Pacific Coast Highway is the main strip to get from one end of my town to the other. My neighborhood isn’t near the coast, though; my home is nestled in the far reaches of a box canyon.
That’s what made it all the more hilarious to see the item posted on Nextdoor a few mornings ago, titled “Loud breathing.”
“People are breathing too loud on PCH,” it read. “Something needs to be done.”
I almost snorted my coffee out my nose. I had found a kindred spirit, someone who smirks at the kinds of complaints that have become one of the less attractive features of Nextdoor, the online neighborhood communication service.
Subscribers to Nextdoor knows there are helpful listings of items people are selling or giving away, requests for the names of great handymen or genius electricians and postings about lost or found pets, neighbors sharing tools or loaning high chairs for a grandson’s visit.
But Nextdoor also can be where petty concerns and prejudices are reinforced and a forum for people privileged enough to believe that minor annoyances are federal cases. Some neighbors living on the southern rim of my canyon were apparently tortured for years by the sight of an Adirondack chair sitting on an empty lot on the opposite rim. Two people complained to the city about this “eyesore.” Eventually, it was removed, to sighs of relief on Nextdoor.
A friend in San Francisco says Nextdoor people regular share their fears of coyotes, which led to his favorite spoof: “The other night while crossing home, I saw a rabbit run across the street at 15th and Aloha. It didn’t attack me or show any aggression, but it was definitely too close for comfort. The city is becoming a wild and scary place. So protect your carrot patches and keep your pets and children close!”
Between the horror of the Adirondack chair and the knock-down debate over dog droppings – is it OK to toss the poop bags in a neighbor’s garbage can? – it can be hard sometimes to tell the spoofs from the real posts. So much so that there’s a #bestofnextdoor hashtag on Twitter, a combination of both. Reading these posts is like putting up a mirror to smallest thoughts.
“My neighbor has an untagged crap Lexus in his driveway. It is staying there forever.”
“Just passed a man with red hair, disheveled, walking aimlessly in middle of the road on Calle Pino, 20ish.”
A friend found this post during cicada season: “Can anyone shed light on what on earth is making all the noise outside my window at night? It sounds like bugs but it is nonstop chirping. Can our HOA do anything about this?”
From my own neighborhood: “Whoa… a man in white pants and orange shirt just wandered across middle of Coast Highway just north of Cleo. I seriously had to brake hard.” Hard braking in town – take notice.
And I was especially puzzled by this one: “Does anyone have a puppy carrier, front pack, stroller, etc. that I can borrow or buy? I know, never thought I be one of ‘those people.’ Our new puppy can’t be exposed to other dogs for 7 weeks and we’re going stir crazy!”
How did people manage to get out of the house when they had puppies in the days before dog strollers? And why would someone who wants to borrow such objects refer to their owners as “those people?”
Still, she got two offers.
Karin Klein is a freelance journalist in Orange County who has covered education, science and food policy. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kklein100.