Beth ignored the truck parked in 'her' spot the first time it happened, owning it to an honest mistake. But when she came home from work the following day and saw the same truck parked in 'her' spot she became annoyed enough to fish out a piece of scrap paper from her pocket book to scratch out a note: 'This is my parking spot – I'd appreciate it if you'd park somewhere else' she wrote, leaving the note on the truck's windshield.
But the next day the truck was once again in her spot and this time Beth was much more forceful in her admonition. 'Dear Asshole, please do not park in this spot. It belongs to me. Beth Fredrickson, 1B'
A couple of hours later, finished with dinner and reading a book in the living room, Beth heard a knock on her front door. She opened it to find a guy in his mid-twenties standing before her – baby-faced, long curly hair, muscular arms.
"May I help you?" Beth asked politely.
"I'm the asshole," he said, bringing the note she left on his windshield out from behind his back.
"Oh," she said, never expecting a response from what she now realized was her rude note. She tried not to become flustered.
"I don't see any assigned numbers out there," the guy said with confusion. "The manager didn't say anything about it either."
"Well, its assumed assigned parking," Beth explained. "You know, by eminent domain? I've lived here for fifteen years. I earned dibs on that space."
"Eminent domain?" The guy said suspiciously. "So, there's no written rule?"
"Well, no, not exactly," she admitted.
"So, I'm not really an asshole then," the guy decided.
"Who are you exactly?" Beth asked.
"Jeff Patterson," he replied. "I moved into 2B above you."
"He was my grand-uncle," Jeff replied. "My mom wants me to stay there until the family decides what to do with it."
"Vinny was a great guy," Beth told him. "I'm sorry for your loss."
"Thanks," Jeff said.
"He used to park in that spot over there," Beth said, gesturing to an area by one of the few trees growing in the common area.
"I guess I can park there then," Jeff agreed. "But I gotta tell ya, your note really pissed me off."
"Sorry," she mumbled, realizing she had been unnecessarily aggressive in her response.
He glanced back at the parking spaces. "So that green Subaru is yours?"
"Yes," she mumbled.
"I'll be sure to firebomb any other vehicle I ever see parked there," Jeff said sarcastically, handing her the note before turning and leaving her deck.
Beth was mortified to be called out like that. Maybe she did overreact and was unfair but fifteen years as a condo owner at Hillsboro Acres certainly earned her squatter rights and gave her the moral seniority authority to call that guy out on his invasion of boundary rights. There was no reason to feel guilty about her note. How was she supposed to know that was Vinny's grand-nephew's truck and that he was living in Vinny's old place?
Vinny was a really nice guy. Shorter than a fire hydrant, he was an old man when he moved into the condo a few years ago. He was a Italian from New York, long retired who finally abandoned the city to live closer to family in Blue County but his health took a turn for the worse not long after he moved in. He eventually had to give up his car and Beth and some of the other residents helped out from time to time. Vinny was a talker with amazing stories to tell and any visit turned into an hour long dissertation. He made Betsy laugh and he made her feel special and she missed him, nearly six months after his family moved him to a nearby nursing home where he didn't last very long. And she had been enough to insult the poor guy's grandnephew!
Beth avoided that Jeff guy after that initial confrontation, embarrassed by her conduct that brought him to her door. In retrospect, the nasty note on the windshield wasn't very nice and she didn't blame him for being pissed off.
Beth noticed that Jeff left early in the morning and was usually home when she returned from work. She bumped into him a couple of times in the communal laundry room and trash disposal room, muttering an uncomfortable hi before moving on, not wishing to engage him in a conversation.
The note was a deal breaker from the start but even if she hadn't caused that awkwardness, the guy was at least fifteen years her junior so what was the point of talking to him for anyway? He was a kid for God sakes.
Beth was around his age when she bought the Hillsboro Acres condo. She worked her way up to Office Manager at the insurance company and she endured a couple of heartbreaker romances but in recent years she had moved away from the dating scene, tired of the awkward first dates and playing the games required to meet someone. As she grew older, her opportunities narrowed – middle aged divorced men with alimony payments and teenaged kids, late bloomers recently out of their mother's house, losers who never succeeded in their personal or career lives. Was that too harsh? Was Beth too bitter and resentful to appreciate socializing and the potential for romance?
She was becoming an old maid now. A single woman at forty had crossed that boundary from free agent single party girl to unwanted middle aged woman no longer in prime time. Coworkers and friends occasionally tried to fix her up with some random guy but her radar had gotten pretty good at such attempts and she was usually adapt at avoiding the awkwardness by nipping those undertakings in the bud before they happened.
She tried not to lament her lack of a romantic life too much. She liked her job and she was good at it. Her family was dear to her. She had supportive women friends who brought joy to her life. She didn't need a man to make her feel complete.
Still, Beth wondered as she stood in front of the full length mirror that night if she had allowed time to pass her by. Was life really as fleeting as it sometimes felt to her these days or was she just going through a rough patch lately? Why had she left that mean note on the guy's windshield for in the first place? Was her inner-misery and loneliness lashing out in unsuspecting subconscious ways? Had she turned into an angry, bitchy middle aged crank?
Beth continued to wear her blond hair to her shoulders even with the streaks of gray at her temples. The crows-feet around her eyes could be easily hidden with make-up. Her stomach wasn't exactly firm anymore but it didn't hang over her waist band either. Her breasts were small enough so that they didn't sag but they were definitely no longer pert.
She laughed into the mirror. That Jeff guy probably did see her as a middle aged hag nag witch thanks to that stupid note.