“The capacity for getting along with our neighbor depends to a large extent on the capacity for getting along with ourselves. The self-respecting individual will try to be as tolerant of his neighbor’s shortcomings as he is of his own.” Eric Hoffer
When I was in Graduate school, I lived in a community of students from around the world. Our huge dorm in the middle of Harlem was a great place to hang out and have both intellectually stimulating conversations and fun chats about everything under the sun. When I first moved into my dorm, I lived in a suite and had my own room. It was a fairly large suite and the best part was that we kept different schedules; so everyone found alone time during the day. All went well the first year… We were civil neighbors.
“The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him, “What are you going through?” Simone Weil
The following year, I had the option to move into a single on another floor and I loved the idea. A few of my friends were on the new floor and I loved the idea of connecting with a larger group of students in a single room arrangement. We had a huge common kitchen/sitting area and we would throw occasional potluck parties and invite friends from the area, other students around us, and other people in our dorms. Things were going well until a new student moved in next door to me…. To protect the innocent, I will leave her personal details out… But things turned nasty. More below 😉
“Love thy neighbor as thyself: Do not to others what thou wouldn’t not wish be done to thyself: Forgive injuries. Forgive thy enemy, be reconciled to him, give him assistance, invoke God in his behalf.” Confucius
One day, when I got back to my room from a class, I found nasty things at my front door; garbage, food bits and what looked like spit. I called my friends to come see and then proceeded to file a report. Everyone was shocked. It was a diverse community and we had had no problems. Someone asked about the new girl, and I said she was quiet and seemed alright. I had said hello a few times and while she wasn’t warm, she didn’t seem hostile. She also lived in her dorm room with a boyfriend/hubby. He was American, she wasn’t.
“Do I advise you to love the neighbor? I suggest rather to escape from the neighbor and to love those who are the farthest away from you. Higher than the love for the neighbor is the love for the man who is distant and has still to come.” Friedrich Nietzsche
As time went by, the droppings and spit grew. It was quite disgusting and even a notice to my floor from the residence halls office yielded no clues. One night, I was lying in my room quietly with the lights off. I came back early because I felt I could catch the culprit if they thought I wasn’t around. Sure enough, the culprit came to my door, paused, hacked up a big whack of stuff, kicked some crap at my door, muttered some incomprehensible curse at my head and, at that moment, I dashed for the door, pulled it open, and there was my neighbor — the new girl. She was so shocked to see me that she screamed, running to her room. I yelled out to everyone and a few people gathered. Her boyfriend came out of the room and we told him what she had been doing. He was flabbergasted and full of apologies. “She’s pregnant and having a hard time adjusting to the USA, ” he said. Okay but…
He was embarrassed and so was she. However, she refused to come out of her room or to apologize. Everyone was baffled at the behavior. The next day, I let the school know and within 48 hours she had moved out of the dorm. I felt sorry for her and her hubby but I am convinced that she learned a simple lesson. Nasty neighbors don’t last… they get caught. What are your thoughts? Have you ever had a nasty neighbor? How would you handle an unpleasant neighbor? Do share! Thank you. 😉
This post was inspired by a prompt from MamaKat’s Writer’s Workshop: Describe a situation that forced you to confront a neighbor.
- The Ultimate Dorm Hall (collegecandy.com)
- Student beds rife with bacterial nasties, study finds (time4sleep.co.uk)
- What Kind of Relationship Do You Have With Your Neighbors? (casasugar.com)
- The Help (campusidiots.wordpress.com)