Back off Mrs. Kravitz
August 31, 2009 11:46 PM   Subscribe

I recently moved into a 4 unit apartment building. Across the hall lives a single older woman who is proving to be quite the busy body. The girl downstairs from her and she are friends. The young woman that lives down stairs works for some sort of cash advance operation and when my Daughter got a ride home from a co-worker tonight, this neighbor of mine saw and recognized the driver as someone who borrowed from the cash advance agency, but never paid back, and verbally accosted her in the driveway of the apt. building. It was 8:30 at night and she was wearing a nightgown. I found this very unprofessional, and honestly irritating. What I want to know is how can I handle this without it becoming a building war. I've only lived here a month, but her bulldog approach was very insulting to my guest and very inappropriate. The situation could get sticky since the neighbors are pals. Ugh...what to do!
posted by gypseefire to Human Relations (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Out of curiosity, how did the busybody old neighbor who did not work for the cash advance agency know one of its delinquent customers on sight? Or are we missing details?

Regarding the actual nature of the problem, nosy neighbors suck, but they can be part of life, depending on where you live. As long as she's not breaking any laws, there is little you will be able to do to dissuade her from being nosy, and a lot of things may cause the situation to escalate.

At the same time, if indeed this person owed the agency money and this person being friendly with the cash advance company took an opportunity to try and harangue some of the money back, I am not sure there's a lot you can do about it since it's not really your fight. I'd almost say if your daughter's hanging out after work with people who don't pay back money they borrow, that's important information in and of itself.
posted by barc0001 at 11:54 PM on August 31, 2009

The person who drove your daughter home violated the terms of a contract he agreed to with a third party. Three degrees of separation. This doesn't seem to have anything at all to do with you. At all. I'm not saying that you sound paranoid, but I don't see why your neighbors would care about this incident.
posted by halogen at 11:56 PM on August 31, 2009

This is why I shouldn't do this after midnight. Sorry for the confustion. The woman who lives downstairs lets call her katie, Katie was out at her car and saw the woman drive up and drop off my Daughter (they work together) and while she does owe money she is a decent human being. Anyway Katie took that opportunity to say, Hey aren't you so and owe (cash advance) money we've been trying to find you bla bla bla and she got rude and swore and did all of this in front of my daughter and myself (I was walking up the drive). So a guest of mine (delinquent on an account or not) was harassed by my neighbor who was NOT on duty at the bloody cash advance place and further more it was a private financial matter that my daughter and I certainly didn't want to know about. I feel she stepped outside her bounds.
The nosy neighbor and Katie are friends and I suspect if I took any sort of action they would both be upset with me, hence an uncomfortable living arrangement. However I'm really put out by the fact that a guest of my daughters was verbally attacked by a off duty cash advance clerk in a sleeveless nightgown with NO bra.
posted by gypseefire at 12:06 AM on September 1, 2009

Putting aside the question of whether it's any of your business, your neighbor obviously does not consider this inappropriate, so what are your options?

1. change her mind; convince her it's inappropriate
2. convince someone with some power over her to make her apologize/stop yelling at people/whatever it is that you want

#1 isn't going to happen. As for #2, the cops aren't going to care; nothing illegal about yelling at someone who owes your employer money. Will the landlord care? Possibly, but since the neighbors have been there longer than you have, they may have a little more clout with the landlord than you do. Will her employer care? Nope.

I think there is nothing you can do, unless the landlord already has issues with the neighbor or something like that.
posted by equalpants at 12:21 AM on September 1, 2009

From what I can tell, this has nothing to do with you. What to do? How about let those other adults handle their business, because again, it's not about you.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 12:23 AM on September 1, 2009 [8 favorites]

So a guest of mine (delinquent on an account or not) was harassed by my neighbor who was NOT on duty at the bloody cash advance place and further more it was a private financial matter that my daughter and I certainly didn't want to know about.

Well, people who get foreclosed on probably don't want everyone to know about it, but when you default on an obligation, you don't get to skip away with nobody knowing about it. The only thing you can do is encourage people who owe money not to visit you/drop your daughter off on the street. off duty cash advance clerk in a sleeveless nightgown with NO bra.
Well, you have different dress sense than your neighbour. There's no way to handle that. Live with it or move.
posted by jacalata at 12:28 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Not your problem. Let it go.
posted by flabdablet at 12:49 AM on September 1, 2009

I think the key will be to stay focused on the real issue, and to bring it up in a way that sounds sympathetic while asking for a change.

So, here you are angry and so you are mentioning some things like what the woman was wearing, etc. That's ok, but to her you want to stay on topic... otherwise, you'll have a heated debate about clothes, and never get around to the real issue. So, you might consider this type of conversation with the neighbor:

You: Did you and Daughter'sCoworker get things worked out?

Neighbor: Yes/no (and probably more details about stuff you don't need to know).

You: That's good/that's too bad. Hey, it was a little embarrassing for us to know that Daughter'sCoworker is having these problems. You know, she needs to have a good relationship with her coworkers, even if they aren't prompt in paying back their money to CashAdvanceCompany. It really helps us out when Daughter'sCoworker drops her off after work, and embarrasses us to know the money problems other people are having. Since you work for CashAdvanceCompany and my daughter works with someone who hasn't paid your company back, can we work out a deal where we keep our home lives and work lives separate?

