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Recently, we were at a great event at our good friends’ place on the water. Weather was perfect, their setup is awesome for hosting, the company was fantastic, and it was just an all-around incredible day.
But, before I get too deep into this blog entry, it’s important that I warn the readers there is some strong language in this article. For those that know me well, I am a passionate writer and sometimes I firmly believe that the appropriate word required to properly portray the situation goes outside the realm of “politically correct”.
So, back to the party. When we got down to the dock for the typical sauna/swim, I saw the neighbour’s “swan containment area” in the water. I had never seen this before and was curious. It was a square of pool noodles and painted red stakes well into the water with a fake swan tied up in the contained area. Was it to fend off the geese? Were they trying to trap bait fish? Did they need a setting for their fake swan to feel comfortable? Apparently, none of these are the case.
Turns out the neighbor is simply one of those “lovely” neighbours that we all hear about. Ya, I’m probably getting a bias side of the story, but, when you see stuff like this, they’re proving the point all by themselves. What the neighbour was doing was trying to protect “their property” by showing his neighbours where his lot line is so they couldn’t park their pontoon boat on that side of their own dock even though it wasn’t even close to the “lovely” neighbour’s dock.
Sure, some people may think, “there’s two sides to every story” and I’m showing favourtism - and it is possible - but we know our friends well and just can’t picture them being too tough to live next to. And this wonderful person next door has caused them all kinds of problems when trying to improve their property by putting in complaints any chance they can.
Maybe someone should call in complaints on them as there’s a whole slew of problems with what they’re doing. First off, they only own to the high-water mark for the last 100 years. No waterfront property extends beyond this and no one can own “the water”. Secondly, they can’t block a waterway with their pool noodles. Anyone with a kayak, small boat, hip waders or a bathing suit has every right to swim, paddle or fish in this illegal containment area. Third, I highly doubt the bright red paint that was used for the stakes before they were driven into the bottom of the lake is a real “eco-friendly” blend. Guessing more of a Tremclad™ style.
Our friends don’t want to complain – they just ignore the neighbours as much as they can and deal with the nonsense on a case-by-case basis. They are very patient and, I’m sure, plenty of us wouldn’t be this easy going about things. But, by doing so, they’re also avoiding the “escalation” problem where these situations can sometimes lead to very stressful, serious and precarious circumstances.
We’ve all heard stories like this, and we’ve also heard stories that are the complete opposite. We sell our clients a house and check in on how they’re doing a few months later to find out they’ve already created a great friendship with the neighbours. “They’re so nice and they snowblow the driveway for me!” or “if my kids aren’t home, I know they’re next door with their kids” and then there’s the neighbour who always has the tool you need to finish the job and they’ll even come over with a six-pack and help you finish it.
The way I look at it is we, and our neighbours, all fit into one of three categories:
1.) The great neighbour that is super friendly and you would be devastated if they moved,
2.) the good neighbour who you barely know but they always politely smile and say “hello” with a quick analysis of the “great weather we’re finally having” while minding their own business,
3.) and, finally, the ASSHOLE
I capitalized and bolded the third entry because a mild case of “assholeness” is extremely rare. Going from “good neighbour” to “asshole” requires a complete nosedive and to remain committed to forever making life miserable for the person next door. It takes a certain type of passion to dedicate your spare time to trying to ruin someone else’s, so I will give the “assholes” out there some credit for their devotion.
One of my experiences with this was at a young age while I was playing road hockey in Winnipeg. We lived on a great, family friendly street and the nets rarely left the roadway regardless whether it was winter or summer. 99% of the neighbours loved us being out there and would give us the “thumbs up” when we’d move the nets for the “CAR!” coming by. Lots of dads would even join in on the games.
A single guy moved into the house directly across the street from ours whom no one ever really saw. He was in the #2 category at first where he would politely wave at the adults as he made his way from his car to his front door and vice versa. Then, he took that rapid nosedive into the #3 category.
It was a nice summer day and we had a full game going on the street. This #3 category’s newest member decided he had had enough of us running onto his front lawn to fetch the ball that had wandered onto his property from an errant pass. So, he decided he was going to park his car right in the middle of our game to teach us a lesson.
As bratty kids, we opted for an intermission due to the obstruction in our “rink area” and proceeded to all sit on his car. Some on the bumpers, some on the hood and even a couple got onto the roof. Well, this didn’t go over well with this guy at all. Now, you might be saying “who would be happy about this?”, but you’re probably not the type of asshole that would do this to kids having fun either…..
This “#3” comes bursting out of his house and B-lines straight for my Dad who was up to his usual woodworking hobbies in the driveway. My Dad saw how this all transpired, put down his tools and took off his safety goggles to handle the approaching hot head.
This guy went off about how us kids were misbehaving while “massacring” his lawn and now damaging his car. My Dad just kept nodding his head while this guy laid it all out. When he was finally out of breath from his rant, my Dad put his hand on this guy’s shoulder and calmly said, “I completely understand where you’re coming from. Where I grew up, we had an ASSHOLE just like you on our street”. This guy was in utter shock as my Dad just stood with a smirk that was basically saying, “now, get off my property”.
Thinking my Dad was his only foe, he tried to go to our next door neighbour’s house. That’s where my friend “Bobby” lived, and his parents were full Greek and could barely speak a word of English. After the whole street heard the front door blasting of what I can only assume were the Greek versions of every swear word ever spoken, this “asshole” tucked his tail between his legs, pulled his car in the driveway and went into his house. The next day, before noon, there was a For Sale sign in his yard…..
If you don’t like kids playing road hockey, don’t by a house on a family friendly cul-de-sac with a park at the end of the street. If you hate the sound of jet skis or snowmobiles ripping around a lake, then find a quiet lake or don’t buy on the lake. If you want your kids to have a place to play and be noisy, don’t buy a condo in a building geared towards the older lifestyles.
They say your friends are the family you get to choose. Neighbours are like family – you don’t get to pick them, but you still have to live with them. But you can also choose to be friends with them and make both your lives better in the process.
If you have a neighbour that is being difficult, try to “kill them with kindness”. If that doesn’t work, simply ignore them as much as possible and be very composed whenever you have to deal with them. And, most importantly, be a good neighbour yourself. At all costs, avoid escalating the situation. Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary – don’t help turn it into a place you cringe every time you come back to it.
In closing, as a moral to the story, there is one simple saying that is most important to remember for all of this:
If everyone around you is an asshole, chances are you’re the asshole.
Have you ever run into a #3? After reading this, is there a chance you've been an asshole? We'd love to hear from ya and maybe we can come over and see how any issues can be solved. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out all our other great blog topics while you’re here, browse our website for great info on buying and selling in the Greater Sudbury area and never hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 705.586.3334 if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other salespersons, staff or affiliates of Realty Executives of Sudbury LTD. Brokerage, Realty Executives International, the Sudbury Real Estate Board, Ontario Real Estate Association, Canadian Real Estate Association or any of their subsidiaries. For any concerns pertaining to the content herein, please contact us immediately at email@example.com.