old lady in the elevator with us. She had already been up and down like five times that day. I know because I was there every time. On her fourth trip, she must have assumed that I was like an elevator boy, because she just walked in and said, “Twelve, please,” and I was like, “Excuse me, I’m not an elevator boy, you can’t tell me what to do,” and she said, “Elevator boy? Could please just push the twelve button for me? So I did, but only after I pushed two through eleven first.

Anyway, she gives me this dirty look when she walks in, but completely forgets about me once she realizes that she’s sharing my elevator ride with Keanu. “Oh my God!” she starts gushing, “I just loved that movie that you were in with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson! You know, the one where Diane Keaton flashes the camera? What a great movie!” and Keanu was like, “Hey, thanks a lot. See you around.” And the next thing I knew it was Keanu’s floor, and he was getting ready to get off, and I hadn’t even gotten to say anything to him, like anything at all, and I really wanted to go to that karaoke party.

So as he stepped out of the elevator I kind of shouted, “Wait! Keanu! I loved Bill and Ted! Wait, I mean The Matrix! I loved The Matrix!” and as the elevator door closed, he said something to me like, “Man, those movies came out a long time ago buddy.” And that was it. I banged on the door really hard and screamed, “I love karaoke!” hoping that he heard me through the metal. I think he did, but still, he had no idea who I was or how we might get in contact with one another.

Which was such a shame, because if that stupid lady wasn’t there, I had such a good plan. I had this newspaper with me opened up to a crossword puzzle, and when Keanu stepped into the elevator, I was going to be staring at the paper, like totally not even paying attention to Keanu at all, like it could have been just anybody that walked in. And I would’ve said without looking up, “Hey man, do you know a seven-letter word for ‘empty orchestra’ Japanese origin?” And he would have said, “karaoke,” and I would have made a little show of counting out the letters, looking a little puzzled but then finally relieved when I figured out that it fit. And I’d look up and say, “Hey, thanks a lot.” And he’d say, “Sure, no problem. It’s funny you mention karaoke. I’m having a karaoke party at my place tomorrow night. You live here, right?” And I’d say, “Yeah, sure,” and then I’d stick out my hand and say, “Rob. And you are?” “Oh, I’m sorry,” he’d put down his groceries or whatever, offering me his hand, “Keanu. Keanu Reeves.” And I’d just act all casual, like I’d never heard of him before, and I’d say, “Great. Sounds great. Maybe I’ll stop by. Nice meeting you Keanu.”

But that didn’t happen. And after I finished banging on the doors I turned around and that lady was still standing there with me in the elevator staring at me. And I just looked at her for a second and then screamed, “What?”