What's The Diff?

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When We Go Home, Are We Silos? Or Team Players?

By Kathy Fawcett

Someone once said that good fences make for good neighbors, but I say that fences can make us silos in our own communities.

Chuck is a neighbor of mine that doesn’t let fences stop him.

The other night he brought our mail over – 4 Netflix that mistakenly landed in his mailbox. A person of lesser ethics could have kept them, and we’d be none the wiser. Of course, this single dad would have been sorely disappointed in the actual selections. About twice a year Steve lets me look over his shoulder at the Netflix queue. My husband, who considers anyone watching an episode of "24" on DVD without him as a betrayal, said: "Upstairs, Downstairs should be coming in tomorrow. Go ahead and watch them while I’m in Cleveland."

But that’s not the point.

Chuck is a good neighbor. Where we live, our driveways are roughly 800 feet long from mailbox to house. If he were to walk from his house to mine, he’d hoof well over half a mile round trip. He drove his Chevy truck, though, and I happened to pass him in my icy driveway while getting the mail in my Camry. (Hey, it’s like 10 degrees below zero out there!)

"Let me know if you need me to plow your driveway. I’ll come over," he said. I appreciated this offer, and know it was sincere.

What really makes Chuck a good neighbor, though, is that he looks out for Todd and Barbara, my next door neighbors. Todd and his wife are both pushing 90 years old. Todd is a proud veteran of WWII. In the summer months, we are careful to edge along the fence line where Todd’s house sits, so our weeds don’t block their windows.

During the winter months, after every snowfall, Chuck takes his Chevy (with the plow attachment) over to Todd’s house and clears the snow. Todd insists on paying Chuck, and Chuck always replies: "you wouldn’t happen to be a war veteran, would you? Because I’m running a special on snow removal for veterans." Chuck doesn’t plow for the two dollars he allows Todd to pay (which doesn’t cover a fraction of his time or gas) but because it’s the right thing to do.

We’ve crossed some fences in our community, sometimes to bring meals, other times to get our hands dirty. Not so long ago my daughter asked me to help her move her friend out of her home – a girl whose mother was becoming violent in her drug addiction. We crossed the fence and we did the right thing. Using the word "silo" at work is new to me. Thankfully, the entire concept is foreign to me.

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  1. Who would DARE watch “24″ without making sure everyone in the house could be there to watch and participate in the post-credits discussion??? The audacity of such a notion sickens me! What has become of us a nation? Nay, as a species? For shame, I say. For shame. Alas, I cannot go on…

    Posted by: Mike D. | February 22, 2007
  2. The hardest part of crossing fences is breaking your own habits — getting past all the “important stuff” you have to do to take the time to introduce yourself to your neighbors in the first place.
    How do you know when to offer help if you don’t even know who lives in the houses that surround you?

    Posted by: Christy | February 23, 2007

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Monday, January 22, 2018