I was rude to my neighbors and I'm not sure what to do.
February 22, 2015 2:32 PM   Subscribe

I live on a dead end street and have had an ongoing issue with our across the street neighbors regarding plowing. Every couple of years, they plow snow from their driveway onto our yard. Every couple of years we address it with then, and every couple of years they play dumb, and then quit. The issue arose again this morning, but instead of apologizing, they got a little snotty and made some snide remarks. I used foul language in my response and stormed off, leaving my husband to talk to the neighbors. Now that I've got more distance, I feel horrible. I've been sick and I'm overtired but honestly I have no excuse and I was just rude. Should I go apologize? Should I bake them some cookies? Should I give it some time or go right away? Any advice appreciated.
posted by wizardpants to Human Relations (35 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Nope. They were assholes to you. You should apologize to your husband and bake him some cookies.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:39 PM on February 22, 2015 [46 favorites]

Agreed. They owe you an apology. What a nerve, constantly plowing snow on your property and then acting like they are the wronged ones. If anything you've taught them you have limits to your patience.
posted by Jubey at 2:41 PM on February 22, 2015 [24 favorites]

They made snide remarks instead of apologizing, and now you think you need to apologize to them? No. Don't apologize or make them cookies.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 2:48 PM on February 22, 2015 [28 favorites]

Do it ASAP rather than waiting; keeps them from ruminating on it and getting more pissed. Just apologize for your language, don't bake anything. Don't want to reward them for setting you off!
posted by metasarah at 2:50 PM on February 22, 2015 [6 favorites]

Cookies are overkill, and I don't think you need to make a special trip over there, but yes, I think you should apologize, because you feel horrible, and you'll feel better if you apologize. Just say something next time you see them. Just say, "I really do need you to stop plowing snow into my yard, but there was no call for me to cuss you out."

The fact that they are in the wrong isn't really relevant. It's easy to be polite to people who aren't mistreating you. The challenge of politeness is keeping your cool even towards people who are acting like jerks.
posted by escabeche at 2:51 PM on February 22, 2015 [17 favorites]

You do NOT owe these jerks an apology. It sounds like they are deliberately obtuse so they can do things that are convenient for them but inconsiderate of others. Fuck that noise.

Be extra nice to your husband though. :)
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:51 PM on February 22, 2015 [15 favorites]

My mother held a 30-year war with her neighbor over the placement of trash cans on trash day. It escalated into racist bullshit from my mother, threats to kill pets from the neighbor and police action that resulted in the police chief himself (!) coming over to tell them both to knock it the fuck off because his people had better things to do.

All because trash cans wouldn't be moved about 10 feet. On trash day. For thirty fucking years.

So, yes, you go apologize, bake cookies (for everyone), offer to help plow, organize the July 4 block party, etc, and be Johnny on the spot with cups of sugar and loaning out yard equipment.

Don't let it fester. It will be very easy to let it go, and then every day when you go to work, you'll look at your neighbor's house and feel a tiny bit uncomfortable, and you'll wince a tiny bit when you see them, and it'll feel like getting stabbed with a tiny, tiny knife. And that is no way to fucking live.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:53 PM on February 22, 2015 [62 favorites]

I would go over quickly (without cookies) and apologise for the bad language. (The quick part would be for my own sake, and not theirs.) I would also advise you to stay away from the issue of the plowing or their response to the conversation. You're apologising for your own sake because you don't like the way you behaved. Stick to that.
posted by frumiousb at 2:55 PM on February 22, 2015 [10 favorites]

If you are on a dead end street where the only place to plow snow to is on your front lawn, I think you should apologize for cursing, but see if there is a way to ameliorate the snow issue. I am not sure what the actual issue is with plowing snow onto your lawn as long as the lawn is not plowed, ripped up or driven on. Snow melts. What do they do with the snow in the years they don't plow onto your lawn? Ask them nicely to do that from now on.
posted by 724A at 3:04 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wow. They do this to you and YOU feel like apologizing? No wonder these neighbors feel they can walk all over you.

You don't need to apologize. You do however need therapy to help you understand why you're such a doormat. (I do mean that with the upmost kindness. A lot of us grew up being taught that "nice" girls don't stand up for themselves). You've tried to be nice about it repeatedly and they're not bothered one bit about making enemies with you so why should it bother you at all if they don'tlike you.?

