How to be a Crappy Neighbor

This post is supposed to be a bit tongue in cheek but I promise all of this has actually happened some of it to me but way more to other people. We’ve all done some shitty stuff and had it done to us by a certain point in life. The stuff that some of our customers go through is crazy. Believe it or not working in construction it often falls to us to negotiate between two neighbors who don’t get along. A few months ago we were in this situation and it got me to thinking some of this is pretty funny. Well it’s funny if it’s not happening to you. A lot of these problems arose from neighbors who were once close and now are not really speaking. After the funny list (I will be fessing up to the crap I did) we’ll talk a bit about how not to get to this stage with your hood mates.

  • Put up over a dozen wind chimes all over the lawn. Make sure some are closer to your neighbors house than your own.
  • Pick nice weekend days to have a screaming match with your spouse in the yard.
  • Regularly chat with your neighbor not wearing pants. (This is me.. I love to paddle board and swim most nights in the summer but that leads me to having way too many interactions with the neighbors pants-less).
  • Move into a place planning to call the city to deal with your brand new neighbor. Just pick a different house!
  • Treat you neighbors yard as an extension of your own, drive over it, walk over it at will really step it up by taking your neighbors yards stuff and don’t tell them you did.
  • Step that up by treating their shed the same way.
  • Put a dead raccoon in your neighbor’s well.
  • Block your neighbors access to their property as they usually use it.
  • Buy a Big obnoxious dog and don’t train it
  • Step this up by letting that dog loose especially if it bites.
  • For more (true) ideas continue reading below.
Who wouldn’t want to come home to this?

This is a long term relationship, like it or not

You don’t have to stay in touch with that cousin you don’t like, you can let go of a friendship or even get a new job. You are going to have to see your neighbor for at least a decade more than likely. You’re going to see their best behavior and their worst but the thing is the same goes for you. Even if you’re all saints all of your guests won’t be. The thing is we don’t feel like that’s all true and since houses are so expensive we tend to get our backs up pretty easily. Totally understandable but if you change your frame of reference on the whole thing everyone will be a bit happier.

Look the other way when you see something they don’t want you to and quickly forget it. Say something if you have to, but move on quickly. Apologize and explain if you’re more salty than you needed to be one day right away. Trust me I could take my own advice here too! One thing that helped me get that way was living in a small, self-managed condo building with thin walls. Sure one time my neighbor kept me up all night twice a week fighting with her girlfriend but her relationship was clearly breaking down so best to let it go. Also buy some concealer to cover the dark circles but mostly let it go. Sometimes one lady was on what I thought was the ‘wrong’ side of board meeting discussions (like all the time) and passionate about it. But I recognized that on the very next issue she might be on my side. Vote, accept the majority and then help implement it, it’s cheaper in the long run. 

  • Always borrow and never lend.
  • Whatever vehicle you have, take the muffler off.
  • Blast your stereo late at night when you’re drunk. (Me but only once and I apologized the next day, in person to everyone in the building and it sucked).
  • Get up in arms by something your neighbor is legally allowed to do.
  • Make noise complaints about children crying in the night.
  • Ask for help constantly, never return the favor, particularly useful if your neighbor is usually paid for that sort of work.
  • Email one neighbor about another one, always good to leave a paper trail.
  • Host or let your kids host noisy party twice a week
  • Leave your boat at their wharf totally unexplained. (We do this a lot but it also means you get free service for the year so…)
  • Light up the entirety of your yard all night long for no reason.
  • Smoke pot or cigarettes regularly next to open windows.
  • Call the city and the police to have a permitted renovation shut down.

Listen, even if it’s not important to you it is to them

Remember how this is a long term thing? Well sometimes your neighbor is going to be irritated by stuff you don’t think is important at all. If you don’t really care but your neighbor does could you just change how you do that one thing. If you think your dog poop is fine on the lawn but you neighbor mentions the smell. Well you have to pick it up eventually why not now? If they mention several times that proper lawn care involves a three inch cut and you could care less, just set your blade different. If they have cinch bug and want to treat your lawn for you to prevent it, let ‘em! Sometimes it’s a fair ask, sometimes its not but if it really effects them it’s easier to just get along. If it doesn’t take a lot of time, money or attention from you consider just doing it.

