Do not assume, just ask

Beware Rude Neighbors Street SignOne of my pet peeves where I live is when I see some random car that has been parked on my assigned parking spot: I live in a complex and I own a garage next to my unit, which I use. Since I have only one car, the assigned parking slot is free, free to be highjacked by any other resident near it, generally someone with visiting or permanent extra vehicle, since each unit in the complex has only one assigned slot.

There are plenty enough visitors parkings spots, but my street is very long, and I live all the way down at the opposite end, when the visitors slots are at the beginning. No big deal, I can walk, I like walking, and I can tell my guests that they have to park far before finding my remote unit. No big deal, if it does not rain, snow, or if it’s not for a quick drop off but a long visit.

But still: I’d love to be able to tell my guests not to worry about where they can park when they come and see me, and to find my numbered spot on the way down my street: they would park there, I would see their car arrive from my window and greet them with my best welcome.

Instead, every time I have a friend come over, I find that an unknown car has been chosing  my spot to park and it annoys me, because I was not aware that it would be there, or because the driver has deliberately decided that it was okay to park there without even reaching out to me.

I went to one of those indelicate offenders the other day, to ask her not to use my spot all the time, because I had seen who she was.  She very graciously accepted my request, telling me in a not so apologetical way that she was never staying very long in that spot (which is certainly not true since every time I was passing by I could spot her car with a very distinctive licence plate), and also warned me that I should also tell some others who would use that spot when she wasn’t parked in it (ah ah! so she knew exactly that it was abused by all sorts of illegitimate drivers!).

Today I noticed a big unknown SUV that seems to have elected this parking slot to rest for the entire Memorial Day Weekend. I suppose some families came from outside and are visiting, why wouldn’t I have also visitors? I went to the windshield of that big car and taped a note stating: “Do not assume that it is okay to park in here. Please ask me before and I might say yes anyway, or no if I need to use my parking spot for myself”, and I signed.

What are your pet peeves with your neighbors? Is it more difficult to have civil relationships within the community because many assume and feel entitled? What is your take on this story? Am I overreacting?

How to build your reputation online

I have been blogging for nearly five years now, which in this day and age is like a generation. When I started blogging, early adopters (those who had started using blog platforms as soon as they became available) where already two, three or four years old, and you were looking at them with respect and awe. And I am mentioning these numbers because at the time I was blogging only in French, and the French blogosphere started much later than in the anglophone world.

Bloggers build their reputation around their online presence: they start with a personal style and this will attract or deter their readers, but this personality is their major asset. Those who chose to copy/paste or follow guidelines from how to’s without adding any spice of their own are doomed to fade in the ocean of the copycats all over the place.

You need to tell your own story, not the story of someone else who you have seen succeed and you want to copy because you believe it has a magic touch!

Your reputation will build if you are actively engaged with the others. You may be a silent reader of other blogs for instance, it will in the end feel like you are in a ballroom sitting on the side sofa and watching the others dance, and wondering why noone ever talks to you. Well, at a certain point, you have to dance too.

It is very easy to forget that online everything is not allowed. You can’t scream or be obnoxious, unless people actually know that you are playing a role when you scream and are obnoxious – some very successful bloggers have built their reputation on that quirk, but they have shown their true colors somewhere in their actions.

And remember, your online life is not very far from your carbon life: think about how you would build your reputation in your own community, in your town, in your congregation. Well, online, it is exactly the same: be engaged, be a good citizen, abiding by the law and taxpayer, give back and pay forward, that’s how you will build your good name.