Manners Matter: Neighbors Arriving

Dear Mary Pat,

I’m totally freaked out and annoyed. My neighbors have a second home here and have arrived already. They should have stayed in Florida. If I had their phone number, I would call them and give them a piece of my mind. Having more people here is putting us all at risk.


Stay Home!

Ellison Bay, Wisconsin

Dear Stay Home!,

I know that this is an uncertain time for everyone and that there is a panic building among some who stress every time they see an out-of-state license plate. Here’s the thing, though: It’s not helpful to make assumptions. 

If you don’t know your neighbors well enough to have their phone number, you must not be all that close. Perhaps they rent a place in Florida and were unable to extend their stay. Perhaps they returned before the shelter-at-home order was given. There are military families and workers who might have out-of-state license plates. There are people who might be caring for elderly parents. I’m hoping that your neighbors have acted responsibly and didn’t put anyone at risk, just as I’m hoping locals are acting responsibly and not putting anyone at risk.

I’ve seen a lot of anger on social media, with lots of blame being thrown around. This isn’t kind, and it certainly isn’t helping. There are a lot of things that are out of our control right now: We’re worried about our elderly population; we’re worried about our own health and finances; we can’t be at work or school; and this year’s tourist season is a big unknown.

The only thing we can control is how we react to this virus. Let’s have compassion for our local neighbors, snow birds, second-home owners and those in neighboring states. Let’s continue helping each other by volunteering to make masks and delivering supplies to those who are at higher risk. And finally, let’s all make sure that we’re fighting this virus in our own homes through frequent hand washing, sanitizing surfaces, keeping socially distant and wearing a mask when going out only for essentials. 

Good luck,

Mary Pat