It’s probably the right thing to do but even if you’re only just giving an inch get one back, that’s probably in your best interest too. Of course there is a point to which this is reasonable but if possible make it clear that you aren’t saying no to just say no. For example: dandelions. Some people love em, okay just the bees, but some people are dead set against them. We have all of them and so do our neighbors and in this case we’re all cool. Just say a neighbor wanted me to do something about mine I would not be down for that. NOT AT ALL! Instead of just saying no or I don’t care. I would say, “I noticed what you were doing over there and it’s looking great! Yeah I get it they don’t look the best but the thing is we’re never home in the summer we’re working everyday it’s not raining. When we do get home we just don’t have time or energy to devote to dandelions. I know that ours must be bugging you. If you want to take any out that are bugging you feel free! I’ll even have grass seed and topsoil here for you if you need it. And as much as I can while I’m out there I’ll do my best to pull a few too.”

Even though I’m pretty much saying no I’m letting the person know that I do get it and I will do what I can. Even though I’m not willing to put in the work if they feel that passionately about it fill your boots. And if by some small miracle they made some progress at my place I would bake them a cake every year at least once and let them know I appreciated it. Try to come from a place of yes as much as possible even if it’s mostly a public relations type answer.

  • Be obsessed about your property line all the time for no real reason, make sure the markers are always flouresent and have flags.
  • Getting a delivery? Place practically immovable objects so that they block your neighbors car.
  • Are you planning to block their driveway for a day so you can get some work done? Don’t tell them in advance and leave tire marks in their lawn.
  • Send emails with bylaw subsections copy and pasted.
  • Take delivery attempt notifications off their door.
  • Or just steal the delivered items.
  • Out of parking space for your house? No problem your neighbor has lots. (We sometimes do this but for the shortest time possible at work).
  • Accuse them falsely to police of felony level crimes.
  • Never give them a heads up about construction or parties.
Do good fences really make for good neighbors?

In all seriousness

There is a whole TV show dedicated to people who end up killing or maiming their neighbors over this sort of thing (fear thy neighbor). You have to look at your behavior and ask ‘do you want to do this thing or be a good neighbor?’ Most people fail to consider this or do and just don’t care. The thing is none of us can be perfect all of the time so you also have to give your neighbors a pass from time to time. When you do mess up, fess up, acknowledge it and apologize even if its really uncomfortable. When it comes to calling the cops on your neighbor even if it’s your right think twice about it. Once you do there might not be any coming back from that. Before you do it might be a good idea to talk to them about it a couple of times first. Then inform them in writing. Now there are some really shitty neighbors out there, you might even be one of them. If all the neighbors dislike and ignore you, your emails go unanswered, you’re not over stuff that happened two years ago or most tellingly you hate all of them, the problem might be with you.

In neighborhoods very local political divides can and do spring up. On our hill there is (was) some of that that went back generations. When you would ask why don’t you get along the answer was sometimes “my Dad and him had it out over a fence.” But there are no fences around, you’re dad has been dead 30 years and yet you’re still holding on? All but one of the ‘oldtimers’ here have died or moved away so I guess that last guy wins right? Well not really, we’ve heard ALL the stories from everyone 20 years in and none of them painted any of you in great light. You might (probably will) even move into a hood with some of those sorts of feuds and political side taking. My advice (from watching honey) do you best to get along with both sides, to make it a point to and publicly. If you’re talking to one guy and his arch rival drives by wave if you normally do. Keep out of other’s disputes no matter what and to some extent keep to yourself. Treating your neighbor like you would treat a co-worker and keeping them at arms length could be for the best.

So do you get along with all your neighbors? We mostly do but there have been some bumps in the road along they way. What other crappy thing are you guilty of or what is the crappyiest thing you’ve ever heard of someone doing?

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