We happen to have great neighbours these days, but we haven’t always been so lucky.
This is my contribution to Darren Rowse’s latest Problogger Group Writing Project. Darren’s is one of the few “blogging-about-blogging” blogs that I read with any regularity these days, partly because he’s insightful and informative, but also because he comes across as a regular guy.
So here we go. It’s an unscientific list of the top five complaints that neighbours have about their neighbours, in no particular order:
1. Noise – Of course. Nobody likes to be disturbed while they’re at home trying to relax, and the worst thing a neighbour can do is wake you up from a sound sleep. Our old neighbours were very nice people but they had a lot of parties. One night I woke up at 1:30 am to the sound of a saxophone that was loud enough to bleed through our outside wall and enter my ears through the baby monitor. When I went outside to check things out, I found a drunk neighbour slumped over in his chair, exhaling through the mouthpiece of the saxophone he hadn’t played since high school.
If noise is a problem for you, check out the UK-based Noise Abatement Society, an organization that “seeks to eradicate unnecessary noise in all its forms to improve the quality of life for all.” I fear I may have been typing a little too loudly for these folks.
2. Junk – This can be a touchy subject, especially if you live next to an artist or a mechanic. Junk is subjective, but I know it when I see it. Leon County, Florida, defines junk as “any garbage, rubbish or litter, any junked or abandoned motor vehicle or parts thereof, and any personal property or other article having only nominal salvage value, which has been left unprotected from the elements”.
Nominal salvage value, unprotected from the elements? That’d describe the last vehicle we drove before we got our van.
Let’s leave it at this: If your yard looks like the parking lot of Savers in Boulder, Colorado after exams, you should probably take your neighbours’ complaints seriously.
3. Pets – This is another controversial one, potentially. If you have a dog and it hangs out in the backyard, chances are someone has complained about it. If your neighbour has a dog (and you don’t), chances are you’ve wanted to complain yourself. At our old house, the neighbours on one side of us had a Black Lab. The neighbour on the other side had four of them.
4. Trees (and other horticulture-related items) – A recent UK study found that garden maintenance (lack thereof, more likely) was the third most common complaint among neighbours. I’d venture a guess that trees growing over property lines, blocking views, shedding leaves on other neighbour’s lawns, threatening to fall over onto vehicles and children, and just generally annoying people are the most likely culprits. Overgrown gardens and perennially uncut lawns are probably right up there.
5. Riff-raff – If there’s a steady stream of people visiting your place for five minutes at a time at all hours of the day and night, your neighbours will notice. And they’ll complain. One former neighbour, three houses down from us, had a regular visitor, likely an entrepreneur of some variety, who parked in front of our house a couple of nights a week, even when the rest of the street was empty.
Included in this category are grow-ops, an increasingly common occurrence no matter what neighbourhood you live in.
As I mentioned at the top of this post, we happen to have great neighbours. I just hope our current neighbours think the same about us.
I try to play the drums as quietly as I can. Honestly.