Monday, April 4, 2011

Neighbors

At the risk of going from "Mister Roberts" to "Mister Rogers," I wanted to say something about how wonderful my neighbors in RI are.

When I moved in, my next-door neighbors brought over a basket of fresh herbs and vegetables from their garden and left it in my sun room.  I came home one evening to an amazing surprise, and I still remember how happy the smell of that sun room made me for days afterward.

When I had a housewarming-and-birthday party last fall, everyone dropped by with food and good cheer.  Turns out, my neighbor and I have birthdays within 2 days of one another.

Next year, we're thinking "block party."

My previous next-door neighbor (who has remained a good friend) is always willing to drop by and check the door if I foolishly can't remember whether or not I locked it, and she's always willing to help me navigate the vagaries of UPS when they drop off a package minutes after I leave but weeks before I plan to return.

My neighbor who lives diagonally across from me plowed my driveway for free all winter.  And we had a LOT of snow.  When there was a mishap--he accidentally bumped the fence because the pile of snow was so huge--he stopped by to apologize profusely and offer to fix it. 

Instead, we just had a good laugh at his description of what happened.  He told me, "Here I was, plowing away, and I'm not even anywhere close to the fence, and all of a sudden I see these white pickets flying every which way and I'm like, 'Holy SHIT...".

The fence was easily fixed.  I did it myself.

After one of the major snowstorms we had last winter, the pine tree in my back yard lost a lot of branches--some of them quite big.  I figured that when the snow melted, I'd spend a couple of weekends taking care of what I could and what I couldn't, I'd hire someone to do.

Two weekends ago, I looked out my window and saw my next-door neighbor sawing them all up and hauling them away.  His wife said, "Well, he figured some of them looked pretty heavy and you couldn't burn them, and we know you're on the road all the time, so...".

I think it's all-too-easy to find the negative in life and in people.  There will always be something or someone to complain about. 

But my experience has been, good people are just spontaneously good, and there are plenty of them out there. 

They are the people who do things unasked and unadvertised.  They don't worry about getting some kind of relationship-credit for what they do for you. 

They don't keep score. 

They don't say, "Call me if you need anything."  Instead, they just quietly show up and help out when they see a need, without waiting to be asked and without expecting anything in return. 

That's an incredible form of kindness.

At the end of the day, they don't necessarily call themselves your "friends."  They just do nice things for you because they're essentially nice people and they want to let you know that they like you and they're glad to have you around.

And I like them for that.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."