Over the years, SUNY Brockport students living off-campus have developed a well-earned reputation for being rowdy and obnoxious.
Anyone who lives in the heart of the village can tell you that it is not uncommon for SUNY students to be on the streets, yelling and making noise at any time from 11:00PM to 3:00 AM on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights when the college is in session.
It is also not unusual for people who live in the heart of the village to find beer cans, wine bottles, and puddles of puke on their front lawns when they wake up on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings.
It goes with the territory, when you chose to live in one of the beautiful 150 year old houses in the heart of the village.
But every once in a while you meet incredibly polite students who don’t act like that.
Last year, for example, the three female students who rented the old Bob Wilson house just south of mine, were very polite and neighborly. One of them, even rang my front door bell, introduced herself, and gave me her cell phone number so I could call her if they ever played their music too loud.
I only had to call once.
Wednesday evening, one of female students renting that house rang my front door bell. When I answered the door she said, “Are you Tom?”
It seems that the landlord had given her my name and suggested that they could call on me if they needed help with anything.
She had locked herself out of her room on the second floor and wanted to know if I had a ladder.
Of course I do, a heavy wooden extension ladder.
So we walked out to my garage, where we took the ladder down from the pegs on the wall and carried it next door, where we extended it so it would reach the window of her room.
When we placed it against the house, the cheap plastic siding bent inward, and I mentioned how the house used to have beautiful wooden siding but the landlord had covered it with the plastic siding so he wouldn’t have to paint and scrape.
She said, “Cheap. Everything inside is cheap.”
She’s only lived there for a couple of days but she’d already noticed that the landlord had cheaped out on everything. Who knows? Maybe the doors to the shower don’t run in the tracks properly and jam all the time.
Maybe the locks are cheap and you have to fiddle with your key to get the door open, and maybe the door bell is funky and won’t ring unless you press is a certain way.
Anyway, she scooted up that ladder like she’d climbed ladders many times before, and she removed the screen in a heartbeat and dropped it down on the front lawn before scooting in through the window.
I picked up the screen to see if it was damaged in any way, and discovered that someone had definitely jimmied that screen before because there was a screwdriver mark on the bottom rim of the screen.
In a heartbeat, she was out of the house and thanking me profusely. Then we lowered the ladder, carried it back to the garage, and put it back up on the pegs.
There was a tie when I used to swing that heavy ladder around by myself. But that was before my traffic accident and my bout with colon cancer.
After we put the ladder away, we talked for a few minutes and I asked her if the landlord had told her about the noise ordinance and the garbage rules.
She said he had not. He’d only told them that garbage pick-up was on Wednesday.
So I told her how the noise ordinance says that you can’t play your music loud enough so it can be heard on your neighbor’s property, and that you can put your garbage out 24 hours before collection and you have to bring your garbage cans in within 12 hours after collection.
She thanked me. Then we went our separate ways.
Then I went out for my daily walk around the village. My cancer surgeon has told me that I should walk every day to keep up my strength during chemotherapy. He wants me to walk as far as I can each day, and right now I’m walking a little more than two miles a day by walking down to the Erie Canal, along the Canal and them back home via Park Avenue or Main Street.
So I get to see all the flowers people have planted in the yards, as well as all the trash people leave on the street.
On Wednesday evening there was dead chair by the curb outside the rental house at the corner of Utica and Maxon by the railroad tracks. There was a dead orange sofa out by the curb outside a rental house at the southeast end of College Street, and there was a pile of cardboard trash outside the house at 28 Utica Street.
On my way home, I passed the house with the dead chair, and noticed a young man standing on the front lawn talking on his cell phone. So I caught his attention and asked him if he know it was illegal to put trash by the curb more than 24 hours before trash pick-up on Wednesday?
He said, “No, but that he hadn’t put the chair out by the curb.”
I shrugged my shoulders and walked away. I’d done the best I could. I’d been neighborly and tried to keep him out of trouble with the code enforcement officer. The rest was up to him.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Theodor Seuss Geisel
The Lorax (1971
The next night, my doorbell rang again, and it was all three of the young women renting the house next door.
They introduced themselves, and mentioned that they knew one of the women who had lived there last year, so maybe that’s how they knew my name.
We exchanged cell phone numbers so they can call me if they need help, and I can call them if the music is too loud.
They also wanted to know what all the noise had been at 3:00 AM in the morning when a group of students had stopped outside, talking and laughing so loudly that it woke them up.
I said, “Welcome to the neighborhood. It happens all the time. Probably students, returning from the bars uptown, and one of them was so drunk she fell down on the front lawn and couldn’t get up without help.”
They were aghast. They had no idea that stuff happens in Brockport.
I got a big surprise when I took my walk around the village on Thursday night.
The dead chair by the curb outside the house at the corner of Utica and Maxon had been moved to the back of the house by the garbage cans.
Maybe the young man had listened to what I said.
But, I got an even bigger surprise when I realized that the dead orange sofa by the curb outside the rental house on College Street was also gone, and that the pile of cardboard trash outside the house at 28 Utica Street had been removed.
It was a great feeling to see that the garbage had been cleaned up on the streets. It made me wonder if the code enforcement officer had paid a visit to each of those houses, or if the neighbors had finally decided to ask their neighbors to be neighborly.
Either way, it is definitely a step in the right direction.