Educating neighbours

Have spent most of my adult life teaching secondary and primary kids in England and HK.  I didn’t think that I would need to ‘educate’ the neighbours here too.  A sense of the common good or keeping our environment clean and tidy doesn’t seem to feature high in their priorities.  I put a polite note up requesting just that as this is our home.  They must have thought I was a joke or crazy.  I was preaching to the converted and a bilingual reminder wasn’t going to touch the hearts of the litterbugs.  I thought I’d set a good example and swept the path and picked up rubbish on the grassy slope but less than a day and it reverted to its original mess.  The note would just be a sore reminder of what a fool I am so I took it down.

Then a lady with a son and older husband who lives in one of those bedsits opposite collects aluminimum cans for cents.  That is fine but the other day I saw her breaking open the rubbish bags from the communal bin, pocketing the find and just leaving the whole mess on the ground!  Not only would it attract vermin and be a health risk but the lack of consideration was astounding.  I was tempted to ask her to clean up her mess but thought better of it.  I’m already seen as Public Enemy Number One by the ignorant dog owner when I stood my ground and so I don’t want to acquire a reputation as a busybody.  And it is not my job to educate her, she is a grown up and she should know better than to set such a bad example to her seven year old who was next to her.

Living in HK has taught me to mind my own business and not to perform thankless kind deeds that will be misinterpreted by the uneducated.  It will only backfire.  Now I understand why the locals just focus on themselves and their loved ones and function in their own little bubble.  It is for self protection and of course they work such long hours and are so exhausted that they barely have enough energy tor themselves.

Then there is the irritating son of the dogowner who has taken to chucking my dog bowls down the hill as revenge for calling the police on his mother.  I could go complain but she’ll just start screaming and I don’t want the kid to be beaten up again.  Since my return I have heard him screaming twice, yes, screaming and she is shouting at the top of her voice about some minor misdeed.  I don’t care what he has done but you don’t hit a 7 year old and you certainly don’t hurt him so bad that he is screaming with pain.  Twice I have been on the verge of wanting to intervene but she’ll just tell me to mind my own business, it is her son not mine and I don’t want to cause more trouble for myself.  A part of me is wary of her, I think she is unhinged and if she loses it she could be very violent and vicious.  And there is the worry that if I do interfere she will beat the kid harder and take it out on him.  I may start to note how frequently this occurs and record the screams, so if it escalates or happens more and more and I decide to report her for child abuse, I’ll have solid proof.  But of course this is the very last resort because after that I would have to move.  The kid won’t thank me and neither will the rest of the village. 

Why is it so hard to do the ‘right’ thing in this world?


About cho wan yau

Teacher by day poet/writer by night. Words have been my first love and will be my last. As a child I locked myself into the toilet devouring books which transported me to distant lands. Poetry shared penned from 2009-2010 in a titanic struggle to stay sane at Heartbreak Hotel. Please check it out on Any comments or feedback welcome. Why not share your story with me, because we all have one, don't we?

Posted on December 11, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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