Love thy neighbors, 2011

One windy Saturday morning in October. Under a few white clouds that dotted the light blue sky, I was sweating out with the boys on the court at the North. This location has four courts, is evenly divided by a resting area with a three tier bleacher.

At about 7:50am, the three courts were taken by 12 Asian players. One lone player was on the fourth court by himself. After our set just got started, Kai and wife came but opted to run than joining the Lonesome Dove. Five minutes later, two white guys whom I’ve never seen before came, so did 渔夫 Fisherman. I greeted Fisherman in Mandarin and told him to warm up with the singleton.

One of the strangers asked if there’s a sign up sheet for the court.

No, there isn’t.

When our set was over, I went to the bleacher for a sip of water. The twosome was still around. One of them asked if we would be done soon.

“I got here only a little before you. We just finished our first set.” I replied.

He then pointed to the far end court, asking me if I knew when did they get here.

“I don’t know exactly but they were playing when I got here.”

The pair left.

At around 9:15, the players next us on the far end side left. The same two white guys came with two more white guys. They got on the court and began to play.

Ron teamed up with Wei beat Fisherman and I 6-3. Fisherman said he’ll be right back then hurried off the court to take care the usual business at home. The three of us went to the bleacher leaving the balls on the court, taking a break and watching our friends playing on the other side.

xx

My small town of 40,000 residents is a peninsular sits on the Long Island Sound. The high taxes create a coveted school district that consistently ranked in the top 15 in the nation and lush parks with sixty-five tennis courts. This number does not include the additional 23 courts scattered in a few incorporated villages and many more at the private homes. The racial make up of the town in 2010 is 82.8% White, 2.0% African American, 0.20% Native American, 7.2% Asian, 3.9% from other races, and 3.9% from two or more races. [Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.2% of the population.???] Over a generation, the biggest shift in demography is Asians. When my husband graduated from this school in 1982, he was the only Asian male in his grade. Nowadays Asians accounts for xx% at school. The schools and tennis courts are only for us, the residents. However many people, mostly immigrants taking advantage of the relaxed system, sending their kids to our schools and playing on the courts. In the 1990s, I have seen a Taiwanese acquaintance in town, who would quit his medical practice to run a high profile non profit organization allowed their relative’s child to attend our school from Queens. The child would commune to their home daily to board the school bus. Recently, a Chinese friend told me that Chinese youngsters from Queens are being bused here by mini van, attending school illegally.
On the tennis front, the public courts are never guarded. One finely educated tennis buff from China went as far as to host tennis tournaments on the public courts illegally and charged $20 entrance fee.

Our high schools, although are not as highly rated in the nation like when my husband attended, it was rated in single digit nevertheless they’re have been one of top rated in the nation. So our little town has been a prime target for near

 

xx

About ten minutes later we decided to play again, we found the Gang of Four had moved into our court, without asking us first.

It’s an etiquette that you do ask the players who were vacating a court if they’re done.

So I said,

“Excuse us but we aren’t done yet.”

The four looked at each other then back at us,

“Oh, we thought you were done because you took your stuff off the court.”

Fact 1. Our stuff (bags, etc.) have always been on the bench, they were never on the court

Fact 2. Our balls were still on the court

They tried to ignore us and continue to play. Just then, Fisherman came back and walked on to the court.

One of the guys berated Fisherman,

“Didn’t you see we’re playing?! .. .. You should not have walked onto the court …”

Fisherman replied,

“This is our court, we haven’t done yet, I just went home to relief myself.”

In my untrained eyes, I really don’t see any difference between the two courts, except one is closer to the bench.

That’s when the hell broke out. The Four began talking on top of their lungs in fast pace, arguing with us. I didn’t quite remember what was being said and by whom but the slightly heavier guy asked if I live in town.

Where is the neighborly courtesy? I was debating if to entertain him. He took my hesitation as no,

“You shouldn’t even be here. Those courts are for residents only.” He lectured arrogantly then proceeded to demand:
Can I see your ID?

