DEAR AMY: My wife and I recently purchased our first home. The previous residents were an elderly couple who passed away. When we bought the house we did not know that the couple’s daughter and her husband and two teenage daughters were our neighbors across the street. (Another neighbor told us this.) We had never seen them outside, and they never introduced themselves. We made a lot of exterior changes to the house, as it was pretty old and dated. We painted, put in new windows and doors and landscaped. As we started making changes, we noticed the daughter and her family taking notice. We’d see them standing outside looking at our house, or looking out their windows. I’d wave to them, and they’d never wave back. A few months ago, we got an anonymous note in our mailbox, saying that the changes were “ugly,” “too modern” and that it looked “cheap.” My wife was offended. We both assumed it was authored by the daughter or someone else in her family, but decided to ignore it. Now we’re the victims of more petty harassment. Someone keeps throwing eggs at our windows, our trash cans are almost always tipped over and it’s pretty common to have our mailbox filled with rocks or dirt. I can’t prove that it’s anyone in this household, but I don’t think anyone else in the neighborhood would do this. I want to go talk to them, but I don’t know what to say. What do you think?
DEAR NERVOUS: The following is quoted from the U.S. Postal Inspection website (https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/): “Mailboxes are considered federal property, and federal law (Title 18, United States Code, Section 1705), makes it a crime to vandalize them (or to injure, deface or destroy any mail deposited in them). Violators can be fined up to $250,000, or imprisoned for up to three years, for each act of vandalism.”
From your account, this does not seem to be petty vandalism, but an escalating course of harassment.
You should install an outdoor security camera in order to try to record any vandalism. Take photos of any property damage, and keep notes.
You should also call the police (nonemergency number) every single time this happens, in order to notify them of this course of escalating harassment, and to build a case.
I do not think you should confront these neighbors in person. Your friendly waves and various bids at neighborliness have been rebuffed.
DEAR AMY: A group of us are wondering how to handle a situation with a co-worker. Our co-worker, “Kris,” is getting married soon, and she has been talking about her wedding for a year now. Now that the invites have been mailed, we’ve noticed that they are addressed only to each co-worker and not to the spouses or “plus ones” of single people. Through one of the co-workers, we’ve been told that no one except the co-workers are invited! Many are no longer planning to attend, and feel that this is not proper etiquette for a wedding. How should we address this, or how do we bow out without causing hard feelings on both sides?
DEAR CO-WORKERS: It sounds as if “Kris” is trying to put together a table of co-workers, as a way to include you all in a wedding she has been talking about for the last year.
Yes, spouses should be included in an invitation, but hosts are under no obligation to include a “plus one” for single people, unless they have live-in or long-term partners.
I can imagine that this co-worker might not have met any (or many) of the spouses of her co-workers; I can also imagine a spouse not necessarily wanting to attend the wedding of someone who is not necessarily a personal friend, but a work-friend.
The way to handle this is not to confront “Kris” over her gaffe, but — if you don’t want to attend without a spouse — to simply RSVP your regrets to her invitation, while also congratulating her and wishing her a very happy wedding day.
DEAR AMY: I was concerned by the question from “Lonely in the Burbs.” While you made a number of suggestions for how she might feel less lonely, you never suggested that she should volunteer! Volunteering gives people access to possible friendships; it also gives lonely people a true sense of purpose.
DEAR VOLUNTEER: Absolutely. In addition to serving the needs of the volunteer, volunteering (of course) also contributes valuable service to the organization.