by Nick Callanan
As a longtime member of Maine’s seasonal workforce, I have lived in many a house/apartment/cabin/tent/truck (actually just one truck) over the past few years.
Moving generally sucks, but it helps if you can fit everything you own into the back of your vehicle.
This (auto)mobile principle causes the ski mountain employee/raft guide to seriously prioritize his belongings: “Okay, I don’t need the tea kettle because I can boil water in the spaghetti pot … Where did I get all these T-shirts? I’ve got to choose my favorite 10 and donate the rest to Goodwill … Anything that’s broken and can’t be fixed in one day has to go …Do I really need a pillow? Yes!... Thank God for these versatile milk crates…”
Because of this principle, I’ve turned down a lot of houseplants, dogs, furniture and Ramen because there was no room for them in the back of the little gray Nissan. When you do finally decide on what possessions to include in your next season’s life, you must pack them into/onto your vehicle. This task inevitably causes the load to get even smaller (“Heh-heh, I just don’t seem to have room for all of these credit card bills…”), however, before you ditch your pint glass collection, I need to point out that the kayak is an often overlooked storage container. Caution: if you plan on crossing national borders, know that the border patrol WILL look inside your boat.
After your load is secure, it’s time to make your move.
The first thing I do after I unpack and conduct the customary Feng Shui arrangements is to get a sense of my new neighbors.
Sometimes you’ll head next door and find yourself living next to people you work with (“Dude, will you shake my tent when you get up tomorrow?”). Sometimes you’ll be living next to weekend warriors (“Hey Rod! So tell me, how was the week in the big city?”). Other times you might be dwelling amongst the company of year-round locals (“Do you actually go down the river in that little boat?”). And, in rare occasions, you might be neighbors with some seasonal rich folks (“Hmmm, yes, do you mind parking on the other side of the lot this weekend? We have company arriving on Friday and they’re not accustomed to walking past such, um, primitive automobiles…”).
But whoever your neighbors appear to be, it’s impossible to know at first glance if they will be easy to get along with. Any of the aforementioned neighbor stereotypes could turn out to be a quiet neighbor, a cool neighbor, a raging-partying neighbor or an ultra-sensitive neighbor.
Quiet neighbors are fine, because you never hear from them. These neighbors keep to themselves and expect you to do the same. Sometimes, however, what at first seems to be a quiet neighbor can end up being an ultra-sensitive neighbor (more on that one later). In any case, it is advised not to push your limits with the quiet neighbor. Respect, like in any relationship, is key to keeping on the up-and-up with your quiet neighbors: don’t crank the tunes after ten, don’t park in their spot and don’t feed drugs to their dog. I heard Ted Kuzinski was a quiet neighbor.
The cool neighbor is great because you will probably end up being friends. You will make small talk outside your place of residence. You will share meals. He or she will come over to invite you to a bonfire party or to see if you want to check out “8 Mile” before it’s returned to the video store. You might even find out your cool neighbor is studying to be a massage therapist. Sweet! Everything is good in the cool neighborhood. The raging-partying neighbor is great if, for some reason, you need a beer at 3 o’clock in the whatever. Also, the raging-partying neighbor will generally put up with a lot of noise and other strange behavior from you because their lifestyle usually has them in one of two states: making a lot of noise or passed out stone cold. Another plus: the raging-partying neighbor is always very entertaining to watch. I can put up with the raging-partying neighbor as long as they’re not living too close, otherwise drastic measures like sneaking into their house and vigorously shaking up all the cans of beer may be required. Bribery sometime works. Violence, not so much. You could also try talking to them, but this strategy rarely gets very far.
The ultra-sensitive neighbor can be trouble. You can recognize these people by the standard pounding on the wall/floor/ceiling after you let out a good belch or set an object on the table. Use extreme caution when dealing with the ultra-sensitive neighbor because they often are very bitter people who find enjoyment in introducing pain into the lives of others. Perhaps a neighborhood barbecue would help set things sizzling in the right direction.
But whatever you do, please don’t resort to banging on the wall/floor/ceiling. It’s cowardly and it just pisses people off.
Instead, I would advise this strategy: Grab a blanket (or another non-intimidating object) and head next door. Knock on your neighbor’s front door:
“Excuse me, kind neighbor, is there a reason why I am hearing thumping on our common wall,” you ask through clenched teeth.
“Um, yea. Could you keep it down over there? I can’t hear myself think,” your neighbor replies, wondering why you are standing there petting your blanket.
“I would be happy to ... I would also like to note that I will come down here to see you every single time you bang on that wall. So, if you ever need to communicate with me again – for example to ask if I know the solution to a particular Jeopardy clue or to get advice on marinating beaver flesh, go ahead, bang on that wall again, and I’ll be right down. Is that a deal?”
If you hold your head at a slight angle, and unfailingly stare your neighbor in the eye while you say this, you probably won’t have to worry about pesky Harvey Wallbanger anymore.
Email nick [at] noumbrella [dot] com with your questions, comments and concerns.
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