In today’s world of self-important isolation or blatant groping for adulation, pundits routinely claim that “neighborliness” is in short supply, as opposed to “busybody-ness”, I imagine. Many movies have been made that intend to demonstrate that the folks next door are monsters, criminals, homewreckers or just plain obnoxious. Not to many movies are made to hold up good role-model neighbors. Suburbs are derided as inhuman enclaves of walled separation, but the newly praised dense cities are normally shown as inhuman enclaves of file drawer living.
Wherever you live, be it urban core, suburb, rural environ, house, apartment, condominium or mobile home, you do have neighbors of many kinds and circumstances who are (whether you like it or not) part of your community, and you of their’s. The Biblical “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, is not just Law to help you curtail aggressive and destructive behavior, but also an admonition to actually, positively share and care for others when appropriate.
On last Saturday’s bright, sunny afternoon, I happened to glance out of my study window at the one moment necessary to see a “not of this neighborhood” car slow down and swing into our across-the-street neighbor’s driveway.
“Just a visitor”, I thought, but as I started to turn back to my work, a man exited the car and ran to the side of the neighbor’s vehicle parked in the driveway and grabbed a door handle. That is not a “just a visitor” action. As I ran to the door and out onto the porch to demonstrate an aware presence, at the least, the man heard my clattering and was already back around his car, its engine still running, and into the door. He was out of the drive and pealing down the street when I was still only half-way across the lawn, racing to see the car license number. He obviously ran the corner stop sign and turned upland in a direction obscured by trees.
The neighbor was home, informed, Sheriff called, investigation performed, information provided, and the entire neighborhood advised by e-mail, stopping passersby and contacting the homeowners’ association board for broader distribution.
No heroics were involved, and I only did what I would hope and pray my neighbors would do as well. The key is to have a positive attitude of “paying attention”, caring, and a small attempt to learn to know your neighbors.
On the practical “nuts and bolts” side of this equation: If you park a vehicle outside (day or night – and anywhere):
- Keep all of the doors locked.
- Do not leave a purse, wallet, keys, cash, small electronics or other valuables visible inside the car.
- Do not leave a garage door opener in the car – many thieves now look for those as an easy way to get into a home even when doors and windows are locked. If you’re not home, burglary. If you are home, robbery including threat to life and limb may occur.
- Lock doors, including patio doors, to your residence when you are not actively using them or able to observe them. Lock windows when closed, and use economical hardware to secure them in an open position for ventilation.
- Don’t leave your bicycle, dog, skis, snowboard, surfboard or small children unsecured while you’re getting that 3rd latte of the day!
- Quit thinking that others who observe these simple, common sense practices are paranoid! They are merely practicing being a Good Neighbor and reducing the chances that you will be the next victim after them if they are negligent in caring for person and property.
- Thank your neighbors for being aware and taking care.
We are irritated every day as we observe folks in our town leaving cars unlocked and windows down with purses, cameras, phones, and computers clearly visible on the seat while they run a “quick” errand. In Winter, many leave their vehicle running and disappear into a building for a minute or ten! The public reasoning seems to be “our community is so safe, there is virtually no crime here”, or “we left the big city to avoid living cloistered, paranoid lives”.
Petty larceny, burglary and robbery occurences may be rare in your neighborhood and community, but are far from trivial when you have become the victim. Avoiding a minor inconvenience of a few seconds duration to secure valuables offers a tantalizing temptation to the criminally minded and merely morally weak who may happen past.
So, in addition to not adding to your “carbon footprint” through useless car engine idling, don’t entice the weak! Don’t do it! Instead,
Be a Good Neighbor