This evening, I went to take out the recycling. First, I had to turn off the lights and peer through a slat in the blinds to make sure the downstairs neighbors weren't outside. The guy was shoveling the walkway. Crap.
Then, something occurred to me. I'd take out the recycling and be pleasant to him. As luck would have it, though, he had his back to me as I walked out with my sack of mixed cans and bottles. I filled up the respective bins outside and strode back toward the building. That sneaky so-and-so was standing next to the handicap parking sign, making himself nearly invisible in the snow and darkness, chatting with another one of the residents (my husband and I refer to this guy as Pseudo-Wayne, since he looks like Wayne, the on-call maintenance man). Filled with panic and a little nausea, I approached the two men. I turned to the downstairs neighbor, gave him my sweetest little smile, and dribbled saccharine: "Thanks for shoveling the walkway!"
He replied, "Yeah, I like shoveling. You want to help?" and thrust his shovel toward me.
"Oh, I can't. I have a bad back."
"Me too, but I take that naproxen for it."
"Doesn't that cause stomach bleeding?"
"Yeah, and heart trouble. I already got that. But I got a bypass five years ago and now I'm out here shoveling. I'm ok. Doctor said no restrictions, so I'm out here shoveling."
"Well, good for you."
He was pleasant toward me and didn't swear once. And really, what's he going to do? Complain to the landlady that I'm too nice?