How many of you have a good relationship with your neighbours? Okay, I’ll ask another question. How many of you have ever spoken to your neighbours?
Know their name?
Being a good neighbour is a forgotten art form in today’s fast-paced world. We’re all so busy, we barely have time for our families, let alone the ones next door. Not to mention the fact that we’re all a bit more socially awkward nowadays (social media, I’m looking at you), so making the introduction to a stranger and striking up some neighbourly love is not something that’s on our collective to-do lists.
A lot of us, especially the younger generation, brush off this notion of neighbour relations as a bit unnecessary. Sure, it’s nice to be nice, but I don’t really have to be best mates with them, do I? Well, no you don’t have to. But you should, for so many reasons.
Let me give you some examples. I live at home at the moment, in the same house I’ve lived in since birth, and I’ve known most of my neighbours by name since I was very young. Although we live in Dublin, we’re lucky to reside in a suburb that is untouched by the modern, too-fast-can’t-talk, city mentality, and there is a lovely sense of community. My next door neighbours on both sides have spare keys that I can pick up if I’m locked out, they’ve all taken in abandoned ASOS packages until I’ve arrived home, and have dropped in for a spare egg or some sugar on more than one occasion. I always chat with them when I see them, and they’re up to date with my daily goings-on, as am I with theirs.
In my opinion, this is pretty much the bare minimum of neighbour relations. Think about it; if something happens, if there’s an emergency and you need a helping hand. Wouldn’t you like to be able to ask the person in the closest proximity for help, instead of having to call someone who may be miles away? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you can rely on the family 20 feet away for a dig out, instead of being completely alone?
And that’s just the selfish aspect. If you have elderly or infirm neighbours, you have a responsibility to be there for them too. They might need a lift to the hospital for an appointment, or they may just be lonely, and don’t have the means to travel to meet with others. If you’re right next door, it’s the right thing to do to check in on them. It costs nothing, but it gets you everything in good karma.
Aside from the bare minimum of my neighbour relations, the street has always pulled through in the biggest ways for each other over the course of my life. Ambulances called, alarms raised, food given. And of course, the infamous time when my mother slept through the house alarm sounding off for hours, while the entire street were banging on the front door, thinking she’d been killed (she’s a great sleeper, is mam).
What’s your favourite neighbour story? And if you don’t have one, why don’t you make some? Call around to next door with a few cakes later. It might be the start of a beautiful friendship.
‘Cause that’s when good neeeeighbooours become good friiieeends….