I was hoping that as I got older, I would get more tolerant. But apparently, the opposite has happened. It’s possible that as you age, the tolerance quadrant of your brain starts to atrophy so that things which never bothered you in the past suddenly become intolerable. It’s the exact opposite of the grudge section of your brain which actually increases in size as you get older. I’m pretty sure there are scientific studies to prove this. So, now I have bigger grudges and I’m less tolerant which officially makes me a cantankerous old lady. If I didn’t live in the city now, I’m sure I’d be yelling at all the neighborhood kids to get off my lawn.

But living in the city has presented its own challenges. Such is the case with the neighbor across the hall. Actually, my neighbor is not the problem. It’s his shoes. He works some kind of outdoor job and wears boots that become caked with dried mud. When he gets home, he takes off his boots and, to my absolute delight, leaves them outside his door, opposite mine. We are the only two apartments at our end of the hall so our once pristine communal corner of the building has become notable for his big, mud-caked boots that I have to step around every time I opened my door.

Did I mention I’m a neat freak? So yeah, there’s that.

It would seem that the passive/aggressive section of my brain has also become enlarged because rather than ring the bell or leave him a note and ask him to take the boots inside, I decided to just stew about it and wonder why he couldn’t read my mind and remove the boots without being asked. It soon became something that I obsessed about because with all the other things in the world to be concerned with, someone’s muddy boots have taken over my every thought. In general, I like to think I’m a pretty easy going person, but in this case, I wondered if capital punishment was too great a consequence for leaving dirty boots in the hall.

So, I started with a newspaper. During the night, I went out into the hall and threw an open newspaper over the boots to hide them. The next morning, I opened my door and the newspaper was gone but the boots were still there. It was possible that he thought someone had kindly left him a free newspaper and he was inside with his coffee, reading the newspaper, enjoying his day, while I was also inside with my coffee, obsessing about his boots.

The next night I snuck out into the hall and threw a hand towel over the boots to hide them. When I came home later the next day, the towel was laid out on the floor and the boots were thrown on top of it. It was possible that he thought someone had kindly provided him with a towel for his boots to dry out on and now I had to look at his muddy boots and a gross muddy towel, too.

The third night I took a storage bin and put it over the boots to hide them. The next morning, the boots were on the towel, in the bin, which was an even bigger obstacle in the hallway than just the boots had been.

I finally decided to throw in the towel … and the boots and the bin. But then the next day I got up, opened my door, and saw that the boots, the towel, and the bin were all gone. In their place, instead, was a wet umbrella, opened up to dry out in the hall.

The rain lasted a day.

The umbrella is still there.
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