Neighbor problem
June 30, 2008 1:55 PM   Subscribe

How would you answer a neighbor who doesn't like the color of your backyard shed and leaves you a note saying "please repaint it."

The shed is in beautiful pastels to match my hydrangeas and I spent a lot of time deliberating on the perfect paint colors. Her house is white-on-white. I have never met her (and this is after four years), but in her complaint to me noted that she has to look out of her kitchen window 150 times a day--even though her property is two houses away.
I would welcome any advice, short of repainting the shed.
posted by quintno to Human Relations (79 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
How about you just ignore the note altogether. Your shed, you can paint it any color you want, and she is more than welcome to place something in her backyard that she'd rather look at.
posted by zeoslap at 1:59 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Ignore the note, it's your shed, you pick the color. If she persists, inform her that the color of your shed is none of her concern.
posted by santaliqueur at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


leave her a note back saying 'no'. issue is resolved.
posted by cellphone at 2:03 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Erm, she sounds a bit nutty. I vote to ignore. You don't want to validate her complaint by responding.

What if your next-door-neighbour didn't like the new colour chosen by the crazy neighbour? How far should you go to keep them all happy?!

Sorry that you're having to deal with this. I suggest that you pretend like nothing ever happened.
posted by different at 2:04 PM on June 30, 2008


Yes, no response is the best course of action here. If you feel like you must respond, write 'Go fuck yourself' on a piece of paper, burn it, and then write a polite refusal and deliver it to her.
posted by number9dream at 2:06 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Keep the note on hand as future evidence of anything that she might do to rectify the situation herself.

Do not engage her in any conversation nor bow to her wishes. Unless you have a local ordinance that sets out what color you home/shed might be....color choices are your decision not those of your neighbors.

Do not let her problem become your problem....
posted by malter51 at 2:07 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


That's pretty off the wall. I mean, it takes a lot of nerve to command that someone two houses down repaint their shed.

I like the idea of a note that says, simply, "No."

Or maybe like General McAuliffe, "Nuts!"
posted by kbanas at 2:08 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another vote for ignoring it. Do you have some sort of homeowner's association that dictates what color the shed is allowed to be? If not, tell her to take up a hobby and stop spending all day looking out of her window. People really do have some nerve. She has not stopped by once in four years to introduce herself and her first interaction is to tell you what color to paint a shed on your property? I know what I'd tell her ... but then again, I'm from Brooklyn. Our rules are different.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 2:09 PM on June 30, 2008


leave her a note back saying 'no'. issue is resolved.

I'd go a little stronger, just to let her know she shouldn't persist:

"That's the most self-important, presumptuous thing anyone has ever suggested to me. You're ridiculous. Do not contact me again under any circumstances except through an attorney."
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:09 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would repaint the shed pink with green polka dots, but then I'm an asshole who goes out of his way to alienate his neighbors.

Or paint it matte black and then stencil the Motorhead horned skull on the side facing her house. That'd be awesome.

Nah, too much work.

Just ignore her.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:09 PM on June 30, 2008 [26 favorites]


Is she a gardener? You could make her a present of a couple of grow-to-be-large-and-bushy plants for her to install between her kitchen window and your shed. Add a big showy (white) bow - these are not plants of shame. Voila - ingenious solution, neighborly gesture. If you include a note with the plants, you could be neighborly-friendly, but avoid seeming apologetic.
posted by amtho at 2:11 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


We had a problem like this with a neighbor who was also the president of the HOA when we painted our front door a "non-approved" color. After having a lawyer look over the deed restrictions to make sure we were in the right, we told her that she could decide what color the door was when she started making the mortgage payments on the property.

If I was really being obnoxious and didn't live in a deed-restricted community at all, I would think about painting the side of the shed facing your neighbor in the most offensive color you could find.
posted by SpecialK at 2:12 PM on June 30, 2008


Ignore it. Or paint a nice, pastel flower on the side of the shed that faces her house. Maybe the middle pedal could be a little taller than the others.

Just kidding. Just ignore.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 2:13 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Agreeing with the other commenters so far...if you decide to appease your neighbor you end up getting into a situation where the rabbit hole goes down a long ways. It's far simpler to just ignore the note, although that make an "enemy" for you on your block depending on how serious your neighbor is.

I would however, recommend that you don't pull some passive-aggressive junk just to piss her off further. Just ignore the note. If she's really serious about the shed being repainted, she can pay for it herself.
posted by LionIndex at 2:13 PM on June 30, 2008


"That's the most self-important, presumptuous thing anyone has ever suggested to me. You're ridiculous. Do not contact me again under any circumstances except through an attorney."

