Several weeks ago, D.C. was hit with a major thunderstorm. I wasn’t there for it, but I heard all about the damage that was done. My cousin lost power for a week. A tree collapsed onto a friend of a friend’s house. People died. My buddy Matt Lewis at The Daily Caller briefly took his family out of the area, but before they fled the district, he observed the way people around him reacted to the extreme weather:
“A few interesting things happened Saturday morning. First, we started talking to our neighbors (you know, the people we normally just wave to as we’re ducking in our door with bags full of groceries?) They were outside in the cool(er) air, doing work like picking up tree branches left over from the storm. Because they were already outside, it was easy to talk to them. All of a sudden, despite the hardship, we were all more friendly and talkative and neighborly.
We had nothing else to do — no TV to watch, at least — and we now had something in common to talk about and a shared community to watch out for and clean up. I’ve seen this with snowstorms, too. (I have neighbors that I only know because of natural disasters.) Just add wind or a foot of snow, and all of a sudden, Alexandria, Virginia turns into Mayberry.”
I agreed with his point — that the neighbor dynamic has changed overtime — but shelved the thought away until this evening, when I returned home to a moldy windowsill. As you know from yesterday’s post, the AC unit of the person above me is leaking into my room. I contacted the landlord a few days ago, but he said he couldn’t help until Sunday, so I figured I could just leave mugs underneath the holes for a few days. My roommate said she’d keep an eye on the cups while I’m out, but it wasn’t until tonight that I knew immediate action had to be taken.
Anyway, there’s now a ton of mold on my windowsill. Have a look for yourself, if you dare:
After I saw that, I phoned the landlord and asked him to please arrange for someone to clean it up while I’m away. That he agreed to, but said I first needed to contact my upstairs neighbor about their leaking AC unit. I left a note on their door and received a call from one of the occupants a half hour later. He was very friendly and the conversation actually made me sad that I’ve never taken the time to get to know any of the people in my building. We walk past each other every morning and wave, but say nothing at all. Of course, my hilarious roommate Jen is enough entertainment for a lifetime, as no one is funnier than she, but we could always use more friends.
Bottom line: Matt is dead on that neighbors just aren’t what they used to be anymore, at least in our respective situations. This was the first interaction I’ve ever had with any of my neighbors, and that’s not at all what it was like for me on my childhood block. Maybe it’s a suburb thing? I’m not sure. All I know is that neighbors once felt like extended family to me. Now they’re more like emergency contacts.
It’s been quite an exhausting and exciting week, and it’s only going to get more intense in the coming days. Tucson, here I come.