Posted by: Kate | November 10, 2009

Neighbor Wars

It started small.

First, during our move, we had placed a few things in the basement (most of our stuff has been stored in the attic, which is not shared).  The neighbor came up to ask us to move them because it was blocking their stuff.  But their stuff covers all available walls, so moving our stuff out of the way is effectively impossible.  We shuffled things around, they didn’t complain again, amen.

Next, a few weeks ago, I got an early-Saturday phone call, complaining because the kids were “doing something that made the ceiling sound like it was going to cave in.”  Apparently the wife is allowed to make sarcastic/over-the-top comments, but I am not, because my response of, “Oh, I’m sorry.  I’ll talk to them about it.  We keep thinking it would be easier if they could just float,” was not appreciated.

Again, we didn’t hear from them again – and a good thing, really, because even though they’re downstairs, their 4-year-old has been known to run heavily enough to shake things on our table and desk upstairs – and so we forgot about it.  Sort of.

A few days ago, I sent an email asking them if they had any local babysitter recommendations.  They chose this morning as a good time to reply, but not about a babysitter.  Instead, the first email of the day was a complaint because when we park in the driveway (which is only wide enough for one vehicle), we do not leave enough space behind our car for them to park also, and that we do laundry too late at night and the washing machine is too loud.  I replied that we had deliberately not been leaving enough space to be blocked in, and that we had, in turn, deliberately never blocked them in, because I don’t keep a regular schedule and so it’s hard for me to predict when I’ll need the car.  And that I’ve been in bed by 8:00 or 9:00 most nights, so I thought maybe it was the dishwasher causing noise; I’m pretty sure Willem isn’t sneaking in clandestine laundry loads after I go to bed.

The second email was terse and unpleasant.  “Do you mean that you will not park far enough into the driveway that we can park behind you?  And yes, it was your washing machine.”  So I replied with a longer explanation about why I was interested in neither being blocked in nor blocking anyone else in, apologized for any undue noise (and agreed that the acoustics of the house are such that we can hear a lot more, upstairs, than we thought we would, because two can play passive-aggressive…) and suggested that we all sit down and talk face-to-face before this becomes any more awkward, to figure out plans about how to use the driveway, etc.

Gah.  Would someone please just bu the house in New Hampshire so I can start real-estate shopping down here??



  1. Gah is right. I hate that passive aggressive crap. And they tipped their hand when they complained about the stuff in the basement. That was the first clue that they would be total PITA neighbors.

    But it sounds like you guys need agreed-upon policies. The driveway thing would be a hot-button for anybody. Does your lease have language addressing your driveway use? I am thinking you can’t leave anything up in the air with these people.

  2. Oh my goodness the fun never ends. We have a classic paranoid personality in our neighbor across the street to the right. She has gone off on my kids because their cars are too loud(Hell I agree. But I have yet to meet the woman) and they are too loud too late at night or early in the morning. She also took on my wayyyyyyyyy laid back spouse and he ended up yelling because she told our 17yo to f***ing keep his car slower and not scaring her daughter.

    You have my complete and total empathy. Hugs

  3. “We keep thinking it would be easier if they could just float,”


  4. Some people have trouble with the idea that others are also entitled to things. Like space. The ability to leave their parking spot. The ability to sleep or have Thanksgiving dinner without being afraid stuff is going to bounce off the table.
    Unfortunately, empathy doesn’t seem to be these people’s strong suit… I’m sorry.

  5. Good idea to sort it out and have some rules. I live next door to my brother and without setting guidelines it would be a mess. We have 6 cars between us so parking is an issue but we sorted it out amicably. Then some people just love to complain. Years ago I had a flat and the people in the flat below us complained that they could hear me walking into the kitchen at night . . my husband’s retort at the time “what do you want her to do f*ckn fly?”. That my friend was the end of that!

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