How to avoid your neighbour at all costs

Do you live within the confines of the hustle and bustle of a big city? If you do then odds are you also live in close proximity to your neighbours. Whether it’s apartment buildings, condos or side-by-sides, city dwellers share a proximal intimacy with their neighbours like few others. Luckily, humans have been doing this for ages, perhaps since the dawn of time, and as such our species have crafted a time-tested, finely tuned method in which one can, with guaranteed certainty, avoid any and all social interactions with one’s next door neighbour.

If you’re one of the privileged few who have never had to live in close proximity to your neighbours, let me assure you that they are all hate-filled monster people hell-bent on world domination and total destruction. They represent your polar opposite, your antagonist, the Moriarty to your Sherlock Holmes. This may sound exaggerated or overblown but trust me, these are scientific facts — any top-tier academic institute would surely back their legitimacy without so much as a second thought.

For those of you already onboard, the following is a tactical guide, an instructional manual meant to help those in need of some serious skills in the department of neighbour avoidance and attention deflection.   

The tactical advantage

The first step in proper neighbour avoidance is to become familiar with your environment. For instance, if you live in a building, does it have an easy access fire escape or perhaps ample corridors and stairways? If you live in a large apartment complex you often have the option of both stairs and an elevator. These are the types of tactical advantages you must exploit if you’re going to successfully avoid any and all awkward social interaction.       

If you have to venture out within your own building to, say, collect your mail or do your laundry, try and cling to the walls as much as possible — keeping your neighbours unaware of your presence is at all times the primary goal because, as they say, prevention is always the best cure. If your building is dimly lit try to use this to your advantage. Lurking in shadows may seem silly, even counter-intuitive, but these are the types of maneuvers that will pay off in spades the next time you need to avoid helping a neighbour move a mattress in or out of the building.     

The deflection

If it is absolutely impossible to conceal your presence from your neighbour it is always a good idea to keep a magazine, newspaper or some sort of periodical in hand, perhaps in your back pocket, in the event you two must cross paths. When confronted with such a situation you will want to pull the literature up to your face, opening it as wide as physically possible. Keen observers will note this is actually the same tactic used by such animals as the puffer fish or the horned lizard, which make themselves look bigger in order to avoid predatory threats.

When you are utilizing the “reading a newspaper” defence, it is best to use over-the-top, boisterous exclamations like “that is interesting,” “you don’t say,” or “sometimes truth truly is stranger than fiction!” This tactic will let your neighbour know that you are hopelessly engrossed in your reading material and, just like when confronting a sleepwalker, it would be dangerous, maybe even catastrophic in its repercussions, to wake you from your reading spell.

The fail-safe

In the event that both of these tried and true tactics fail to properly assist in neighbour avoidance, there is always one fail-safe plan that is, without doubt, 100 per cent effective. Backs against the wall, faced with no other option but the unsavoury task of engaging your neighbour with small talk or chit-chat, you will be forced into your final gambit: sacrifice any semblance of social sanity. Although in all likelihood your neighbour is an awful person, they too share the same instinctual need to flee from things that are bizarre, obscene, beyond the pale.

If this last bit of advice seems at all confusing, consider the following scenario:
Your neighbour approaches you and says, “Some weather we’ve been having lately, huh?”

Without hesitation, you should respond in kind with the statement: “I don’t trust tuna fish. They always say they’re bipartisan but they’re not!”     

Need another example? How about this one:

You’re collecting your mail and your neighbour presents the question, “Do you know anyone who might be willing to dog-sit for a weekend?”

Immediately you begin shrieking: “I don’t have toes! I don’t have any toes! They ran away from me!” You then run off sobbing uncontrollably.

True, turning yourself into a mentally detached misanthrope may seem a steep price to pay for peace and quiet, but in these situations you must ask yourself just how much you prefer to avoid interactions with your neighbour, someone who may be, as we’ve established, the worst person in all existence.

If you liked How to Avoid Your Neighbour at all Costs, you may also enjoy the titles How to Implicate Your Neighbour in a Criminal Conspiracy, How to Eavesdrop on Your Neighbour’s Arguments and Fights, and finally, 101 Ways to Trick Your Neighbour Into Doing Something Silly and/or Dangerous Strictly for Comedic Purposes.