Being a good neighbor without knowing your neighbor

I’d like to compose an open letter to the band upstairs.

These kinds of problems never confronted me as a freshman. Living in the dorms, you get to know your neighbors and hallmates pretty well. First of all, everyone’s name is written on a dolphin/cartoon character/Jedi from Star Wars and posted on their door. Simple enough; you can walk down the hall and start getting to know your neighbors before they even get there. Their hometown may even be helpfully added (suburbs, suburbs, Korea, suburbs …) for your convenience.

Secondly, you’re living in such close quarters that it’s easy to make friends in your hall. I remember showing up at the Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall on my first day as a student and thinking, “If I don’t make friends with these people, I’ll be a social reject for the rest of college.” Not exactly true, but there will be some lonely lunches if you don’t find a few people you enjoy chatting with.

Finally, in some dorms, there’s the “shared bathroom” phenomenon, where you master such skills as awkwardly saying ‘hi’ to your hallmates while washing your face and learning who leaves hair in the shower and who doesn’t.

(Curly red-haired girl from freshman year, that means you. Who did you think you were fooling?)

But now, all of that’s over. I’m an apartment-dweller, and the rules of being a good neighbor have changed. It was a bit of an adjustment – I tried leaving our front door propped open to see if people would come say ‘hi,’ but let’s just say that backfired — but after two years, I think I’ve got it down. So I would like to dedicate these tips to the band on the fourth floor, in hopes that they may be edifying.

How to Be a Good Neighbor When You Don’t Know Your Neighbors:

  1. If you’re going to throw a wild and crazy party, you should invite your neighbors. You probably don’t know them, so they’ll probably say no. But if you’ve invited them, they’re still less likely to call the police when your Thursday night Grey’s Anatomy viewing party gets out of control.
  2. Don’t vomit on the stairs. Please.
  3. If you’re going to pump up the music, blast something good, please ­— or at least entertaining. I can’t be mad at you when my house is shaking with the Duck Tales theme. (True story.)
  4. If we’re both trying to unlock our doors at the same time, don’t awkwardly avert your gaze from me. Say ‘hi;’ it might be the only time we talk all year.
  5. If you’re in a band, don’t practice where the drummer lives. His neighbors have gone through enough.

I hope these tips help you live in neighborly harmony long after your dorm days. As an added note to the band upstairs, baking cookies for us was a great idea. The Post-It with all your first and last names so we could Facebook friend you was verging on overkill. But sorry, bringing baked goods on a ceramic plate in hopes that we’ll come return it isn’t a great strategy; more likely, it will be thrown out like the paper plate you should have brought it on. Or it could pop up as a photo illustration in The Daily Illini if one of your recipients happens to work there.

But in the future, stick with the cookies.