Dear Advised: I received a lousy phone call from my 86-year-old neighbor. I didn’t even know there was a woman living across the street. I live in a very quiet neighborhood and I’ve only seen a man come and go in the ten years I’ve lived here. He never talks to anyone. The woman left a message on my voicemail. She said…
I’m watching you from my window! Your car is always parked in front of my house and you have no right to park there! Go park in front of someone else’s house! Your car alarm went off and it nearly gave me a heart attack and it’s all your fault! You block my trash cans everyday! Call me immediately!
I called and told her…
My car is parked in my driveway and she must be confusing me with someone else. It wasn’t my car alarm that went off. I don’t block the trash cans because I park in my driveway. My car is only in front of your house for two hours (on Mondays) while my gardener works at my house, and then I move it back into my driveway.
Then she hung up on me.
We live on a very calm street with plenty of open parking. No one has ever complained about anyone, or had issues of any kind before. Her trash cans are behind her gate until trash day on Thursdays, and I’ve never seen anyone block them. I wanted to be kind thinking she’s not all right in the mind. However, now I have the most unpleasant feeling when I go outside knowing she’s watching me from her window. What do I do now? Thanks, Liv
Dear Liv: It’s unsettling to have an older woman (or anyone for that matter) yell at you, and for something you didn’t do (not that doing something wrong gives someone an excuse to yell at you). We’re taught to respect our elders, and behavior like this makes you question the old adage.
I believe you’re never too old or young to practice good manners; of which, she did not. From your letter it appears she’s interpreting a situation that may not be happening.
Yes, every time you walk outside she may very well indeed be watching you, there is nothing you can do about it. Disarm the situation by sending a smile her way when you go outside, even if you can’t see her. It’s the right thing to do.
And Liv, give this a try; bake her some cookies, shortbread would be nice, and wrap them up with a box of English Tea. Give them to the man you see coming and going, along with a handwritten note.
You might just make her day a whole lot better, a friend instead of an enemy, and who better than an 86-year-old woman, watching from her window, to keep an eye on your house, too.