Love Thy Neighbor...Well, Sometimes

I’ve had some odd neighbors.

In the four years that I’ve lived in my apartment, three have cycled through.

The first family was very nice. Well, I assume they were nice—we never actually spoke. But they didn’t light our doormat on fire, so in my book, that’s nice.

When they left, two 20-something frat guys moved in. They weren’t the brightest crayons in the box but they were polite and held the door open for us when we were carrying in groceries. My roommate and I were a little concerned, however, when they told us the only thing they knew how to do was “crush melons.” For those of you who aren’t accustomed to brutality, melon is code for skull.

So it seemed like a blessing when they left and a young couple took their place in September. They appeared to be very normal, so much so that my roommate even obliged when they asked for our Wi-Fi password “just for a few days” until they got their Internet set up.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I got a knock on the door last week and the following interaction occurred:

Neighbor: “Hey, has your Internet been slow or weird the past few days?”

Me (in Pillsbury Doughboy pajama pants): “Umm, not really.”

Neighbor: “OK, well, we haven’t been able to get on the Internet for two days, and we really appreciate that you’re still letting us use your Internet—as soon as I get a job, we’re going to get our own. And I don’t want to tell you what to do, but if you could turn your router off and then back on, that might help us out.”

Me: “Ummmmmmmmm.”

I guess you could say I haven’t had a strong relationship with any of my neighbors. But according to the State of the American Neighborhood Survey by Nextdoor, getting buddy-buddy—perhaps with the exception of the melon-crushers and the couple currently stealing our Internet—could create a safer environment.

According to the survey, 72 percent of people say because they know their neighbors, they are confident their neighbors would do something if suspicious activity occurs around their homes. If your neighbors are acting suspiciously, well, that’s a separate concern.

Additionally, 47 percent of Americans who know their neighbors say, because of this, they have no immediate plans to move. Thirty-five percent of those who know their neighbors have shared information with them about crime and safety in the community.

And yet 38 percent of people don’t tell a neighbor they are going to go out of town. Rather, 12 percent allow items to pile up in their mailboxes, 10 percent make social media announcements to say they’ll be away from home (attention Facebook friends: now would be a great time to rob me) and 19 percent leave their house keys in nearby hiding places, such as in a super-secretive and deceptive hollowed out frog.

Perhaps most surprising, one-third don’t even know their neighbors by name. Nicknames, such as “Unemployed Internet Stealer,” do not count.

For more, check out Data Insider in the April issue of units Magazine, which mailed Apr. 11.