The Johnson family had just moved into a new neighborhood. After their neighbors, the Summers family, threw them a welcoming party, a long-lasting dispute began because of their shared lawn. However, outside adversaries would eventually force them to band together for the greater good.
The Summers family – John, his wife, Judy, and ten-year-old son, Tommy – watched curiously from their porch as the new neighbors moved their furniture into the house next door.
“The old Daniels’ house has finally been sold, huh?” Judy said, casually sipping a cup of tea.
“Yeah…looks like it,” John replied.
“You think they are from the city?” Judy asked.
“Must be. Look at those unnecessarily fancy bags. A bit much if you ask me,” John said with a judgmental grimace.
“Oh, Johnny. Always such a grouch. I like their bags,” Judy said.
“Looks like there’s a kid there too. He looks like he’s my age,” Tommy said with excitement. Tommy and the other boy, Kevin’s eyes momentarily met. They shared a brief nod of acknowledgment.
“Kevin! Stop staring off into the clouds and help your mother with the rest of the bags,” Kevin’s dad, Danny, told his son, seeing him gazing at the neighbors next door.
“Nonsense. They’re just being neighborly. Plus, I think this may be really good for Kevin. He may even find a friend in the boy next door. You know he struggled to make friends back in the city. This could be good for him.”
Kevin helped his mother, Cindy, bring the bags into the house. Danny peeked out the kitchen window, looking into the family’s porch.
“Looks like we’ve got some nosy neighbors,” Danny scoffed.
“They seem nice. Perhaps we should introduce ourselves once we are settled in,” Cindy suggested.
“Maybe… I just kind of think we left the city so we could have a little peace and quiet. Let’s not get too caught up in community politics, love?” Danny said.
“Politics, Danny? Relax…this is our new home. Our new community. We should embrace it. And I know how you get sometimes,” Cindy said, giving Danny the side eye.
“I know, my love. And I’m all for embracing it. All I’m saying is they seem a little intrusive,” Danny added.
“Nonsense. They’re just being neighborly. Plus, I think this may be really good for Kevin. He may even find a friend in the boy next door. You know he struggled to make friends back in the city. This could be good for him,” Cindy said, holding her husband affectionately.
“Hello! I’m in the room!” Kevin said, raising his hand as a gesture of notice. His parents both laughed.
“You’re mom’s right. This is a fresh start for all of us Johnsons. We should grab it by the horns and embrace it!” Danny said, pulling his son into the huddle as he looked around at their new home.
A few days later, there was a knock at the Johnson family’s door. Cindy went to open the door and found a congregation of their neighbors, all standing at their porch bearing various gifts of baked goods and other foods. Among them were John, Judy, and Tommy.
“Greetings there! We are the Summers family. These are the McCarthy, the Stevens, and the Lloyd family. We are all your new neighbors, and we just wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood,” Cindy said with a warm smile.
“Oh, wow! How kind of you!” Cindy said as Judy handed her a casserole. “Danny! Kevin!” Cindy called. Danny and Kevin arrived moments later, surprised to see the welcoming party at their doorstep.
“Our neighbors came bearing gifts, honey,” Cindy said to her husband.
“Oh, why thank you! I’m Danny, this is my beautiful wife, Cindy, and our son, Kevin,” Danny said, taking the rest of the gifts. Again, Tommy and Kevin gave each other a discreet nod of acknowledgment and a friendly smile.
“Great to meet you all. I’m John, and this is my wife, Judy, and son, Tommy. Seeing as our houses share a border, we thought it only fitting that we have a barbecue there to welcome you to the neighborhood and better acquaint ourselves with each other. Saturday afternoon. What do you think?” John said.
“It seems like a fine idea. Thank you, John,” Danny said.
“Alright, very well then. Guess we’ll see you there,” John concluded.
“Guess you will. Thanks again,” Danny concluded.
Later that night, Danny and Cindy were preparing for bed. Cindy washed her face in the bathroom while Danny lay on the bed in contemplative thought.