I would strongly advise again this course of action. Speaking from painful and expensive experience: someone like this neighbor who has this much time and craziness to complain about the color of a garden shed is exactly the kind of person who will next turn up with an attorney. While such an action may not be in your sane realm of thinking, you're very likely not dealing with sane here.
posted by meerkatty at 2:15 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Nthing the advice to ignore her note. She's the type of neighbor who is going to complain if you flush after 10 PM or if you have too many cars parked in your driveway. I used to live next door to such a person; she called the police because I let my dog out during the night to attend to his toilette (he barked once to be let back in, and she called the cops [rather than speaking to me], saying he was a nuisance and regularly disturbed her sleep). A neighbor across the street painted their house a lovely (or so I thought) shade of very pale lilac, and Crabby Neighbor called the city, reporting the house as a nuisance and an eyesore. Other than getting the addresses of her complaints (including my house) on the city's "books," her rantings had no other effect. Happily for the neighborhood, she eventually moved away.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:18 PM on June 30, 2008


Unless you have a local ordinance that sets out what color you home/shed might be....color choices are your decision not those of your neighbors.


Unless the above. Ignore it if you'd like. The neighborly thing to do would be to approach her the next time you see her. Be friendly and firm. Explain to her that this is your shed and you have no intention of painting it. A simple "Howdy! I got your note, and just wanted to let you know, that although I realize that you may not like the color of the shed, it is MY shed on MY property, and it is not going to be painted. I hope you have a wonderful day though!"


Don't get into a "don't look out your window, then" argument. Just state the facts, nicely, and simply. No point in getting all passive agressive about it. You still have to live in the same area with this person, and acting like a child isn't going to help matters.
posted by Debaser626 at 2:19 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ignore it and don't respond, but be sure to keep the note just in case.

Continue to not respond to any future notes. She hasn't approached you in the last four years, but if she decides to approach you (which I sincerely doubt will happen) give a polite, bland "Thanks for letting me know your concerns - I don't have any plans to repaint the shed. It was nice talking to you, bye."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:20 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


i would ignore it. if she persists, then a letter back saying "no" would be appropriate. keep her correspondence, in case she escalates.

although: a nice southern lady i know built a fence around her yard. one of the neighbors complained (for reasons i don't recall) and kept harassing her, so the lady painted the side of the fence facing the neighbors bright purple and neon orange.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:21 PM on June 30, 2008


Hold on to the note, in case she messes with your shed in some way down the road.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:21 PM on June 30, 2008


Tell her you'll paint your shed if she agrees to stop looking at it.
posted by Ookseer at 2:21 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


If she were a neighbor you saw regularly I would say you should respond politely in the interest of neighborhood friendliness, but this seems like the sort of person who is just gratified by attention.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:23 PM on June 30, 2008


I have never met her

Go over there and meet her. Bring some cookies or some shit. Say that you're sorry that the color you picked isn't to her liking, but that you're not going to repaint it because it's the exact color you want. If she starts to get all bitchy, say "Well, I don't want to get into a big argument over this, I just wanted to tell you my decision in person. I've got to be going. Hope you enjoy the cookies."
posted by 23skidoo at 2:31 PM on June 30, 2008 [11 favorites]


Do you have a picture?
posted by Zambrano at 2:31 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I know it's mostly irrelevant to the actual question, but I do love me some context. Any choice you could post a picture of the shed (hopefully from the neighbor's POV)?

Just curious.

In any case, nthing the "don't respond" crowd.
Of course, if you do decide to strike back, a wacky, waving, inflatable, arm flailing tube man seems like a damn solid bet.
posted by terpia at 2:32 PM on June 30, 2008


Ignore her and save the note as evidence if she suddenly decided to throw a can of black paint over it.
posted by WizKid at 2:39 PM on June 30, 2008


I'm also nthing the ignore route. I'd also keep everything if she keeps on writing you notes. Eventually I'd mail her a letter with a map of the city and the nearest paint store and ask her to kindly buy some trees.

But that's only if she got really annoying.
posted by Gular at 2:41 PM on June 30, 2008


And by paint store I mean home depot.

g'duh.
posted by Gular at 2:41 PM on June 30, 2008


Don't give this crazy, controlling jerk cookies, plants, or attention of any sort. She wants attention, and any attention you give has the potential to open your life up to brand new forms of her lunacy.

