Walking is manageable. We all seem to adhere to the same code of behavior. But there's another issue. Yup, barking.
The people across the street are the most unfriendly neighbors on the face of the earth. In fifteen years, they have not only never had a conversation with us, but actually turn and go inside or walk to the back of their house if they see us come out the front. Guess they never had a daughter needing to sell Girl Scout cookies; guess they never needed to borrow that tall ladder that somebody on the block always has and is willing to lend. After two years of being deliberately shunned by these people, we dubbed them The Nonspeakers, and most of the time don't give them a second thought.
The Nonspeakers have two small balls of fluff of their own, and in recent times have had two large, vociferous guest dogs, a Lab and a Shepherd. Whenever The Nonspeakers are out, these two big dogs stand at the front window and bark. If someone walks down the street with a dog, they bark. If someone walks down the street without a dog, they bark. If we go out our front door to pick up the mail or get in our car, they bark. They bark if a dog across the street barks. It is annoying.
But it gets worse. It is summer and we have our windows open. So do the neighbors. And Lab and Shep are early risers who must be on duty beginning, apparently, by six o'clock. After a few mornings of rude awakening, I decided that Nonspeaking was to be a thing of the past and I put on some clothes, crossed the street, and for the first time approached the front door. Ringing the doorbell repeatedly yielded no response. So I began banging on the front door. The barking intensified to a frantic pitch and pace. "Roxie!" exclaimed Mrs. Nonspeaker, but did not come to the door. I persisted. Eventually Mr. Nonspeaker responded (he used to also have the nickname "Pretty Boy," but as another neighbor pointed out, "He's not so pretty any more!") and I drew his attention to the problem. He seemed a bit dull witted and said they were his children's dogs that they were keeping for them on weekends. When I said I that while the constant barking during the day was one thing, being forcefully wakened so early in the morning was another thing entirely, he responded that, actually, they couldn't sleep either. He guessed he'd have to put the dogs in the back of the house. I left the doorstep, feeling a confidence that the issue isn't over yet.
I suppose that more early morning neighborly visits are in order. Or perhaps a phone call to the local police department.
But, you know, I can't help asking myself, "What would Walter White do?"