5 Easy Ways To Meet Your Neighbors

The idea of having neighbors baffles me. It isn't that having neighbors is strange, it's that I never seem to know them. I think this goes for a lot of people. Unless we live in the middle of the woods, or on an island, we're usually surrounded by other people on our street, or in a tenant building. Yet, can you honestly list off the names of each person on your floor, or street? If you can, great. Now tell me their occupations and exact age.


MmmmmmmmHMM.

Our neighbors, the people we are physically closest to, seem to be the people we know the least. However, Neighbor Day is this Saturday and seeing as how it's a national holiday, there's got to be something said for getting to know the strangers across the street.

Here are some easy ways to break the ice, scrape the iceberg, or test the water in the slightly unnerving fresh-water pond that is neighborly interaction. I say fresh-water pond because I never feel certain of my safety, tip-toe-ing through the muddy bottom that may be concealing deadly snakes and jagged rocks. I'm not agoraphobic, I swear.

ANY way, here are the tips.

1. Help with chores.

We all have yard work, or housekeeping that our neighbors witness: shoveling snow, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, etc. If you spot someone struggling with any of these, offer help. Helping with something as laborious and tedious as shoveling three feet of snow, or raking a lawn full of leaves, will get you and your neighbor on the same side of the street (literally and figuratively, oooh). If he doesn't accept help the first time, ask again later. Offering help at all will close the gap between the two of you at least a little.

2. Play with pets.

Chances are you're either a cat person or a dog person, and chances are your neighbors are as well. If you get a new pet (especially a baby pet) take that bundle of joyous fur outside. Any animal lovers will be hard-pressed to resist the urge to rush over for some puppy kisses (with your pet, not you, unless your neighborhood's just really friendly). If you see a neighbor with a new pet, or even an old one, give a compliment, speak in a weird baby voice to it. People love hearing their dogs are cute. It's a win win situation.

3. Do indoor things outdoors.

Don't drag the television outside to the porch or anything, be realistic. Read a book, have some tea, relax, or just be outside. Your neighbors will likely have to something that requires them to also be outside like getting the mail, taking the dog for a walk, or licking their finger and pointing it upward to see which way the wind is blowing. Before they scurry back inside, give a hearty "Hey there," and smile. The ball is now in their court, the seed has been planted. Hurrah. Do this enough times and you'll be friends before you know it.

4. Check in.

Oh snap. Your neighbor's driveway has been filled with police cars at 2 in the morning. What do you do?? I know you shouldn't start whispering with your other neighbors about what might have happened. That's how the rumor mill starts churning out fictions. Instead, wait a day or two after the incident to make a phone call and ask if everything is all right. If you're comfortable enough, walk over knock on the door. The comfort from a neighbor may be just the thing needed that no doctor could prescribe.

5. Break bread.

This should be self-explanatory. Who doesn't want free food? Masochists, probably. I would never turn a neighbor away if he had free food in his hands... unless he was wearing clown make up. That would be a deal breaker. WithOUT costumes, make something you know you can make--it can even be Betty Crocker brownies with a shot of Bailey's in them (calm down Dionysius, the alcohol burns off in the oven). Breaking bread is the best way to bring people together. Food feeds the soul; a fed soul is a happy soul. Happy souls just don't shun their neighbors.

Speaking of the community-gathering powers of food, take a look at what 50 strangers did to get to know one another:

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