The days of old-school child-rearing fade into oblivion, traditional and customary senses of etiquette and manners get lost in translation from childhood to adulthood. Common courtesy is no longer a natural way of life. It is something that is constantly overlooked by some, and with respect to those who do honor age-old comportment, it is taken for granted.
If you are an avid people watcher, you will notice that people rarely hold doors for the individual coming in behind them. In the alternative, when one does have the propriety to hold doors, the recipient lacks the common knowledge (or desire) to say thank you.
These same ideals (or lack thereof) affect us as adults who become friends, family members, co-workers, and good or bad neighbors. Manners are taught to us as children, so to keep it simple, we will look at this from a preschool/kindergarten point of view. When in doubt, remember the five senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, and Taste.
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If it looks bad, then it probably is bad.
When living in an apartment building, you have to remember that there is your space, and then there is common space. It is important to keep the outside (common) areas of your apartment neat, clean, and tasteful. It is unfair to others in your apartment complex or building to have to see anyone’s messes in common areas. The same rule applies to garbage in the yard. If you see it, pick it up—especially if it’s yours.
If it sounds loud, then it probably is loud.
When living with other people, it is essential to be courteous of the amount of noise you make inside and outside your apartment. Just because you’re feeling a little funky and want to blast music doesn't mean that the neighbor studying for the bar exam feels the same way. Put on some wireless headphones in the late hours if you must blast your music. If you have small children, remember the pitter-patter that you think is absolutely adorable can be nerve-racking to the person downstairs. Area rugs can help keep sound down while providing more comfort for you. Being courteous will go a long way! Respect begets respect.
If it smells bad, it probably is bad.
As with the other sensible (no pun intended, well maybe a little) rules of thumb, bad smells are a nuisance that only you wish to ignore. Whether it's garbage you don’t feel like taking out, a pet you haven’t cleaned up after, or that mystery meat sitting in your refrigerator, remember that there are people around you. Air travels through walls, and so do those stinky smells.
If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.
I'm sure Mr. Wilson didn't sit his lawn chair on his back porch or hallway for someone else to come and use at their leisure. Respect your surroundings. If your neighbor makes an effort to make their doorstep look more appealing, don't assume that common space is a free-for-all and encroach on their space. Common etiquette would suggest a compliment on their decor to bring about a better neighborly relationship.
Although there is no actual etiquette rule that correlates with the idea of taste, if the action leaves a bad taste in your mouth, it’s probably best to rethink. An ideal concept is to look for apartment complexes and buildings that share the same ideals as you. If you like to party, live amongst the party animals, and in turn, if you like peace and quiet, make it a priority to seek solace in a building that respects that ideal. Great minds think alike, but respectful minds can easily live together in harmony.
What makes you a good neighbor? Share your stories with us!