WHAT??? I was totally taken aback at his hostility – the guy to the left of the screen by the fence on video.

Excuse me but what the heck do you think you are and WHO granted you the right?
.

.
Fisherman jumped to my defense, telling the Gang of Four,

“Please, let’s just enjoy the nice day and play. .. I live at the corner ..”

They won’t hear it. Mr. ID stormed to his bag, fished out his driver’s license and stuck it to my face, screaming down with the help of his arms – he’s head and shoulders taller than I’m:

“This is my ID, I live here. Do you? Do any of you actually live here? The twelve of you shouldn’t even be here .. .. Let’s call the police .. ” He looked around, as if looking for police or the security guard?

Hmmmmm… In a moment of bewilderment, I wanted to ask which high school did you, the ID-touting dude graduated from, the South or the North in town? I have two generations of graduates in my house.

I had no intention to inspect his ID. It isn’t like 1600 Pennsylvanian Avenue in DC. (Oh, forgot the White House is famously frugal.) JK. One of my friends there joked if the dude lives in the posher part of the town OR on the second floor of a store on main street? Owns a boat or drives a Porsche? Maybe to him, living in this town is a huge accomplishment, worth of flaunting? The fact they’re playing on the public court, just the four of them, shows none of them may have a tennis court at home. We go to play on the public courts becasue we have more than 4 players and want to play simultaneously. When there’s only four souls, we generally play on the private court.

His unfounded enmity was overwhelming. Why did he think he get to play sheriff? Because we are not white, so we shouldn’t live in the same town as he did? OR something related to China that ticks him off? His job was out sourced to China? A big deal lost to China? I don’t experience such uncouth people often, that’s what prompted me to take out my camera to record this ugly encounter. Unfortunately the better part had gone missing – people generally try to behave better on camera.

In the video, they’re still saying “Everything’s off the court .. .. so .. we thought you’re done .. ” See the Fact 1 and 2 above.

Thought? Does it mean they assumed – making an ass out of himself or what…?

One of them, after telling his partner to be quite, muttering “.. respect .. ”

Hmmmm .. how can one expect respect when he doesn’t know what respect is?

It seemed to me, they were very angry about something. Resentment of 12 Chinese taken 3 courts, playing joyously?

The Gang of Four went back to the far end court. Plays resumed by all. Soon I hit a bad shot, the ball rolled into their court. It was between a point. There was a moment a pause, then the four unanimously decided to ignore. The server accelerated his serve.

The etiquette: you always return other court’s ball at your earliest convenience.

Fisherman said,

“Excuse me, ball please.”

The Gang of Four unanimously began their loud talking again, shouting how rude it’s to interrupt their game:

“Don’t you see we’re playing???”

Men behave like sissies.

Fisherman told them “It’s for your own safety.” He’s right. I won’t tolerate a loose ball on the court. It’s indeed dangerous.

A little laugh: Mr. Heavy perhaps doesn’t have the school issued permit, which renders him unable to play should a security guard came checking.

I’ve the permit thou.

Love Thy Neighbors! Just got to love them.

What were they thinking? What provoke them to behave like this?

I always think people as born decent, and I still do. What took me by surprise was the four of them acted rudely together. One or two I could understand. They might have a bad day or by nature are low lifers or bullies. But not all four of them.

The tension subdued toward end of our play. The Gang of Four was cordial in returning our balls.

P.S. Fisherman was the fourth at our Saturday afternoon’s game today. He took his fishing gear too. As it turned out, we had an extra player so he was happily off the hook court. We didn’t even start our set he announced

“Oh .. I caught a fish .. ” A striped bass. We all ran off the court to see it.

He pulled the fish out of the water, then said regretfully,

“Oh .. it’s too small, I’ve to let it go .. ” It’s about four pounds at 18 inches. The allowable size for keeping is 28″.

No sushi for dinner -:( …

The fact, those friends are comfortable middle class. They’re decent and respectful. What more can you ask for a neighbor?

Love thy neighbors 2006

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