Bad Neighbors-Is There A Good Way To Deal?
A good friend of mine lived in a communal living facility on military installation. They placed her with a girl she was friendly with as they felt it would be a good match. It turned out they were wrong. They had gotten along fine until they became roommates and their individual living habits clashed. Before it was all over with, the other girl switched the positive and negative wires on my friend’s stereo in retaliation for her leaving it on as loud as it would go then leaving the facility promptly thereafter. She wound up uncrossing them before my friend got back and she confessed to the intended offense. She wound up moving out into town and eventually their original friendship renewed. That situation did turn out as a best case scenario but it is hardly the norm.
Now my aunt is not a forgiving woman. You can put money in the bank that if you cross her, you are not getting another chance to make another impression. When she moved into her current residence, the only neighbor she has inadvertently crossed her and has never been allowed to forget it. It is almost like watching the reincarnation of the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. Both sides engaged in passive-aggressive methods of annoyance until her neighbor took it further. She has never hesitated to call the sheriff’s out on him nor has she failed to put his trash out for everyone to see, literally. He was randomly ‘dropping’ his trash in front of her property to make it seem as though she were a slob. She, in turn, took all that trash, bagged it up, waited, then dumped it all on the road in front of his place. The feud still wages and neither party has been proven guilty so neither have been taken to jail, but it will happen. Nothing good is going to come of these two stubborn individuals determined to prove their superiority through juvenile tactics.
Most of the time, getting along with your neighbors is a fairly easy task. Sometimes getting along with your neighbors means a mutual avoidance of one another. What do you do, though, when one, or both, of you is unable or unwilling to steer clear of the other and getting along means not actually maiming the other person? How do you cope with you can’t cope?
This situation is one that can easily escalade if you are not careful. It is very easy to want to get caught up in an endless tit-for-tat, each person trying to ‘outdo’ the other. Each offense gets worse in hopes of ‘winning’ the fight and making the neighbor give up and move out. This kind of living situation rarely has a happy ending. This applies whether your neighbor is next door, down the block, next apartment down, next door down the hall, or across the room.
Once your temper has cooled from that first offense, or two, you should attempt to calmly discuss the matter with him/her. If it becomes clear that there will be no reasoning with the offending neighbor, the next step should be to start documenting offenses followed immediately by distancing yourself from the offending party as much as feasible. This covers you by providing a hopefully well documented timeline showing the escalation and your lack of retaliation. It would help if there were proof in the form of video or still photos. Any and all offenses that cross the line of legality need to be reported to the appropriate authorities immediately. Most of the time, you will be advised to take the matter to civil court.
Prior to taking the matter to the judicial system, do your homework. Make sure you are fully aware of all laws that you feel they have violated as well as any that you may have overstepped as well. The more prepared you are the better it is for all involved. During this time, it is imperative that you be as civil as humanly possible. Do not lower yourself. It does nobody any good, least of all, you. Seek legal advise, seek assistance from a neutral third party, take the high road, turn the other cheek, or swallow your pride and move, if that is even an option. Otherwise, you will be in for some real trouble later on down the road.