If it were me, I wouldn't exchange a word with her unless extremely unusual circumstances forced me to do so -- such as an approaching tsunami. There is no point in getting involved with this sort of asshole. They either want to start something (because they love petty battles, or because of loneliness borne from their own intolerability), or they want attention -- or worse, they actually care about crap like other people's choice of paint. Ignore ignore ignore.
posted by Coatlicue at 2:51 PM on June 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


If you feel like writing, ask her you will oblige her if she paints her house to match your hydrangeas. Thats quid pro quo, right?

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:51 PM on June 30, 2008


I'm in the ignore the note camp. You don't have a relationship with her and you certainly don't want one, so trying to talk with her may get you in deeper (turns out she may not like your mailbox either, ya know?)

Then again there is the antagonistic side of me that wants you to paint a big "NO" or "NOT YOURS" on the side of the shed facing her.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:55 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


"please repaint it"

"Please buy curtains." End of problem in the ideal world, no? :) I think the situation is absolutely hilarious. Ignoring her note would be the most mature and safe way of handling this right now, even if it's a little bland - and I personally would love to have fun with her head. Keep us informed if she attempts any further craziness, yeah?
posted by Bakuun at 2:59 PM on June 30, 2008


1] Put the note up on passiveaggressivenotes.com.

2] Post a pic of the shed - it sounds like a really neat idea!

3] Ignore the neighbour. 4 years of not talking has happened for a reason. :)
posted by Solomon at 3:07 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


I think 23skiddo has the best answer.

The thing about nosy neighbors is that you can use their power for good, if you approach it right. These are the people who will notice if something's wrong at your house. You WANT them to call police if your dog has been barking for an hour (because you slipped and hit your head and are lying unconscious in a pool of blood in the bathroom). You WANT them to tell you that they noticed some unfamiliar kids in your yard earlier (so you can report the break-in to your shed before the punks have a chance to get too far with your new weedwacker).

She's probably just a lonely old lady with nothing better to do than notice these things. A peace offering might go a long way. You would want her to let you know if her side of your shed had some crowbar marks or graffiti on it or something, wouldn't you?

I do realize that some people are just nuts, and a peace offering might be rejected. But a nice neighborly gesture, while holding firm (politely) on the paint, is the right thing to do, if not the most satisfying.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:21 PM on June 30, 2008


Ignore, if she persists, tell her to plant some damn hedges.
posted by Max Power at 3:22 PM on June 30, 2008


Please don't contact her. Life can go south real quick with people like this.

If she comes over in person, be nice, offer cookies, and then mildly say you like your shed as is.

But DO NOT INITIATE CONTACT.
posted by konolia at 3:26 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The number of responses that are hostile to the neighbor is disturbing to me. Being on good terms with your neighbors is a seriously valuable thing. True, it may not be possible sometimes, but it's worth at least trying.

So what, she hasn't talked to the OP yet. Maybe she's shy. Maybe she's been busy. The OP hasn't visited or contacted her before now, either.

I think it's too easy to read hostility and anger into what may be a very short and awkwardly-written note - she probably is just bad at this type of interpersonal communication (OK, maybe awful). Couching the note in more generous terms would have been good, but there are a lot of people who just don't get that.

There's an opportunity here to 1) learn; and 2) actually meet her, cautiously. Whether the OP takes the opportunity is a matter for the OP to decide, but judging this lady and taking an angry, offended stance is not sensible. It's just one note!

People can easily get perfectionist about where they live. They search and search, jump through many hoops, establish a credit rating, and then obligate themselves to work steadily for years just to have this place. It's understandable if they get a little crazy if their "perfect" environment, or the view they've come to think of as home, is altered. Do they have a right to expect neighboring homeowners to conform to their idiosynchratic version of perfection? Probably not, at least not most of the time. But you can see how it could quickly, and reasonably, become an emotional thing, and the delicacy required to negotiate these conflicts is not an easy thing for most people.

This is coming from someone who went through a huge brouhaha recently in which my neighborhood/condo association wanted to cut down a lovely, healthy tree I'd planted. It made me very upset; there were tears; and I'm not impressed with the aesthetic sensibilities and pro-conformity stance of the association board. But I understand why they care, deeply and emotionally.
posted by amtho at 3:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think you should ignore her for a few years, until your shed is in dire need of re-painting, then offer to have it painted it white or whatever as long as she foots the bill. Might as well get a free paint-job our of her obnoxious behavior!
posted by np312 at 3:29 PM on June 30, 2008


although: a nice southern lady i know built a fence around her yard. one of the neighbors complained (for reasons i don't recall) and kept harassing her, so the lady painted the side of the fence facing the neighbors bright purple and neon orange.

