I recently analyzed a portion of my life-history only to discover that while living in my current home the past 42 years I have had neighbor relationships with 21 different neighbors with old neighbors moving out and new neighbors moving in. We have always enjoyed great relationships with our neighbors or at least appreciated a civil relationship at the minimum. Of course we will never know how many moved out because they lived in Joe Boyle’s neighborhood.
There were a few occasions, mostly related to barking dogs, where we experienced difficulty, but we worked it out. Often I take a leadership roll in confronting a problem with a neighbor. That is true for several reasons. #1. A written test I took confirmed that I am a confronter rather than an avoider. Out of a possible score of 600, I scored over 550 for confronting. For avoiding, my score was 16. If there is a problem, I head towards the problem to confront it and then try to develop a solution. This personality trait worked well during my law enforcement career. Shots fired! Most people avoid the problem by running away and hiding. A good police officer runs towards the shots fired to solve the problem.
I have discovered anyone can be a good neighbor or a bad neighbor; even me. There was the time after 35 years a neighbor removed some trees next door during a yard improvement project. Unbeknownst to me, I became an inadvertent bad neighbor. After my neighbor removed the trees and branches another neighbor was negatively impacted by my perimeter security lighting. My neighbor’s living room two houses away lit up like there was a prison jailbreak.
I visited their house at night to confirm and understand the issue. I immediately modified my lighting system so I could become a good neighbor again. We worked it out. I hope the people who did not enjoy my light show feel I was a good, bad neighbor.
There was the time back in 1973 when I became an accidental bad neighbor. I was mowing my lawn with a front throw antique Cooper Clipper lawnmower. A young fellow climbed over my 8’ fence, ran up behind me, and tapped me on the shoulder. I was so startled, I ran my Cooper Clipper through my wife’s pansy garden. Now not only was I a bad neighbor, I was a bad husband.
It turned out my neighbors were having a garden yard wedding and the motor sound radiating from my lawnmower was ruining their beautiful occasion. I agreed to immediately shut down my mower so the couple could hear the minister’s words for the holy bonds of matrimony. I did not want them to miss any of the ministers words and then end up divorcing all because I was mowing my lawn. It turned out I was more critical than the minister in terms of making sure they were able to enjoy a beautiful wedding. I fixed their problem, which I think made me a good, bad neighbor.
Just yesterday, I almost became a bad neighbor by accident again, only this time I should have known better. One of my neighbors was hosting a gala birthday party for a 1-year-old grandchild. There were giant balloons, a fancy happy birthday sign, kids riding on toys down their grassy knoll, and an air-filled jumping bouncing station.
My neighbor had kindly given me advance notice 50 people were coming to celebrate. She hoped the air compressor that supports the bouncing station would not be too bothersome noise. It wasn’t.
The big day came. I could see the celebration and the bouncing station. I knew it was happening. Simultaneously, I had been focussed for several days on my To-Do List which included firing up my gasoline pressure washer to clean my driveway.
That morning and afternoon I had been sitting in my den chair working on my laptop. Every once in a while, I could look up and see all the children having great fun. Finishing my computer tasks, I stood up with the thought I would head out to my garage to begin pressure washing my driveway. About two steps away from my chair, I came to a realization just in the nick of time.
It was at that moment I combined two separate and unrelated pieces of information, which when combined helped me avoid becoming a bad neighbor. The two thoughts were #1. Fun kids party + #2. Noisy, obnoxious sounding pressure washer = bad neighbor spoiling kid’s birthday party.
That was close. I was almost a bad neighbor. I told my wife, who had high hopes I would tackle this item on my To-Do List, that I needed to postpone the project. She is not sure if I delayed because I am a really thoughtful guy who always strives to be a good neighbor or if I delayed because I am a lazy procrastinator looking for any excuse to escape manual labor.
Today is a new day. I have been waiting and hoping my neighbor was going to have another party. It looks like I have run out of excuses, so I better head for the garage.
My main message that should trickle down from all my words above is, be a good, bad neighbor, if you can.