Thursday, May 22, 2008

Good Neighbors

In this age when folks move around so frequently (and hardly know their neighbors) I want to share a story about the value of staying put.

A few days ago I was helping a fairly new resident of Ocracoke install a gas range. Actually his electric range had gone kaput and I mentioned that I had a small gas range he could use. I couldn't find my hand truck (I think I loaned it to someone and haven't gotten it back!), but Frank let us use his (we returned it promptly, by the way).

We found a gas bottle, and I went to the hardware store for the copper tubing. Of course they didn't have enough of the size I wanted, and I really didn't want to wait a week or more, so I took two coils of two different sizes (no need to actually pay for it, or even make a note -- Tommy just told me to take the tubing, measure whatever I used and let him know so he could charge it to me later).

Well, then I needed the fittings to join the two sizes together. I didn't have what I needed, and the hardware store didn't have them either, so I biked around the island looking for a neighbor who might have the right fittings. I found cousin Ed sitting on the Community Store porch (he has everything). Back at his garage we dumped out buckets and cans full of brass, copper, and stainless steel parts. After several minutes we had concocted just the right conglomeration.

I still needed a regulator. After only one phone call David instructed me to go to one of his outbuildings and locate the gas bottle out back, and remove the regulator (he wasn't using gas there any longer). The nuts turned easily, and in a few minutes I was back at my neighbor's with everything I needed. In hardly any time at all (well I did crawl under the house and drill a few holes so we could snake the tubing where it needed to go) we had the gas stove installed and working.

I like knowing that I have neighbors who are always willing to help, and living in one place (Ocracoke in particular) for years creates connections that help make possible what might be next to impossible in many communities.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2008 Portsmouth Island Homecoming. You can read it here.


  1. Anonymous8:15 AM

    WOW! I live in a small community & wish that I had neighbors like that. See that just shows you how great Ocracoke really is. I hope it will always be that way. Why can't we learn from your island? We are just to busy & don't want to get involved with others. Now is that shameful or what? Still love that place. Keep looking for a place to live & work there. Terrie @ Walkertown NC

  2. Anonymous7:25 AM

    Can you help me wash my windows?

  3. Anonymous3:02 PM

    new resident are they renting or did they buy the place? I'm sorry but that would factor into my decision --renting well should not the land lord help -- or are you taking work away from someone who earns their living doing these sort of things?? sure this was a joint effort and others contributed and that is a good thing --- now I would like to see this person-- I betcha it was a babe -- do something nice and NOW what about the long term neighbor who has the HAND TRUCK!!!!

  4. A babe?!? Well Steve does have a ponytail, so maybe from the back, and from a great distance he might be confused for a woman, but it is highly unlikely. Besides, he is in his mid 50s, and his hair is quite gray. A babe he definitely is not!

    And I am the well as neighbor. The point of the post was the benefits of living in one place long enough to know your neighbors (good neighbors, by the way, who are more than willing to help out when needed). Tommy, at the Variety Store, knows he can trust me, so he lets me take the copper tubing, use what I need, then tell him what I've taken so he can charge it to me. Ed is happy to take me back to his storage shed and paw through fittings to locate what is not available at the local hardware store. And David assures me that it is OK to borrow his regulator since he's not using it.

    The result -- Steve got his stove installed in one afternoon rather than waiting a week or more to locate all the right parts.

    The hand truck?? I think I took it someplace to help another neighbor and didn't bring it right back home. Now I've forgotten where I left it, and the neighbor, no doubt, can't remember who left it. I'll get it back eventually. In the meanwhile Frank will let me borrow his hand truck. That's what good neighbors do.