Neighbours

I was walking to the station when the 65 bus drew up beside me. I didn’t need it exactly, but if it presents itself…The bus driver had given a friendly hoot (you know the difference), and I looked back to see a neighbour waving in the distance.

When I say “neighbour” – it’s not that he lives in my road, but I’ve been passing his door for twenty-five years, though not in a Flying Dutchman sort of way. We’ve never had an extended conversation, and I’ve never crossed the threshold of his home, but he has occasionally held the bus for me at the stop near his home as I hurry the last few yards to catch it.

This morning, once I had boarded, the bus driver opened the doors again to call to him, “Thanks for yesterday, I really appreciated it.” She exchanged another friendly wave with him, and we were off.

Thinking back to yesterday, there was a difficult episode on that main road. There were temporary traffic lights in place, though no one was working on the road at the time. They had got stuck on red in each direction, and the queues were growing. No emergency number was apparent. Occasionally a bold driver would make a break for it, and some consensus about taking turns was developing.

My hunch is that my neighbour, who is of retirement age, would have stepped in and acted as temporary director of traffic.

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

“neighbor (n.)

“one who lives near another,” Middle English neighebor, from Old English neahgebur (West Saxon), nehebur (Anglian) “one who dwells nearby,” from neah “near” (see nigh) + gebur “dweller,” related to bur “dwelling,” from Proto-Germanic *(ga)būraz (from PIE root *bheue- “to be, exist, grow”). A common Germanic compound (cognates: Old Saxon nabur, Middle Dutch naghebuur, Dutch (na)bur, Old High German nahgibur, Middle High German nachgebur, German Nachbar). Good neighbor policy is attested by 1937, but good neighbor with reference to U.S. policy toward Latin America was used by 1928 by Herbert Hoover.”

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