The goal is to convince the neighbor that she can use whatever collection techniques she finds profitable, but not in your driveway in the middle of the night. To convince her, you are not accusing her or angry with her; you are implying "we are in this together, yes it's terrible, but Daughter needs to get along." You are siding with her while asking for a change, so that she doesn't see you as an adversary and make your living situation a bad one while digging in her heels and deciding to confront every guest out of spite.

The conversation might not go the right way, but I think that will be because, well, your neighbor works for a cash advance company (in my opinion, a company with very little scruples who take advantage of the poor). But, it's worth a shot. If it doesn't go right, you should probably just drop it, and make sure your daughter's coworker doesn't show up again (but that's probably already done).
posted by Houstonian at 12:59 AM on September 1, 2009 [11 favorites]

I agree with Houstonian in theory but I just don't think can have this conversation with bra-less nightgown sidewalk rant lady. Her company probably evaluates her performance on how many delinquent accounts she collects. She is not going to abide by your request to separate work and home life, however politely framed. Besides this what debt collectors do: they try to embarrass money out of you by making a spectacle of your finances in front of friends, workers and complete strangers. Unless you pay your friend's debt, there's not much you can do about neighbor's business tactics.

Furthermore, in this situation you've got to put your interests first. You really don't want a small gossipy building set against you, if only so you can save your energy for battles that do matter, like excessive cat poop smell. That is, if you plan on staying put for a while.

If you depend on the coworker to give your daughter rides, I'd apologize profusely even though it had nothing to do with me. I'd also give her token gas money per month (10 to 20 USD/month sounds about right). After all, she's doing you a favor.

If the ride was a one-time thing or very occasional, I'd still leave the ball in the coworker's court. In either case your daughter should ask the coworker to drop her off a few blocks from your home to avoid a repeat performance by bra-less nightgown yelling lady. Ideally your daughter could find another occasional ride to spare the friend embarrassment.

This is a shitty situation and probably more common than ever. I'd be mad too, but it is worth it to keep the peace in your building. The coworker/friend will be more than happy to see you elsewhere, away from her debt collectors. And just to repeat, she probably deserves payment if the rides are frequent.
posted by vincele at 2:13 AM on September 1, 2009

I found this very unprofessional

"Cash advance services" are in the same segment as repo men, pawn shops and loan sharks. This IS professional behavior for them.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:05 AM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

Your daughter's co-worker may want to read the Fair Debt Collection Act. Specifically, there are privacy laws and rules about time of day, harassment, threatening, etc.

I think you'd be wise to stay out of it, except for passing the info along to your daughter to give to her co-worker. If she chooses to pursue it with the Cash Advance place (contacting the woman's supervisor, filing a complaint, etc.), that's up to her, but at least she will know her rights should this woman do the same thing again.

As far as nosy neighbors, I've found the best thing to do is just say "hi," not give out any personal info about your life, and make up a list of things to do if they try to corner you for gossip. Of course, if someone is yelling in the drive late at night, a simple, "this isn't really appropriate for this time of night," and walking away might suffice (i.e., don't try and engage in an argument, which they will love because it will give them more drama for their probably boring and mundane lives).
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:03 AM on September 1, 2009 [7 favorites]

Please, please, please let this go. The only thing worse than having this happen to me would be to have a co-worker's mommy making a big issue out of it afterwards.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:01 AM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

A.) It's really none of your business whether your daughter's ride owes a debt to your neighbor's friend's cash advance company. Why would you even care how two sovereign adults handle a financial transaction that has nothing to do with you?

B.) It's really none of your business if your neighbor's friend likes to go outside in her nightgown without a bra. Yes, she was rude, but it's not against the law to be rude (or braless). The screaming and swearing were probably a little Jerry Springeresque, but again--none of your business.

You seem to be doing what my late grandmother always referred to as "borrowing trouble". You don't own this problem, so stay out of it.
posted by balls at 6:15 AM on September 1, 2009 [6 favorites]

Yeah...stay out of this.

Also, the co-worker probably has some legal rights that she may want to review.

But, to borrow a phrase; These ain't your biscuits, don't fire up the oven.
posted by dejah420 at 6:52 AM on September 1, 2009

And I still don't know what the single older woman across the hall has to do with anything.

But this seems like such an unlikely confluence of circumstances that it's very probably never going to happen again. I see nothing to be gained by stirring the pot any further.
posted by Naberius at 6:56 AM on September 1, 2009

Lots of peoples pointed out that it is none of your business, which, as far as the loan business goes, it is not...but, this person was your guest, and your guest's safety and comfort are very much your business. You and your daughter have a right to expect that your neighbors will treat your guests respectfully. She would expect the same of you I imagine.