I don't know if there's anything illegal about what they are doing, but it might be time to set up a security camera outside your place and use that video as evidence against them when they do it again. Setting up a camera or two outside your place may seem like overkill to you, but I think cams outside the house are a good idea for everyone. A friend of mine was able to help police catch a serial rapist who was wanted out of state simply because his camera caught the guy lurking behind his house a few times. Cams are cheap nowadays and they're good to have. Use this low-grade snow-shoveling annoyance as an excuse to install them. They might help with bigger issues down the line. And if not at least they'll catch your neighbors in the act.
posted by rancher at 3:08 PM on February 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Good for you for wanting to take the high road. IF you do apologize, I suggest simply going to their door, ring the doorbell, say "Look, I said some unfortunate things the other day. I was ill and exhausted, but that's no excuse for the language I used - please accept my apologies. I'm going to go, but please pass along my apology to your spouse". And then leave, head held high, knowing that by apologizing, you've WON, mwahahaha.
posted by stray at 3:27 PM on February 22, 2015 [7 favorites]

I want you to go put on some sweeping, majestic music, the score from some epic film perhaps, here's something to get you started. Throw your arms out, toss back your head, spin around in a few circles, and repeat "ain't gonna give no fucks today!" over and over in your head.

It's admirable to feel bad about lashing out and using unkind words against others, but they really were being some jerkfaces here, and it's absolutely a situation where your best course of action is going to be to forgive yourself and let it go.

Oh there's another idea! You can sing Let It Go!
posted by phunniemee at 3:31 PM on February 22, 2015 [8 favorites]

Okay, according to your profile you're in Maine, and I'm sure that at this point you've all just had it up to HERE with this ridiculous winter.

But here's the thing: this is something they've done over and over for literally YEARS. This is something you've complained to them about for years; this is something they've repeatedly agreed to stop....... Only to do it all over again and again and again.

You do NOT owe them an apology, and certainly not any cookies. They know damn well they're doing a VERY unneighborly thing, and that they're in the wrong, not you.

They can plow their snow onto their OWN damn yard.
posted by easily confused at 4:03 PM on February 22, 2015 [14 favorites]

You know, if you're still cross, and you go over there to apologize, and they're still being jerkish, if you are anything like me you might lose it again and then the whole thing escalates. You're a team with your husband and he's probably already done the soothing ruffled feathers thing on your behalf. Just try not to swear at them again next time they're that annoying.

It would kind of be undermining yourself to apologize to them when, according to what you've written here, they were in the wrong. And, unfortunately, people who take advantage are more likely to take notice of you losing it than they are of you being reasonable.
posted by glasseyes at 4:16 PM on February 22, 2015 [9 favorites]

In my state, public roads consist of a right of way that is 66 feet wide, 33 feet from centerline. But most roads in residential neighborhoods are 24 feet wide, 12 feet from centerline. That means that there are 11 feet of right of way from the edge of the road over which we as adjoining landowners do not have full ownership. My neighbor can park his car there, and it is very likely that he can dump snow there if he wishes to, so long as he is certain that it will stay within the 11 feet.

You may want to ask a lawyer about your legal rights before considering what you should do. They may not in fact be in the wrong.
posted by megatherium at 4:20 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am not sure what the actual issue is with plowing snow onto your lawn as long as the lawn is not plowed, ripped up or driven on.

It's a huge no no in snowy areas. Deeply uncool. They are completely in the wrong here.
posted by fshgrl at 4:45 PM on February 22, 2015 [7 favorites]

It doesn't matter who is legally right or wrong. They are human, you are human, and sometimes it takes a little extra effort and/or tolerance to stay friendly with people.

You're not wrong to be upset by this. They're also not wrong to be upset by this. You're going to have to be clever and strong to find a solution.

(Signed, a resident of the Finley Forest neighborhood)
posted by amtho at 5:03 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think that your instinct to apologize is correct -- not necessarily because they deserve an apology, but because, in spite of everything, these are after all people you will have to live near! Escalating rarely solves anything; it's much more likely to invite more escalation instead. On the other hand, being friendly and gracious can often (but not always!) encourage friendship and grace in return.

