Could you just ask first?
June 15, 2006 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Crossing the line or being petty?

I have a neighbor who is also a good friend. We live in a nice neighborhood. Over the past few weeks he's found it necessary to add his overflow garbage to my garbage container. He has the smallest possible size; mine is twice the size of his. The first week he asked if he could add some things and I said ok. For the past two weeks he just went ahead and added to my can without asking. I started to feel as tho' he was taking advantage of my previous generosity without asking, so I suggested he might want to spring for a larger waste container because even if my container was less than full on pick up day it wasn't there for just anyone to add to.
Bottom line, I just wanted to be asked if he needs to add anything to my container. I pay for the larger container so I'll have the room should I need it. And if he needs to add overflow to my container on a weekly basis, it's pretty clear he needs a larger bin, right?
The whole situation got blown way out of proportion and he says I'm being petty and selfish. Am I?
posted by SoftSummerBreeze to Human Relations (46 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I could go either way on this one. If you are really good friends with the guy, I couldn't see why it would be a problem. If he isn't that good of a friend, I can see why it would annoy you.

One thing you could say is (jokingly) "You can use my trash can all you want, but you have to buy me a beer|dinner|trip to the movies|whatever every time you do it." Then, remind him (also lightheartedly) every time he does it.

You will either get some free stuff in return, or he will cut it out.

I would personally probably let it go unless it started inconveniencing me, but thats just me.
posted by stupidcomputernickname at 3:13 PM on June 15, 2006


Um... I'd say it depends on how good a friend he is. If most the time you have room left over then why not let him have it? (how about asking for something in return - borrow some tool off him that you don't have?)
But make sure he knows that you have priority and should you ever need the bin's full potential he won't be able to use it. I don't think it's realistic to get him to ask for permission every week... just let him know where he stands in general.

On the other hand you seem bothered by it so you have every right to tell him to get a bigger bin himself (but be prepared for the inevitable bad feelings).

[on preview - more or less what scnn said]
posted by ClarissaWAM at 3:17 PM on June 15, 2006


Do you pay more for garbage collection based on the size of the bin? What happens if you have more than can fit in your bin? Is there a fine of some sort?

If so, he's certanly taking advantage of you. If it was me, I wouldn't mind, but I would make a point to tell him to ask first, and not until, say, the night before trash collection, since I certanly won't pay any fees/penalties/etc for overflowing because someone else has filled my bin with their trash.
posted by Kellydamnit at 3:19 PM on June 15, 2006


What do you mean when you say you pay for the larger container? Is it a monthly fee, or did you simply purchase a bigger trash can than your neighbor?

If you are paying a monthly fee, then I would say he's taking advantage of you a little bit. Maybe take your garbage out early in the morning instead of the night before, so he has to find someplace else to put his extra garbage?

If not, I really don't see what the big deal is. It's TRASH for pete's sake. You aren't charged by the pound. When I lived in a house with a bunch of roommates, we produced a LOT of garbage. We had a weekly ritual on garbage night of sneaking our overflow trash into various neighbors' trash cans. I have no idea if the neighbors saw us, but none complained.

It's TRASH.
posted by clh at 3:24 PM on June 15, 2006


Probably woulda been worth ignoring, if he didn't really inconvience you in any way. If it were me, I'd actually prefer he NOT ask me every week, and just do it as long as I didn't need the extra space. However, at the same time, his reaction speaks volumes about his character, so maybe you were right after all. He should definitely cowboy up to the larger trash container.

In retrospect, I think you should have filled your excess space in the can with a collection of grisley gross things (or creepy things like burnt baby dolls and freaky gothic art). He'd peer in, see that not only wasn't there room for his stuff, but that you were someone who should scare the crap out of him. Hell, thats probably the last time you'd have to talk to him!
posted by ZackTM at 3:24 PM on June 15, 2006


CLH, in some area, like where I live, you pay higher taxes/fees if you have a larger bin. So, actually, you did get charged by the pound.
posted by acoutu at 3:25 PM on June 15, 2006


In my neighborhood, we pay extra to have a larger garbage bin (all of the bin's in the city are of two standard sizes). So, if that is the same situation you have, yes, he is taking advantage of you and if it is a regular thing, he should ask you first to make sure you don't need the extra room or he should pay for the larger bin. You could also just switch your service and pay for a smaller bin.
It's tricky, though, right? Because you want to be on good terms with your neighbor, and if you've got the room, he probably thinks why should you care. I think it is fair for you to ask him to not put anything in your bin until he checks with you on the actual service day.
posted by gt2 at 3:32 PM on June 15, 2006


This has an easy solution. You don't put anything in his garbage bin; he doesn't put anything in yours; no one gets bent out of shape. I suggest you propose this to him in no uncertain terms. Smile afterwards so he knows it's not personal.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:38 PM on June 15, 2006


CLH, in some area, like where I live, you pay higher taxes/fees if you have a larger bin. So, actually, you did get charged by the pound.

