The Good Neighbor

If Hollywood were to cast the quintessential caring neighbors, it would be the Nussbaums.  Lucky for me, I grew up across the street from the Nussbaum family. 

On more than one occasion, they called my parents when, as a little tike, I decided to take my tricycle for a ride without telling my parents.  In the buck.  Down the middle of the street.  Without a care in the world or a shred of learned modesty.  Always the second set of eyes, the Nussbaums became family.

They also quickly forgave me when I proceeded to break all of Mrs. Nussbaum’s flower pots.  Although I have no memory of the event, I have been reminded many times of my curiosity for breaking clay pots as a little kid.  The bond between our two families was stronger than a broken flower pot (or ten).

Some three decades since the flower pot tempest, I no longer live across the street from the Nussbaums.  But they are still neighbors at heart.  And they still engage in neighborly acts of kindness.

As just one example, every New Year Mr. Nussbaum makes a very special delivery: Nuts.  And not just any sad sack of peanuts.  It’s a tin of perfectly seasoned cashews, almonds, macadamias, walnuts, and every other nut discovered by mankind.  Each tin is hand-delivered by Mr. Nussbaum himself.  

Mr. Nussbaum makes these deliveries under the guise of a “business” visit.  You see, Mr. Nussbaum is a real estate agent.  He has helped his clients — oftentimes, friends and family — buy and sell homes throughout Colorado.  For longer than I’ve been alive, Mr. Nussbaum has been helping people find a place to call home — including me, my wife, and our two beautiful kids.

And so, when he arrives on our doorstep with a tin of delicious nuts, he makes the delivery under the auspices of a networking business visit.  But, in reality, Mr. Nussbaum does not come to our doorstep with a tin of nuts for business.  

He comes to see us in the home that he sold to us.  To hear the laughter of our kids, to see the clutter of our family room, to tip-toe over a Hazel Village stuffed animal or two.  He comes to be our neighbor once again.

Good neighbors — neighbors like the Nussbaums — remind us of the importance of the human connection.  Some may see Mr. Nussbaum’s delivery of many dozens tins of nuts as a fools errand, harkening back to a bygone era where personal contact mattered before texting, facebooking, instagramming, and other means of virtual living.

Mr. Nussbaum may be chasing his own windmill, but it’s a chase worth pursuing: the chase of something personal, authentic, heart-warming, and kind.  It’s the chase of the human connection.  It’s what a good neighbor does.