Am I a Neighbour Snob?

I know that  some people mourn the way we used to live. Remember when we knew all our neighbours so well? People miss the ease of making friends based on proximity. Relationships rooted in cheery waves and coffee invites. The comfort in knowing a neighbour will water the plants and check the post while you’re away. Every house with a “Neighbourhood Watch” sticker on the front gate and the implication that everyone keeps an eye out for each other. That whole close community vibe.

Personally, I’m not big on socialising with neighbours. I don’t mind a wave or nod but that’s about it. I’m not terribly shy but I do value my space and privacy. In the past, I’ve wondered if I should make more of an effort to get to know my neighbours. Am I a bit of a neighbour-snob? I’m not the only one in my household. Why are we so reluctant to get to know the people that live around us? The experiences we’ve had recently have only reinforced our feelings.

neighbours- scott and charlene

The Neighbours up the back.

A couple of months back, my teenager wandered into the kitchen to tell me there was a man with a chainsaw in our backyard. I wondered if she’d finally lost the plot after too much American Horror Story but I obligingly looked out the back door. Only to see a man, with a chainsaw, in my backyard.

I also noticed that the back fence had been partially removed and chainsaw guy was leaning through the hole and hacking at something in the rear neighbour’s yard. So I wandered up and yelled until I got the attention of chainsaw man and the other bloke standing and watching him from the neighbour’s side of the fence. When I had their attention, in a very controlled manner, I asked what the actual fuck they were doing.

Chainsaw bloke told me to “Calm down, love!” because, as well as being a chainsaw-wielding trespasser, he was as patronising as hell.

He might have had the chainsaw but I was much angrier than he was. I asked him, pointing through the fence-line at the house behind mine, did he live there or was he a contractor of some kind? He said he was a contractor. I nodded and told him that I didn’t want to speak to him, in that case. Instead, I asked the other bloke exactly whose permission he had sought to remove my fence and send a chainsaw-wielding stranger into my yard?

neighbours- madge, jim, helen

He also told me to “calm down, love” and stammered for a bit before explaining that he had simply taken down a large section of my fence so he could clean out behind his shed. No, he hadn’t spoken to our managing real estate agent. The landlord? No, he hadn’t spoken to him. Was there any reason he hadn’t at least spoken to me? Oh, errrmmm, ahhhh…

Then we went around in circles again for a little bit, with him telling me to calm down, again, and me explaining, at length, why I would not be “calming down” until both of them were out of my yard and my fence was back in place. The contractor, apparently unable to help himself, kept up the eye-rolling and threw in the occasional request for me to “settle down, darl” as well. He got a snappy mouthful (Yes, it was colourful) and then I talked about calling police and pressing charges until they finally backed away and started putting the fence back up.

Then I had to ring an incredulous and then horrified property manager, email through pictures and even had a visit from the local police who attended at the request of the landlord.

My poor property manager got another phone call recently.

The side neighbours.

This time, a different neighbour entirely took issue with a small tree growing near the fence on our side. As in, a tree in our yard, not hers. The remains of this tree are currently in a pile around the remaining trunk and also strewn across my yard. We discovered this after a weekend away. When I knocked on her door to ask, politely, if she’d cut my tree down, she said she had. She had actually had someone climb a ladder, lean over my fence with a chainsaw and cut off the entire top half of my tree. I was so calm when I pointed out that you cannot just lean over a fence and cut down a tree because, you know, that’s illegal. “Yet that’s what you did,” I said, “what’s up with that?”

neighbours- mrs mangel

I got a long spiel about the little leaves blowing onto her car and porch and how it was unacceptable and she’s sure the landlord won’t mind. She had a conversation with him a few years ago; he’ll be fine with it. I asked her if maybe she’d considered talking to us about it before going willy-nilly with a chainsaw over the fence. She said she tried, but we were out. So she did what any reasonable person would do and went ahead with it, leaving the wreckage for us to deal with. After a long chat, she agreed she’d have her son come the next day to remove the half a fucking tree that is strewn across my yard. I’ve given her over a week and guess what? It’s still there.

The property manager was shocked. Again, photos were taken and emailed and the landlord contacted.

Neighbour Snob? Yeah, Nah.

I’ve decided there’s no way I’m a neighbour-snob. I’m just reluctant to get chummy with the neighbours, and now with really good reason. On two out of three sides, there are people that have both access to chainsaws and personal boundary issues. I’m not being shy or snobbish at all. I just have a keen sense of self-preservation!

#IBOT @ Capturing Life.

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  • TeganMC

    I know who my neighbours are but I don’t want to hang out with them. I’ve had awful neighbours in the past and it took 4 years for them to be removed despite multiple phone calls to police and evidence of damage to my and their property. We couldn’t use the backyard for most of that time because they’d smash bottles into my backyard. We also had to hide Dyllan’s toys because the kids kept stealing them! So glad to see the back of them!

  • Wow, seriously?!!! Our neighbour across the road complained to our other neighbour because we apparently prevent her from reverse parking into her driveway… by parking in the public street, in front of our own house, which is not even on the same side of the street as hers… I think there are some people that would be better off living on a few acres in the middle of nowhere, where they don’t have to actually see, speak or otherwise engage with other human beings…

    • Bahaha I think that’s me sometimes, I should move to acreage – I don’t like it when some people park giant vans or trucks outside my house (but so far only one truck has actually been illegal so that’s the only one I mouth off about) but I do only get shitty when people park ACROSS my fucking driveway… I honked in the street and glared my ass at them until they bloody moved.

    • Soooooo she can’t drive and that’s your fault?!

