This is a column I wrote for the paper earlier this month. Enjoy!
For years Mr. Rogers opened his PBS show, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” with the phrase, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” Well, Mr. Rogers, I’m not entirely sure you would want me as your neighbor.
It’s not that I’m a terribly inconsiderate person to live next to, above or under. Occasionally, I am known to listen to music and to shout at the TV when the Bears are playing, but I never throw wild parties, well, not since I left college. For the most part, I just go about my business. I can hear you now, saying “Well, what’s so bad about that?”
What’s so bad about it is that I typically don’t go out of my way to meet my neighbors. Like I said, I just go about my business. I’ve lived in the same apartment for two years and only know the name of one of my neighbors.
She’s a very quiet grad student who lives above me. I only happen to know her name because she was moving in one day last year as I came home for lunch. But, other than that one moment, our paths have rarely crossed. I have no idea of what she does all day, although I gather it involves a lot of reading—being a grad student and all.
I pass her first floor window on the way down to my basement apartment most days. Whenever I glance through the window, her face is in a book. I wish I could say the same, but video games, Netflix and an acoustic guitar vie for my attention.
However, she’s a welcome change from the girl who lived there before her. She owned two little dogs, who barked incessantly whenever she was gone. They would also run around above me daily, so I could hear the click-clack of their claws on the floor. One of the dogs, a little fluffy fellow missing one eye, would jump up on the couch by the window and bark directly at me every time I walked past her window. I don’t know what I did to offend him, but he was never happy to see me.
For most people, none of that would be a problem. I have an odd schedule that involves a lot of evening meetings, though. Often, I’m home during the afternoon, so I had the pleasure of hearing every one of her dogs’ yips and yelps in her absence.
Then there was the guy who lived next to me for a while. Sometimes I would see him in the laundry room, and we would say “What’s up,” but we never really talked. Well, until he knocked on my door at 2 a.m. one Saturday night.
He was decidedly less than sober and wanted to apologize for not introducing himself. To be fair, there’s no better time than after a night in Aggieville for a mea culpa. K-State students know that all too well.
I wasn’t mad, but rather amused that he had no idea he was being a good neighbor and an awful neighbor simultaneously. I never had another chance to have a bleary-eyed, late-night conversation with him, as he moved out shortly after that.
I also regret not meeting the guy who lived on the floor above me toward the opposite side of the building. He rode a Segway scooter all three blocks to class nearly every day. I just bet a guy like that knows how to party.
But, honestly, I would ride a Segway everywhere if it meant not having to hear the pop-country music coming through the wall and vents from the apartment next to me. I suppose it could be a retaliation for frequently playing Clash and Kinks records, but there’s no way to know for sure.
And, now, like Mr. Rogers, I must ask “Won’t you be my neighbor?” On second thought, don’t answer that.