Nosy Neighbors and Why We Need Them

JM spoke to my MIL yesterday. She told him that Papa had gone out to get the papers Sunday morning (they live in Paris) and she suddenly realized he had been gone for a long time. She was starting to worry (okay, worry is what she does best, but still) when he finally appeared, all white-faced.

It turns out that there were some roadworks on the street where he buys the newspaper and he slipped in the mud. This caused him to fall into a trench in the road. He’s almost 80 and was unable to get out on his own, so yelled for help. Three people passed by and not one of them would help him! They were all “too busy!”  Imagine; an 80-year-old man is stuck in a trench but you are “too busy” to stop to help him or even call the police to get him out????

Eventually, with great effort, he managed to escape his prison, and is luckily doing okay, but things could have been much, much worse.

While we were still recovering from the shock of this news, we read a story in this morning’s paper that was more horrifying. An elderly man in a Parisian suburb was recently found dead of natural causes. Judging from the letters in his overflowing mailbox and an expired yogurt in his refrigerator, he had been dead for TWO YEARS!!! All of his bills were paid by direct debit, so there were no unpaid bills to make people suspicious. The only reason anyone checked on him was because there was a “bad odor” coming from his apartment.

The management company for the apartment building says that the “responsibility” is shared, and I suppose that’s true. But shouldn’t the mailman at least have thought there was something odd about a mailbox that hadn’t been emptied in two years?? Was he so unlikeable that even his family (in Portugal) didn’t wonder where he was?

In the same article it mentions a woman in another Paris suburb who was found dead after six months in her apartment. Again, no one had thought to check on her.

I can tell you that this could not happen here in the Possum Kingdom. If one of the neighbors has their shutters closed and they are not known to have gone away, someone will check on them.

Now, when we were moving here, my Parisian MIL said she didn’t like villages because “everyone knows your business.” I have to say that is precisely WHY I like living in a village. I like the idea that if I’m not out and about, someone is going to notice and worry about me.

Sure, both of those people would still probably be dead, but at least someone would have gone to see. And, certainly, my FIL would not have had to lie in a muddy ditch worried that he was going to die there.

Bless my nosy neighbors.

Ciao for now.


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4 thoughts on “Nosy Neighbors and Why We Need Them

  1. i’m sure old people around here die and no one notices for a long time, especially if they live out in the country, as we do. there is an really odd mixture here of busybody-ness and don’t-care-about-anyone-but-yourself attitude. i’ve never seen anything like it. everyone is always more than ready to gossip about other local people (assuming the gossip is of a negative nature) and they make a big point of being “in the know” about what’s going on with everyone’s personal life. on the other hand, it’s all too easy to have NO contact with anyone unless you seek it out deliberately. we see the people in the feed store, post office, bank and grocery store, and that’s about it. we’ve tried more times than i want to think about to get involved in community life, make friends, etc., but to no avail. coming from a VERY friendly town back home in sweet Montana, i find this a weird and unsettling way to live!

    • We are very lucky to have a community that is as welcoming as this, although I know not everyone has had the same sort of experience we have. I think it’s easier living inside the village like we do than being on a farm like you, Rave. We talk about this all the time and how if we had money would we buy a place with land? I think I would miss seeing people all the time as we do now. It’s so nice to go out on a lovely day and just chat with people while you’re on your way to do errands.

  2. Lovely sentiment. Aye, not sure I could live in a village permanently at present, but as i get older, the idea gets more appealing…


    • I wasn’t sure if it would work for me either, Aine, but the reality of it is that I love it. JM has to go up to Paris for a couple of days to see his parents, and I know that my neighbors will all be there watching out for me while he’s gone. It’s very reassuring.

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