Things fell into place like clockwork during the process of our relocation from our native region to a completely different area of the country. Providence seemed to be at work in each transaction. We traded two smooth-highway vehicles for an SUV capable of handling unpaved roads and mountains. We walked from a week-long stay in a hotel room into a wonderful housing opportunity at the foot of a hill and with a view of a picturesque mountain. We were on the edge of Federal Forest land. And, two buildings away from our own, there was a coffee shop.
Setting up our household in a region without family or friends nearby, we were at a complete loss for only one thing: the additional, local emergency contact required on one of our child’s school forms. Our new property manager, a busy working mother, with three small boys of her own, had her hands full. When I asked about whom she might recommend to us for the local, emergency contact, she suggested we talk to our closest neighbor, whom she described as a very regular and reliable person.
On the afternoon I knocked on our neighbor’s door, I did not know what to expect. Although we had been in residence for two weeks already, I had not yet met our new neighbor. She was always gone to work before we rose and returned home after work and shopping—long after we had settled in for the night. Then, in one brisk motion while I daydreamed, a tall woman with short gray hair opened the door. I could feel the outside air being pulled into her apartment with that abrupt motion as it swept past my body. I outlined our situation, explaining that she had come with the property manager’s highest recommendation. Attempting to appeal to her sense of compassion, I explained that we needed just one additional local emergency contact for our child’s school form. I received a brusque, no-nonsense reply.
“I am done being responsible for other people and other people’s children. And, I don’t have a problem saying, ‘No.’ So, the answer is no. I am not available to act as a contact on that form.”
End of story. I thanked her for her time and took four steps across the sidewalk that separated our two buildings and our front doors.
“How did it go?” my husband asked.
“I don’t even know what to say except that we need to find someone else to act as an emergency contact on that form,” I replied, still feeling a bit dazed.