At Bourke Accounting, my office neighbor is Bookkeeper Mary. She’s a good neighbor – she doesn’t blast Cardi B., she doesn’t talk to herself any more than I do and she’s always willing to answer a question. I have lucked out.
Sadly, my neighbors in real life aren’t quite as wonderful. A man has been living in a tent for over three months in one neighbor’s backyard. I don’t know why, but he loudly threatens to steal all of his ex’s macaroni and cheese bowls. For some reason, I find this to be a vaguely intimidating threat. On the other side, the neighbors like to burn stuff in the middle of the night. I don’t know what they’re burning, but thick, black smoke and a noxious odor continuously hangs in the morning dew.
Although I sometimes feel like I’m reenacting the Tom Hank’s film The ‘Burbs, I don’t call the police. I’m not afraid of my neighbors, but I do understand the concept of picking one’s battles. For example, on July 10, WDRB.com reported that Indiana man, Robert Campbell, went to his neighbor’s house, pushed the neighbor down and then attacked the man’s service dog (what kind of a low-rent beast of a “human” hurts a dog?). The problem between the men started when the neighbor accused Campbell of selling drugs out of his house. Campbell didn’t take kindly to this, as he had previously gone to jail for another offense (the sort of offense that meant he was supposed to have registered himself in a certain database, which he failed to do).
When you think of all of the terrible ways that things can go, do you see why I choose to keep a temperate attitude? Obviously, if I heard gunshots (knock wood, I haven’t so far), someone screaming or witnessed a person being injured, I would contact authorities. However, Robert Frost’s belief that good fences make good neighbors is working well enough for now. Before I get mad, I try to ask myself, “will this situation even matter a year from now?” If I can honestly answer, “no, by next year I won’t remember the participants or the circumstances,” I shrug and go about my day. However, if the answer is an unequivocal YES, then it’s time to use those amazing Gemini communication skills.
When approaching a neighbor about questionable behavior, it’s important not to attack. You should have a rough outline in mind of what you’d like to address, but don’t barrage your neighbor with a machinegun spray of accusations. Also, don’t get personal. No matter what the neighborhood gossip is, don’t bring it up (i.e. “your lawn is a mess and – ha, ha – your husband is cheating with the yoga instructor down the street”). If your neighbor gets crazy, take two steps back and gently tell the person that you’ll be back when they’re feeling better. Of course, this could backfire if you say something like, “sir, sir, you need to calm down.” I shouldn’t have to say that telling someone to calm down will have the absolute opposite effect.
If your good communication skills don’t work, then it might be time to call the police. However, keep in mind that this is REALLY going to get the other person angry. If you take that step, you might want to install some cameras and hope for the best. Also, keep in mind that you have to live right next to this person (depending on what the grievance is) and their rage may lead to bad events whereas you weren’t that invested in justice over your mild annoyance. Remember to ask yourself if this really matters.
We are good neighbors at Bourke Accounting – we even say “good morning” to workers from other companies. Our Bourke Accounting bookkeepers and tax preparers are good neighbors to you, as well. When you sit down with your Bourke Accounting pro, not only will you receive the best financial services, but, if you ask, you’ll get all of the free condiments we can find in our break room. Being a good neighbor means giving out all of the soy sauce available.
Written by Sue H.