We moved into the neighbourhood about ten years ago.
For some reason, I never really got to know the neighbours. We would nod awkwardly when our paths crossed or we would politely return misdirected mail but that was it. Perhaps it was my work schedule. Perhaps it was theirs. Or, as The Munchkin suggested, perhaps it was my face, which looks even worse when I smile.
Anyway, sometime in 2016, The Munchkin and I went shopping in the neighbourhood mall. As we prepared to leave, we were confronted with relentless rain. At the edge of the covered walkway stood Mr K. He was clutching his phone and we heard him say, “I can’t come right now because it’s raining,” as we drew nearer.
I handed him my umbrella. “Take it.”
I’ve never seen greater flabbergasted relief. “I … yes … no … yes … yourself?”
The Munchkin brandished our second umbrella (nobody remembers why we had two), and I assured Mr K that we would be fine. He grabbed the umbrella like a life vest and shot off across the street. We continued home.
We had barely put away our shopping when the doorbell rang. There was Mr K, Junior K, and my umbrella. There were thanks and pleasantries all round and that was that.
But it wasn’t. Thereafter, Mr K and his family never failed to say hi or stop to chat. Then the other neighbours started saying hi. And now we pretty much know everybody, and it feels like we’re a community.
Thanks, of all things, to an umbrella.