But you pay by bin size, not actual poundage. That is, whether it's half-empty or packed-tight, SoftSummerBreeze is paying the large-bin price. The neighbor is just using this otherwise wasted space.

Are the bins in a fixed position or do you drag it to the curb on trash night? If the latter, there is no risk of the neighbor taking needed space — SoftSummerBreeze's trash is already in the bin by the time it hits the curb. The neighbor doesn't sound like the nicest guy from the confrontation, but I would assume that if the bin was full when he got to it, he would save the overflow for the following week rather than overfilling the bin.

The friend is getting a free ride in the same sense that you literally might give a coworker a free ride to work. Would it be nice if the coworker chipped in for gas? Sure. But you're paying anyway, whether or not the coworker comes — is it really worth fighting over?

Anyway, he's using more bin capacity than he has and you're using less than you have — why not propose splitting the cost long term and whichever of you needs the extra room a given week can use it on that particular garbage night.
posted by rafter at 3:40 PM on June 15, 2006


Like gt2 said, if you do have the extra room, it's not a big deal, AS LONG AS HE CHECKS FIRST. You may need to make this point clear to him again. This is a completely reasonable request, especially if he's a good friend. Maybe he puts his garbage out earlier than you do and sees that there's space in yours and assumes that you've put all your garbage out already and it's fine. If so, you just need to point this out. Again.

And if you always have extra room, you should consider getting a smaller garbage container!
posted by bella.bellona at 3:42 PM on June 15, 2006


yes it is petty and a little selfish. if you have space you dont use why not let someone else use it who needs it. live a little. plus he was already nice enough to ask and you said yes. do you think he wants to come grovelling to you asking your permission everytime he takes his trash out? people have other things to occupy their time
posted by petsounds at 3:42 PM on June 15, 2006


The correct answer to this situation is to buy your neighbor a bigger garbage can. When he thanks you, ask to be paid back in beer. Win win.
posted by unSane at 3:46 PM on June 15, 2006


I would have just said something like, hey dude, no worries, but you're first on my list when I run out of beer. Then actually used him to mooch beer (or actually more likely for me, free animal-sitting services). But I am comfortable with neighbors swapping low-grade favors like this. I don't think you're out of line for not instinctively being as casual about favor boundaries as I would be, but I don't think it's necessarily a smart idea to cut off someone for something that in the grand scheme of neighborly things is pretty small. Just think what a huge help he would have been when you need to repaint, or move furniture. A little trash here, a lot of sweat work later. Not smartly played I would say, however justified your irk.
posted by dness2 at 3:48 PM on June 15, 2006


You are petty and selfish.
posted by LarryC at 4:03 PM on June 15, 2006


WHATEVER. He is a fucking mooch and a loser.

If he consistently has more trash than will fit in his bin, he needs to pony up for the bump up in service. That's just the way it works. Boo hoo for him.

You pay more each month to have a bigger trash can; he is an adult and can do the same. Why don't you suggest this to him: "Hey, dude, why don't YOU pay extra and I'll REDUCE my service level, and then I'll put my extra trash in your can. Sound good? No? Then why do you expect me to do that exact thing?"
posted by peep at 4:06 PM on June 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


What if raccoons get into the trash and spill things all over? Do you have to clean it up, or is your friend going to clean his portion of the spill? He should get his own can. I would be annoyed.
posted by sweetkid at 4:10 PM on June 15, 2006


If you pay more for the bigger can, your garbage people will find out and tell you to not let him. They have no reservations about going through trash. I tried to lend my overflow to a neighbor and the garbage people went through the trash, confronted me, and I had to apologize to them and tell the neighbor to stop.
posted by ontic at 4:12 PM on June 15, 2006


I'd say it's not a big deal, but if you do run out of space be sure to let him know.
posted by delmoi at 4:15 PM on June 15, 2006


Put a false bottom in the can, say a cardboard box or something, so that your trash always goes all the way to the top. He'll assume you no longer have the space and eventually pony up for a bigger can.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:24 PM on June 15, 2006


He has some nerve calling you petty and selfish.

Unless he has some temporary and sympathy-producing problem that causes extra trash that you know about (adult diapers?). Then maybe you were a little petty and selfish, but it would still be rude of him to tell you so.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 4:26 PM on June 15, 2006


If you pay more for the bigger can, your garbage people will find out and tell you to not let him.

Um, that's intimidating horseshit, but horseshit nonetheless. You are paying for the trash space, which you may fill up however you please. I can't believe you actually had to apologize for using the capacity of trash you're paying for.

