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.

Gifs via Giphy.

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