Funny, I once rented a room from a woman who did the exact same thing, except I believe she chose pink and lime green. Though this was just an escalation in a long-running feud. Sadly I didn't stay long enough to find out the neighbor's counterattack.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:47 PM on June 30, 2008


I'm not impressed with the aesthetic sensibilities and pro-conformity stance of the association board. But I understand why they care, deeply and emotionally.

Yeah, and while I'd agree that ignoring this hostile and crazy-sounding person is probably the right thing to do, I'm also a bit surprised at the number of people here who seem to find ridiculous the very idea that a neighbor might feel strongly about what they have to look at all day from the windows of their home. Would you all be so militantly HEY IT'S MY PROPERTY SCREW YOU about this if we were talking about noise pollution or overpowering smells? I'm not sure why visual pollution is inherently different, though again, I do agree that the OP shouldn't get involved and I realize the shed in question may be genuinely nice-looking.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 3:53 PM on June 30, 2008


If you don't know this woman, how can you be sure the note is from her? Unless you saw her deliver it, of course, in which case all the above stands. Maybe it's more paranoid to suggest the presence of a malicious or prankster third party than simply one strange lady, but it's not impossible!
posted by Lebannen at 3:56 PM on June 30, 2008


Don't do anything at all, but keep the note. It's your shed and you can paint it any damn colour you please. Let her plant some shrubs or something.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:01 PM on June 30, 2008


Just to make sure we're covering all the bases here (since you didn't quote the note): Are you sure it's the color she's objecting to? Or has it been a few years and the paint job is starting to look shabby?
posted by sageleaf at 4:24 PM on June 30, 2008


Obviously the people responding in this thread have never had a crazy neighbor. Do not egg her on. Ignore her. Keep ignoring her. She wants you to get angry and act on her level. Don't give her the satisfaction.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:25 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's an opportunity here to 1) learn; and 2) actually meet her, cautiously.

Yeah, an opportunity to learn a lesson in the school of hard knocks: there's some sorts of crazy and some sorts of asshole you just don't get involved with for your own good, and my own personal lessons learned in that category put up warnings here. For now "ignore" seems most likely to minimize future problems without being taken advantage of.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:37 PM on June 30, 2008


Would you all be so militantly HEY IT'S MY PROPERTY SCREW YOU about this if we were talking about noise pollution or overpowering smells?

Are you serious? How do your two alternative examples even remotely compare?

This is about a shed that has been recently painted a perfectly reasonable color that the neighbor objects to.

It would be quite different if:
  • The shed is really in need of a fresh coat of paint.
  • The shed is full of dogs that bark all night long.
  • The shed is full of noxious chemicals that the neighbor can smell from her house.
So, yes, in this particular case, I am in the somewhat militant group, because the neighbor HAS ABSOLUTELY NO CAUSE FOR OBJECTION, unlike the two other examples you mention.

(oh, and I vote for ignore, but keep note and do attempt to have some relationship with your neighbors, even if it is perfunctory)
posted by gregvr at 4:52 PM on June 30, 2008


Tell her you'll paint it if she'll move her trees around in a way that you find more aesthetically pleasing. She needs to get out of that kitchen! 150 times is alot.
posted by Askr at 4:59 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


How do your two alternative examples even remotely compare?... This is about a shed that has been recently painted a perfectly reasonable color

The annals of AskMe are full of situations involving two neighbors where one thinks smoking in their own flat is perfectly reasonable, while the other is choking on the fumes, or where one is being perfectly reasonable just walking around on a hardwood floor, while the other is assaulted all day by the loud banging. There isn't an objective standard of "perfectly reasonable". I'm just defending the right of the neighbor to care about this issue — not her tactics or her apparent belief that she can demand a change. And I think the fact that she does have a right to care should influence how the OP approaches the situation, even though I agree they shouldn't succumb to her demands.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:59 PM on June 30, 2008


I would agree with not repainting your shed, but you certainly should not retaliate with a note that could be at all perceived as provocative. If the situation should escalate, you don't want any blame to fall on you.
posted by alitorbati at 5:19 PM on June 30, 2008


Also - we still have no photo. One person's "beautiful pastels" could be anything. My own hydrangea is quite an interesting shade of purple. They also come in bright pink. Pink is "pastel".

