Spying On My Neighbors

As a stay-at-home mom, I’m fairly sensitive to becoming THAT PERSON. You know, the one who knows EVERYTHING that’s happening in the neighborhood. Whose phone conversations contain references to which neighbors are not going to work and the state of their bushes. (feel free to take that last sentence any way you want)

So the other day, I’m in my daughter’s nursery mid-morning, and I hear a car outside. Then the sounds stops. Suddenly.

I decide to ignore it. And by ignore it, I mean keep thinking: WHY DON’T I HEAR THAT CAR ANYMORE?

So I inch my way to the window. I don’t want any neighbors to CATCH me being that neighbor:

If I had more gray hair I could totally pull this off.

It’s just a white car. With the driver sitting inside.

Now, I am not what one might call OBSERVANT. So I mull over whether I’ve seen the car before. I decide NO.

Then I start to get anxious. Are they dropping off drugs? Guns? Are they broken down? Are they pretending to be broken down so I come out and then they stab me and steal my kids? Do they notice me noticing them? Isn’t that how mafia hits begin? I’m not really ready to die.

I stare.

They sit.

My children are somewhere.

So I take their picture. In case I’m kidnapped.

And now I’m posting it here. Because white cars are SUSPICIOUS.

I know you have the chills right now, too. And it’s not just from my terrible lawn.

Also, because I don’t have cable television and this is as good as it gets with boring neighbors.

PS. Do you like the new format of my homepage, or do you hate clicking on the newest post?  I can un-code the new look if you’re miserable.  Or you can remedy the extra click by subscribing to my blog via email or RSS feed.  Although honestly that just occurred to me.  And some of you clearly have commitment issues.  So feel free to speak up.  Or speak up and subscribe.  Or stay silent and I’ll just do what I want.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

33 thoughts to “Spying On My Neighbors”

  1. LOL I can totally relate. We live in a small town and so everyone knows everyone (and everything!), no matter how much we try to stay out of other folks’ “biznez.” I once got a call from the grocery store to say “an older gentleman was asking directions to” my house. Was my dad, the first time he came to visit us after we moved.

  2. if you want, I can send you my creepy security cameras. Seriously. Still haven’t figured out where the things are hooked up to, but I’m happy to send them your way. It would probably make the neighbor-spying much easier. And on the plus side, they’ll all be so creeped out they’ll leave you alone forever.

  3. I live in a townhouse complex. therefore my neighbors and I are in close proximity. and so of course I worry about the state of their bushes. wink wink. nudge nudge.

    let us know when the white car kidnaps you so we can alert the authorities.

  4. I think the “I don’t want to become one of those neighbors” is the same statement I made with “I soooo don’t want to be one of those Moms” and have failed miserably at both. And being a paranoid person is okay…sometimes being observant is what deters crime. And not to totally freak you out, but when I was a kid walking home from school I noticed a strange white car outside the neighbor’s house. I memorized the license plate…seriously I was in junior high, and it so happened that the person who owned that car really was robbing the neighbors! Cops found them and everything. True story. I am totally convinced that having me at home is making the neighborhood safer….

  5. Both summers that I was home on maternity leave left me with ample time to become Nosey Nancy. I loved it. I’m not sure, though, that my blow-by-blows of our neighbor Barb in her jammies at 11am or the what-is-up-with-our-neighbors-who-always-have-their-curtains-drawn, were as quite as scintillating to the husband.

    However, I considered myself THE neighborhood watch.

  6. You’re totally in the right here – don’t doubt it for a second! It’s likely a mafia/drug cartel/CIA/MacGuyver/kidnapping/meth related activity. Take photos and document their every move. I mean, it could just be a friend visiting, but when Jack Bauer shows up to your house all out of breath and looking like he was just in a knife fight, THEN WHO’S THE FOOL?!?! Not you… not you.

  7. I have studied and studied and studied this car. I have called my car freak of a husband over to study it as well. I think it’s a volvo, possibly and accord with after market wheels. The guy in the car has a baseball cap on. ALL SIGNS POINT TO TERRORIST!

  8. I like the clean look of the page.
    As for being a nosey neighbor. I am mom who works full time and I still am anal about knowing at least whats going on my street.
    I think its all good, unless you start going into stalker mode.

  9. Our neighbors across the street (who have yet to say “hello” even when we are 3 feet away and say “hello” ourselves) have recently had a major falling out and we believe they are separating. We know this because we take a long time getting the mail when they are fighting – with the garage door open (yeah, not really spying or eavesdropping when it’s a free show for the cul-de-sac), or the moving trucks are parked in the driveway. It’s been our latest dose of drama unrelated to our own lives. Not that I take joy in the demise of a marriage, but they haven’t gone out of their way to keep it private.

    And I RSS so I really could care less what your homepage looks like!

  10. My mom was That Lady. After years of watching her techniques, I feel like I should give you a hint or two about remaining incognito.

    Even though everyone in the neighborhood will totally know you’re spying.

    Because they are too.

    1. No offense, but your current window gazing is going to get you caught. Stand to the right or left of the window and, leaning so that most of your body is still behind the wall, gently move the curtain or blinds, giving yourself an inch or two to look outside. Change sides if needed.

    2. You might already know this, but if it’s dusk or dark outside, find a room with no light on before looking outside. There’s no way to hide what you’re doing when your body is backlit like Norman Bate’s “mother”.

    3. This is imperitive, you must find a spying co-hort that you can call while looking out the window. When the kids grow up, they’ll do in a pinch.

