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by Phyllis Inniss
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The Garage

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt.7:7)

“Can you believe it? A garage in a residential neighborhood? They can’t be serious.” Jenny was addressing her son, Cole.

“People do what they like in this country. No law enforcement, and lack of consideration for others make people feel they can trample on the rights of others,”. was Cole’s reply.

“This morning I heard the Crabbe woman and the Garage Owner (G.O.) in a heated argument.”

“The attitude of some of the neighbors is that she is so cantankerous anyway. They don’t feel sorry for her.”

Jenny disagreed with that sentiment which she knew Cole didn’t share. “That is so selfish, and others will also be affected.”

This conversation took place after Jenny and her son Cole realized what they thought at first to be the usual extensions and renovations that most people in their area had carried out to improve their homes was in fact a garage. It was a mechanic shop that started off by putting in car alarms to combat the thriving business of car thefts in the country. The noise from the car alarms at all times of the day and sometimes late into the night was bad enough. It was sometimes deafening. Even if you turned up the volume on the TV or radio, you couldn’t hear properly what was being played.

Jenny’s house was obliquely opposite to this noisy intrusion into their lives. The houses were so close to each other that most times you could hear neighbors’ conversations, and the streets were very narrow. Jenny felt sorry for Mrs. Crabbe despite her malicious tongue. Before one was aware of the nature of the operation there, Mrs. Crabbe had challenged G.O. on the height of the wall he had put up, blocking, not only her view, but also the sunlight coming into her home. There was quite a heated exchange of words between them and things got worse after that.

When Jenny realized her real predicament, she knew there was only one thing to do. She had to call on God for help. This was too much. It wasn’t just a question of noise from the car alarms. Business was booming. There was a thriving business of used Japanese cars coming into the country at a more affordable rate than the new cars from the established car dealers. Motorists were arriving in their cars at different times of the day, parking on both sides of the narrow street, as the garage couldn’t accommodate them all. They parked in front of her gate. On several occasions she had to phone the owner’s son, Junior, who really ran the shop, to get vehicles away from her gate. This wasn’t always taken very well, even though they were in the wrong..

Jenny was walking home one hot sunny day when she saw Demona Crabbe making a beeline for her. Her manner was always aggressive and sometimes even menacing.

“You see what these people put up next to me?” Demona challenged..

“I couldn’t believe it myself.” Jenny replied. “That is really hard for you,” offering some sympathy, but being careful not to say anything that could be misconstrued or changed to suit Demona’s purpose. Experience is always the best teacher, if you learn from it.

“And he had the nerve to tell me I could put on my lights if the wall making my house dark. He paying my light bill?”

“What you’re going to do?” Jenny queried.

“I already taking matters in hand. They can’t get away with that.”

“Good luck. I hope everything works out for you.”

She sounded so positive about getting something done that Jenny felt hopeful that indeed something would be done. However, the days and the weeks and the months dragged on and nothing seemed to be happening. There would be occasional flare-ups between Mrs. Crabbe and G.O., but the business got bigger to the extent that there were several young employees. The language of some of them was obscene and one of them even threatened Mrs. Crabbe and she had to call the police for him.

In the meantime people who lived on the street sometimes had to make a detour to get to their homes. The street was so congested with cars parked on either side, that some persons left their vehicles halfway on the pavement to allow room for other cars to pass. Very often, there would be a large vehicle carrying equipment and cars to be fixed, stationed on the road waiting for access to the garage, blocking all incoming cars. This monstrosity would also have a beeper of some sort, making a terrible sound for a long time before its duty was accomplished and it would go away. The whole thing was a nightmare. Every night and during the day Jenny called on the Lord to end this perversity. It was unbearable. She often turned to Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the Lord!” because the whole experience was upsetting.

However, it wasn’t long before the neighbors two houses away from the garage had their new car stolen. Suspicion fell on one of the employees. The racket in stolen cars which are stripped, markings and number plates changed and repainted before the owner even misses his car kept escalating. Some of these cars are used in robberies or go back on the market for sale. Demona’s attitude to this theft was satisfaction because the people had taken their car to the garage to be repaired.

Jenny’s hopes rose when she saw a group of officials, along with some police officers, come to inspect the place. These people, she later learned, were from the Environmental Agency. Everybody had accused them of being toothless dogs in the past and they proved themselves to be just that in this case. Apparently, there was some contact from one of the Government agencies outside, who was alerting G.O. when the authorities were going to make a visit. So all the cars would be moved out beforehand, and nothing was seen to be happening. This went on like that for over a year. Whenever one thought that at last something was going to be done, it was the same thing over again. After the visit of the officials, all the cars would be brought back in again.

The whole situation was affecting Demona’s health, but she didn’t give up. When she complained to one authority, she was told to get the signature of the people in the street. She paid a visit to Jenny and thrust a sheet of paper bearing three names at her: hers, her husband’s and that of one person on the street. Jenny asked. “Where are all the other names? What about so and so and so and so” She replied that she didn’t talk to one and that one didn’t talk to her and the other one didn’t want to because of such and such. The way she pushed this list at Jenny she was made to feel that instead of talking sympathy now was the time to show it and sign. Jenny did sign and asked Cole to affix his signature as well.

Cole couldn’t understand why it was necessary to get anybody to sign a list. The deed which was supplied by the Company that ran the housing development stipulated in no uncertain terms that the area was for residential purposes only and no commercial business was to take place there. The Ministry of Planning gives approval for additions to houses following certain specifications, under which a garage would not fall. The Environmental Agency oversees noise pollution levels, safety and hazardous materials that could affect persons within a certain radius. There were young children in both houses on either side of the garage. As usual people were not doing the job they were paid to do.

Jenny never stopped praying and asking God to give her patience. In Eccl.6:8 says “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” It was a beautiful day for Jenny when she saw the removal of all the equipment and all the vehicles leaving the compound. The agony was over. Jenny’s prayers were answered and she thanked God over and over again for bringing that unpleasant chapter to a close. It was also Demona’s chance to rejoice as well.

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