My advice, for what its worth, is to assertively tell the lady, in a polite non-confrontational way....'Leave my guests alone please' Not that she is obligated to listen, because, hey, its a free country, but at least you didn't scurry away from the big mean payday loan shark lady. Possibly just having a reasonable adult look her in the eye and say "Not okay" would be enough to have her think twice about pulling this kind of thing again.
posted by ian1977 at 8:21 AM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

So a guest of mine (delinquent on an account or not) was harassed by my neighbor who was NOT on duty at the bloody cash advance place and further more it was a private financial matter that my daughter and I certainly didn't want to know about.

Certainly seems to me that you're a busybody too. This has nothing to do with you, it's not your business, and you have absolutely no damn reason to get involved here. Leave it be, or else you're just as much a busybody as anyone else.
posted by splice at 9:00 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

an off duty cash advance clerk in a sleeveless nightgown with NO bra.

Now this is a company that understands collections.
posted by dinger at 9:14 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

"I don't think it was appropriate for you to be discussing extremely private business matters in front of us. I'm not even sure it's legal. Please don't do this again."
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:15 AM on September 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

I am having a hard time understanding why so many people think its acceptable for your neighbor to scream at your guests and chalk it up to 'well its none of my business'

The OP didn't say the lady didn't come up and politely asked the guest to please give her a call concerning the loan issue. The OP said that the lady was rude and swearing. How is that none of the OPs business?
posted by ian1977 at 9:23 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Someone dropping her daughter off in front of the building doesn't really rise to the level of guest. It's not like the neighbour came into the OP's apartment and yelled at someone there. This happened on the street in front of the building.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:29 AM on September 1, 2009

"Someone dropping her daughter off in front of the building doesn't really rise to the level of guest."

I suppose a distinction could be made there...but the OP and her daughter were there. Good neighbor rules generally dictate not swearing and screaming out in the parking lot regardless of whether usury is involved or not.

In this case, the reasoning for the lady swearing and screaming out in the parking lot seems irrelevant. The disruptive thing is that she did it period. In my mind, the OP is not incorrect in wanting to set some clear boundaries with this lady.
posted by ian1977 at 9:38 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm with some of the latter posters in thinking that it is somewhat your business how a neighbor treats your guests. Obviously the neighbor got a clear enough view of the co-worker to note who the person was, which may or may not mean that they were getting out of the car or at least having a friendly conversation before she exited.

Your daughter shares a ride home from work with this person, which is a very nice thing to do for someone. Additionally, we all fall behind and make financial mistakes sometimes. Being a good person by helping your daughter out should not subject her to being in the presence of someone who is going to harass them for what is hopefully a one-time mistake, especially if this person is young.

Furthermore it not only threatens your daughter's ride home, but the relationship the OP and her daughter are going to have with this neighbor from here on out, so it really is the OP's business. If daughter's co-worker is too threatened to drop her off, she'll have to find another way to get back. As most of us know, this can be a huge pain in the ass. Especially at night, depending on where you live, since that sounds like when her shift is over.

I agree that this neighbor was out-of-line in her conduct. What I would do first is talk to your daughter and have her ask her co-worker if she is alright from the other night and apologize for the neighbor's behavior -- citing that it was inappropriate and that neither of you think any less of her, these things happen*. Note the Fair Debt Collection Act that Marie Mon Dieu linked to for peace of mind.

*If your daughter is close-enough with said employee, it might be in her best interest to find out when this debt occurred and why it hasn't been resolved yet. If this is an ongoing problem with this person, perhaps it is best to find some other means of transport. It would be awful to give this person the benefit-of-the-doubt only to find out they've been borrowing money from your daughter (or anyone else) this entire time without your prior knowledge.

Obviously the fact that they [still] have a job is a good thing, but it goes without saying that at the end of the day this person might be getting harassed by unbra'd women in the middle of the night for a reason.
posted by june made him a gemini at 10:14 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

people who get foreclosed on probably don't want everyone to know about it, but when you default on an obligation, you don't get to skip away with nobody knowing about it. Those cash advance lenders are very often unscrupulous, to say the least. Borrowers, even those in default, do have rights, as noted by Marie MonDieu.

Maintain a friendly facade; busybodies often adore stirring up trouble and can make life miserable. But encourage the borrower to complain about the harrassment; it's really unacceptable.
posted by theora55 at 10:20 AM on September 1, 2009

Well, I'm of the opinion that the best way to make sure this specific situation doesn't happen again would be to make sure DaughtersCoworker pays UnsubtleLady what he owes her.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 10:42 AM on September 1, 2009

I decided to simply let the friend of my Daughters handle it any way she sees fit. I do think my neighbor was in the wrong but I do not care to cause waves at this point because I do share close quarters. That being said this woman's debt is none of my business and I would never ask a guest to park down the street to avoid a neighbor of that point I would involve the police or the landlord, I will over look a great deal but some situations require a certain amount of reasonable confrontation. Furthermore for those of you who were all up in arms about her being in debt, her life situation is very unfortunate and her husband died. She is in dire straights...why must some people be so judgmental? always seems to make people so you people I say...look up the word empathy.

The rest of you, thanks I appreciate your input...and support.

posted by gypseefire at 1:31 PM on September 1, 2009

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