At the same time, you owe it to yourself to stand up for your interests. But it is possible to do that while modeling the behavior you want to see in return! This is a tall order but it sounds like your head and heart are in the right place, so go for it.
posted by goingonit at 5:43 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

This would be an ordinance violation in my municipality, and indeed, the city sent out a notice reminding people of the fact after our epic Midwest snowfall (which was not quite as epic as what the Northeast has experienced). Here's the boilerplate:

City ordinance prohibits depositing snow from a sidewalk, driveway or driveway approach onto a city street. The violation that most frequently occurs is when snow from a driveway or parking lot is pushed across the street from the parking lot entrance or driveway and piled on the opposite side of the street either on the terrace or in the street. Plowing snow from a parking lot or driveway into the street creates a safety hazard for motorists and City snow removal operators. Having to remove or maneuver around these large piles of snow also impacts the efficiency of snow removal operations. To report an incident of plowing into the street please call the City Services Center.

If you're in a rural area you might have a lot fewer rules covering this situation and have to fall back on common law property rights.

There are two angles you can pursue here. One would be diplomatic, wherein you swallow your rude words not because you were in the wrong, but because you want something. That is a solution that ends up not annoying you, at least not as much. I have to guess that they are starting a plow truck at the top of their driveway and just lazily push it all down, into and across the street, and then up on your side of the street. Why can't they push it around the turn, so to speak, and up against the dead end where it won't bother anybody? (I'm assuming a nominal street design here, though. Maybe you have a turnaround circle or something suburban like that.) In any case, isn't there a someplace else that is more acceptable to you? Get them to agree to this, and if you are mercenary enough in your heart, give them a gift for doing it the way you like, repeatable annually.

The other way, again assuming legal sanctions aren't available, would be one-sided mitigation on your part. That would be building some sort of fortification/landscaping structure that prevents the plow from coming up on your lawn (at least as far as they have been). It probably has to comply with certain setbacks, but if you design it right, it can also be something that if they plow into it and damage it, well, either they have driven onto your property and damaged their own snowplow, or they have to pay you in some way. This, of course, has escalation potential and could end up making things worse, or it could just create enough of a deterrent that they quit doing it. Your call.

(There was also a request from the city a few years ago that people dismantle concrete, brick, and/or stone structures they had built to prevent their street-side mailboxes from being damaged by teenagers or snowplows. So you can see others have taken this sort of approach, but it also may not work for you in the long run.)
posted by dhartung at 5:55 PM on February 22, 2015

If you apologize, will that make them more reasonable and easier to negotiate with ("We were inconsiderate about the plowing, I'm so sorry"), or will they hold it as evidence of vulnerability? Civility does not always mean sacrificing yourself on the altar of politeness or decorum. Sometimes the compulsion to be "civil" leads us into accepting a subordinate position in a toxic situation. Your anger makes sense. Trust your anger. It's often a signal that your personal space is being violated. You drew a boundary. Good. Don't apologize. Don't back down. You might feel as if you're cheating yourself if you do.
posted by quiet earth at 5:57 PM on February 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'd leave it for a bit. If you run into them, being neighbours, then proactively apologise for the rudeness and nothing else. Suggest meeting over tea (or whatever else is culturally appropriate) at a specific time, appropriate place and not-far-away date to talk about the snow stuff and sort out a solution.

If they blow you off, then at least you've done the right thing and you can feel righteous about your outburst. If they agree, then you're on the route to a solution and you also got to blow your top at them (which, come on, is always a bit satisfying).
posted by Sebmojo at 6:09 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would apologize because it is miserable to get into escalating fights with neigbors (ask me how I know...). They'll be living there long after the snow melts, you know? Life is so much more pleasant when you can have a civil relationship with neighbors and not feel stressed about every encounter. Also, you clearly feel bad about it, and apologizing can be as much about you as it is abou them.

I'm also sort of curious why you're so mad about the snow on your yard? Is it blocking your driveway or a path you need to walk on on something similar? It might help them see your point of view if you can give a clear reason why this is a problem, other than "It's my property, waaaaaah." I live in a snowy area, and honestly it would be hard for me to get worked up over this unless the excess snow was actively inconveniencing me. It will melt eventually. :) Sometimes a zen attitude can be best for all involved.
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:10 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm with those who say you don't OWE them an apology (they were being snide/rude/obtuse and nobody got time for that) but it might help you keep a civil relationship in the long run (or at least put your mind at ease that your TRIED). Feuding with neighbors is a waste of energy. I was going to say put a sealed note in their mailbox but probably better to do it in person. Just keep it short and not overly effusive, you're just apologizing for the fact that you lost your cool and cursed because you don't think that's a productive way to deal with conflict.
posted by dahliachewswell at 7:09 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Forgive me, but I don't understand why it's so important for this person to like you. You may want to investigate that issue within yourself. It's not about oweing an apology which you clearly don't owe in this case. It's about not seeming like a vulnerable doormat to your neighbors who obviously do see you that way since they have kept doing this for years. Going by their behavior there is an excellent chance that apologizing will only confirm their beliefs and will make them feel even more confident to step on your toes in the future. Many people do see an apology as a weakness to exploit. Someone who has the audacity to yell at you after THEY were the ones to do wrong is almost certainly the type to see an apology from you as a weakness to exploit rather than a strength.