“I told you the new neighbors would be nice,” Cindy said from the bathroom.
“Funny, I don’t remember you saying that,” Danny retorted.
“Listen, all I’m saying is they aren’t as bad as you’d feared. I believe the word you used was…’intrusive,'” Cindy added, walking into the room and joining Danny in bed.
“I don’t know about you, but bombarding us at our doorstep with a league of overcooked casseroles is a tiny bit intrusive. Just a bit,” Danny said with a cheeky smile.
Cindy chuckled, saying, “Oh, wow! Is this really the man I married?! We are in suburbia, my love. That’s how things work here. And I really think it was sweet. The city can be so distant, cold, and guarded. I like this,” Cindy said with a hopeful smile.
“Yeah. Jokes aside, I like it too,” Danny said before continuing with a doubtful grimace, “What about that John fellow, though?”
“Oh, the Summers family. They’re nice,” Cindy simply replied.
“I guess. I’m just not sure about how he said, ‘Guess we’ll see you there.’ He didn’t give us much of a choice, did he?” Danny said.
“It was a friendly invite, Danny!” Cindy said, laughing at her husband’s paranoia. “Enough of that now. Let’s get some shut-eye. Goodnight, my love,” Cindy concluded, kissing her husband.
“Goodnight, darling,” he replied.
A few days passed, and it was finally the Saturday of the barbecue. The families set up the barbecue in the large lawn space that bordered the Summers and Johnson homes.
The barbecue was beautifully set up by both the Johnson and Summers family. All of the neighborhood came out to meet and greet their new neighbors.
Everything was proceeding perfectly. Tommy and Kevin even found each other finally having an interaction beyond simple nods of acknowledgment as they raved about their favorite video games.
As Tommy and Kevin played on the lawn while the adults continued with their own banter closer to the house, a dalmatian suddenly ran towards them and began digging various holes in the yard. Kevin immediately shot up in alarm, running to his dad by the grill.
“Dad! Dad!” Kevin yelled.
“What’s the problem, champ?” Danny asked, concerned.
“Over there! There’s a dog in the yard!” Kevin said, pointing to the dog. Danny and Kevin rushed towards the dog, only to suddenly see Kevin playing with it.
“My yard!!” Danny said, seething with rage. “Who’s dog is this?” Danny yelled.
“She’s our dog, sir,” Tommy said softly, a little taken aback by Danny’s rage. Suddenly, John appeared from behind Danny.
“Everything okay here?” John asked.
“No, everything is not okay. Your dog is making a mess of my yard,” Danny said, pointing to the random hole in the yard.
“Sorry about that. I guess Suzie just has to get used to sharing the space, that’s all. This used to be her playing ground,” John explained.
“Well, that’s good and all, but now it’s our yard. I’d appreciate it if Suzie understood that,” Danny retorted. “C’mon, Kevin,” Danny said, storming off, his son hesitantly following behind him. Kevin and Tommy shared a sad look as their playtime was cut short.
John fluffed up the pillows in a huff as he and his wife prepared to sleep later that day. Judy looked at him, trying to figure out why he seemed to be in such a mood.
“So, are you finally going to tell me what’s got you in such a mood?” Judy finally asked.
“That Danny…he’s a real piece of work, isn’t he? Telling us Suzie should find somewhere else as if he owns the place,” John said.
“Well, technically, he does. It’s partially his property, too,” Judy said, hopping into bed.
“Yeah, but he didn’t have to be a jerk about it. It’s our property, too,” John retorted.
“Please, John. Don’t make a thing of this. Aside from the little incident with Suzie, it was an amazing barbecue. I like Cindy and her whole family. Who knows, you might even find a friend in John. Look at Tommy and Kevin. They seemed to get along very well,” Judy said.
“Friends?!” John said with a scoff. “I highly doubt it. We’ll be alright just as long as he knows his place.”
