Making your neighbor your enemy is a bad idea

By Bruce Firestone | Uncategorized

Aug 18

Hesiod, a Greek poet who was active sometime
between 750 and 650 BC, said:

bad neighbor is as great a calamity as a good one is a great advantage

So why do so many people make enemies of their

Whether the issue between the two of you is
petty or crucial, your first inclination when something comes up on your street
should NOT be to call your city or town’s 1-800-rat-line, in my view.

It should be to visit with your neighbor and
talk it through.

I saw this, shall we say, Donald Trump-style
example yesterday of two neighbors who obviously don’t get along while I was
riding my e-bike to Bridgehead, a local coffee house, to meet with a coaching
client of mine.


It reminded me of a Star Trek episode (Let that be your last battlefield) that
aired prophetically for the first time on January 10th 1969. 


These two races
(differentiated in the above photo because they are mirror images of each
other) hated each other and battled until all that was left of them were these
two pathetic men who also died fighting a war about meaningless and
insignificant ethnic differences. 

Here’s a cartoon I created (during president Obama’s first
term) to demonstrate what I am talking about.


William and Mary are neighbors. William is worried.

He believes that Mary’s goat is eating his veggies. He wants
her to stake her goat.

She wants her goat to be able to roam free to forage and

She thinks William ought to fence his garden.

To settle the matter, president Obama decrees that William
should fence his yard, and that Mary should pay for it while her goat goes free.

Someone once told me you should (almost) never need a third
party or a judge (or, in this case, a president) to sort things out as long as
you are willing to sit down and talk with your “enemy.”

Here’s another example. This one’s real.

A couple (both seniors) live next to a single mother with
three kids and a dog.

Every evening, mom puts her dog out in her backyard while
she is getting dinner ready, getting her three wee ones in the bath, and then during story time
and bedtime. The dog, now separated from the family he loves, howls… non stop.

What to do?

Call noise bylaw enforcement? Call ordinance enforcement


The old guy goes over and volunteers to walk her dog,
which is craving exercise as much as company.

Most neighbor complaints and many NIMBY problems can be
resolved this way—by endless fraternization and discussion.

It’s much harder to
hate someone who is sitting on your coach four feet from your face.

But if you make an enemy of your neighbor—one of you has to
move. It’s horrible to come home to a place that is no longer a sanctuary.

My oldest son, Andrew, had a chicken coop in his backyard
(in Canberra, you know, the capital of Australia). One
of his roosters (called Little Caesar) crowed from 4 am onward at an incredible
95 decibels.

Needless to say, his neighbors were not too impressed.

What did he do?

Tell his neighbors to take a long walk off a short pier?

No. He blacked out the windows on the coop, put a tiny
garage door on it with a timer set to go off at 7 am, which meant that LC was
quiet until that door opened each day
at 7…

When we had a tenant who was, shall we say, not the best housekeeper in the world, did I complain? Nope. I offered to help her with a reset–I hired a professional cleaning company who went into her place (at our cost) and did a number on the apartment–they pretty much nuked it. After that (one time event), she had fewer issues with upkeep.

Why is cleanliness important? Well, if you want to keep cockroaches and rodents out of your buildings as well as prevent mold, this is one way to do that.

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD, ROYAL LePAGE Performance Realty broker, Ottawa Senators founder, Real Estate Investment and Business coach 1-613-762-8884


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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.