It really is important for us to be good neighbors. But what does that really mean?
The conversation took a turn to, what else, being single and living alone.
But it was not necessarily the good stuff about living joyfully solo. It was one of those conversations about what happens if you fall and hurt yourself, or have a heart attack or any other number of emergency type situations. You know the questions that come about during these conversations. What if no one finds you? How does anyone know you might be hurt?
And these questions are especially important for those living solo and are not working.
These are real concerns that really should be taken seriously.
The conversation, not unlike many others I have had, was at a party with people on the street that I live on. I told a story of one day when I had started to mow my back yard but chose to stop due to the grass still being too wet. I went inside, leaving the lawnmower out. About 30 minutes later my neighbor knocked on the door to make sure I was alright. Is that being a nosey neighbor or a concerned one?
Another time I had gotten involved in something in the early morning and had forgotten to open up my blinds. Around 9:30 the gal across the street from me came over to make sure everything was alright with me. The reason? She knew I always had my blinds open by around 8:00 and had wanted to make sure that nothing happened to me.
After listening to my two stories other people started talking about their little habits. Things such as getting the paper in the morning (yes a few of us still read the paper version), taking the dog for a walk, and again, opening up the curtains or blinds. These are all little details that unintentionally let others in your area know that you are just fine
Even if you don’t necessarily know your neighbors take note of things that you see taking place on a regular basis.
Do they pick up their newspaper by 9:00 every day? Do they open up their windows by a certain time daily? Do you see them taking the dog for a walk at a specific time every morning? These are the habits that people tend to live by whether consciously or subconsciously. They are the habits that if not done people tend to notice. Sometimes we notice just because something is off, something is different.
The question then becomes…what will you do?
Do you go over and check on the neighbor? Or do you let it go? What if you don’t necessarily know that individual? Do you still go over and check on them?
Then turn it around. Would you want your neighbors, even those you don’t know, to check on you if they notice something isn’t quite right?
Yes these are just a few of the things that people, especially those living the solo life, truly do think about. And we should think about them. But more importantly we should at least try and get to know our neighbors and talk about these things.
Getting to know your neighbors can be difficult or it can be fun
Things have changed from the “good old days” when everyone knew their neighbors. We are working longer hours; we have our own friends outside of where we live; we might be a bit Leary of those around us; we just don’t have the time or the energy to put into getting to know our neighbors.
In all honesty though, it really is important to do, especially if you are someplace for the long term. Sure it might take a bit of effort but it could be so worth it.
The street I currently live on (for 9 years now) has about 18 homes on it. Sure for years we all would wave at one another, or perhaps stop to talk for a few minutes when out walking. But most of us really didn’t know one another.
It took just one person moving in to change all that. She moved in about two years ago now directly across the street from me. Not only is she extremely outgoing but she is one of those people that help everyone out…even if you didn’t know you needed help. For instance the woman right next door to me is in her early 90’s and was not really getting out and doing much. Well Sandy (not her real name) took it upon herself to make sure this woman got out to having nice lunches, or going to the clubhouse for the potlucks, or to the clubhouse for games night. Over the last two years I have seen a marvelous change in my neighbor. She actually looks fabulous these days.
But it was the other thing that Sandy did that really impressed me. After being here about six months and totally fixing up her back yard she had a potluck with everyone on the block invited. By that time she knew everyone while those of us who had been here for years only knew each other well enough to just wave.
That one potluck generated new friendships and other street wide potlucks. In fact it was at one of the latest potlucks that the conversation above took place.
Granted inviting everyone on your block or apartment complex or whatever might be a bit much for you to take on, as it would be for me. But there are certainly other ways of getting to know your neighbors no matter the type of neighborhood you live in.
- When getting your mail be sure to actually talk to the other person picking up their mail. I’m not talking about just saying hi. I’m talking about saying hi and then introducing yourself. Let them know you are a neighbor and where you live. Maybe ask them a question. Not necessarily where they live as that could sound a bit intrusive to start off, but perhaps something as to how long they have lived there or do they like it or maybe even something like where the best coffee shop is.
- Knock on your neighbors doors. Seriously go over there and knock on the door and introduce yourself. This is easier to do if you have just moved in or if the neighbor is someone who just moved in. But you don’t have to wait for those times. Just head over to each neighbor’s house and let them know who you are.
- If you notice something odd about a neighbors place, such as an open garage door late at night, go ahead and knock on the door and let them know about the garage door being open.
- If you are up to it (I‘m not as I’m not crafty!) make up little jars of jam or whatever else you make. Tie a nice string on it and include a card with your contact information. Then head over to the neighbors and present your gift to them.
Remember these tips should include all of your neighbors, not just your immediate ones.
Getting to know your neighbors is not only beneficial to your peace of mind but can also be a bit fun.
Being safe as someone living the solo lifestyle does not have to mean hiding yourself inside a locked up house. It can, however, mean meeting interesting new people and possibly even making some new friends.