Cameron: An evening conversation

Neighborly?

By Stephen Cameron

Is there such a thing as “neighbor etiquette”?

And if there are general rules for getting along with folks living nearby, are they different for apartment dwellers?

See, I’m living in an apartment complex for the first time in quite a few years.

Everyone around the place seems very pleasant, but other than maybe a chat around the swimming pool in summertime, I think it’ll be rare to have much interaction with people whose front doors might be just a few feet away.

Looking back, I was fairly comfy with the general protocols when I lived in a typical suburban neighborhood.

You get to know everyone around you after a time, and pretty soon you’re babysitting the dachshund across the street, or picking up the mail when the couple next door head off on vacation.

We even had a situation where three families shared a single mailbox stand, and the old wooden thing rotted away at the base. One day it just gave up the ghost after a lot of rain, and the whole apparatus toppled over.

Somehow I became the neighbor in charge of repairing the damage. In other words, finding a fix-it guy.

The idea of me doing it myself was laughable. I’m actually pleased when I properly change a light bulb.

Put it this way: I was happy to get my office at the Mercury decorated with a few personal touches — until News Editor Megan Moser gently broke the news that I’d hung a floral print upside down.

So apartments clearly suit me in terms of someone else having to handle maintenance.

But about this relationship with my neighbors: I need some advice. For instance, I ran across an odd situation…

My lady Melissa and I had been out shopping quite late, and we got back to the apartment around midnight.

We noticed right away that there was an interior light left on in the car belonging to the young couple across the hall.

OK, so it’s heading into the wee hours, I knew that the husband was a grad student — perhaps with an early class? — and suddenly we had a dilemma.

Knock on the door, wake up these people rather rudely and possibly frighten them in the bargain?

Or let them be, and hope that their car battery might hold a charge overnight?

See, that’s where apartment living comes into the picture.

I’d met the couple, exchanged introductions, decided they seemed quite nice — but that was about it.

I had no idea if they’d want to be rousted out of bed past midnight to turn out a car bulb.

In the end, we decided to wake them — simply because I’d want someone to tell ME if my car might be dead in the morning.

But knocking on the door produced no answer.

We learned later that they’d both slept right on through the ruckus, and fortunately the car did start the next morning.

So everyone lived happily ever after.

Except…I still don’t have a clue about being a proper neighbor in a large apartment complex.

Maybe they should print out a list of suggestions.

Or something.









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