Know Your Enemy: Negotiating Niggling Neighbours
All my life, my family and I have had problems with one particular source of frustration: inconsiderate, arrogant, niggling neighbours.
My family, I admit, are not the most social bunch. My parents don’t entertain as much as they used to when they were younger, if at all. In fact, the only people they ‘have over’ are the garden servicemen, postman, paperboy and the meter reader. For the rest of the time, the front gate is chained and padlocked due to the burglaries we’ve had in the past. So, they can’t really tolerate anyone else, never mind each other.
Below are just a few of the things that I’ve had to put up with from them- the people who live around us.
There have been times when someone has come around to our house and actually has the audacity to steal something. Perhaps they claimed that they were ‘borrowing’ it and then never gave it back.
I had a friend like that once who stole a CD of mine. He’d always been a liar, but he progressed to stealing and just so happened to target me, and made off with a favourite game of mine one day.
My brother once had a friend and neighbour, who pinched some his toys, and ran off with them down the road. After telling his parents to please give them back, my parents resorted to playing the hard way, and contacted their lawyer. He sent them a note which landed in their letterbox and soon after that, that boy was on our doorstep.
• It doesn’t matter what it is, if something of yours is stolen, that person stole from you and it’s a crime.
I imagine that my family would fall under this category, at least from other’s perspectives. Looking at it from our point of view, we like peace and quiet. It’s a quiet neighbourhood most of the time and we want to keep it that way. If others want to make a hell of a noise then they should go to another neighbourhood or the beach or one of those holiday resorts or hotels where the staff is paid to put up with nonsense.
Nagging neighbours will often leave letters for you in the letterbox under cover of darkness, sometimes signed anonymously. Other times they will phone you just when you get home from work to complain.
• Get a vicious dog to stop the mail from getting delivered, or take the post box down (although this might be illegal in some places).
• Get rid of all your phones, or disconnect them when not in use.
• Your neighbours will now resort to shouting or using megaphones. Get soundproofing.
These are often kids, or childish men, and they often act out when they fall out with your kids or childish husband or dad.
We’ve had neighbours who have thrown stones, rocks, eggs, pool water, fireworks and even a soiled pair of panties into our yard or on the roof. Other pranks include toilet paper in trees, condoms, dead animals or dog logs in the pool.
• Build a very high wall.
• Put up a large net that stands over your house.
"It doesn’t matter what it is, if something of yours is stolen, that person stole from you and it’s a crime."
It’s become quite an issue in Cape Town as of late, as they’re considering a bylaw that will punish owners whose dogs bark all day long. They have talked about fines and even putting the dogs to sleep. In my neighbourhood there has been one family in particular who always get dogs but don’t look after them. They leave the things outside, they don’t feed them enough and they have been known to abuse them as well. At three in the morning we would hear them howling outside and barking at strangers on the road.
It’s also bad when they come around to our house for food and attention. They actually can’t wait to escape that place. We’re not too fond of them dropping messages off on the lawn or the bank though.
Another thing is when parents leave their crying child, often by the pool, without attending to it. They carry on for hours, and I’m telling you, the screeching noise of a baby or toddler gives me nightmares.
Update: In CT, it's now illegal for a homeowner to let a dog bark for more than six minutes every hour, or 3 minutes every half-hour. Failure to comply with the new law can result in fines, and even the confiscation of the offending dog. Sounds crazy, but it's more peaceful around here now, I can tell you.
• Let the dog out when they’re not home.
• Call the SPCA.
• Call Social Services.
Is there such a thing? A nice neighbour, or one that I can tolerate, is one who minds his own business, doesn’t cause a scene or do anything that the other neighbours on the list do. Sometimes they might come round to beg for sugar or money, or they could quite possibly turn into the one who pops round unannounced or phones you all the time. The only thing is that sometimes, the nice, quiet ones have something to hide.
Perhaps he’s a serial killer, a psychopath or a cannibal.
“Do you want to come over later for some boiled brains?”
“Aaaaggghhh!” Run! No wait! Sell the house first, then run!”
• Lock all your doors.
• Sell the house and run.
"It's now illegal for a homeowner to let a dog bark for too long. Failure to comply with the new law can result in fines, and even confiscation of the offending dog."
Our neighbourhood is a quiet place, with little traffic until the schools come out, and the rush hour that is later on.
The rest of the time it’s peaceful, tranquil… until they start up. The band practice next door with guitars, drums- and not to mention no talent, flares up for the afternoon. It’s especially bad in summer with all of their doors and windows open. You can’t really escape the noise unless you use ear plugs, which makes it hard to hear the television.
We’ve pleaded with them to soundproof the room and to close the doors, but their excuse is it’s too hot. Get air-conditioning then.
When they’re not playing the instruments themselves, they’re taking cues from their equally inept idols on the loudest volume setting, so they can figure out how they too can play like a bunch of drunk, drugged up dickheads.