“Don’t overthink it, my dear,” Judy said, kissing her husband. “Goodnight.”
A few days later, John notices that the Johnson family has parked two of their cars on the lawn, and one has taken up some space on the Summers’ lot. John saw Danny exiting one of the cars and immediately approached him to confront him.
“Hey, Danny. Listen, you’re hogging up the space a little there. It’s a shared space, remember?” John said.
“Yeah, I remember. Did you explain that to your dog?” Danny smugly retorted.
“Is that what this is about? You’re still upset about Suzie?” John asked, confused.
“It’s about respect, John. Have a good day,” Danny said, leaving without another word.
John stormed back to his house, fuming. Who does this guy think he is? Clearly, he doesn’t know who he’s messing with, John thought.
The next day, John decided to take matters into his own hands and started building a wall between their properties to establish a boundary. Danny was furious and blatantly threatened to sue John, but John ignored him and continued building the wall.
Days turned into weeks, and the wall got higher and higher, and likewise, so did the tense feud between John and Danny. But neither was willing to back down. They began to avoid each other and even forbade their children, who had recently become classmates and good friends, from communicating.
Early one morning, John was awakened by a loud crashing sound from outside. Looking out the window, he saw a bulldozer tearing down his wall. John ran out of the house and saw Danny standing near the wall.
“Get your affairs in order, boys! Because your houses are next! Ready or not… Change is coming!” Mr. Cooper concluded before driving off.
“Danny! Are you crazy?! Stop this immediately!” John yelled, furious.
“Listen, I was honestly thinking of doing the same. But I guess I was about a month too late,” Danny said, looking on in awe as the bulldozer continued to tear down the wall.
“Liar! I know this is your doing! Stop it, now!” John cried.
“I swear to you, John. It’s not me,” Danny said.
“You’re lying!” John insisted.
Tired of John’s accusations and ramblings, Danny threw himself before the bulldozer. “What’s going on here!?”
The bulldozer halted, and a car suddenly pulled up next to it. A man in a flashy suit jumped out of the car, yelling at the bulldozer driver in frustration. “Who told you to stop! I don’t pay you to laze about! Get to work!”
“Excuse me! Just what do you think you’re doing?” Danny snapped at the man.
“Mr. Cooper?” John said, surprised.
“What? You know this guy?” Danny asked, confused.
“Yeah, he owns a chain of local stores,” John explained to Danny. “What’s going on here?” John asked Mr. Cooper.
“Hi, John. Gentlemen, you are slowing down progress. But, if it helps get you out of my way, I’ll tell you. This will be the venue of my brand new store,” Mr. Cooper explained with a smug grin.
“Are you insane? You can’t do that! This is my…” John stopped and looked at Danny, reconsidering his words. Then he continued with full conviction, “This is our property!” Danny gave him a nod, acknowledging John’s sudden change of heart and their solidarity.
“Not according to this,” Mr. Cooper said, handing John a document. Danny joined John as they both read it in awe.
This says that you’re the rightful owner of the property. This can’t be right!” a shocked John said.
“It also says he’ll be bulldozing our houses next, John. This is ridiculous!” Danny added.
“Well, you better believe it,” Mr. Cooper said, grabbing the document and getting into his car. “And you! Tear this down!” Mr. Cooper said to the bulldozer driver. “Get your affairs in order, boys! Because your houses are next! Ready or not… Change is coming!” Mr. Cooper concluded before driving off.
“I know he’s some big-shot business owner around here, but can he really do that, John?” Danny asked John, deeply worried.
“I don’t know, Danny. Those papers looked legit,” a disheartened John said softly.
“We can’t allow him to do that, John! Think about our families. What will I tell Kevin and Cindy? What will you tell Tommy and Judy?” Danny cried desperately.
“I don’t know, man! People like Mr. Cooper make things happen! We don’t stand a chance,” John said, defeated.