You don't have to like someone or even be friendly with them to not have conflict with them. I had a neighbor who literally came into my place in the middle of the night, uninvited and acted like he was in the right to do so. I threw him out, told him if he tries it again I will call the cops. He never once apologized for it either. Lived there for years and I every time I saw him or walked passed him I would simply pretend he wasn't there at all- no matter how much he tried to engage in contact with me. It wasn't uncomfortable for me in the least as I don't feel the need to be friends with everyone- least of all anyone who invades my personal space and disrespects me. Our relationship was 100% civil despite my never engaging with him in any way. Not being friends with your neighbors doesn't mean that you have to engage in an all out war with them. You can choose the middle ground.

Perhaps you should really ask yourself why it bothers you so much that some neighbor was mean to you and might not like you after you rightfully became angry. Because you really shouldn't care. They obviously don't care in the least about how they inconvenience you. Don't yell at them again. Find out if there's any legal way to make them accountable and if they do it again let them find out via an official letter from whatever legal entity you can use. Whether it's the housing board or whatever you've got there. Let it be known that you intend to not engage in any type of screaming match or personal warfare, but that you mean business and if they have a problem with that they can take it up with the legal entity you reported them to.
posted by rancher at 11:02 PM on February 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

If I were in your situation, I think I'd consider the use of bad language a separate issue from the snow issue.

No cookies, no long prepared speeches, just walk over there, knock on the door, get the person or persons you want to address, and then very simply tell them "Hi. I wanted to apologize for my bad language last night. We may be having a disagreement over this snow stuff, but that doesn't justify what I said. I hope you'll accept my apology."

If they're gracious about it, then everyone wins. Whether you want to continue to engage them on the snow issue is your call. You might simply want to get out of there.

If they continue to be jerks, just say "I'll be leaving, then" and get out. You tried to take the High Road; that they wouldn't meet you there speaks poorly of them.

I did something very much like this many years ago, and it worked out well.

I trust it goes without saying that your personal safety is #1: I'm assuming they're not the kind of people who might hit you over the head with a rock. But if so, then consider writing them a short note and putting it under their doormat.
posted by doctor tough love at 7:02 AM on February 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

A lot of the answers here are so completely missing the point about what an empowered, socially-effective person actually behaves like in public in the real world. My god, you wouldn't be "a doormat" or "in need of therapy" for saying you are sorry you lost your temper and swore at your neighbors -- sheesh, it's called having some basic manners! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by showing a little bit of class and some humility here.

When you "used foul language" and "stormed off" in response to your neighbors' having gotten "a little snotty" and making "some snide remarks" you actually gave up your power. You haven't shared which swear words you actually said in response. Did you make an ad hominem attack? Tell them to "go fuck themselves," or what? The specific words you and they both chose would be helpful to know, but basically, if it was really bad stuff directed at them personally, or anything about their lifestyle or social status, race, religion, etc, you should apologize immediately -- like run over there right now and do it.

Bottom line: I'm with Cool Papa Bell here, in that throwing a sweary public tantrum at your neighbors is only going to hurt your own local interests and reputation long term. Not worth it, and that's not how real adults behave.

If you don't apologize -- convincingly, and soon-- I guarantee you they will be looking for thousands of little ways to restore the "face" your words caused them to lose. I know this because that is precisely what I would do in their shoes. If you allow them go to war with you, the snow on your yard will be the least of your concerns. Instead, declare peace. Be the bigger person -- the cost is so little and the upside is truly priceless. Keep it short and sweet. No cookies (if they are smart, they won't trust your intentions enough to actually eat them anyway.) If they respond to your apology well or poorly, it doesn't matter - say "thank you for hearing me out" and excuse yourself. You're apologizing to get back the power and dignity you gave up, and to show you are not going to act like some ranty, raving lunatic in the future no matter what they do. Good luck!
posted by hush at 7:14 AM on February 23, 2015 [6 favorites]

fshgrl: "I am not sure what the actual issue is with plowing snow onto your lawn as long as the lawn is not plowed, ripped up or driven on.

