14 October 2013

Neighbours keeping an eye on me

The other evening when I left the house rather late, one of the neighbours chided me that I shouldn't be gone long. Not so long before that, one of the neighbours saw me coming back early Sunday evening and wondered where I'd been. I hadn't been out with another man, had I? I laughed and said I was actually in church. And just the other day, there was a group of people forming in front of my house around a small child, concerned about where his mother was (his father came walking down the street as I arrived).

I'm not entirely sure if I like nosy neighbours, but at the same time, I've appreciated this social control from my neighbours. I like people who get involved when things seem to be wrong. I like having people who can tease me or make jokes about whether I'm behaving as we think I should. It shows an interest in me and an appreciation of our being neighbours. And I think this awareness of each other and friendly joking is part of what I'd ideally see neighbours as being.

The surprising part of the story is, of course, my neighbourhood. I have odd neighbours. The question about my being out late was from one of the homeless guys who hangs out beside my house. The question about being out with a guy was from the prostitute a few doors down. The group around the small child were young tourists. All of these are from groups that most of us expect to be very much not concerned about those who live here. Yet, somehow these groups of people - people who don't even live here and who frustrate or annoy many residents - have been the ones teaching me what it means to be a good neighbour.

No comments: