The other day, an upbeat article about living in an ideal neighborhood with friendly and fun residents appeared in my newsfeed. To be honest, I had a hard time relating to the overly chipper words that were shared.
Don’t get me wrong...over the years, we've indeed lived near some perfectly lovely people. But for every sunny day, our military family has endured some pretty stormy weather thanks to antics from odd neighbors nearby.
Have you also had an assignment or two with unusual neighbors? How did you handle it?
Following are a few neighbor stories I’ve collected from friends and our military life.
You Kids Get Off My Lawn!
The free-range children that roam our neighborhood communicate with each other in one speech volume, which is set on “scream.” The other day, my husband approached the handful of cackling hyenas as they precariously dangled from a tree branch that edges our yard. The tall, gangly one in the mix stated, “Our Dad told us it was okay to play over here.”
My hubby glanced at the yard a couple doors down, and the father figure of note lifted his brewskie in recognition. Reclining in a plastic lawn chair while soaking his feet in a faded kiddie pool, clearly that guy was way too busy to be watching the neighborhood kids at play!
What Are "Quiet Hours?"
Not only does our neighbor fire up his lawn mower at 5 a.m., he leaves it running for at least an hour after he’s mowed the lawn. I don’t know if idling unattended is proper maintenance for a two-stroke engine, but I do know it’s annoyingly loud.
Friendly Neighborhood P.I.
With dreams of being an investigative reporter in her golden years, our retired neighbor walks around our area with a big camera and a notepad. Several military families live nearby who are exempt from paying license and registration in this state. However, this older resident feels it’s her civic duty to document each vehicle with pictures of out of state license plates. She then sends this information to the county clerk who issues those military families taxes and fines. Not cool.
Social Media Drama
When we moved in, we joined the neighborhood Facebook group. Usually, the posts are reminders of community events or reviews of new businesses in the area. Every Wednesday morning, one neighbor chooses to report where he's spotted dog waste on his walks. Now, he doesn’t pick up the messes, he just pinpoints the locations. I guess he’s hoping public shaming will solve the reckless dog poo problem.
The Cheapskate Neighbor
Wearing sharp looking suits to work and driving a shiny Lexus, our neighbor appears to be doing well. But when we chat, he always complains about how much his utilities cost. Concerned about the rate he pays for trash collection, he worked a deal with the local waste management company to pay less for service if he uses a smaller barrel. However, when his household trash overflows his tiny bin, he shoves his bulky bags into our can and into the barrels of other neighbors. Recently, we had to confront our frugal neighbor due to a fine on our billing statement for overfilling our receptacle. His response? “You should call and contest that.” Grrr..!
Sharing Is Caring
It’s not so much that our neighbor plays a loud guitar in his garage, it’s that he practices the same riff over and over. The other day he finally played the entire song, and I wanted to knock on his door and hug him! Little victories!
The listing for our rental included a description of the “sunlit breakfast nook.” Doesn’t that sound inviting for a lazy Saturday morning brunch? What the landlord didn’t share was that the sunny windows of the kitchen area are paper-thin. This allows our nosy neighbor, George, to sit outside our compact block of town homes and eavesdrop on our private conversations.
With an impressive imagination, George twists the stories he’s overheard into negative gossip about our family. Upon chatting with our mailman, we found out why our neighbors went from smiling and waving to frowning and avoiding us. Apparently, George relays his Pulitzer prize winning fiction about our lives at the monthly HOA meetings. Awkward. Needless to say, we have a countdown until our lease is up!
What's Yours Is Mine
My spouse and I stacked up a full cord of firewood in our yard and burned most of it this winter. So far this spring, we haven’t really needed to use the fireplace but our woodpile continues to decrease. Meanwhile, the residents down the block have loudly gathered around a fire pit nearly every weekend.
Our suspicions of the neighbors nabbing our firewood were confirmed the other night when a guy caught the seam of his pants halfway over our fence. He’d placed himself in an uncomfortable situation, in more ways than one!
Keep your sanity when dealing with difficult neighbors!
“Don’t get involved in neighborhood squabbles or start drama. It’s just not worth it! –Jen McDonald, Military Housing Do’s and Don’ts.
“If a neighbor does something to upset you, cool down before approaching, but do approach – letting something slide only builds frustration and can create greater conflict in the long run.” –Daniel Gregoire, Be a Good Neighbor.
“If all of your attempts at communication with your neighbor are ignored, the time for third-party involvement is due: HOA’s, military housing companies, and, hopefully, last on the list is police help.” –Dawn Smith, The Top 5 Neighbor Disputes and How to Avoid Them.
And remember, even if your neighbors are unique characters, keep tabs on your own behavior. Ensure that your day-to-day routine is polite to those around you. Confirm that you are appropriately tending to your property.
Even though it’s easy to point a finger at another person, make certain that you are following the community guidelines. Additionally, having an open mind and a good amount of patience will help make the most of your time at your military assignment!