As to the OP: No, you're not petty or selfish. The best solution I can think of that will avoid any problems is this: he has to wait until the night before garbage-collection day before depositing any "extra" into your bins. That way you can be sure you won't need the space, and he can be certain the "extra" actually is. Up until that point, however, the bins are yours to do with as you please... if you decide to fill them all the way up one week, tough shit for him. You're doing him a favor, and he needs to be reminded of that.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:32 PM on June 15, 2006


If your neighbor only added to your trash now and then, it would be petty to say something.

If he is doing it regularly, though, he's freeloading and taking advantage of your generosity.

Politely tell him to knock it off...and don't feel guilty. It would start to piss me off too.

Good luck.
posted by bim at 4:33 PM on June 15, 2006


I'd take his trash out and dump it on his lawn, but then I'm "petty and selfish." WTF is wrong with people? Heck, I'm not using the yard either, so feel free to put up a tent and have a sleepover in my yard.

I suggest you get a small can and use it unless you need the big one.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:39 PM on June 15, 2006


Why isn't this just a case of friends sharing resources? You don't need the space and he didn't talk you into getting the bigger can. What's the problem? Are you sure you didn't imply that it was o.k. for him to use the can whenever he need to? ( I just don't get this absurd sense of ownership that some Americans have. "Oh my God that is MINE and you can't use it even it costs me ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (that I wasn't spending already)!!!11!!11!1.")

Get over it, he is a good friend and you are, in fact, being petty.

And for the love of God don't nag him about it (even if you think your being funny). The only thing worse than a petty friend is a petty friend that thinks he is light-hearted reminding you of something. Please, just let it go.
posted by oddman at 4:53 PM on June 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


I have a neighbor who is also a good friend


Not worth losing a good friend over, that's for sure
posted by Neiltupper at 5:22 PM on June 15, 2006


You are well within your rights to ask someone to stop putting their garbage in your garbage can without asking you. The right response from friend would be to say "Ok, no problem. Sorry for the misunderstanding." Telling you that you are petty and selfish is not the right response. Without knowing how you raised the issue though, its hard to judge whether that response is grounds for indicting your neighbor as a self-absorbed mooch.
posted by Good Brain at 5:23 PM on June 15, 2006


yes it is petty and a little selfish. if you have space you dont use why not let someone else use it who needs it. live a little. plus he was already nice enough to ask and you said yes. do you think he wants to come grovelling to you asking your permission everytime he takes his trash out? people have other things to occupy their time

This is why it's such a crapshoot doing nice things for people. You never know, even if they're friends, if they're going to turn out to have asshole attitudes like this. He's proven by his reaction he doesn't deserve your niceness; your problem is whether you value his friendship enough to put up with the assholery. (I speak as one who has had any number of asshole friends, so I'm not prejudging.) Anyway, no, you're not being being petty and selfish, you're being perfectly reasonable.
posted by languagehat at 5:26 PM on June 15, 2006


Adding to what I said: The neighbor has been asked to stop. If he continues, he's an ass.
posted by Good Brain at 5:28 PM on June 15, 2006


If you mention it, and he's the petty and defensive type, he'll go looking for something to throw back at you. It may take months to materialize.

If you don't mention it, you can save it for rationalizing any slight committed you might commit in the future.
posted by evil holiday magic at 5:50 PM on June 15, 2006


Should have been:

"If you don't mention it, you can save it for rationalizing any slight you might commit in the future."
posted by evil holiday magic at 5:50 PM on June 15, 2006


Not petty or selfish. In fact, my disposal company considers this theft of service and doesn't take to it kindly.
posted by puddinghead at 6:59 PM on June 15, 2006


Imagine these analogous situations:

1)Hey neighbor, you mind if I park in your driveway when you're not home. Just come get me if you need to park.

2)Dude, my wife/kids are always tying up my bathroom. Mind if I come over whenever the bathroom is occupied.

You get the idea.

If the neighbor is mad...he'll just have to get glad again. His cheap ass needs to buy more trashcans. Case closed.
posted by bim at 7:15 PM on June 15, 2006


Wow... I'm surprised to see how many people actually stand up for the freeloading neighbor, but I suppose I shouldn't be.

Bottom line, your neighbor is a mooch. It would annoy me too. Once or twice is fine, but when it becomes a regular thing, it's time for them to pay their extra share.
posted by jzb at 7:19 PM on June 15, 2006


I like Civil_Disobedient's solution.

Definitely you are not being petty and selfish, and he's being cheap and a prick. However, this does seem like it could escalate into something even more, and it's probably better to "make nice" with the neighbors. Because of the proximity, they can be hard to avoid. Plus, who knows, a situation may arise where you need a favor of his.
posted by moonshine at 7:28 PM on June 15, 2006


Yeah, he's a mooch. I would probably shoot him a look and be all like, "Dude, c'mon...every week?" Then drop it, change the subject, diffuse any awkwardness with humor, etc.

