If you move into military housing, you’ll enjoy some perks, such as its affordability and convenience. You might also have fun playing, “six degrees of separation – military style,” in which you discover how you’re already connected to your neighbors.
But, some quirks of military housing might roughen the road of your experience. Knowing how to handle them can be hard.
What would you do in these scenarios?
1. Facebook Wars
Many military neighborhoods have their own Facebook Group, which was formed to promote community and share information, but quickly became a way to vent frustration and complain about dogs barking during Joey’s nap time.
When someone vents or complains, Facebook wars ensue. The string of ping-pong comments can get so lengthy that even Facebook doesn’t want to show them all. If you decide to “view more comments,” your stomach will probably protest, sickened by how mean your neighbors get.
If you experience this a lot, try visiting your neighborhood’s Facebook page only when you need it. That means:
• Don’t bother viewing more comments just to kill time.
• Ask for recommendations, or find important resources by running a search with keywords. Get the information you need and get out.
• If you must post, be 100% positive 100% of the time.
Call them anything you want – hooligans, riff-raff, bad seeds. Whatever you call them, you’ll realize that you’re not 21 anymore, and you now have responsibilities and a few gray hairs. You’ll also surprise yourself by using words like hooligans and riff-raff. It’s a rite of passage. Enjoy.
This means that you care about the safety of your neighborhood, and you raise an eyebrow when tweens and teens enjoy their long leashes a little too much. You might notice a pair on bikes upsetting kids on playgrounds, or maybe a group found a (not so) great hiding spot to engage in mischievous behavior.
Because you live in military housing, it probably won’t take long to find out who the kids are, who their parents are, what unit they’re in, their social security numbers, and… (maybe that’s taking it a little far). The point is, don’t ignore it, take action.
- Push past the discomfort and knock on their parents’ door to let them know what’s going on.
- Contact your installation’s teen center and middle and high schools to ask if they’re aware of these problems. Ask how you can help support their efforts to address the issues.
- Contact housing. If the problem is widespread and persistent, they can organize a meeting with your installation’s leadership, which can be useful in disseminating information and solving the problem.
- Contact your installation’s law enforcement if you’re certain illegal or dangerous behavior is occurring.
3. Trashy Yard
Part of the fun of move-in day is the detective work that ensues in the back yard. A quick scan of your neighbors’ backyard possessions will usually indicate if you have found your new best friend.
“They have a Cozy Coupe, and it’s pink! That means they have a little girl to play with ours! YESSS!”
“Look at that awesome fire pit! We can bring wine over in the evenings and hang out!”
But it’s a total buzz-kill when you see rusty patio furniture with last fall’s leaves crusted into the cushions’ folds, random commissary bags floating in the breeze (p.s. American Beauty, it’s not that beautiful), a dusty Fisher Price slide turned upside down and about three month’s worth of dog poop scattered about the yard.
You have a few options.
- Introduce yourself, try to be friendly and kindly ask that they clean up after their dog – the smell is very strong. Maybe they’ll take the hint, maybe they won’t, but at least you’ll have tried!
- Contact housing. Like any tenant, residents are expected to maintain the property in a reasonably nice condition.
- Put up some bamboo fencing or a fence screen to shield your view, and focus on making your own yard an oasis of tranquility.
4. Helpful Neighbors
As military spouses, we generally don’t waste time making friends and getting our bearings in our new surroundings. If a neighbor knocks on our door and invites us over for coffee, we usually feel fantastic.
It’s even better when this new friend gives us a side of helpful information along with our coffee. Walking home with a list of the best places to get your hair done, your nails painted, your dog groomed and your teeth cleaned feels like you hit the jackpot as far as friends go.
But what happens when this friend comes over the next day to let you know about some pet peeves of some other neighbors? You guess it’s good that you now know never to let your kids cut through the Jones’ yard or to park in front of the Smiths’ house. But was there something gossipy about that exchange?
And what happens when the same friend comes by again the next day to invite you over, but you notice that while you went back inside to grab your cell phone, she straightened out your flower pots and patio ornaments? “I’m sure it was just the wind that made them crooked, and you’d rather have them straight,” she explained.
If you think you’ve just witnessed the last straw of overbearing helpfulness, make a mental note that this might be the friend who has the best of intentions but who can be taken only in small doses. Find your installation’s spouses’ club and do some speed dating, friendship-style.
We can’t be surprised by some of these quirks. It is a little “quirky” living around the same people you work with, the same people you socialize with, the same people you see at the store, at church, on the soccer field…
Have you dealt with these issues? Have you dealt with something different? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments.