Article By: Neil O’Donnell
Splat. Splat. Splat.
Mike was washing our cars in the street the other day, and he kept hearing a splat sound.
He looked around and saw like 20 eggs all over the street. Then, while he was watching, one hit our neighbour’s car.
The eggs were coming from across the street, another neighbour’s backyard. Mike knew right away that it was the neighbour’s son. The kid has always been a little rascal, he likes flipping people off when their backs are turned.
I watched this going down from my desk, my window looks out to the street. I didn’t see the eggs, I just saw Mike cross the street to talk to the neighbours.
The father of the egg bandit came out, and so did his son, the bandit himself.
When Mike came inside to tell me what was going on, there was literally steam coming off of his head. He had already worked up a sweat, washing the car. I could see the pure fire in Mike’s eyes.
“The kid next door is throwing f**king eggs! He already hit K’s car and J’s truck!”
“What did the dad say when you told him?” I asked.
I’d seen Mike talk to the kid’s dad briefly.
“Nothing. He didn’t say anything.” Mike went outside and finished washing the car.
A little while later Mike told me, “We have to go and talk to them. You can’t just let something like this go.”
That is classic Michael De La O.
He is always the person willing to have the needed conversation. You know, those talks that are uncomfortable, but you know you have to have them.
Bringing a necessary issue to the table, to be dealt with, is a special skill that Mike has. People, all our neighbours, bring disputes to him for this reason.
Still, I was a little concerned. Mike was understandably pissed. He likes his cars clean and nothing rubs him wrong more than disrespect.
“Come on, let’s go,” he tells me.
So we head across the street.
Our neighbours are very nice people. They are an immigrant family and always say hello. We have given them food and they have shared food with us. There has never been any problem between us.
The father knows what’s up. He calls for his son to come to the door. We have all seen this type of kid before.
Surly is the word. He is glaring at Mike.
His dad has him by the arm, and he is struggling to get away. His mother keeps making eye contact with me, and I feel so bad for her.
She is embarrassed already, and it is about to get a lot worse.
Mike says, “Okay, I’m going to ask you a question, and I want you to tell me the truth. Did you throw eggs at the cars?”
“No I didn’t!” the kid says angrily.
Mike asks him two more times. The kid is just getting angrier and struggling harder.
Mike tells him, “This is how it’s going to go down. You have two choices here. You can either tell the truth or I will have to call the police.”
Then Mike brings out his phone.
“The thing is I have a video of you doing it right here.”
Our Ring doorbell captured him. You have to love technology.
There is his head popping up from his backyard fence, and the eggs flying through the air….
There is a moment of pure yelling by the family, in the family’s language. The mom, the dad, and the kid are all yelling.
Mike tells the kid, “Either admit what you did and apologize or I will have to call the police.” Mike is not yelling, he’s calm.
We are still standing in the doorway.
“Okay! I did it!” Our Egg Bandit yells, then the kid breaks and runs in the house.
His mom motions us inside, while his dad chases after him into their kitchen.
That’s when he started cussing. Our egg bandit is about 10 or 11 years old.
He yells out, “I threw the f**king eggs!” He is telling his dad “F**king let me go!”
It was getting ugly and I was nervous, his mom was nervous. Both parents are yelling at him to apologize in 2 different languages.
“Fine, I’m sorry I threw eggs at your F**King car!”
I am looking at Mike, SURE, he is going to lose it on this kid.
I watch Mike take a breath.
He said, “You do NOT get to speak to me, my wife, or your parents that way ever.”
The kid breaks free from his dad, yells “F**K You!” and pushes past me to head for the stairs. His mother in on the stairs blocking his way.
“Get out of my way you F**king Bitch!”
It happened so fast that it wasn’t clear if he was talking to me or to his mother. His parents are SO horrified.
Mike tells me “Come on, let’s go. We’re calling the police.”
The father tells Mike “No, he’s just being a teenager.”
He tries to block Mike and me from walking out the front door.
The mother says, “He was calling me a B word, not your wife!”
Meanwhile, the father is seriously trying to stop us from leaving. He puts his hands on Mike’s arms.
Once again I am SURE Mike is going to lose it.
“Take your hands off of me, we are leaving.” Standing behind Mike I tap the father’s hands to remove them.
His wife tells him, urgently, in their language and he backs off. We leave.
Mike calls the police. He explains that there is no damage to vehicles, as far as we know, but we would like to have an officer out to speak with the kid.
Union City Police Department arrives in less than an hour. Three officers.
We explain, we show them the video on Mike’s phone and tell them what happened. Mike tells the lead, Officer DeJong, “This kid needs to hear from authority. If my authority isn’t enough, we need your help.”
The officers understood, they asked Mike to stay home as they went across the street.
We sit in the garage watching, while Michaela and her friends play basketball in the driveway. The officers are there for a while, talking with the family.
While we’re waiting, Mike tells me when we first saw this angry, rebellious, little boy at their front door, it was like looking in a mirror into his own childhood. Mike saw himself in him.
“That was me. The called me a Travieso.” I know exactly what that kid feels like right now.
Eventually, the police finish across the street.
Mike, stands up in the garage.
“Oh Babe,” he says to me. “The kid is coming over to apologize.” Mike puts his hand on his chest, he is full of emotion, touched.
Our Egg Bandit and Officer DeJong, walk up to our garage.
All the fight has left the kid. His eyes are full of tears and for a minute he can’t speak.
“Hey little brother,” Mike says.
“It’s okay. You can say what you need to say to me. We’re neighbours okay? You’re doing the right thing.”
Voice shaking, the kid says “I’m sorry that I threw eggs at your car. I’m sorry that I cussed at you.” Tears spill over.
Mike grabs him and gives him a hug.
“Do you know that I care about you? We are neighbours and I am looking out for you, ok? I’m proud of you for doing the right thing.” Mike tells him.
During the kid’s apology, Officer DeJong winked at me.
I was so moved.
Not only by the kid for apologizing but also by the care shown in the Police Officer’s response to a non-emergency call.
I know they have lots of places to be, and more urgent situations to deal with.
We are proud to live in Union City, where Police Officers have compassion, respect our situation and actively helped us.
Mike reminds the kid to apologize to me as well, so he turns and repeats his apology.
Then Officer DeJong reminded the kid, “What else did you want to tell them?”
The kid, his chin still shaking, starts to say that he will come over on Saturday morning to weed our yard.
Mike says, “How about you help me wash the cars instead? I’ll talk to the neighbour and we can wash her car too ok?”
The kid nods and they head back across the street.
Such a good outcome to what could have been a very ugly situation.
We could have left it alone and there would have been animosity between us and our neighbours for a long time.
We could have let it escalate into a fight.
But instead, because of Mike’s willingness to deal with uncomfortable situations in the right way… We end up better off than where we started.
I told Mike, “On Saturday, when the kid comes over to wash the cars, why don’t you share with him what a Travieso (trouble-maker) you were at that same age. You can let our young neighbour know, that you see yourself in him and that he is not alone.”
Not all of us are cut out to be like Mike but the willingness to tackle that uncomfortable situation and have those hard conversations is something we all need to get better at. We all have moments were we don’t want to have to ‘have that talk’ but it’s important. Whether it’s with friends or family about an addictive behaviour, a co-worker who is making things harder by not pulling their weight or a client who just won’t listen and their actions are causing themselves harm or making their situation worse.
Remy is not only my friend but a talented writer and appreciate her sharing her story with us. I hope you enjoyed this and it impacted you in some small way. Have a great day everyone.
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