By nature, I’m a highly skeptical, cynical person. I’ve tried to train myself, over the past few years, to doubt people less, trust people more, and consider giving people the benefit of the doubt more often.
The week we were to close on our house, the woman who lives down the street approached our Realtor and asked if she could have a few of the iris bulbs in the front yard. The home had been in her family for almost a century, as well as the 43 acres that accompany it. She had some sadness about the home and land changing hands.
James is much more trusting and much less cynical than I am. He said, “Sure, come over any time before we close and just get some bulbs.”
It rubbed me the wrong way when he told me this. I thought we’d get into some strange relationship with our neighbors, having no boundaries, creating some kind of nightmarish, monster-like, creepy situation. Of course, that’s my tendency–jump to the worst possible scenario and get freaked out. He reassured me that we’d be fine, that our neighbors were probably nice people, and we probably had nothing to worry about.
He was right.
While we were renovating our house, that same neighbor stopped by with a house-warming gift, the first one we received. She brought us an oil lamp and a game of Yahtzee, along with a really sweet card. I was touched and surprised. I’d lived in Conway next to the same neighbors for 5 years, and I never knew their names.
Since then, the kindness has continued. Once, she called me to tell me that our road was flooded, and it’d be safer for me to take the back way coming home. Who does that? My neighbor.
Another time, we came home and saw a truck parked next to the mailbox. We weren’t sure what was going on, but as we got closer, we recognized that it was her truck. She had her teenage son mowing our yard for us!
“He needs to learn to be courteous to his neighbors, that’s all,” she said.
Lesson learned! He mowed our entire yard, and then she asked if we’d had supper yet. We said no, so she went home and returned 20 minutes later with a huge bowl of beans, freshly baked cornbread, and brownies.
I’ve discovered that giving her the benefit of the doubt turned out to be the best option. She looks out for us, and we look out for her. We’ve found a home for items we no longer needed, started collecting cans for her son who sells them, and have been able to help around her house with tasks she couldn’t manage alone.
Guess it’s pretty obvious who learned the lesson :).