I think back to many of the neighborhoods I’ve lived in over the past 25 years. Most of them were pretty similar: Nobody talked to one another.
Sure, there was a cursory wave when you drove by or pulled your car into the garage. But for the most part, that was it. People would get home from work, drive their cars into their garage… and then close the garage door and walk into the house.
I’d imagine that if there was ever a real SHTF scenario, people would probably get to know each other pretty quickly. But you’re going to be at a distinct advantage if you already know who’s living in your neighborhood… before the SHTF.
The neighborhood we live in is different. It’s an older neighborhood and everybody knows everybody else for the most part. Unlike the neighborhood I grew up in, in Southern California– everybody owns guns here and it’s not uncommon to see a gun safe in a garage as you drive by.
Same thing with gardens: The guy behind me has a green house. The guy across the street has a garden. So does the guy on the corner, and on the corner across from him… the fellow’s whole yard is nothing but rows of vegetable crops.
The guy next door to me has an eight year-old kid. He and the kid watch our chickens while we are away. When we return, we made chit-chat and he casually mentioned that he was waiting on his CCW (concealed carry permit). He’s also a private airline mechanic and an avid off roader with two jeeps and a toyota truck in his yard– all custom built.
“Think a guy like that will be helpful to the neighborhood when the SHTF?”
The woman who lives next door to him has an adult son who lives with her. He spends all of his free time fishing. Across the street (the guy with the row garden) is an avid hunter and his wife is a veterinarian. Across from them is a retired iron worker. Next to the iron worker is a retired National Guardsman.
I was chatting with the Guardsman and he told me that: When an area a few blocks away flooded, lookie-loos were driving by to see the flood damage. Every time they drove by, it caused a little wake that pushed water into the residents’ houses. Two old guys who lived on that street got pissed off and started sitting out in lawn chairs with their shotguns. If you didn’t live on that street, you weren’t getting in.
Eventually the police came and set up a road block.
A block and a half from the corner where the iron worker lives are two twin sisters. They’re in their 60’s. They are master gardeners. Their backyard looks like Disneyland. Literally… master gardeners. Talk about a real asset to the neighborhood if there is a long term crunch!
One of the sisters has an adult son who lives on the other side of the neighborhood with his Dad. The son is a handyman extraordinaire. That guy (the son) has a brother who is a green beret in Afghanistan currently. His father was a drill sargent for the Marines, if I remember correctly.
Across the street from the two sisters is a guy who built a canoe… from a log… in his garage.
You get the point.
The people who live in this neighborhood have skills. Real, tangible skills. Contrast our neighborhood to so many typical suburban neighborhoods filled with lawyers and accountant and insurance salesmen.
Now, you’re probably wondering: “Sobert… you’ve only lived in your neighborhood for less than two years! How do you know so many of your neighbors?”
It’s a good question.
For starters, it’s an older neighborhood with a lot of retired folks. I don’t mind living around retired folks: They’re around during the day so they can keep an eye on things. And they’ve all lived in the neighborhood for so long that they know all of the details about the topography and history of the area, too. These people also have more time to socialize with each other, compared to your average yuppie who spends most of his time at work.
Secondly, I have a dog who I take for a walk through the neighborhood… every day. At pretty much the same time. When you walk your dog a lot, the neighbors get used to seeing you around. That makes you “familiar”. And once you’re familiar, you’re no longer a stranger– which makes it safe to come up and talk with you. Plus: Just the fact that you’re walking a dog means– to most people– that you must be a nice guy. Sure, it’s a ridiculous conclusion to draw. I’m sure there have been several mass murderers in history who’ve owned dogs. But regardless: People will come up and talk with you when you walk a dog.
Try it yourself and you’ll see I’m right. Maybe not the first time, maybe not the second time… but after awhile, people will start coming up and talking to you.
And that’s how you learn who is an asset in your community and more importantly… who is not.