“No… No… No, I don’t believe that. You make things happen, John. I’ve seen it. Remember how you rallied everyone for the barbecue? People respect you. Maybe we can convince them to help us,” Danny said. “We can save our homes, John. C’mon! What do you say?” Danny concluded, putting out his hand for a handshake. John hesitated.
“C’mon. For our families, John,” Danny said.
“For our families,” John said, shaking Danny’s hand with determination.
John and Danny immediately rallied the community and explained their situation to their neighbors. Within an hour, they had the whole community in protest surrounding the bulldozer, not allowing further work to be done. Out of options, the bulldozer driver called Mr. Cooper.
“Sorry, boss. There’s a bunch of people here. They have me surrounded, and I can’t do anything. We’ll have to pick it up from where we left off tomorrow,” the driver said, throwing the whole community into a triumphal cheer as he got off the bulldozer and walked off. Danny and John shared a high-five for their victory.
Later that day, John called the community chair while Danny took the matter to the police. The community chair agreed to investigate the matter, and so did the police.
The next day Mr. Cooper returned with the bulldozer trying to finish the job. However, shortly after his arrival, the police came and arrested him. It turned out they had been investigating Mr. Cooper for a while now.
The Summers and Johnson properties were just a few in a long list of properties Mr. Cooper had taken over with fraudulent documents.
“This is great!” Danny said as the police left with Mr. Cooper. “We saved our homes, John!” Danny said, elated.
“Yes, we did, Danny!” John said cheerfully.
“Listen, I know we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but I believe there’s a way we can resolve this without any more unnecessary drama. How about we work together to resolve this issue,” Danny suggested.
“How so?” John asked.
“Well, we can hire a surveyor to pinpoint the exact location of the boundary line and then share the cost of relocating the wall, if necessary,” Danny proposed.
John looked at the ruined wall he had recently built. He remembers how wonderful the barbecue had started out and how all their neighbors had rallied again to protect their homes. He remembered how excited his wife and son were to find friends in the Johnson family. And then, he finally had an epiphany.
“I think I may have a better idea. Just please be patient and give me a little time, okay?” John said calmly.
“Alright, John,” Danny replied, and they shook on it.
The next day, Danny was awakened by what sounded like construction unfolding outside again. He immediately rushed outside to see John working on something.
“What are you doing? I offered to solve everything peacefully and fairly!” Danny snapped.
“I know, Danny. Please be patient,” John said calmly.
“Patient?! There’s no getting through to you! I don’t have time for this right now, but you’ll hear from me after work!” Danny snapped, rushing back home. John sighed deeply, then continued working, an unbothered smile consuming his gaze.
At the end of the day, Danny returned home from work and saw a playground on the lawn from John’s side, where Tommy and Kevin were swinging jovially. Danny’s side of the lawn looked awkwardly empty beside the laughter-filled playground on the other side.
“Looks like you really did have a better idea,” a surprised Danny said, approaching John.
“I told you. Just be patient,” John said with a warm smile.
“Daddy! Look! Tommy’s dad built a playground!” Kevin said, elated.
“I see, my boy. You boys enjoying yourselves?” Danny asked.
“Yeah!” Tommy and Kevin exclaimed.
“Great stuff!” Danny said to the boys before turning back to John. “Truce?” Danny said, holding out his hand.
“Truce,” John replied. They shook hands and watched their children play.
From that day, the two families agreed to share the lawn space. Danny and John even became good friends. Danny and John built a huge gazebo on Danny’s side of the lawn, where they would host barbecues and parties for the whole community. Judy and Cindy also agreed to make a small flower garden with the remaining space.
What can we learn from this story?
You need to be able to get along with your neighbors because you never know what might happen. If John and Danny had continued to fight each other, they would not have been able to handle the threat from Mr. Cooper.
Learn to prioritize what really matters and put your ego aside. John and Danny had to learn to put their egos aside and think about their families and homes. Once they set their differences aside, they were even able to forge a friendship out of the whole situation.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.