Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Noisy neighbors versus the rest of us

Ever notice that noisy people, disrespectful neighbors and "Neighbors From Hell" in general all have the same terms for those who complain? We are Nasty, Cranky, Controlling, Old Jerks -- being called French is a new one by me. On the side I come down on, which I call the "good neighbor underclass" because we're typically made fun of in the media and underserved by authorities, we find our own set of appropriate terms for you: Low-class, Stupid, Ignorant, Law-breaking, White trash.

Neighbor conflict is the result of one primary factor, I've found after over a decade of being involved and helping people resolve differences with fairness to all sides: Disrespect. People living side-by-side, above and beneath one another with party walls, picket fencing or even a large yard separating their existence from that of their neighbors, don't respect the peaceful enjoyment of their neighbors' homes, they drain pool water into their yards, they keep smelly trash in improper containers, allow their pets to wander, and take the old "kids'll be kids" attitude when their little ones (I'm a father, for the record) aren't behaving neighborly.

Having respect for others is a sign of intelligence. So is having patience with people in your midst who may not be aware they're causing harm. But smart people who respect the society around them don't require the rest of us to be indulgent and patient. We live our lives with the hope of never having to complain about a noisy neighbor -- the noise-acculturated seem to think anyone who complains just wants to complain.

Nope. We just want peace.

A guy yelling into his cellphone confronted me once on a train when I just continually stared at him. "What are you looking at?" he said. "Oh," I said. "You don't want attention? If you don't want an audience, why are you putting on a show?"

If you don't want to deal with complaints, don't give people a reason to complain.

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