How well do you know your neighbors? Do you say hi when you pass them in the elevator? Do you know their names? You see these people everyday in the in the elevators and on the streets. Sometimes you say hi. Sometimes you smile and nod. Or sometimes you just stare down at your phone, not making eye contact. In fact, how well do we really know our neighbors?
Neighbors are actually our most important and immediate resource when we’re faced with a problem in our living situation. Wait, did the electricity go out in the whole building or just my unit? Where am I going to find an emergency dog sitter at this hour?
I recently went through an experience that made me appreciate the importance of neighbors and creating a friendly connection with your cohorts. I live in a condo and had recently changed my internet provider to Time Warner. The technician needed to come by to install wiring for my place, but the problem was the internet terminal of our building was in the garage and the technician needed to run the wire through both units below my apartment. I had never met the people that lived 2 floors below me and groaned at the thought of this logistical scheduling nightmare with people I didn’t even know. Our building management luckily helped to make the first outreach with the other apartment units and finally locked down a time when everyone would be home. However, Time Warner ended sending the wrong kind of technician on the actual day (yup) so we had to go through this process all over again.
This time I decided just to knock on the doors of my neighbors and get to know them face-to-face instead of going through building management. Getting to meet people face-to-face really helped. One of the apartment owners was a lovely couple who were planning to travel for the next 2 weeks, but after meeting with them, they trusted me with a spare key and told me to go ahead and schedule the cable guy while they were away. They even gave me their internet password to use while my internet was still being installed – imagine that! The man in the other unit was wonderful as well and said he could make his schedule work for whatever time I needed – and just to simply give him a day’s notice about the technician appointment. While circumstances aren’t guaranteed to always turn out like this, reaching out in advance to meet your neighbors before a difficult situation comes up never hurts. You’d be surprised at the generosity of people living by you.
September 28th is National Good Neighbor Day. Celebrate the day by getting to know one of your neighbors or taking the first step to familiarize yourself with the people around you.
Here are some simple things you can do.
1) Introduce yourself and get to know the person on a first name basis next time you see them in your elevator. Take it a step further and get to know their dog or cat’s name.
2) If you live in an apartment/condo, see if there are monthly HOA or community gatherings to join and be a part of. If you live in a house, send your neighbors a friendly card next time the holidays roll around and introduce yourself.
3) Create a profile on Nextdoor.com to see who lives nearby and learn about various community events on the message forums.
4) If you’re feeling very adventurous, host a neighborhood potluck at your place or propose to organize one for your building.
5) Enhance your neighbor karma or goodwill with a random act of kindness. For example, if you share a communal laundry room, leave some quarters by the machine for the next person coming in. Or if you live in an apartment, help bring a UPS/FedEx package to the front of your neighbor’s unit door if you see it dropped off simply by the main entrance.