Interesting Neighbor Behavior

One interesting neighbor and my willingness to over-examine her behavior…

It happened again the other day, that neighbor’s interesting behavior, and I haven’t quite figured it out.

I was on my way out at about 9am. I needed to get to the bank as early as possible so I was moving faster than usual as I wheeled out the scooter and put on my sun jacket. I turned around to put on my helmet and saw that neighbor on her balcony, watering her plants and staring at me. Again. “That’s ok,” I always think to myself. Lots of people stare and they don’t mean any harm – they don’t even realize they’re doing it until it’s too late. I spot them, our eyes meet, I smile, they feel embarrassed… I usually treat them in a friendly way and receive friendly ways back. This neighbor of mine, however…

I noticed her (and her eyes) on the balcony, so I smiled and said good morning… She keeps staring. Her eyes squint, as if to get a closer look at me. No smile, no good morning, and she’s up and gone back into the house five seconds later.

She does that every time so this behavior is no surprise. And it’s really not a big deal, as the two of us have a language barrier and probably wouldn’t be able to communicate effectively past “How are you?” I went about my chores that morning, not really concerned about not having a random neighbor as a friend, but more confused. Why are greetings and a smile so difficult for her? The other family members in her house always offer me greetings, as do the other neighbors.

Earlier this year I thought that she must be a very private person, so I decided to keep being friendly to her and not expect anything back (and in this case that’s been a good expectation!). A Taiwanese friend recently agreed with this assessment of the situation. Maybe that lady is simply shy and withdrawn – or concerned about her privacy – as I initially thought. There are probably neighbors like this in every country, which would make this a non-point in the cultural area.

But over time I have discovered that she’s quite friendly with the other neighbors in our community.
So I’m forced to assume there is something about me that makes her uneasy. Language barrier? White chick? No kids? Too skinny? Too friendly? Not tutoring her kids for free? I may never know why she can’t return a simple smile.

Luckily there’s no law that says she has to be friendly to me! ; D

House! 021

About the Author

Aside from my experiences as the wife of a Taiwanese guy in Tainan, I'm just a white chick from Iowa with a lot of opinions. Let me annoy you!

6 Responses to “ Interesting Neighbor Behavior ”

  1. Go Iowa! I’m living in Iowa now as a student at Grinnell. I can’t wait to go to Taiwan again though. I envy you, as our weather is already cooling off. Unfortunately, most Taiwanese don’t seem to be as friendly as the typical Iowans, though most aren’t like this women either, as you know. I will definitely miss Iowa when I graduate. 🙂

  2. Prejudice? Intolerant of other races? Hopelessly in love with you but too scared to say anything? etc…

  3. Steph – LOL Are we neighbors or rivals? GO CYCLONES!!! 😛 🙂
    But seriously, I feel that most Taiwanese people have been genuinely friendly and accepting of me as not just a visitor. I guess that’s why I find myself so curious about this lady. But I agree, typically nothing beats the midwest for some friendly attitude. And sweet corn. From the back of an F-150. Mmmmm…

    JZ – LOL – Hates short hair? Intolerant of sparkley nail polish? Saw me run outside in my PJ’s at noon to pick up that package from the postman? *sigh* …

  4. Update: I was just informed that she does this to my husband, too! Interesting…

  5. She’s weird…

  6. A few reasons that I can think of — 1) she is afraid to speak in English or she can’t speak English at all. 2) she hasn’t seen many foreigners around in the past so she doesn’t know how to interact with you. 3) She does the same thing to your husband could be that she thinks he is a forienger too.

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