The year was 2010. I had just moved into a new place in the middle of Sioux Falls. It was a new start after recently losing my father to Cancer. I hadn’t gotten to know many of my neighbors just yet. I felt depressed with it being the holiday season and I didn’t really feel like talking to others too much. I had also let some small household chores fall by the wayside.
One day, I decided to actually get out of the house for once and gather with friends in an effort to cure my sadness. While getting ready, my dog wouldn’t stop barking at something she saw outside. To my surprise, I looked out and saw my neighbor dumping barrels of leaves into my driveway. I went outside and asked “What’s going on?” to which he replied “I’m giving you your leaves back!”.
I said “Yeah! That’s gonna stop!”. He then gave me the third-degree about how it’s my responsibility to rake my yard. I was aware I hand’t raked, but I didn’t think it would be such a big deal. This kind of behavior from a neighbor was bizarre to me. You see, I grew up in a neighborhood in Chicago where neighbors regularly helped one another and never bickered about such things. If we called the police or city over a neighbor dispute, you would often get laughed at or told “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”.
This particular neighbor ran a child daycare out of their home. The kid’s screaming would often wake me up from my slumber. I never once complained though. I mean, I chose to live in a city around others. Noise is going to exist, right? And if I complained, it would only start a back and forth war that I did not want. Thankfully, my neighbor later apologized and we are friends to this day. Unfortunately, these stories don’t often end like this.
Since moving to Sioux Falls I have witnessed a lot of bickering between neighbors. Neighbors seem often willing to call the police or city over anything at the drop of a hat. They’ll complain about cars parked on the street, garbage can placement, long grass, or anything that seems out of place to them. I think it’s a problem in our culture that is perpetuated by sites like Facebook where impersonal communication can lead to misunderstandings. I believe the local media is to blame as well. Just have a look at how many stories exist on the KELOLAND website that seem to encourage people to report their neighbors for snow removal or yard growth issues.
How about instead of complaining about our neighbors, we choose to help them? What if instead of complaining or reporting our neighbor for a problem, we give them a hand with it? Instead of calling the city, we help by mowing their lawn or removing their snow for them. Maybe that neighbor is like me, and just had a family member pass away. So they may not get to removing snow. Maybe they have a bad back and can’t afford to pay for help. We should be more mindful, because I can surely guarantee that for every single thing your neighbors do that you find annoying, you probably do something equally annoying to them. I’m also willing to bet that if you help out a neighbor when they’re feeling down or even lazy, they’ll notice, and probably help you out in the future. Who knows, they might be the only ones around to help push your car out of a snowbank one day.
Save the anger for when somebody takes out your mailbox or knocks up your kid. And leave city resources to fight our growing crime problem instead of solving stupid problems neighbors should be able to work out themselves.