Are you familiar with the saying, “Be careful what you wish for”? Well, I witnessed this firsthand how my neighbors’ wish turned into a nightmare. My name is Martin, and I live in a middle-class neighborhood. Most neighbors are friendly, and some keep to themselves. There’s nothing wrong with having a little privacy. However, my next-door neighbors, Julia and Tom, were sociable and likable at first. If I were mowing the lawn, they would wave hello. Whenever I washed my car in the driveway, they would come and strike a conversation. I had no complaints. I thought I was blessed to have good people around me. That all changed when I had my backyard fenced in. One day when I was watering the plants, Julia approached me and said: “Hi there, neighbor! What’s up with the fence? You don’t want to see us?” I thought she was kidding, but the tone of her voice was serious. “Nah! It’s nothing like that,” I tried to make light of the situation. “This was a project I’ve been meaning to do since I moved here,” I explained. As a new year’s resolution, I decided to paint my house. I hired a company to paint my house. It came out pretty good. One evening when I came from work, I noticed Tom measuring the front yard. “What’s up, Tom!” I greeted him. He approached me, and the first thing he said, “Did you win the lottery or something? Painting the entire house is expensive.” I didn’t like his insinuation. “Yes, something like that,” I joked. I had received a bonus at the end of the year, but I didn’t owe him any explanation. Tom then added: “When I win the lottery, I’ll paint mine too. Better yet, I’ll buy a new house!” In the summer, I saw a 30-foot boat on the driveway. I didn’t say anything; however, some neighbors complained because there are housing regulations, and we can’t have big boats in front of the house. Rosie, the neighbor across the street, complained. Julia got upset at her and told her to mind her own business. I found out through other neighbors. Finally, they moved the boat to the marina. The following month, I saw a Porsche and a Ferrari parked in the driveway. I saw a construction company remodeling the entire house. A fence company installed an iron fence all around the house. For weeks, I saw furniture and appliance store trucks come in and go. I don’t like to speculate, but I suspected drugs. One Sunday, I was watering my front yard, and Rosie approached me. “Hi, Martin. Did you know that Tom and Julia hit the jackpot?” She said in amazement. “It doesn’t surprise me. Julia played lottery four times a week,” I said. I hadn’t heard anything because I was busy working late nights. “Julia stopped talking to me…” Rosie said meekly. “…you know, after the whole boat fiasco.” Rosie is in her 60s and is a lovely lady whose husband had passed away three years earlier. Rosie continued to explain, “I heard the news through other neighbors.” I noticed that Julia and Tom kept to themselves over the following months. Rosie then told me they had had squabbles with most of the neighbors. I thought the whole situation was too juvenile to lose good friends over petty matters. I really didn’t care what my neighbors did with their money. I was too busy working to pay attention to them. Eighteen months after Tom and Julia won the lottery, I saw a “For Sale” sign in their front yard. I remembered Tom once told me that he would buy a house if he ever won the lottery. So, I assumed their house had become too small for their new standard of life. A few weeks later, I noticed two big moving trucks parked in Tom and Julia’s driveway. I saw movers bringing in furniture and appliances. A black SUV pulled in. A young couple in their late 20s got out of the car, followed by two blonde girls and a Golden Retriever. I went outside to introduce myself.
“Hi, I’m your next-door neighbor, Martin,” I said, shaking hands with the young fellow. “Nice to meet you. I’m Jon.” He turned to point and said: “This is my wife Linda, these are my 5-year old twins, and Peanuts, our dog.” I stayed outside talking to my new neighbor, who told me they had bought the house for a great price. His wife fell in love with the house the moment she saw it. “The house is like new inside. It’s completely remodeled,” Jon said. The previous owners were in desperate need of money, so we bought it cash,” Jon explained. It didn’t make sense, so I asked: “Why would they need money? Did you know they had won the lottery?” Jon shrugged. While watching the local evening news on TV, a photo of both Tom and Julia appeared with the headline: “Local Lottery Winners Lose Everything.” I turned the volume up, as the newscaster announced that the couple’s bad luck was due to overspending, bad investments, and gambling problems. I turned the TV off. I couldn’t shake off what I had heard. Now, I am careful when I ask for a wish.