Love Thy Neighbor? I Think I'll Pass.
The bible says "Love thy neighbor as thyself". Normally I'm not one to argue with the bible, but on this topic I must disagree. For several reasons. First off, the last thing I want when I'm coming home from work is a fifteen minute (or longer) conversation with my neighbor before I can even get inside. Second, the last thing I want when I'm leaving my house and have somewhere to be is a conversation with anyone who isn't going with me. And I guarantee, my neighbor is not going with me. Third, you are the first person they're going to ask if they're out of something. It starts with a cup of sugar or an egg. Before you know it it's power tools, or your first born (hopefully just to babysit). Fourth, if you become friends with your neighbors, it's almost as if you agree to take on a portion of their baggage and drama simply because you have a fifteen minute (or longer) conversation a few times a week.
My wife learned this lesson the hard way. When we were in our early years she was the social butterfly. She knew all the neighbors, she would talk for what seemed like hours to me to various neighbors outside our house. This continued for several years, until she began to see that their drama somehow became our drama. If it wasn't the neighbor to the left fighting with her old man, seeking refuge in our apartment, it was the neighbor to the right wanting us to watch their children while they went to look for their cousin or some other sort of drama. She learned that the hassle does not equal the reward.
The secret is to be polite. Smile, wave, even have brief (I emphasise brief) conversations about the weather or the terrible job the trash men do. The key there is to KEEP WALKING. If you stop, your trapped, and who knows how long it will be before there's a lull in the conversation long enough to make your exit. My personal preference is a simple wave or a head nod from at least thirty feet.
Secret #2 Never mow your lawn at the same time. Even if this was the exact moment you had planned all week to mow your lawn, don't. It's going to end up in a conversation and no one wants that. Now your 30 minute lawn mowing duties got stretched to an hour or more and you missed the first quarter of the game because of it. Your better off just waiting for the game to end, then go out. I'm pretty sure you can't get a DUI in your own yard, right?
Secret #3 Resist the urge to out do your neighbor in anything. Don't try to out decorate at Christmas, don't be the guy who has to have his yard better then his neighbor. Fight all those compulsions, because I guarantee that if you do show up your neighbor on a consistent enough basis, it's only going to lead to longer and longer conversations. I mean you must have soooo much in common to both want to over decorate for Christmas, right?
So, you can call me unChristian. You can call me a sinner. You can call me mean, or cruel, or intolerant of society. None of these would really surprise me. But remember one thing; When you're still dressed in your suit and your uncomfortable shoes and your back is aching and all you want in the world is to get away from your neighbor and kick back in your recliner. I've already been there for fifteen minutes (or longer)