Last week I attended a neighbourhood watch meeting for the first time. A neighbour invited us to attend, and since we strive to be good neighbours we figured we’d better show up.
When we got to the school where the meeting was being held, there was a table where the meeting facilitators were sitting and a few people occupying the seats designated for the rest of us.
We chose some seats and said a quick “hi” to some of the people we knew and quite a few who we didn’t. There was some activity at the head table and it appeared that there was some sort of sign-in procedure. Being new to this, we decided to leave our seats and venture to the front. We should have kept our seats because that’s when they hit us up for money.
I thought this was just a fact-finding mission.
My intention had been to find out what this group did, because I wanted to know how it was that I never even knew that they existed.
A lady who my husband knew quite well, but who I didn’t realize lived in our “neighbourhood”, quickly brought us up to speed before the meeting came to order. Unfortunately she told us too late about the rash of correspondence that is sent on a regular basis to all of the members, because then I would have given someone else’s email address.
She also explained that a neighbourhood watch member almost got arrested for burglary when some zealous soul noticed suspicious activity near his home. Luckily he was able to avert disaster by quickly calling to say that he was actually the one prowling around his own house.
Seems like this group could be fun after all.
It was clear from the report given by the committee members that they’d been quite busy – meeting with the police, other neighbourhood watch groups and the government agency responsible for the naming of streets – something that is sorely lacking in not just our neighbourhood.
So while I gave what I thought was an accurate description of my house and the name of my nearest neighbour, it occurred to me that I should have drawn a map indicating how they (or the police) were supposed to get there.
There was talk about getting to know who our neighbours were, discussions about the best ways to secure our homes and things to do to keep ourselves safe. The best (and cheapest) idea I heard all night was the one about keeping a fog horn at the side of my bed. It would be a better indication of distress than the alarm which any stray dog can easily trip… and trip…and trip.
Before the meeting closed they encouraged us to bring at least three more persons to the next meeting – much like a preacher would, because I counted the number of people who were there and it was clear that the fund-raising exercise still had a ways to go.
We didn’t stay for the social that was to follow, because I thought that the meeting itself had gone on long enough. However, I’m looking forward to the next one having a few more concrete plans, and like another member said – more people.
It was just today, however, a week after attending the meeting that I realized that I had not been bombarded with emails. In fact, I hadn’t received even one – not the one welcoming us to the group, or the one thanking us for our donation.
I’m not sure how Mr. Rogers would feel about that.