Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.
We got some new neighbors yesterday. I don’t really know anything about them, other than they have two small children who seem to be really friendly – when I stopped over to introduce myself, both came running to me for a high-five.
The mother was interested in knowing what kind of neighborhood we live in. I stressed how quiet things are, because … well, the last people who lived there needed a reminder their very first day. A loud party complete with drinking, fireworks, and cars racing down the street was a little more than the rest of us could tolerate. So, we had a chat. We didn’t hear much from them after that.
We all tend to strive for what’s become comfortable, whether it’s on the job, around the house, across the fence, or even in church. It’s amazing how habitual people are in where they sit on Sunday morning. Better still, let them find that a visitor came in and took their seat, and they just stand there for a minute, as if they have no idea they’re allowed to sit somewhere else.
And it’s the same way in our neighborhood. We all have a place where we park our cars. If it’s on the street, we’re on the honor system, because it’s public property and we don’t own the area in front of our homes. When we set out our trash cans, we put them in the same place every week, hoping somebody won’t park in front of them. We’re all creatures of habit. And habits are hard to break.
So, when somebody new moves in, it’s only natural for the neighbors to open the blinds, step back from the window just enough to avoid being seen, and subject the new residents to a full-blown visual inspection. We not only watch the people, but the things they take out of the moving van.
If they have lots of toys, we assume there are small children. Bicycles mean the kids are a little older. Mismatched furniture means they’re just getting started in life and may not have figured out the best (and quietest) way to settle disagreements. And a bunch of posters and mirrors advertising their favorite brand of whiskey is usually not a good sign. These are the things we notice.
And I remember when we were the new family moving in. It’s been almost 17 years ago, and we’re still not among the old-timers on the block. In fact, I only know of three families that are newer than us. People tend to hang around a long time, and they want to maintain the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed. Around here, that means friendly and quiet, thank you very much.
The day we closed on our house, before we even loaded the truck to move in, we stopped by to go inside for a quick look around. The realtor had given us the code for the lock box, but as it turned out, somebody had locked the storm door and the lock box was hanging inside it on the main door. So, we stood there trying to figure out what to do. That’s when we met our first neighbor.
She came down and asked if we needed a screwdriver. Okay, here are strange people trying to figure out how to break into the vacant house and the neighbor is offering to share burglary tools? That’s comforting! I told her we’d just bought the house and she said, “Oh, I know!” She then went on to ask about my job (she already knew where I worked) and a few other trivial things.
That’s when it occurred to me that the neighbors had already scoped us out. And over the next few days, we were welcomed by a few more neighbors and a police officer who let us know we were living on the quietest street in town with a neighborhood watch that was second to none. Suffice to say, I gave my daughters a few words of instruction.
We’ve all been there, and we know how lonely that can feel. And we wonder sometimes how long it’ll be until we’re fully accepted by those around us. That’s why I stopped over to meet our new neighbors. It’s why I introduce myself to every new person at work, and it’s why I welcome visitors to church. I do it because people did it with me, and I know how good that feels.
Each of us, every day, has the opportunity to make somebody feel more comfortable and secure. We have the opportunity to shake a hand, share a smile, and make them feel noticed. It costs nothing, but it means everything. And it’ll make you feel pretty good as well. Give it a try!
That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!
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