    4. You need to start a garden. And always garden while wearing a big hat and sunglasses – the better to hide what you’re really looking at. Once you hone your indoor skills, the lure to get a closer look will be too great to resist. The best way to continue your spying is by hiding behind a bunch of dahlias.

    5. Personally, I miss living in a neighborhood where spying is an open secret. I don’t know what my neighbors even look like and our fence keeps us from seeing any cars driving by. My goal is to live in a neighborhood where I can become a fourth generation “That Lady”.

    Everyone needs goals.

  11. Alex Kravitz has a nice ring to it! Don’t forget to get the license plate number and put it in your iPhone notes, that way we’ll have the exact date and time of the incedent when the police come to question you! I watch a lot of Forensic Files(;

  12. Duuuuuude. I am so there with you. I sometimes feel like I am already that person. You know, the one you described, but still in her PJs at 4! I get all weird if the house is quiet and the dog growls at nothing. Freaks me out and I run to the window like the lame-o I am!
    PS. that picture is awesome!

  13. Dear God I’m that person in my apartment building. It’s shocking the amount of useless information I know about my neighbors.

    I had a neighbor who used to call me Officer Soro and I used to call him Officer Shaw.

    I’m pretty sure this is self-explanatory.

  14. lol. had a white van that used to park outside the house in college…but that was surveilance…not some scary wanna be thief…

    dropped ver from missnikki’s

  15. It’s the big white vans that freak me out. Last year, my new neighbours moved in and what did they have? Yup, a white van.
    It took me the longest time to get over it and not get all big and puffy-tailed (yeah, we have a cat) whenever they’d come home.

    nen – visiting from cyber house

  16. I used to be terribly guilty of spying on my neighbors when I had windows that faced the street in my main rooms … now they face the backyard … so I don’t do it so much anymore … as for your PS … I usually click on your blogs from either Facebook or the RSS feed … so it doesn’t bother me at all … your home page looks nice and clean 🙂

  17. Alex~

    You could be right; this could be a sinister plot to kill you and steal your kids.


    You need to get out of the house and interact with other adults.

    But the first opinion could be correct, which would make you sane and normal. So let’s go with option 1.

  18. various points:

    various point 1: so…why have we ruled out teenagers skipping pre-calc to make out in their parents sedan? (he/she/they parked in the shade, after all… practical?) could be good old fashioned romance right there at your doorstep! if this sedan’s-a-rockin…

    vp2: I second previous comment about white-4-door vehicles being tres non-threatening, yet would be similarly freaked by the white VAN / supervan / econovan variety lingering at my doorstep. that is, if we didn’t have one of those on our block already (no joke.) fyou want to talk freaky neighbors, I can sooooo bring it strong.

    vp3: police sometimes place vehicles strategically to TRAP nefarious (sp?) characters of other criminal backgrounds- so watch your back. seriously, it was on NPR… some couple got arrested for looking for ID/info in the glove compartment of what they thought was a suspicious abandoned car that had been outside their house for days. or weeks? police said it was breaking and entering or attempted car theft or something …long battle with the law for the innocent nieghborhood watchmen. ultimately police had planted the car trying to snag low level drug dealers looking for quick cash i think. anyway, just sayin, don’t pole around in the car if it’s there for a long while : ) and if i ever locate the brain cells which have stored the name of the exact radio show I heard that on (maybe this american life?), I’ll send you the link.

  19. When we were first married, Chip worked 7p-7a on the weekends. And I was home all night alone with my new baby. My neighbors on the left were an elderly couple who had nothing better to do than nosy spy on their neighbors. And I loved it. Made me feel very, very safe. You are my hero. Spy away, my friend.

  20. My Mom was That Neighbor as well. I catch myself doing the Curtain Pull. Years ago, the Police parked on my street corner for a month. I sent them pizza. Don’t worry too much about the car. My white car doesn’t have a sun roof.

  21. I’m slowly accepting that I have become *that neighbor* already. I work at home and I have a big honking view of what’s going on. I can sit at my desk or on the couch and see all, know all. I knew when my neighbor started dating before his own mother probably did. I have accepted this is just part of being a writer: curiousity. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  22. –>I live in an older neighborhood and was AMAZED at how it came to life during the day when I was home on maternity leave a few years ago. I also saw why the neighbor’s 18 year old daughter was married and divorced twice by the age of 20. (ah hem)

  23. I spy on my neighbours constantly partly because we share a porch so I can see into most of their apartments, but mostly because I’m disturbingly curious. If anyone asks, your not a nosey stay-at-home mom, you’re an anthropologist *you’re welcome*

  24. Oh my goodness this is to funny …
    I just moved a few month ago and I am a stay at home mom to 3 teens .
    I have like 6 houses that I can see from my house and I have been spying on all of then .. when they get home who come over when they cut the grass and so on .. I even e-mail the police on the tip line to let them know so illegal acts so no one knows who I am calling them .
    I know when I go outside eyes are on me you just feel it cause if I am looking you know they are as well .
    Glad I am not the only that dose this it’s addicting to see what people are doing .

  25. First, yes you are bored. I have been there myself. While it is good to be secure conscious of your home and belongings, there is no need to just sit and watch unless you see the people do something suspicious, then you call the police.I wouldn’t be suspicious of the color of the car, Id be more suspicious as to WHY someone is just sitting in the car doing nothing.I maybe wrong, but I think mafia or anyone else suspicious would use black cars, like a crown Victoria? FBI uses them too

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