“I had a weird neighbor. Friendly at first, but slowly got colder and colder. They had the same landlord as us.
We were going to have a neighbors’ backyard party with us, the neighbors on both sides, and the neighbors across the alley. Only the weird neighbor declined. Everyone was bringing something, drinks from across the alley, sides from most of the others. We were hosting, so it was our job to grill some brats and host in the backyard. Had the charcoal grill fired up and put some store-bought wood chips on at the end to give the sausages a smokey flavor. I was stepping out of the kitchen with a big tray of raw meat when a firefighter poked his head over the back gate.
Firefighter: ‘Hi, we’ve had a smoke complaint that you are burning trash or yard waste?’
Me: ‘Wow, I hope not, I’m not that bad of a cook.’
Firefighter: ‘May I come in and look at your fire?’
Me: ‘Uh, ok, let me put down this tray.’
I let the guy in, he looked at our charcoal grill.
Firefighter: ‘Did you put anything other than charcoal and lighter fluid in this?’
Me: ‘Yeah, some of these wood chips from the grocery store.’
Firefighter: ‘I hate to say this, but the city has an ordinance against any organic matter other than charcoal in grills.’
Firefighter: ‘Yeah, it’s a dumb law and almost never comes up unless you are really burning yard waste or if you have a neighbor who has it in for you. I won’t give you a citation, but I do have to stand here and watch to make sure the fire is completely extinguished before I go.’
Me: ‘So I can’t grill these dogs?’
Firefighter: ‘I’m afraid not.’
I proceeded to take the tray of raw meat into the house, popped them in the oven to broil, and came out to hose down my grill until the whole thing was cold and wet. The firefighter left with an apology and thanked me for not getting mad at him for the bad news. Only one person within six houses wasn’t there, and I don’t think any of my guests called the fire department on our own party.”