Being Neighborly

Earlier in the winter of 2021, my neighbors left their dog outside. The somewhat large dog had been barking for hours and was very hoarse. I did some research and at 22 degrees even a large dog only has so many hours outside before it becomes deadly. I talked to them through their ring doorbell and, mortified, the husband ran home to rescue Fido.

I was mowing my lawn when my neighbors across the street were moving in. The husband & wife clearly couldn’t carry their solid oak dining room table inside, and they looked around dejectedly with a “Well I guess our stuff is getting rained on” look as any number of able-bodied neighbors went about their own business. I went across the street and offered a hand and we got them moved in.

An obviously stressed teenager in the grocery store parking lot was in a stick shift car he couldn’t get started. I asked him if he knew how to pop the clutch to get it started, he did. My son and I pushed him and he got rolling with a triumphant “thank you!” out the window. I took the time to teach my son that this is the kind of people we are.

Many years ago, I regularly had 12 hour shifts at Culver’s and had a long drive to & from work. The cops loved busting a long-haired weirdo who was just a lowly burger flipper after all, so I knew where all the cops hid. One night a woman ran out in front of my car at 55mph. She only spoke Spanish but was obviously distressed and could scream “please, Police!” I let her in the car and drove to the nearest speed trap, sure enough Officer Friendly was there and was kind enough not to even draw his gun as I drove up to him and the screaming woman got out. He took my name # number before letting her into his cruiser and taking off, but I never found out what happened.

I was heading back to work after lunch one day when I saw a small pickup rear-end a little Volkswagen. Hard. At the time I would have sworn in court that the driver & passenger of the pickup immediately traded seats. The pickup backed up to go around the car and sped off. At the time I had a very fast car and sped off after them, when they realized a witness was following them they pulled into a parking lot. I knocked on their window to ask if they were OK, and I noticed that the Volkswagen had followed me (at safe speed). I told them they should probably exchange insurance with the driver they just hit, and went back to work.

After that, I was a lot more careful, realizing I could have gotten a bullet for my trouble.

We live in a world where able-bodied neighbors would rather let a poor doggo freeze to death rather than “be nosy”, “get into someone else’s business”, “be assertive”, “get involved”. It’s not your problem. It’s awkward. There’s risk. You might have read the situation wrong, you might get yelled at or worse as reward for your compassion. On the other hand, what kind of world do you want to live in?

Me, I’m stubborn. I’m old-fashioned in a lot of ways. So today after hours of barking I went back over to ask if my neighbor meant to leave his dog outside. He’s on his way home to rescue poor Cyrus again. That’s the kind of world I want to live in.

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