See this man featured here? That’s Phil Diamond. He’s running for Mayor of Orlando.
And he’s my next door neighbor. Literally. His house is right next to mine; less than 25 feet separate our houses. He has spoken less than 25 words to me in the two years I have been living next door to him. The only time he ever spoke to me was when I was walking by and he offered me some oranges from the tree in his front yard. Probably because any orange I took away was one he did not have to clean up.
That’s it. We’re neighbors. I see him in his yard. I sometimes see him in the morning. Occasionally on the weekends. I don’t even get good-natured waves and “hi neighbor” anymore when I walk by with the dogs, or when I see him in the mornings when they load the kids into the car to head to school. I don’t get much of a glance at all when I ride by on my motorcycle.
I suspect I know why; we’re “the renters” next door. We’re not permanent residents. We’re transient. On top of it all – I have the worst landlord in Orlando who does absolutely no maintenance on the house in which I live. My house looks much less “downtown Orlando” than his does.
I suspect I’ve been judged, and found wanting, because of the misfortune that led me to a house that I don’t really approve of. I am the eyesore next door and it’s better to ignore me than to be seen interacting with me or acknowledging me. I am the second class citizen on the street because I rent; not worthy of his attention.
Of course, if he got to know me, he would know that I am a recent cancer survivor and medical bills these past few years have made money tight – so I am paying a relatively cheap rent right now to alleviate onerous bills while I rebuild.
If he had bothered to have an exchange of words with me he would know that I make sure I always live in the school district where my sons and daughter can go to the best public schools in Orlando.
If he had smiled and chatted with me he would have known that we are only in this less-than-ideal house because our previous landlord, owner of a much, much nicer house on Gore street, was forced to short sell the house and we had to find a new place, in the middle of the school year, quickly.
He doesn’t know my oldest son was accepted to three Florida colleges and is an amazing guitarist. He doesn’t know my daughter broke her foot 5 weeks ago. He doesn’t know my youngest son is also an amazing digital musician.
He doesn’t know that I am a published author, who recently got an essay from this blog included in a high-school and college textbook on patriotism. He doesn’t know that for the past three years I have been the Chief Technical Officer of a local company that does millions of dollars of business every year with the Army National Guard. He certainly doesn’t know that I am now a Program Manager at another local internet company that is building one of the most amazing Facebook apps ever.
He doesn’t know any of that. He’s never been a friendly neighbor – with me at least. I look up and down my street and I see house after house with the “Diamond for Mayor” signs in their front yard. I suppose he’s talked to all of them – but he’s intentionally avoided knowing me or my house.
For whatever reason, Phil Diamond has not taken the time to know who is next door neighbor is. I agree with many of his political statements, but I can’t reconcile the Mayor of Orlando with a man who will snub his neighbors.
Perhaps I am wrong about the entire ordeal. Maybe we’ve just been two ships passing in the night and have never had an honest opportunity to say hello. I hope this is so, but my perceptions leads me to fear otherwise.
I wish him luck in the election, because I wish no man ill, but I will not be voting for Phil Diamond at this time – even though I think he has a strong platform. If I had never had the opportunity to be his neighbor I would have no qualms voting for him – I just don’t like my perception of being the “ignored” or “passed over” neighbor for no reason I can discern other than a bias based on the house I rent.