  • Man -you pulled a bad lot. Our neighbours are all very friendly. We’re actually very good friends with a number of them – to the extent we go camping together and hang out frequently. I think our relationships with our neighbours changed drastically when everyone started having kids (at pretty much the exact same time). It is very 1953 around our neck of the woods on that front.

    • I sure have- it’s so different from when I lived next door to one of my oldest friends, that’s for sure!

  • Wow!! Crazy neighbours! I can’t believe they pulled down your fence and the other chopped the tree down while you were away. No wonder you’re a neighbours snob. We’re really lucky with our neighbours thankfully.

  • I’m not one to get to know my neighbours too well. My home is my sanctuary. While I am friendly, I don’t want to be friends, because I need my space. I don’t take too kindly to random visits

  • LydiaCLee

    Conversely, I do the grocery shopping once a week for an elderly former neighbour (we moved a few streets away and she doesn’t have a car) and our current neighbour is awesome- if the alarm goes off,she even offers to go and investigate and I have to tersely* tell her not to incase it isn’t a false alarm – nothing we own is worth getting clubbed in the head for!) , they had no complaints with our long and annoying reno, and when the teen set off the fire alarm she came over to make sure I’d been rung….We have xmas drinks with the street at our house, but don’t really do much socially in between (other than chat in the street from time to time)
    *tersely because she argues “I’ll just see if I can see anyone – it will be fine..”..(no, it won’t it you do see anyone!!)

    • Hahaha, yeah i wouldn’t want her investigating either- just call the cops!

  • We only really know/speak to one of our neighbours, they are lovely. But they are also selling. 🙁

  • Clam down, that’s like a red flag to a bull! And I fucking hate being called darl!!!!! We had lovely neighbours for a while, which all fell apart when the husband left the wife and the wife started turning up here EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for a drink. Had to totally pull the pin on it when I woke up from a Sunday nap to find her in my lounge room, after letting herself in and fixing herself a drink. Um stalker much!!

  • We live in an apartment and our neighbours are ace. I go to the gym and walking with one neighbour, and we all chat over each other’s balconies, have a Facebook group and do drinks in the park a few times a year. It’s nice.

  • Oh geez, since when has telling someone to ‘calm down’ ever actually helped someone to calm down?! People just have no clue. We know our neighbours to say hello to and have a brief chat but that’s about it. When we first moved in we got to the know the lady neighbour next door quite well, and we thought all was fine until one day, Dave and I were going out to do the grocery shopping. We left, but then came back a few minutes later because I’d forgotten something. I ran in, and as I passed the back door I looked out and there was the neighbour lady in my backyard feeding my rabbit. Yep, she’d just strolled on through the hole in the fence the minute she heard us leave and was sitting in my backyard with my rabbit, holding him and feeding him. When we got back home later we discovered not only a dish with food in it that we hadn’t put there, but that the cage had been completely cleaned out! It was the most bizarre, awkward thing, but we didn’t really know what to do about it. In the end we gave the rabbit to her when I fell pregnant and could not handle the smell of the him, but mostly to stop her coming in to our backyard, as she’d started just wandering in even when we were home. I think she was lonely as we found out her Father had passed away a few months before but it was still really unsettling to have her turn up in the backyard at odd times of the day and night.

    When Punky was born she came round and gave us a little doll for her and told us if we ever needed a babysitter she’d be more than happy to come over and do it for us. Not long after that we had the fire dept. show up at the front door requesting access to the backyard and asking why we had an unattended fire burning. We didn’t, our neighbour did, in the bit of her yard that extends behind our place and the MPs at the RAAF Base had called the firies to come put it out. She was burning off her green waste and forgotten about, she almost burned down the fence. A few months after that she came round to tell me to make sure we locked up at night because she had seen a prowler and was convinced this prowler had been stealing things from her yard and garage and I was freaked out at the thought we might have someone creeping through our yard (Dave was working night shift most weeks at that time). Two days later I was out and Dave was at home when he heard a siren and saw an ambulance & cop cars pulling up at the neighbours. The neighbour on the other side of her came over to speak to Dave and ask if she’d been saying weird things to us and talking about a prowler, turns out this prowler was a figment of her imagination, and that the cops were there to take her away for a psych eval because she’d had a psychotic break and tried to kill her mother by pushing her down the stairs! She’s spent the last couple of years in and out of a psychiatric hospital and is closely monitored now and we don’t see her much. I feel really horrible for her, apparently she just hadn’t been coping since the death of her father and an argument with her mother pushed her over the edge. That experience has made us really reluctant to get too friendly with the people that moved in on our other side a few years ago and I feel bad that we don’t make more of an effort to get to know them but what happened with the other neighbour has left us a bit wary, to say the least!

  • That is so rude!! The second someone feels they have the right to come into my yard without permission is when all hell breaks loose. Let alone start hacking away at my trees. Some fucking people don’t deserve us friendly (and well fucking spoken) folk to be their chummy neighbours!

  • We are lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to only have one neighbour and they are lovely….and their little dog is lovely too 🙂

  • At our old place, the only interaction we had with our neighbours was telling them to get out of our yard or turn the music down in 11 years. At this place, we know everyone’s names and are on smiling, waving, polite chit chat terms and that suits me just fine.

  • We’re lucky with great neighbours and friends down our street. It can be stressful not having nice neighbours and the trouble is, you don’t know if they’re nice until you move into your house!

  • You seem to have landed in neighbourly heaven!

  • I nod to my neighbours across the road. I’d call the fire department if I saw it on fire. They’d probably do the same for me 😛 Maybe.