Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: I haven't seen my elderly neighbor in a while, should I do anything?

By Dianne Ackerman  | September 20, 2019 - 10:00AM

Most New Yorkers like their privacy, but you have concerns about a neighbor well-being, that's a separate issue.


I have an elderly neighbor that I haven’t seen in a while. I do, however, see young people go in and out of his apartment. Should I do anything? Signed, Concerned

Dear Concerned,

When I lived in the suburbs I could not fight with my husband, discipline my kids, or get a new job without the whole neighborhood knowing my business. When I moved into New York City, I was delighted with my newfound privacy.

New Yorkers value their anonymity, however, we should still be our “neighbor’s keepers” and look out for one another. I would recommend that you speak to your building staff to see if everything is okay. Have they seen this person? Do they know who the young people are? They could be friends, relatives, or caregivers. Doormen usually know everything, but unlike my former suburban neighbors, don’t necessarily tell anyone else.

If that doesn’t work, knock on the door and ask one of those young people if their relative (or friend) is okay. I don’t think anyone would consider it out of line if you are just expressing your concern.

And after your good deed is done, you can go back to barely greeting the people who live in your building, if you want.

Ms. Demeanor

Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.


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