It's a huge no no in snowy areas. Deeply uncool. They are completely in the wrong here.

I am not sure what "deeply uncool" translates to, but I think it means unacceptable. Maybe in your snowy area, but not in mine. The two rules of plowing are do not put it in front of your neighbors driveway and do not put it in the street. I shovel my driveway, so I am not in danger of doing something wrong with my snow, but my across the street neighbor does plow. The plow cannot plow towards their house because that is where the garage is. So they plow some to the sides and the rest to across the street from their driveway, on my property.

As it turns out, I already have the town plows dumping beaucoup snow on my property. Everything that is in the road on my side of the street gets plowed onto my property as he goes by. That includes sticks and stones, salt, ice and the occasional dead animal. It also turns out that while the neighbor's plow does leave a large mound of packed snow and ice on my lawn, it is only slighty more than the town leaves and so far, after 16 years, it has always melted in the spring.

As I said, what makes the most sense is for this neighbor of the asker to do whatever they do with the snow in the off years that does not seem to piss off their neighbors.

Again, I would not apologize for asking they not dump the snow on the poster's lawn, although not sure what the issue is, but I would apologize for cursing at them
posted by 724A at 8:17 AM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Definitely apologize. Unlike others, I honestly don't think this is about "letting them get away with it" or "being in the wrong" or "women feeling like they need to be nice." It's about defusing and making peace NOW to avoid headaches in the future. You never know when you might need their help...

But more importantly, it's about how you feel about yourself. Right now, you are not proud of yourself and there's only one way to make that right.

Why not head over there and try to start fresh? "I'm sorry for what I said earlier. I really regret the way I spoke to you. I think the winter is really getting to me. I wanted to have a polite conversation about the snow plowing, and I still do... can we start again?"
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:36 AM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Maybe it's time for an inconvenient fence.....then if they plow it into the yard and damage the fence, there's property damage forces at work.

I kinda think that might be the best solution to this, not you apologizing.
posted by zizzle at 9:07 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

We have a sort of similar on-going dispute with a neighbor so I totally get where you are coming from. From time to time I have remind them to respect our request to do what we've asked them to do, and I am absolutely certain they would escalate their shenanigans if we got into a swear-laden verbal tussle with them. So I am on the side of go apologize, both because it will make you feel better, and because it is taking the high road and they won't be sitting over there festering on what an asshole you are and who cares what you want them to do with the snow. But make it short and sweet, don't into the snow issue again, you've already made your point there, and for gods' sake don't waste your time doing cookies unless you think they'd do the exact same if the situation were reversed.
posted by vignettist at 9:13 AM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

I will also say as someone living in the Boston area, this winter has gotten to everyone in the worst ways. As much as we've seen the best out of everyone, a lot of the worst has reared its head in ways that are as unseen and unknowable as what this winter has turned out to be.

In fact, your question so resembled a friend's situation that I very much thought this could be her.

Should you apologize? You could. You could not. That's really your choice ultimately. But I also think understanding that absolutely everyone in our neck of the woods is on a fuse way too short might be helpful for you. I think first you forgive yourself. If this is not how you normally act, then so it goes. You snapped. You had A Moment, as my mother calls it.

However, I'd also query as to whether the neighbors in this situation would escalate the apology into something else in an unfortunate sitcom way that is not funny in real life. They haven't abided by your wishes so far, so calling them out was the right thing to do. But I do think you should consider whether an apology would in fact help anything.
posted by zizzle at 9:17 AM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm also sort of curious why you're so mad about the snow on your yard? Is it blocking your driveway or a path you need to walk on on something similar?

I don't know if this applies to the OP, but my front yard (also in Maine) is currently a solid block of snow 6 feet deep (maybe more like 8 feet on the corners). This is partly snow that has fallen there in the past month but also a lot is snow I have shoveled there from my driveway. The more snow that's there the harder it is for me to shovel my driveway, because I have to heave the snow up to the top. If any neighbor plowed snow into my yard (or any of my other neighbors' yards) it would be an issue.
posted by mikepop at 11:21 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

"A lot of the answers here are so completely missing the point about what an empowered, socially-effective person actually behaves like in public in the real world. My god, you wouldn't be "a doormat" or "in need of therapy" for saying you are sorry you lost your temper and swore at your neighbors -- sheesh, it's called having some basic manners! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by showing a little bit of class and some humility here."

