Instead of addressing you directly like an adult, some people revert to leaving cruel notes like immature middle schoolers. A woman in Colorado knows this all too well, but she didn't expect that a hateful note from her neighbors would reveal the kindness of strangers. If there is one thing I detest, it is passive aggressive behavior. Most misunderstandings can be avoided by simple communication, but Denver, Colo., resident Ayrielle Harvey was not given that opportunity by her neighbors.
Instead of introducing themselves to Harvey, one of her neighbors left her a mean-spirited postcard bemoaning the state of her yard, and insulting her character despite not knowing a thing about her. If these neighbors had approached Harvey for a friendly chat they would know that she is a single mother working three jobs. They would know that she is raising an autistic son and caring for her mother, who is deaf and blind. She also battles depression and an eating disorder, so obviously maintaining a perfect yard is not her top priority.
Harvey took to Facebook to express her disappointment in her Harvey Park Neighborhood public Facebook group, and said, "No my household isn't perfect, but the postcard I received today only proves that people don't know the full story and don't care. It broke my heart to receive this after everything I'm working my ass off to do."
Here's what the postcard said.
You were in the running for the worst lawn in the neighborhood. Please put down the pipe, the bottle, the bong, the joint, the cigarettes and please water the grass. Try killing a weed instead of smoking it. Your yard is an embarrassment to the neighborhood. You're hurting the value of homes. You did not win, but you are a loser.
Harvey tells Bustle that she has no idea who sent the postcard, and receiving it was heartbreaking.
"The fact that people who don't know me or my situation could do this and be so hurtful makes me ashamed to live in Harvey Park," she wrote on Facebook. I don't drink or smoke anything of any kind. I am doing this by myself. So next time get the full story before you assume and make an ass of yourself and the rest of the neighborhood. Lend a helping hand and be an actual neighbor. Not everyone can handle what life throws at them. It's not your place to be judge, jury, and executioner. I hope you have a good day even though you ruined mine."
However, the kindness she experienced after sharing her story brought joy and relief.
"I knew that if given a chance people can be amazing and give to others, even strangers," Harvey tells Bustle. "What I didn't expect was all of the help and kind words that I would receive from across the country."
Harvey received an overwhelming outpouring of support from other neighbors in the group, and from perfect strangers. Many even offered to help with landscaping the lawn. The photo of Harvey's lawn, published on 22 Words, looks a lot like my front yard, but I live in Los Angeles where not watering your lawn is a badge of honor in the midst of a years-long drought. And, even if it wasn't, I do not have the money required to maintain a picture perfect landscape.
However, my roommate and I did have an issue with one of our neighbors, who has five dogs. The dogs were sticking their faces through the fence and gnashing their teeth less than two feet away from where we get into our cars. I have never been afraid of dogs — we have two ourselves — but the constant bared teeth began to unnerve us, so my roommate did what any grown-ass woman would do.
She talked to the neighbor, politely explained our concerns, and the woman responded with kindness. She said she would order a barrier right away so the dogs could no longer get their heads through the fence. See how easy that was? Can you imagine what would have happened if we had sent a nasty postcard instead? Taking the time to get to know your neighbors, and having a simple conversation, is always the better path.
And, making judgments about someone else's life when you have never spoken to them is not only childish, it's shameful. Theses days it feels like the world is one big dumpster fire, but the response Harvey received from her neighbors proves that good people who want to help others do exist, and that's a feeling that can help carry you through some dark days.