You Just Can’t Choose Your Neighbours

Neighbours. Love them, like them, loathe them or hate them, they aren’t going to disappear into outer space.

Who are they? They can be people living upstairs/downstairs from you, next to you, opposite to you. They can also be your coworkers, fellow passengers or patrons sitting a few metres away from you in a restaurant or a food court. All in all, they can be either people you already know or complete strangers happen to be around you at a given time.

Neighbours. Good if they behave themselves. Bad if they don’t. It’s not an understatement to say they can turn your day into night and your night into a very long night. Sounds too familiar?! I won’t be surprised if you come up with a big list of bad experiences from somewhere.

Remember last time you travelled on a plane to overseas or other state? When you checked in, did you get to choose where you wanted to sit? Yes? Great! And? Did you get to choose who’d be sitting right next to you? No? Tough! That’s life!

We’ve heard time and time again that some idiots behaved erratically on a plane causing nuisance to other passengers. In some serious cases, cabin crew members or even security guards had to intervene to help resolve the issue. Those idiots are every traveller’s worst nightmare. We can only hope that we don’t come across any of them when we board a plane next time.

C’est la vie! You’re stuck with bad neighbours. Well, it doesn’t have to end there. What can you do about it? It really depends on your personal intolerance and the terms of effects and consequences that come along.

If you know it’s going to be a short term, a one off thing, meaning you won’t have to see them again tomorrow and in the future, you may as well save your breath, shrug it off, put on your headset and go about your own business. Or if possible, walk away from the situation and settle into to a quieter space to avoid any close contacts. All these can be easily done and are within your own control.

What if it’s a long term, an on-going thing? That is, neighbours whom you’ll likely see again and again on a regular basis. Perhaps it’s time to show some assertiveness, time to act and time to get your life back!

I remember how a year ago my parents’ quality of life was affected by the last neighbour living next door. The noise from many late night parties and the music instruments played during the day was insane. In fact, not just my parents, other residents on the whole street had also been affected by it. I didn’t know how bad it was till I was there to experience it myself a few times. Unfortunately, after making numerous complaints to the next door neighbour, still no signs of improvement.

Then on one weekend when I went to visit parents, it happened the next door was hosting another party that Saturday. We all rolled our eyes, gave a big sigh of disbelief and said: Here we go again… As time went by, when it passed midnight and even after 1 AM in the morning, the noise got louder and louder. No number of sealed windows and locked doors could’ve done enough to block out the “pollution”. Realised we’d done all we can (within our power) to stop it, that night I decided that’s it! I’m going to call the police and make a complaint.

I did. Some 30 minutes later, I heard one police car pulling over just outside near our garage driveway. Within a few minutes, the noise level from the next door dropped to almost zero. What a relief! We finally got our peace and quiet back.

Ever since, no more troublemakers, no more tensions, no more noise from the next door neighbour. A few months later, they moved out. Sweet! Now the new neighbour in the same dwelling has been so much easier to deal with.

I went to see my parents last week and already I could feel the marked difference in their quality of life. It’s got so much better.

No one wants to be on bad terms with their neighbours. But when some bad behaviours are crossing the line, becoming more like harassment or even bullying, then it’s a red flag. Enough is enough. You’ve exhausted your options within your power, you’ve taken matters into our own hands. Now what? Ask for help, call the number, and watch this space – your personal space…

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