I'm a community-minded sort of person. I think communities are like relationships, you're either contributing or contaminating. There's no such thing as a neutral neighbour. So I try to be a good community person. I volunteer for things and try and say hello to the people I pass on the sidewalk. I try to learn people's names and recognize which house they come from.
I think that's part of being a good neighbour. But I'll admit my paranoia also drives me. If I know who's a regular part of the neighbourhood, then I also can recognize someone who isn't. I'm not a call-the-police-for-every-stranger sort, but if I see a strange man coming out of a house where I know a family and their children live, I'll pay attention to him. I've even made notes on occasion so that I could remember what a person looked like. If I'm well acquainted with the family, I'll ask them if they have someone visiting.
I'll make a note if I see a strange licence plate sitting in a driveway. If I see a car running in a driveway, I'll linger for a few minutes to see if someone is coming out to it. A few months ago, I saw a car come rushing up to the local school. One man got out, leaving two other adults in the car. They all looked very anxious, which caught my attention. When the man came out and rushed a little girl into the car, I pulled out my notepad and noted rough descriptions of the man, the girl and the car, including the licence plate. I knew there was probably a perfectly legitimate explanation (medical emergency, running late for an appointment) but I feel as if it's my duty to be aware and make sure my memory is reliable. Just in case it isn't legit.
Sometimes I worry I'm crossing the line into creepy territory. And sometimes I worry my thinking is influenced by too many cop-dramas. But I also think it's good to be aware of what's going on.
I'd love to hear what the rest of the world thinks. Is keeping an eye on your neighbours part of being a good neighbour or is it just nosy?