Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Would You Conduct a Kindness Campaign?

I live in LA, in a mobile home park across the street from the ocean. About half of the residents have lived here forever and about half are new or newish like me. (I've been here 5 years.) Living near the ocean is amazing. We can hear waves crash at night. At any time, we can walk across the street and put our feet in the sand. It really is like paradise.

Yet some of my neighbors seem angry.

I don't know why you'd be grumpy all the time in a place like this, but some of them are MAD. There was the time I was slowly getting out of a friend's car in front of my place. It was after my back injury. A neighbor pulled up and started honking. I said, "I'm sorry, I'm moving slowly. I have a back injury."

She heard me. Yet, she honked again, longer and louder.

I got out of the car as quickly as I could and my friend drove off. The honker pulled up next to me.

"I have a back injury. I'm moving really slowly," I said.

"You should know better than to park in a blind spot!" She yelled.

"This is my place." I pointed at my gate, right where my friend had been parked. "Why are you yelling at me?" I asked, my voice now raised.

"How long have you lived here?" She yelled.

"FIVE  YEARS," I yelled back.

"Well then you should know not to park in that blind spot!" She yelled.

"Well you don't have to be such a f*cking bitch about it." I yelled back. (What can I say? Apparently, anger is contagious.)

She drove off.

Other things have happened. On another day when I couldn't make it up to the pool, I sent a couple of my friends there on their own. The rule is guests must be with a resident. This is to ensure that strangers don't come off the beach and use the pool.

The next day, I got a call from my landlord, who got a call from the park owner, who got a call from a grumpy resident that my friends were in the pool without me.

Really? If you know they're not strangers and that they're my friends, do you really have to try and get me in trouble?

I bring this up because I just found out that my neighbors who are building the fence and blocking out their ocean view are doing this because some other grumps have complained that their patio was a mess. The guy is a woodworker and has lots of tools. Frankly, I never noticed a mess, but someone else did.

And that person complained so much that my neighbors feel like the only way to stop the complaints and avoid conflict is to block their view of the Pacific.

This is sad commentary on humanity. We would rather put up walls than compromise. Some people would rather yell than listen. Complain rather than ask, "Is Suzanne okay? Why couldn't she come to the pool with you?"

I discussed this with an awesome neighbor earlier today. We tossed around ideas on how to start some kind of kindness campaign. We talked about posting the words "Be Kind" on our fences.

Do you have any ideas? How would you subtly infuse some kindness in a community riddled with grumps?



  1. I like the idea of your kindness campaign! It sounds like anything from smiling to baking cookies would be awesome.

    1. Smiles all around! And I like your cookie idea. Thanks!

  2. Put a joint on their porch with a note -- Chill Out!!!

  3. Replies
    1. Agreed! That's what so weird about it. I know I reacted to the woman who yelled at me, but I'm generally Sunshine Suzie, saying, "Good morning" and smiling at everyone I see. And the couple who's feeling forced to build the fence is super friendly too. And the awesome neighbor who I discussed the kindness campaign with is also so smiley and sweet.

      I just don't get it. It's weird.

  4. So is it just one neighbor that is acting cranky?

  5. No. It's like an epidemic. I don't know who complained about my friends being at the pool. And I had never met the woman who yelled at me before. My neighbors who are building the fence have gotten anonymous complaints. And another neighbor recently got an anonymous complaint from an "adjacent" neighbor. So it's all different grumpy people. So weird.

    What ever happened to being neighborly?

  6. Maybe start doing random acts of kindness within the area? And post Be Kind! And smile.
    We used to have one grump in our neighborhood that called the police on everyone and ended up suing the homeowner's board (and lost). It did affect a lot, he even stopped the neighborhood summer get togethers we used to have. But he moved and things seem better. Unfortunately you have lots of grumps! I think the only thing you can do is be positive yourself and hope it catches on.

  7. How miserable! Maybe an ice cream social? Get everyone together in a neutral space for a friendly treat?
    You're right...anger does spread.


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