Or as I like to term it, tolerate thy neighbor.

I had an encounter today with a neighbor I share a fence with (I am on a corner block). I have lived at this house for almost two years and this is the first encounter I have had with him. Apart from me laughing at him when he starts yodelling in the shower, there is nothing that connects us in any way except for a fence.

Until today.

The brute of a neanderthal came out of nowhere just as I parked my car in my driveway and proceeded to tell me off like I was a naughty child.

“Can you please take your dogs inside because we just had to pay $60 for slats to put on the fence”.

I stuttered a bit because he surprised me when he came bounding out from behind the garage and confronted me. I also was immediately shocked with the manner in which he spoke to me.

“Um…” was all I could muster in the heat of the moment.

“Yeh I told the guy (points at our other car, and he means my husband who works away at a mine and is currently not home) about this already. We’re the neighbours from over there (points, like I am expected to know) and we just had to pay $60 (again, emphasising that he had to pay that amount) to buy slats for the fence because your dogs keep barking at us. Every single time we go outside they bark at us.”

Again, all I can say is, “Um, okay. Sorry” He stomps off like a child with a tantrum and I am standing there still dragging my stuff out of the car absolutely dumbfounded.

Now don’t get me wrong – I understand he is potentially very frustrated, I get it. I understand he probably isn’t a dog person, in the same respect that I am not a children person, but I don’t complain when his grandchildren and children visit and make noise.

Further, he has no proof that it is my dogs and he has just launched a scathing attack at me. I have issues with the other neighbors dog barking constantly at me when I take out the washing, but you don’t see me complaining about it – in fact I know he only does it because I am standing closer to the fence he borders; he is a dog and that fence-line is part of his territory and he is protecting his pack. Totally normal.

I just cannot get over the manner in which the way this guy spoke with me. I am still a little shocked about it all to be honest, because he was so incredibly rude and scathing in such a short manner of time. Maybe what upsets me is that he has made a judgement and an accusation about me and my family, including my dogs that isn’t true. What ever happened to the days where you could trust your neighbors to watch your house when you go away, feed your cat and pick up your mail?

Have those days really gone? Has common courtesy all but vanished? Are neighbors not neighbors anymore???

If we aren’t neighbors, what are we? Cohabitants in a property which is bordered by a fence to another piece of land with cohabitants in a property….I mean, how banal is that? There is no love or life in that statement; in fact, there is nothing. It sounds so black and white, so formal.

I don’t know now what to do. Should I play the nice “neighbor” card so he stays out of my face and doesn’t cause me any trouble with the council? Or should I let myself and my dogs enjoy our house for what it is and live and let live, regardless of what in turn happens with the neighbor?