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Barton Goldsmith: Neighborly helping hands

Barton Goldsmith, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

My neighbor Stu is a car guy. He toys with, details, and drives his new Range Rover with such pride, it's like a member of the family. On most days, rain or shine, you can find him working on his car, making it even nicer. It's his thing, and I appreciate it, but it kind of makes me look bad, because our SUV has seen much better days in its 12 years of life.

That being said, it would look better with a detail, or even a wash, but I'm not a car guy (anymore), and it just seems like wasted effort, because next time I go to Lowe's, it will need another cleanup. Still, seeing Stu fawning over his baby, I've often been tempted to say, "Hey Stuey, next time you're doing your car, let me know and I'll bring mine over."

Well, recently, I had finished my day early, exercised, and wanted to spend some more time outside, and there was Stu out front doing his Rover, and I said, "Hey..." and he said, "Let's do it now," so I pulled my classic into his driveway, and we started going at it like it was the first car either of us ever owned. Keeping the appropriate social distance of course.

Stu got out the blower, and I followed him with a rag and cleaning or conditioning stuff that I've had in the garage since Y2K. It took us a couple of hours, and I was sweating in 60-degree weather, but the result was a great gift for my wife, and I felt like I had accomplished something. But wait, there's more -- I was now friends with my neighbor.

We've always had a neighborly relationship. There are no fences between the houses on our street, and everyone is polite and respectful because we all love it here. But as he and I talked about cars, music, and more cars, and boats (we live on a lake), we bonded. I get him, he likes things that go fast, and even though my go-fast days are behind me, I appreciate the rush because I once chased it myself.

Finding things in common makes for good relationships, and from that, you can build a friendship, but even more important is the act of reaching out. That couple of hours was a great connecting experience for my neighbor and me.

I've dropped off a thank-you note (yes people still do that) because I want him to know that he had made a difference in my life. My day was better because he extended himself to me, we shared stories while we worked, and it was fun, not laborious.

 

I imagine that our friendship will only grow over time, and I look forward to seeing how that evolves. We have been there for each other in a couple of neighborhood emergencies, but now there is a deeper connection.

You always want to know your neighbors, but also in this day and age, it's nice when you can count on others to do the neighborly thing and be there for you when necessary. Knowing that just makes your life a little bit nicer, kind of like my car.

(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at Barton@bartongoldsmith.com.)

(c)2020 Barton Goldsmith

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