But it's probably better for your blood pressure to let this kind of thing go, though, right? This is a legit pet peeve, but ultimately small potatoes. Sigh and remind yourself that at least he doesn't spill his trash all over the street.

Patch it up. Concede to being petty if he concedes to being moochy. Buy each other a beer and bitch about the REALLY annoying neighbors together.
posted by desuetude at 8:36 PM on June 15, 2006


If it bothers you, say so. If not, don't. Everything else is window dressing.
posted by cortex at 10:14 PM on June 15, 2006


Oh, christ, you've had this discussion with him? Yeah, he needs a bigger bin of his own.
posted by cortex at 10:15 PM on June 15, 2006


Wow. I guess there really are two kinds of people in the world. Seems to me, SoftSummerBreeze, you have to decide which kind you are.

Personally, I would choose letting my neighbor/buddy use the can because that's the kind of person I am.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:16 PM on June 15, 2006


What an ass. People like this are skeevy. You were doing him a favor, then he got a sense of entitlement about it, and when you set a boundary, he responded by calling *you* the jerk.

How good of a friend is that? If he acts this way over something like this (c'mon, it's not unreasonable for him to buy his own damn bin that can hold his trash), just imagine how he will push you in other ways if you do him any more favors. People like this will use you as much as they can.

When people abuse someone else's good will like this, it poisons more than just the particular relationship in question. It makes good, kind people not want to do favors at all, for fear of getting burned again.
posted by beth at 1:23 AM on June 16, 2006


It kind of appears that the people sticking up for this guy don't realize you're paying for garbage removal by container size.

Don't screw up your friendship any further, but if it's a weekly occurance that this guy is putting stuff in your garbage can then he needs to pay for a bigger can...

This happened on my old street and my landlord actually got in a fist-fight with someone over it (the other guy was putting crap in my landlord's garbage can).

Tell your neighbor to be careful - it's illegal in my state to use someone else's waste disposal unit without their explicit permission... and there doesn't need to be a complaint about it to be busted for it.
posted by sablazo at 4:47 AM on June 16, 2006


Thank you to those that supported me in my reasoning that since I pay for my larger container I should be able to fill it up however much or little I need to on a weekly basis. It's there for my use, period, unless I say otherwise.

Another thing I failed to point out is that my neighbor has a household of 5 to my household of 2. And, he became over the top defensive when I brought this to his attention.

To those that supported my neighbor in being able to freeload off any extra space in my can (and that of other neighbors... yes, I'm serious), I'm neither stingy nor a bad neighbor, but when this got to be a weekly occurance and he wasn't offering me the courtesy of even asking to use my can, I truly felt he was taking advantage of my previous generosity. It's one thing to be good friends and have a give and take relationship.... but where's the giving here?

I have suggested that he getter a bigger receptical and I even called the disposal company to find out that the difference in price is a mere $5 per month (not a problem for him financially). Why continue to use what rightfully belongs to others when it's clear you need to recitify your own situation? It's just not right and I felt I was justified in saying so.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 7:13 AM on June 16, 2006


I think you should downsize your container.
posted by elisabeth r at 7:43 AM on June 16, 2006


To elisabeth... Why should I inconvenience myself for the sake of a greedy neighbor? My can is often at least 3/4ths full. A small container wouldn't nearly hold the amount of garbage I have each week.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 7:47 AM on June 16, 2006


You're the one being the freak, unless the actual trash thrown out is costing you more. Not the can size, that's your own cost you brought on yourself -- as someone else said, whether or not you're using the space, you're still paying for it. If you're not using the space, let whoever throw whatever in. This would be an absolute non-issue for me.

Just take your trash out, and go back and get the can whenever it's emptied. Are you also going to be crabby that the neighbor's trash also occupies the same garbage-truck compartment as yours? Quitcherwhinin.
posted by vanoakenfold at 10:28 AM on June 16, 2006


I'd say calling the author a 'freak' is a tad harsh. However, I am for live and let live in this situation. Unless you need the extra space yourself, I wouldn't lose much sleep over it. He's a cheapass! Laugh at him and go about your day. He isn't costing you anything and from the sounds of it even a larger trash container wouldn't be enough for him if he's 'donating' to several neighbors each week.
posted by CwgrlUp at 12:38 PM on June 16, 2006


If it isn't costing you anything, and you are not using that space, why not let him put his trash in it? Its not the trash that is bothering you. Its something else. I mean, unless you plan to rent it out, who cares, right?? So, you feel that he should ask. When you told him he could, you probably said something like, " sure, if there's room why not?" with that, he assumed that you meant all of the time. Who wouldn't? I mean, if there is room....WHY NOT????!!! Its a trash can!!!!!!
posted by peglam at 4:04 PM on June 16, 2006


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