Entitlement versus expectation
I made myself laugh yesterday about a lesson I learned in entitlement and expectation. Back home in the suburbs, if there was loud, booming bass music coming from a neighbour’s house, you could bet that when 11 o’clock at night rolled around and the noise by-law rules kicked in, the police would be called to ask the noise-infringing neighbours to pipe down. If a backyard barbeque occupied a neighbours’ patio on a bright, sunny Saturday afternoon, the sounds of laughter and glasses clinking would fill the air, only to annoy the neighbour who wished for peace and quiet as she suntanned. If a less fortunate person decided to rummage through one’s garbage as it sat at the end of the driveway, awaiting garbage truck pickup the following day, the police would most certainly be called. Why? Because in the suburbs, people feel they are entitled to quiet sleep, relaxing afternoons spent sunbathing and the homeless are certainly fear inducing.
Since moving downtown, I have had to keep my windows open all the time, even through winter, in order for cooling air to somewhat effectively circulate. I wake up to the sounds of the construction crew building a new condo next door, beginning at around 7 a.m. Sirens, loud trucks, singing drunkards, backfiring cars and barking dogs have become the natural soundtrack that seeps in my windowpanes. Something is wrong if the neighbours don’t have music playing on Saturday night. If I want to sunbathe I have to trek it to the nearest park and be prepared for the peering eyes of the public or else climb on to the rooftop where there is no grass, no shade and certainly no comfortable spot to rest my sun-kissed head. And I have to admit, the first time a homeless person went through my trash, my first reaction was not fear or entitlement, it was, “Well, I don’t need it anymore.”
I laughed yesterday because the music blowing into my bedroom from the blues bar around the block was a lesson in cooperation. Nobody needs the stress of entitlement. Is my life really any worse for having neighbours who love music? If I really need to sleep, I can learn to accept the inevitable, rather than be a cop-calling ratter. I am really not entitled to peaceful living or privacy. It is a luxury that I can be happy with when it comes along, but by no means should I expect it. It’s much easier to go with the flow and be nice to neighbours and homeless people than to let their habits bother you. It’s way too selfish to think they must adapt to you when one person can be more accepting of every else. It’s much easier, and you might even become friends with people.