A new neighbor knocked on my door recently to introduce herself. Since I hadn't even realized anyone new had moved in, much less made a move to welcome her to the building, I started to apologize for my lack of neighborly behavior. She told me not to worry, she always makes it a point to meet her new neighbors first thing and here's why.
She told me she used to live alone in a large NYC building, never making an effort to socialize with those around her or even make friendly chit chat by the elevators.
Then Hurricane Sandy rolled into town and she was scared, alone and stuck in her apartment without power. She was lucky, she said, that her building banded together during the disaster to help each other ride out the storm. Many of them had never met before, despite living in such close proximity, sometimes for years. Turns out she had great neighbors all along and never knew it.
Now she always introduces herself. She figures it's nice to know who's living around you, even if you never become best friends. She told me she now realizes that any building is a kind of community and sooner of later you're gonna need those people on your side.
Yes! Lesson learned. If you avoid your neighbors, maybe today is the day to make eye contact in the hallway, smile and say, "Hi, we've never officially met!"