My Bad Habit: Writing Posts to Further Avoid Having to Talk to My Neighbor

I have many, many bad habits. I pop all my zits (fuck you beauty magazines), I can’t have junk food in the house because I will inhale it in a day, I will stab your sentimentality with a broken bottle, etc. But the bad habit I’m currently suffering from is social avoidance. Which, admittedly, isn’t exactly a habit, it’s more of a neurosis, but I’m not splitting hairs, which is also a bad habit.


You see this? It’s a giant dead tree. It has a leprosy-like oozing wound towards the bottom. It looks like The Jolly Green Giant has been kicking it. All of its branches are on one side, because, and this is just a guess, when the tree was alive, it also was socially avoidant.

This big, dead, dented tree is leaning towards the electricity, internet, and cable-making lines. Every day (ok, twice a week), when I leave the house, I think, “I sure hope that tree doesn’t fall,” and then I think the same thing when I get home, twenty minutes later.

Since we’re trying to sell the house, we think it’s in our best interest to get rid of it (and, you know, because it will kill civilization when it falls), but the problem is, it’s right on the property line with our neighbors. We’re pretty sure it’s on their side of the property line because of a row of now-dead formerly fluffy ornamental plants, which we assume serve as a natural dividing line.

The logical thing to do is walk 200 feet or so, knock on their door, and ask them about it. The neighbor husband works from home, so it shouldn’t be hard to catch him – I’m home all day, too.

I’ve spoken to these neighbors probably 4 times. The first time was when I met them. The other times involved the fact that they let their dog out in their unfenced front yard and forget about him. I don’t like this about them – we live on a very, very small cul-de-sac, right near a busy road. Their previous dog was hit by a car. They haven’t pieced together the problem yet. So, not only do I have my general social anxiety and avoidance to contend with, I also have crazy thoughts like, “I don’t want to go over there when the dog’s not out because he’ll let the dog out when I come to the door and then the dog will get hit by a car and I’ll never be able to live with myself.”

I’ve actually come to the conclusion a few times that I’ll just pay to have this huge tree removed to avoid having to have a 2 minute conversation with my neighbor. But, then I realize that’s crazy, and then I reset the feedback loop.

And so there sits the tree – a giant, dead monolith commemorating my inability to initiate a conversation.

I’m not even going to get into my next bad habit, which will ride the coattails of the current one. Once it’s settled, if I have to deal with the tree, that will involve a phone call, and then we’re talking another month or so of avoidance.
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This post was written in response to Studio30 Plus’ writing prompt, “Bad Habits.

31 thoughts on “My Bad Habit: Writing Posts to Further Avoid Having to Talk to My Neighbor

  1. It’s amazing the exhausting lengths I’ll go to simply to avoid situations similar to the ones you’ve described above. No, I don’t avoid all people, but rather the annoying ones that do things like neglect their animals, talk to me for too long or generally just make me stabby by existing. This is no longer a bad habit. This is now part of my sparkling personality.

    And I’m putting my Studio30 post up later, but good lord, it was hard to pick one bad habit…

    • Yeah, it’s just kind of who I am. I’m fine with it unless it causes getting-something-done paralysis, which this is. That’s when it enters bad habit territory. Most of the time, though, I just consider it an adorable quirk, the not wanting to talk to people. I’m like you – I don’t avoid people I like and know.

  2. Wow. We have the same bad habits! Lately I seem to be forgetting about the junk food thing, and have inhaled vast quantities of M&Ms. And I took the impressively insensitive step of going to see The Grey after a funeral-viewing.

    I talk to one of my neighbors, and know the names of a couple of seasonal neighbors, but the temptation to stay inside is so great I want to become the crazy-witch-lady from the movie Big Fish someday.

  3. I knew I liked you. I will do just about anything to avoid having to actually speak to people.Maybe you could leave a trail of raw meat up the tree so their dog will get stuck up there and they’ll have to call the fire department to get the dog down and then the fire department will cut the tree down and it will all be so exciting!

    • Ooooh, a trail is a good idea! I keep thinking that they just haven’t noticed it, as they are oblivious in general and are gone three days out of the week. Maybe I could leave a trail for the people. I could tie a string to the tree and attach it to their door, and have candy on it all the way down it. Much better than having to talk to them.

  4. It sounds to me like they have the I.Q. of a drunk David Hasselhoff. How can they not piece together: no fence = dog hit by car? This means that any conversation with them will require you to repeat yourself infinitely and keep sentences to a simple noun-verb-noun combination. This is difficult. I say stick with avoidance.

  5. One of my big pet peeves is waiters/waitresses who are TOO attentive. I didn’t go to the restaurant to talk to you. I went to eat and talk to whoever I’m with. Keep an eye on my drink but otherwise, leave me alone!

  6. Oooooh yeah. My neighbors are morons, so I have no desire to speak to them, but I suffer social anxiety big time. It sucks, but I don’t know how not to be this way. I get super worked up whenever we have any sort of engagement. Fortunately my husband is very easy going, so it makes up for my anti-social behavior, sort of.

    I’d go with note in blood, that will probably solve everything quickly.

    • Yeah, we got several trees removed in October right before we put the house up for sale, and the cost of those is why I’m not letting myself eat the cost of this tree without clarifying the property line. That stupid tree died right after we hat the tree guys out here. What a jerk.

  7. I try to avoid people when I can too. It’s the #1 reason why I order pizza online and don’t call!

    You know, if the tree really is going to be an issue with the powerlines, you might be able to call the power company and tell them. I know around here if it’s a hazard they’ll actually take care of it!

    Of course that means making a call and having to talk to someone after being on hold…

  8. I think I see some leaves on the tree so it’s not totally dead. Consider trimming it up and removing all the branches then sell it as a maypole for the new owners! They can celebrate the purchase of their new home with it! It’s beautiful! Spin, spin spin!

  9. Oh my god. Don’t even get me started on zit popping.
    I sometimes stop and think maybe I have a terrible skin picking disorder… then I get distracted and start picking some more.

    I think you should make your neighbours deal with that shit. What if you put on a disguise and pretended to be the city and told him he had to do it… legally.

    He deserves to be dicked around after leaving his dog out.

  10. You could always put a scary demon face on the tree and attach a note to their door saying the only way to get rid of demon-face tree is to take an axe to it. Or.. yeah, I dunno, that’s a lot of work… and kind of silly.. Seriously though, talking to people in person sucks.

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