“What would you do?” asked Marcos. He looked around the room at the other dads who were also sitting in the circle, cross legged, on mats.
“Call the police,” one dad offered with a shrug.
“Tell them you have a baby, and ask them to keep down the noise after midnight,” suggested another.
The group discussed these options for a time, and then I interrupted.
“I have a question” I said. “Are you more worried about the noise, or about the little kids whose parents are yelling at them that late to finish their English homework?”
“I’m worried about the whole family,” Marcos said.
“So you want to be their neighbor, not just the stranger next door,” I said. “In that case, I think the next step is to introduce yourself and get to know them and their situation. Then, maybe, you can help them.
I hesitated. I knew what I was about to say next would seem ridiculous.
“Next time you meet in the hallway, introduce yourself, and invite them over to your house for a coffee or a meal.”
Everyone laughed, as if I had just delivered the punch line to a joke.
When the room had quieted down again, one of the dads showed me his palms as a kind of apology. “I think I speak for all of us when I say that’s not the Spanish way.”