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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

March 12, 2014

nyc neighIn New York City we’re used to being on top of our neighbors. Literally. Vertical Living has us stacked like Legos enabling us to hear, see and oftentimes smell their goings on. Like noises through the walls or newspapers piled up upside their doors. And I always know when my neighbor Elaine is home, because the aroma of something baking hits me as soon as I step off the elevator. And even though most of us live so close, folks tend to keep to themselves. But not everyone.

My first week in the apartment I found a bottle of wine and a note at my door. “Welcome to the building,” the note read from the family who lived above me. “And we apologize for our toddler’s constant pitter-patter.” That kind act led me to go upstairs to thank them and introduce myself. Not only was it nice to meet a neighbor, but the wife became my early morning walking partner.

neighborhoodAfter graduating from UMass Amherst I worked with the new student orientation and ran a session on housing. Along with explaining the various residence halls, I suggested to these wide-eyed 18-year-olds that they get to know everyone on their floor so they would be able to spot strangers. This is true whether you live in a building with 100 units or on a quaint country road; knowing your neighbors might just save your life.

Last week a Michigan woman was found mummified inside her garage. No one noticed she’d been missing for six years. Though one neighbor did cut her lawn to keep the neighborhood looking good, why was no one checking out to see how she was looking? Neighbors said they thought she was traveling or had moved.

But questions linger. Wouldn’t her mail have piled up? Wasn’t anyone aware that the lights were never on? Something doesn’t add up, but regardless, hearing this makes me want to knock on everyone’s door in my building and introduce myself. If not to possibly make another friend, but just so that if someone doesn’t see me for a few days, they take notice.




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  1. Jennifer permalink

    We miss you, wonderful neighbor. Great post!

  2. Mark permalink

    cute. Mrs rogers

  3. Albert permalink

    I like the idea of meeting your neighbors. Although I like to know where you are at all times so I always have somebody watching if something ever happened to you I will have to blame some of the people in the city.

  4. Marilyn Solomon permalink

    I agree with you a hundred percent. Looking forward to seeing you next week.

  5. I am a true believer that every single person and every elder person living alone should have someone they speak to daily, and if not should be checked upon. We live in a campground, six all year round spots and we try to make sure we see everyone on a daily basis or ask if they are okay. When we leave for a few days we always let someone know we will be gone, so they can watch our Rv and make sure there is no suspicious activity. I have to laugh when one of my neighbors said she has seen that I was reading in bed on my I pad

    • Oh, I do have shades, but i love to see outside and watch the wild life even at night time. Watched the possum and the skunks trying to get into the garbage dumpster, think one of these night I will see the deer up close, it doesnt bother me that she knows I am awake and on my Ipad reading at two am . Her husband is a truck driver and gone alot so it is nice to know we can be there for each other.

  6. Diann Buro permalink

    I do, so, get the importance here Felice, the closer I get to living along, the more I find myself interested in my neighbors, who have moved out and moved in, quite a few times in the 27 years I’ve lived here. I hadn’t realized how important being a neighbor is. It’s recognizing and acknowledging all around me, managing a” hello”, and a “do you need anything”, conversation all the time. thank you,
    Diann b.

  7. How very sad. To be gone for 6 years and have no one notice? I agree about knowing our neighbours. I live in a 3 storey building and I should know who lives in each suite, but I don’t. The neighbours I do know on sight all have dogs. Strangely enough I know the dogs’ names but not the owners’!

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