How Something Surprising Created Gratitude for My Neighbors
October 27, 2020
A tween-girl, ear-piercing shrill had me bolting down the stairs toward my foster daughter one summer afternoon. Much to my surprise and mortification, she had discovered a black bat sleeping in between the blinds and the window of the back door. After my brain registered what was happening, I immediately started brainstorming and googling how to remove a bat from your home. Reading warnings about rabies, biting, and animal control led to a near mental breakdown. All the while, my foster daughter was insisting she could rescue and release it outside. She loves animals and was terrified it would get hurt trying to get it out of the house. As my husband was out of town, I was on my own to handle this. But after my other foster child had a meltdown over the whole ensuing drama, I decided to reach out to my neighbors for help.
I wasn’t exactly sure how they could help, but I needed someone calm to think through how to proceed while I tended to the kids. I knew my neighbors’ names, but I hadn’t interacted with them other than to wave from the driveway or retrieve children’s toys from each other’s yards. I was so nervous as I knocked on their door to ask for help, unsure of how to explain the situation or to invite them into the chaos unfolding in our kitchen. To my delight, the door opened to a big hello, welcoming smile, and listening ear. She immediately ran to her fridge to grab the number for animal control and make the call for me. Not wanting to leave the bat unattended in case it woke up and relocated to a place I didn’t know of, I left her to return to the scene and wait. A few minutes later, there she was on my doorstep with two other neighbors with eager faces, holding a laundry basket, work gloves, and a blanket. I led them to the door where the bat thankfully still slept. My neighbor informed me that animal control could be hours before they arrived and cautioned them not to approach the bat. But they were all armed and ready.
The next hour was both stressful and comical. A man from the end of the street I had never met suggested removing the door as an easier solution than trying to remove the bat. But as the former homeowners had painted right over the hinges years earlier, they wouldn’t budge. Then another neighbor donned the work gloves and used a laundry basket (with holes 😊) to try to scoop up the bat. Blankets and towels were thrown over the door and the basket while the bat grew angry and started hissing. The next thing I knew a bat was in flight through my dining room and kitchen in a low to high swooping motion. Kids were screaming, the big burly neighbor was chasing, and I was doing the duck and cover as shown in a tornado drill as a child. It was a hysterical mess. Within a few minutes, the bat found a place on the dining room window between the curtains to hide. The doorbell rang. In came my neighbor’s husband who had been texted from the store to come help. He came in with a butterfly net and calmly and quickly scooped up the bat and darted out the front door. As he was dumping the bat out of the net, animal control pulled up. The specialist thought we had killed the bat and went to inspect it lying on the ground. Bending low, we all gasped and squealed as it nearly flew in her face and off into the sky.
A yard full of neighbors laughed over the whole ordeal. I thanked them a hundred times for coming to my rescue. For entering my chaotic situation. They thanked me for adding some excitement to their day. My perspective on my keep-to-yourself, wave-from-the-driveway neighbors shifted to a mindset of ready reciprocation: gratitude. Thankfulness for kind neighbors. And gratitude for a bat that literally opened the door to discover them.