Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they exist. Sometimes you wave, or smile and nod to them as you leave your home. Other times you hear them through your walls. Hopefully you get along with them.
I am speaking of that part of real estate and homeownership known as neighbors.
The Mrs. and I are pretty easy going, but we’re also introverted. Our evenings and weekends consist of chilling out and going to sleep early. So, while being friendly with our neighbors is desirable, I’ll admit it’s not the first thing we think about.
Then Fall came. And so did the leaves all over our backyard. And in our gutters.
Our neighbors were outside doing chores (Read: being responsible) and offered to clean out our gutters. They possessed a full-length ladder and a lack of acrophobia, while we did not. Even though we offered, they didn’t ask for anything in return. They just smiled and conversed while they proceeded to rid our gutters of foliage.
For the record, we’re very blessed to have these neighbors, and I knew this even before they cleaned our gutters. They’re funny, quirky, employed and well put together. So naturally I felt guilty that they did this good deed for us with no-strings-attached.
I wanted to reciprocate when I felt like I had nothing to offer.
Time passed, and the leaves turned into sheets of snow. Winter had come.
I’m a pretty physical guy. I see shoveling snow as a way to get outside and workout, with the added benefit of giving us access to our car. Because the first thing I think as soon as the snow falls is, “I must drive a car.”
While I was outside, I noticed that our neighbor’s walkway and stairs had not been shoveled. A few months ago, they possessed a ladder and helped us. Now, I possessed a shovel and some salt.
I cleared the snow from their walkway and stairs, with the help of my trusty wife. We also salted the cement so ice wouldn’t create any slippery problems for them or the mail carrier.
Why am I talking about this? It’s actually not humble-bragging.
Sometimes, people are uncomfortable accepting help from others. We have no idea how to repay them. Some of us get people who do some act of kindness the obligatory Starbucks gift card, or we forget about it. Not only is this lazy, but it doesn’t foster a caring relationship. Find something you can give that can make their lives easier, or bring them some enjoyment. It can be a skill, or a tool you have that they don’t.
Like it or not, you are in a relationship with your neighbors. It can be good or bad. We have no idea what life will throw at us. But if things are cool between neighbors, most problems can be avoided or solved amicably. By being aware of what you have to offer, you can keep the good vibes flowin’ from both sides of the fence.