I disagree with all of this, but the last sentence is the most wrong. You have plenty to lose by apologizing and very little to gain by it. I'm not sure if this snow is slowly damaging some of your property or not, but if it is and this goes to some sort of small claims court in the future any apologies you give CAN be used against you depending on how little evidence you have. In the eyes of many including the court system, an apology is an admission of GUILT- not a show of humility and strength. If you don't have enough evidence to show they are in the wrong, but they say you apologized for your behavior and you admit it, it can show that you know you are guilty of treating them unfairly on some level. Your neighbors don't ever apologize for their behavior- They just play dumb, and because of that they've avoided admission of guilt and remain in power until they are caught on tape. Legally speaking, an apology is likely to give you more problems than solutions.

Those of us saying that you shouldn't apologize are going under the assumption that what some strangers may or may not think of you doesn't matter to you nearly as much as being respected and getting the result of not having to deal with other people's snow on your property. To us it seems it doesn't matter what a socially empowered person LOOKS like to the world or others. What matters is how much of your free time you're losing having to deal with the issue. So it really comes down to what's more important to you which isn't necessarily clear from your question.

If it is more important for you that some strangers might possibly (definitely not guaranteed and perhaps not even likely) see you as a person with "humility" and "manners" then apologizing might be the best route. This however is not the best route if you don't ever want to deal with this problem of clearing out old neighbors snow from your lawn again. So it really depends on what's more important to you. Your pride or fear of what you look like to others or your time in dealing with unwarranted snow issues.

If you really want to apologize perhaps an in the middle apology and very calmly and matter of factly state "I'm sorry I yelled earlier, but we both know you've been doing this for years and I don't want your snow being dumped on my lawn in the future." They will probably play dumb again since you mentioned that's what they do, so don't argue with them. Just say, "Well, we've just installed a camera so next time we'll be able to catch whoever it is that's doing it. Thanks again." nicely smile, walk away. Don't lose your cool. You should REALLY have a camera out there for your own safety and protection anyway if it's that easy for strangers to lift piles of snow onto your back yard, but as long as they believe you when you say you have one installed there, that will be enough to make the snow miraculously stop ending up there.

If it were me, I wouldn't even bother going up to them again at all. I would've forgiven myself for having lost my cool and moved on with my life and simply let another entity in authority deal with this issue if it keeps happening. Losing your cool was unfortunate, but it's in the past and it's not illegal to curse at someone. They've taken up hours of your time with their shenanigans in the past, they can deal with having lost a couple of seconds of their time with your little outburst. But you're not me, so if it makes you feel more comfortable, to apologize, do so. As long as you realize there's no guarantee that it will make anything better for you and that there is a chance it will only make things a little worse.
posted by manderin at 11:41 AM on February 23, 2015

Their actions are about them, yours are about you.

Apologize to them for being rude, and let that be the end of that part. You do not have to resolve any issues during this transaction. If would be crass to use an apology to get a foot in the door so you can pursue your complaint. You cannot possibly forgive yourself for something you did to someone else, so don't even worry about that part--your best option is to make amends. In this case, an apology covers that ground. Keep in mind that whether they accept or reject your apology has nothing to do with your reasons for offering it. Let their own rudeness be their business; you won't accomplish anything by pointing out their shortcomings to them.

Tell your spouse you are sorry that you stirred them up then left him to deal with it. In truth, walking away when you did probably was a good move because it avoid the prospect of further, useless, escalation. Odds are better that he'll accept your apology than will your neighbors, so there's that.
posted by mule98J at 12:20 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

IANYL, and I am not a lawyer in Maine at all. Nothing here is legal advice and I am not advising you in any capacity.

Yes, if you like, you may go ahead right now and apologize to your neighbors for swearing at them. On these specific facts only, there really is no downside to you. An oral apology from you should have no bearing on future lawsuits by you, and in fact, may even prevent lawsuits and other expensive vicissitudes from happening to you, as people are generally FAR less inclined to sue others with whom they maintain cordial relationships. I'll note that you're getting some rather confused responses here (i.e. in the small claims court system "an apology is an admission of GUILT" is Completely False.) In criminal law, which is irrelevant here, "guilt" is the state of being responsible for the commission of a criminal offense. That being said, one should never take legal advice from internet strangers.

Again, not legal advice and I am not your lawyer.
posted by hush at 3:13 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

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