In the US, we have many stereotypes. Some are unfair and harmful, but many are not. One such stereotype, I hope, is the grumpy older neighbor (ein Muffel). As seen in children’s animated TV shows and in a few adult movies, the grumpy neighbor looks rather like I look. Older looking, grey haired, eyeglasses. The grumpy neighbor stays in his house or apartment most of the time and remains somewhat mysterious to the other people in the community. Young children sometimes find this neighbor to be scary. They look oddly at this grumpy person, often stopping while playing and moving away from them. After all, this is that grumpy neighbor.
As I wrote, stereotypes including this one, can be unfair. I speak from experience on this subject. Rather than being a scary person who hides away while others socialize, commute or work outside, I have stayed mostly indoors for many months. This was because of the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, of course. As someone nearly 60 and handicapped with arthritis in my legs, I belong in several high risk groups. I received my first vaccine doses already, but I also need to wait a long time for the second dose, so I am not fully protected yet. Therefore, I need to continue isolating myself from my neighbors and others. I also can work from home, so people do not see me walking in and out of the building very often. When children see me walk past, I appear unfamiliar and therefore unapproachable. I wish this was not the case. Rather than being the person other neighbors avoid including, I would prefer to at least be invited. Be contacted, stay in contact with people I see often and would like to know better, especially when pandemic restrictions loosen further. But until that time, I will be the grumpy neighbor in the Hinterhaus that many will continue to avoid.
Do you have a grumpy neighbor like this? Is this American stereotype also found in Berlin? Yes, I have already answered that question. So, who is your neighbor? Do you know their name? Have they remained isolated while your children play in the yard? Perhaps your grumpy neighbor isn’t as grumpy as you last imagined. I hope so, for my sake and the sake of other neighbors.
May the Lord bless you and keep you!
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