In some communities, when someone new moves in, the Welcome Wagon visits. Sometimes the neighbors come to introduce themselves, usually bearing cookies or maybe even a bundt cake. L.A. is such a fast-paced city that I didn't really expect the Welcome Wagon, but what I got was so much more.
Last Saturday, as Mr. Minivan was putting yet more trash bags and moving boxes out in the alley to be picked up, he found a smouldering mattress. Yes, that's right, a mattress had been set on fire and then left to smoulder outside our back gate. Maybe it's a local custom involving marshmellows and graham crackers, but since none of those, nor any Welcome Wagon, was to be found, he poured water on it and continued taking out the trash.
Right after that we went to the Little League opening night festivities. Quite the event, with giant inflatable slides, a raffle (I later found out I won a Curt Schilling autographed jersey, but I digress), a silent auction, and lots of food for sale--the local fireman were even grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Very small-town in the middle of the big city. We told the fireman what had happened in the alley and they told us we shouldn't hesitate to call the police or fire departments about something like that. But it was over and we enjoyed the rest of the evening.
Yesterday I was out in front getting the mail and a fully-uniformed fireman walked up the driveway, saying "Hi." How nice, I thought, he's here to welcome us--what a nice surprise even without the bundt cake. But, not exactly. He told me that there were a bunch of fireman out in the back putting out a smouldering mattress and that there was also a burned-out couch back there. He asked if, since we were new here, we were putting extra furniture out in the alley. I was horrified. I explained what had happened on Saturday. The neighbor next door was out in the alley, too, giving me dirty looks. She never did introduce herself. I guess I too would be a little crabby if new neighbors moved in and furniture started spontaneously combusting all in the same week. So, anyway, the policemen took my name as the "reporting party" since the neighbor was too busy glaring at me to get her ID. I told them I didn't want to see my name in the local paper. And now along with unpacking and trying to find my way around, I also have to keep an eye out for my local pyromaniac. All in all, I'd rather have the bundt cake.
2 days ago