Trashy Behavior

German Village is known for its picturesque brick-paved sidewalks and streets. But when people leaves overflowing dumpsters and piles of discarded items on the sidewalks, to the point where you can barely squeeze by, it tends to interfere with the charming vistas.

It’s a scene that we’ve seen more and more lately.  Sometimes, as with the photo above, it seems to be people who are moving out, and apparently just don’t want to cart a lot of unwanted items to their next destination.  Other times it appears to be people just getting rid of broken furniture or other junk, and not particularly caring how they do it.  Maybe the people think that the trash pickers who periodically visit German Village will swing by and take away items that they think they can use.  But whatever the cause or motivation, it’s always unsightly, and it gets even worse if the rains come.

It’s not neighborly behavior, it’s trashy behavior — and it shows a total lack of consideration for neighbors and other German Village residents.  Would it really have been so hard for the people getting rid of their trunk and moccasins and clothing items to put the stuff in their car and take it to a Goodwill box or Goodwill store to be donated and reused, rather than left on the sidewalk?

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Neighborly Sentiments

Recently, signs like this one have been cropping up around German Village.  In these troubled times, they express a worthy and noble sentiment that I wholeheartedly endorse.  Yet I feel that the message is somehow . . . incomplete.

I’m perfectly happy to live next door to anybody, no matter where they are from, what they look like, where they work, their religion, national origin, or sexual orientation, or for that matter what they do with their lives.  If they’re willing to live next to the likes of me, I’m willing to live next to them.  My focus, instead, is much more narrow and admittedly self-interested.  I only want to know whether they will perform very basic property maintenance — mow the grass, weed from time to time, not put a crappy couch on the front porch, slap some paint where it’s needed — keep their dogs from barking and biting, and not be obnoxious, intrusive, or noisy at 3 a.m. when I’m trying to sleep..In my view, these are the acid tests of neighborliness — the straightforward, but crucial, measuring points on the good neighbor scale of behavior.

So I think I would amend the sign as follows:  No matter where you are from, so long as you keep your place up and keep the noise down we’re glad you’re our neighbors.

Bad Neighbor

When you buy your first home and move in, your quickly realize that neighbors are an important part of the home-purchase equation that, perhaps, you hadn’t thought about when you were deciding whether to buy.

The reality is, neighbors can mean the difference between a pleasant home-owning experience and one that is an unending nightmare. There are certain baseline requirements of good neighbors. Do they keep their property up? Do they keep a beat-up sofa on the front porch? Do they play loud music until 3 a.m.? Do they have a vicious dog that scares the crap out of you every time you walk out the front door?

Flying a KKK flag and displaying a noose and a sign saying “Members Wanted,” as some racist idiot is doing in Palm Beach County, Florida, is so far below the the good-neighbor baseline it can’t even be measured. It’s not surprising that the bigot wouldn’t give his name to the news reporters who showed up to his door — just as there is a reason members of the KKK wear hoods. Inveterate racists know their bigotry is deeply shameful, and they are compelled to hide behind a veil of anonymity as a result.

What would you do if your neighbor flew a KKK flag and seemed to be recruiting for one of the most vile organizations in American history? I’d be inclined to display a sign of my own: “My Next-Door Neighbor Is A Racist. I Despise Him, And You Should, Too.” And I think I would add that it’s my practice to take photos of everyone who visits him and publish those photos on the internet, too.