Then there’s the party that goes on until 4 AM, even though there are bylaws in my city against any disruptive noise beyond 11 PM. For the most part, it’s the sports club not far away with their typical, outdated techno music doing the rounds.
• You can phone the police and inform them of a public disturbance. The further away you live, the better. The only thing is in some cases they may have special permission, as I’ve seen police hanging around a matric dance at a local school. But is it to control the people from the outside, or the animals on the inside?
• It can actually be filed as a criminal case, and this will go on their records.
• Get soundproofing.
The worst is when some neighbours are from places like wide open farms where they are used to making a lot of noise and shouting over long distances because they didn’t have telephones. They had no neighbours to deal with there and so it is habitual and they are in a way oblivious to the fact that some of the things they get up to unnerve the neighbours.
These bumpkins either don’t know or don’t care that things are different in the suburbs.
What do you think happens at 5 AM on a farm? The cockerels start off to signal the beginning of a new day. What happens at 5 AM in my neighbourhood? The cockerels act as a living alarm clock that happens to be set two or three hours early.
At least, that’s how it was until they got an anonymous note in their letter box from the municipality explicitly stating that it’s indeed illegal to keep cocks, and that they can only have so many hens.
This didn’t stop for too long though, as it took another notice, years later, to remind them.
• When a neighbour is disobeying the law and it annoys you, contact a higher authority to deal with it. Just be careful of retaliation though.
• When a neighbour is retaliating against you and it annoys you, contact a higher authority to deal with it. Refer to Naughty Neighbours above for more on this.
"When they’re not playing the instruments themselves, they’re taking cues from their equally inept idols on the loudest volume setting, so they can figure out how they too can play like a bunch of drunk, drugged up dickheads."
There have been times when I’ve caught someone peering over the wall, and in fact I’ve done this too, but I’m just better at it, because I didn’t get caught.
My mom always used to complain about a neighbour, that when she was young, would peer over the wall and ask her where her father was all the time. If it wasn’t that, it was about her lack of school uniform, or why they were so poor. It went from being over curious to downright rude.
• Put up a security camera, even one that doesn’t work, and point it at the wall or fence where the neighbour in question keeps peeking over.
• Hang a plaque on the side of you house facing them with “love your neighbour” or “love your enemy” written on it.
• Draw a Kilroy on a plaque or wall that’s facing them.
A long time ago, we had a rich man that lived next door. He happened to have several young men around at the place at different times, and the rumour was that he was giving them things for sexual favours.
Sometimes you might have an undesirable person or even a criminal living next door. This can seriously impact your social standing as people won’t want to bump into the people that live next door to you. They might even think you’re aiding and abetting if you don’t actually report their crimes.
Another common thing that scares people is when you live next door to a haunted house or a hermit or witchdoctor who slaughters cattle, or chops up dead bodies to sell to people (it happens).
• For a haunting, try to contact a ghost hunter team that will be eager to investigate, maybe even for a fee. Do this only if the place is uninhabited. They might have to get permission from someone to actually go in as well; otherwise it might be construed as breaking and entering.
• For witchdoctors, vampires, werewolves and the like, try sprinkling holy water on their lawns and houses, lamb’s blood on the doorway and crucifixes on your roof.
• Always keep silver bullets and wooden stakes with hammers at the ready.
The thing with neighbours is that they are like cockroaches, just when one set move out, another lot just arrive, and subsequently make your life hell.
"People won’t want to bump into the people that live next door to you. They might even think you’re aiding and abetting if you don’t actually report their crimes."
Other Neighbours that people might or might not want
Who hasn’t had computer problems and wanted someone to sort them out? If someone who was that technologically gifted lived next door to you, they’d soon move, with all of your requests to fix the PC or the TV.
The only thing is when they have LAN parties into the early hours of the night, which will consist of guns shooting, explosions, verbal outbursts and other crude noises as they all view some rather more adult material to finish off at the end of the whole affair.
See Nagging Neighbours
New age Healers
You’d save thousands on medicine and doctor’s bills, if their stuff actually worked.
You have to put up with them in the media; imagine if they lived next door. These could include so called ‘American Nobility’ celebrities like Paris Hilton. It would be permanent daylight, what with all the camera flashes going off, and not to mention the parties with all their ‘friends’- insects who are attracted to that light (and fame and fortune).
Aliens and other creatures living next door would be your ticket to fame and fortune. You could start your own television series chronicling the life of the E.T. next door! You could also post videos of Bigfoot onto YouTube and your blog and watch the traffic sore into outer space!
There would be a great loss in the local wildlife, but at least it would probably be the most crime-free neighbourhood in the whole city!
Bad if it’s ancient, flabby old men, good if it’s young, nubile women. It would be the most popular place, that’s for sure.
Good if they were also nudists. It would be like the Garden of Eden all over again!
“Don't throw stones at your neighbours, if your own windows are glass."— Benjamin Franklin
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