"You know," said Mrs. Airuhzony to Mr. Airuhzony, "I think it's now absolutely imperative that we do something about this."
She pointed to the uninvited guests in their house who were sleeping in their beds, eating their food and doing some work but not beginning to pay for the cost of their presence.
"The sneaking in through windows, breaking down the door, the cost to us, the inconvenience, all of that was bad enough, but now . . ."
She paused, started to cry, but then continued.
"I mean, many of these people are nice, but I guess the warning came when a few of them started bringing the illegal drugs into the house. To me, the gun attacks, the shooting, that was the last straw. We've got to act."
"I agree," Mr. Airuhzony said. "My hope was that this new chief of the neighborhood association would behave responsibly. After all, everyone of the 50 houses here has this problem to one degree or another, and there are neighborhood rules against these visits. But no, nothing. No security officers outside our homes. Few penalties against the people who pay these guests to do errands when they are not supposed to. Just talk of how things might be fixed so the visitors can stay around forever."
"Well, let's get the family together and decide," she said.
Everyone met and soon came up with a plan. They would hire some guards for the house. The guards would do nothing to bother invited guests, but if they found people who appeared to be breaking the rules - such as stealing the last of that week's food - the guards would ask to see their driver's licenses. If it turned out the visitors were not invited, they would be taken to officials of the neighborhood association who then just might send them back to their own homes.
The head of the neighborhood association was outraged.
"This is unfair," he said. "It is immoral. It is wrong. It shall not stand."
He even went around making jokes about what the Airuhzony family had done, causing Mrs. Airuhzony to respond with a joke of her own, saying he was more nearly "comic of the association" than "chief of the association."
For this, she was thoroughly reprimanded by some others in the neighborhood. "I am sorry," one said, "but you just don't talk about our chief that way."
That was hardly the end of it. While some families in some of the other homes talked about coming up with similar guard operations, others were as upset as the neighborhood leader. Some even voted to get even with the Airuhzony family by throwing stones at the house.
"I don't get it," said Mr. Airuhzony in an interview with a TV station. "Our neighborhood has more invited guests than all the other neighborhoods in this land combined. We do not mind that. All we want in my family is to be safe and use our limited resources to the advantage of those of us who are here in accordance with the rules. That's it. That's all we want. That's wrong?"
It was in the eyes of a neighborhood commission.. The family's guard plan was disallowed, and pretty soon the neighborhood chief and his board altered rules so that all guests were invited even if they weren't.
That decision caused many more guests to arrive and pretty soon the Airuhzony home had three times as many guests as it had had, far more unaffordable expenses, lots more drugs and no end to the shootings.
"I guess we learned our lesson," Mrs. Airuhzony said remorsefully.
Examiner Columnist Jay Ambrose is a former Washington opinion writer and editor of two dailies. He can be reached at: Speaktojay@aol.com.
Decades ago, I was a reporter in Albany, N.Y., working for a newspaper at the foot of a hill that could be ascended only with huffing, puffing, knee endangerment and sweat unless you employed a trick.