Off of the Grid

The Importance of Being a Good Neighbor

There are hundreds of sayings about being a good neighbor.  But no-where are these axioms more important to follow then when you are living in an RV park.  Yes, we’ve all lived in apartments with paper thin walls but it’s not the same.  It’s strange.  In an RV you are living your whole life on display for everyone around you.  Only trusting to their discretion in not reminding you that they can hear EVERYTHING.  They know when your stomach is telling you that you really shouldn’t have eaten that mystery burrito at the taco stand.  They know what you and your husband talked about last night.  They know when you make love.  They know what you had for dinner, unless you have actually found the one food that makes no smell as it cooks.  Each RV is a self contained unit with you and your family on display.  Sometimes I feel like Daniel and I should just sell tickets to the evening show.  Now having lived in an RV park for three months full-time, the importance of being a good neighbor has really hit home.  What does that mean to me?  It means being quiet.  It means being considerate of the people around you.  It means taking the time to make sure you are not encroaching on other peoples space.  It means picking up after your dog and being a responsible pet owner.  It means taking the time to get to know you neighbors.

Here, we have a guy who’s RV is at the front of the park.  It’s the first one you see when you drive in. He has a collection of chairs outside – enough for several people to sit and chat, his dog run, and you’ll often see him standing at the wall checking out the world as it drives by the park; provided no-one has stopped by for a visit.  He’s given those of us here a tangible sense of peace and security simply because he’s there.  He see’s everyone coming in.  He walks around going about his business and has managed to perfect the technique of being around without being intrusive.  He always has a smile on his face and a pleasant greeting.  He has helped out his neighbors more than once simply by being available and eager to help.  He is a good neighbor.  At the opposite end of the park, we have an elderly man who will be celebrating his 90th birthday soon.  When he found out that Daniel and I were going to be long time residents of the park, he baked us a pumpkin pie with hand made whip cream.  I’ve never in my life had someone do that for me.  I was speechless.  What was I supposed to do in return?  A thank you card just didn’t seem enough.

In the short time I have been here, we’ve also had the police in the park – three times now.  The manager is good about booting unsavory people out, but sometimes the police are called for an emergency.  It happens.  But again, it brings into the light the importance of being a good neighbor.  Howard Koch says the following about being a good neighbor, “You can be a good neighbor only if you have good neighbors.”   I tend to believe this as a general rule.  We had neighbors for a couple weeks who were awesome.  We’d knock on each others doors and borrow cups of milk and sugar.  It was fun!  Then we had neighbors that I probably wouldn’t open my door to in the dark. I certainly made sure the doors were locked.

In closing I have to say that I know these rules are important for everyone to live by.  Most people don’t.  In our little microcosm, rudeness, loud behavior, and clutter are magnified 100fold.  The guy who doesn’t play with his dog and leaves it out and alone for hours on end doesn’t understand that the result of this behavior is that his dog barks all day.  With ALL your neighbors within 100′ of you, it gets annoying.  The horders who want to make room for everything in their personal 28+’ of space don’t understand that their clutter spilling over into someone else’s space makes us all look bad.  Who wants to live in a junk yard?  I find myself obsessing over the fact that the tail end of our RV isn’t clean.  Road grime and such have caked the back.  I don’t want our neighbors embarrassed by our RV dirt.  I mean, EWE!  They might think we don’t take care of our rig!  And THAT won’t do.

I hope we are good neighbors.  We manage our space, keep our rig clean and try to be considerate of our neighbors by keeping our volume under control.  Sometimes with a toddler, this is a challenge.  But I personally hope that the squeals of laughter make them smile when they hear it.  And I hope they remember that smile when he cries!  Thanks for listening.  I’ll try to be better about posting more often.  We’ve got a road trip coming up soon, so be sure to look for updates on that.

Drive safe!  And thanks for being a good neighbor  🙂


One response

  1. Richard

    Nice post! I certainly agree. We had a neighbor with a barking dog (outside 24/7, on a short leash, with only a carrier for shelter). Another neighbor advised me about a device that sends out a signal in response to loud noises (a bark interrupter or deterrent). I got one at a pet store (about $38, also available at Amazon ( Luckily, the neighbor moved (residents at that house are very transitory) and I didn’t have to use it.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm

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