There are times when I find myself being the recipient of some of my neighbors’ goodwill. When our first pet dog died about a year ago, a couple of my neighbors came to help us have him buried and clear the house of ticks. When a carpenter tried to overcharge me for a lousy job he rendered and was even unwilling to finish the work unless I gave him more money, a few of my neighbors helped me by talking to that man and alerting me whenever he was around so I could make a followup. When my daughters and I got locked out of the house a couple of times, some of them also helped us get back inside and retrieve the keys. One of my neighbors also offered to let my daughters stay with their children as I do some house chores, since she’s aware that I don’t have a babysitter.
For someone who keeps to herself most of the time, almost never stops by someone else’s house to chat, seldom sends dishes to other households, and probably holds the least number of parties, not to mention with very few invitees, in the neighborhood, I think I am very blessed to have found favor in my neighbors’ eyes. I guess some of them somehow sympathize with my children and me, if not felt somewhat inclined to look after us, knowing that we live by ourselves, away from our relatives, with my husband working and living abroad, and without a household help. I could only thank God for them, and hope to be a good neigbor all the time to them.
However, just as there are good neighbors, there are also, well, not-so-good ones. I have met some of them, and I have categorized them as follows:
- The handy panky man. One fine example is the carpenter I mentioned earlier. This particular man was all friendly and helpful in the beginning, advertising himself as the neighborhood‘s most reliable and sought-after handyman. But the truth is, he’s into some monkey business. Give him the job he’s been asking and he’d make all sorts of excuses for not finishing it. Try to complain about his lousy handiwork, and he would even accuse you of being stingy and uncaring for laborers like himself, when in fact, he’s already been paid in whole just as soon as he started working and at his own asking price. (Not to mention that I even provided him food while he was working.) By the way, he’s not the only one in our neighborhood.
- The diva noisemakers. They like to sing endlessly on videoke regardless of the time of the day. Some would even prefer to sing on a weekend morning when one’s supposed to be enjoying a long luxurious sleep, if not late into the night. And then there are some who talks as if the whole neighborhood must know what interesting conversation they’re having at home or with their friends on the phone that you should know, too. The rather subtle ones would use their televisions and radios to let their presence known.
- The faux pet lovers. They boast of having so many pet dogs and loving them as if they were family members, even preparing home-cooked meals for them. Mind you, in the middle of the night or very early in the morning, they let their dogs out to wander and poop in the streets. And they never bother to clean after them! They seem to have trained their dogs so well to go out and poop stealthily in someone else’s yard then go back home as soon as they’re done that you wouldn’t know exactly whose dog did the crime. I myself have gotten tired of going out every morning to clean my front yard that I had let a patch of grass and other weeds grow just to hide the ugly and smelly stuff these neighbors’ pesky pets leave behind. (By the way, we also have a dog, but we never let it go out of our yard to poop. We have trained it to do its thing on a strip of grassy area in our backyard.)
- The big time smokers. Aside from the regular smokers, I have neighbors who seem to have burning wood, dried leaves, and garbage as their past time. Smoke would filter through our windows any time of the day, would you believe that? (And it seems to be worse when we’re inside the bedroom, with the air conditioner turned on.) Every so often, my younger daughter and I would wake up in the middle of our afternoon siesta, alarmed that the house is on fire. Soon enough, my daughter, who is asthmatic, would be coughing while I would be sneezing because of my sinusitis.
- The park-anywhere-I-like peeps. I have not seen a house in our neighborhood that do not have a garage, yet many still park their cars in the streets, worse, in front of somebody else’s house, including mine, even blocking the main gate. One of my good neighbors actually confronted one, but they only ended up hating each other more as the latter apparently retorted that nobody owns the street, so she could park any where she pleased. So what do they do with their own garage? Beats me!
What frustrates me more, however, is the fact that I couldn’t do much about these insensitive acts committed by some of my neighbors. Twice, I had fought for my rights, but I can’t say that I tasted triumph in the end. Sure, I tried to be reasonable as best as I could and spoke calmly, but I think my arguments, sound as they were, just landed on deaf ears. So what have I gained then, except enemies?
In time, I have learned to keep my peace, especially that I’d be dealing with people who live in close proximity to my household. Besides, my children and I live by ourselves so there’s really no one to protect us from those abusive individuals if they ever decide to do something (more) harmful to us. I have also realized that these people grew up that way, i.e., insensible and insensitive, and with their thoughtlessness, there’s no way that I’d be able to talk some sense into them or influence them positively without making them realize first that they are indeed foolish–and that is something that they would never accept. I don’t think they’ve even heard of the Golden Rule!
Sometimes, I wish we can afford to live in a very exclusive and expensive subdivision, where one could just pick up the phone and let the security guards handle such cases without really getting involved myself. But then, exclusive and expensive as they may seem, even in a place like that, crimes still do happen and you’d still find one of those people doing the same thing. Really, why can’t every body just be disciplined and sensitive to others?
I guess I’ll just continue to remember and exercise the Golden Rule myself, teach them to my children, and pray that our family would always find favor in my neighbor’s eyes and every person that we meet. I’m sure one way or the other, someday, these insensitive neighbors will meet their match and finally learn a lesson or two on being neighborly.
What about you? What are some of the things that your neighbors do, which you find irritating,and how do you handle the situation?