Dear Marcie,

I don’t know what to do about my neighbors, but something needs to happen – SOON!

The neighborhood where we live has common alleys (we all have an entrance to our respective garage in the back of our homes).  The neighbors in question live across the alley from us, so their garage and back yard face our garage and back yard.  These people are very messy.  Their garbage cans are always left open and are always overflowing with their garbage.   The stray cats in the area drag their garbage out of the cans, which usually means the garbage gets blown all over the place.  Not only do these neighbors not prevent the problem from happening; they never clean up the mess later.  What’s worse is that their lack of respect for their neighbors is even more apparent when they dump their garbage in other people’s city-issued garbage cans.  Often, I don’t have room for my own garbage in my own garbage can because these rude people feel they can clutter up my garbage can with their junk.  I have tried to talk to them about it by suggesting they contact the city to obtain an additional garbage can, but they deny they are doing this (in spite of the fact that my yard man has seen them do this on more than one occasion).

Further, their children are destructive.  Another neighbor recently confirmed that he witnessed the children in question destroying the fence of another neighbor.  Also, we have had a window in our house shot out by these children.  The parents refused to let the children speak to the police officer involved in the case (he found evidence outside their home but on their property), so there is no confession on file.  I don’t wish to file a civil suit, but I shouldn’t have to pay for the repairs each time these children decide to be destructive. 

What should I do?  I am not willing to move from my home, but I don’t feel I should have to live with this family of bad neighbors constantly causing problems.

Help!!!

Signed,

Tired of the trash

Dearest Tired,

Looks like you’ve taken the steps to try to mend the problems you’re having with “Casa de Oscar the Grouch”.  Most of us learn to appreciate the difference between right and wrong at a young age. Apparently these naughty neighbors haven’t learned much, which is further reflected in the downward spiral of behavior shown in their offspring. What can we do? Move? Not an option!  When life hands you lemons, don’t just make lemonade - charge for it!  Now to apply this principle to Mr. and Mrs. Grouch and the Grouchlings.  Come up with a weekly invoice charging them for maintenance and space usage and then deliver it. If that goes unpaid, or mysteriously gets thrown out back in your bin, maybe start a neighborhood clean-up petition against this particular family. With any luck they’ll get the BIG hint.

As for the Grouchlings’ behavior, these children obviously need structure. Instead of writing them off as juvenile delinquents,  suggest they channel the energy invested in being destructive and acting out into something grander by giving back, perhaps by taking up a side job keeping the neighborhood “Green” and mess free.  Everyone can benefit from a little acknowledgement and responsibility.  These days many youth run rampant fueled by nothing more than boredom.  A simple task or perceived role in their community could just inspire and motivate them in other aspects of their lives.  Just a thought.