Not knocking your color choice, OP. Personally I think a purple shed would be pretty cool, and would be happy if my neighbors were at all industrious enough to paint things. But many folks here are assuming it's a "perfectly reasonable" color, and that's soooooo subjective.
posted by amtho at 5:21 PM on June 30, 2008


Ignore completely and keep the note in case she escalates.
posted by lemuria at 5:25 PM on June 30, 2008


Let's get excessively hostile:

1) Take the note and scan it in at a good resolution.
2) Print it onto a transparency.
3) Repaint that side of the shed white, perhaps with little blue horizontal lines, if the note was on standard lined paper.
4) Using a projector and some black paint, carefully outline all of her note, including her handwriting, onto the white shed wall, in as large letters as the projector will manage.
5) Seal with a good, clear coat.
6) Trim bushes so she cannot miss it.

For advanced users: mix in some glow in the dark paint with your black, so she can't miss it in the dark, either.
posted by adipocere at 5:37 PM on June 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


Wow, lots of hostility here. Ignoring a note is MORE HOSTILE than a polite conversation.

The way to solve this is to talk with her. Then you'll know if she's a nut or not. Maybe there is a solution that will benefit both of you? Maybe she thinks you are a nut for painting your shed that color, and if you explained that you chose your colors deliberately, she'd understand.
posted by gjc at 5:40 PM on June 30, 2008


Ignoring a note is MORE HOSTILE than a polite conversation.

Dumping snide notes on people you've never met demanding they repaint their shed is pretty fucking hostile, too.

Ignore the note. I hate white-on-white houses as the epitome of suburban blandness, but I don't go bugging my neighbours about it.
posted by rodgerd at 5:48 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


What solution would possibly work for both of them?

I guess that's the biggest problem with all of this. There is no solution. The neighbor doesn't like the color of the shed. The OP doesn't feel that he/she should do anything about it, and is completely correct.

How would this conversation go?

Neighbor: "I don't like the color of your shed."
OP: "Ummm, okay. I like it."
Neighbor: "I want you to change it."
OP: "Ummm. No."

Now, I am often pretty socially retarded, but I'm not sure I see how else this would go. Would it be something like this:

Neighbor: "I don't like the color of your shed."
OP: "Oh, I'm sorry. I really agonized over getting just the right shade to match my flowers. What don't you like about it?"
Neighbor: "I just don't like it. It's too *adjective*."

Then what? I am firmly in the camp that the OP should not do ANYTHING, so "Oh, I'll grow a tree between you and my shed" or "I'll repaint it", etc, aren't options.
posted by gregvr at 5:50 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have never met her (and this is after four years)

and that note you've got now is a chicken coming home to roost. Was it really so hard to introduce yourself to your neighbors when you first moved in?

Listen to 23skidoo, supersquirrel, amtho and gjc.
posted by flabdablet at 6:25 PM on June 30, 2008


Ignore the miserable old bat.
posted by unSane at 6:35 PM on June 30, 2008


and that note you've got now is a chicken coming home to roost. Was it really so hard to introduce yourself to your neighbors when you first moved in?

Eh, what's with the Blamey McBlamersons act? Introducing oneself to the neighbors, even taking over a welcome basket of cookies when they move in is no guarantee that they won't turn into uncommunicative, hostile nutcases at any point in the future (says the person who did just that and still ended up with next door neighbors who excavated the hillside we share sans permits and caused many thou$ands in foundation damage in every direction).

Ignore the note. If neighbor approaches you about the shed in person, say that you did get the note and because the request was so preposterous, you knew that the note couldn't have possibly come from her. Respond to further discussion about the shed with a polite but firm "No, I simply can not do that."
posted by jamaro at 6:45 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Do not respond unless you also plan to cave in. Responding and then persisting in your "error" will merely infuriate her.

People who complain about the color of your shed, from two houses down, are not entirely stable. A stable person would think "wow, that was a poor color choice" and then they'd move on with their life. That she cannot do this does not bode well for your future interactions.

This is a lesson you can learn the hard way, or the easy way. I vote for the easy way, but if you're feeling adventurous then feel free to go the hard way. Just be warned.
posted by aramaic at 7:14 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Neighborlady left a rude demand in one of the most passive-aggressive ways. There's no excuse for leaving notes like that, especially when you live next to each other and can easily get in contact when the other person is home. Maybe I frequent passiveaggressivenotes.com too often and that's why this bothers me, but in cases like these they really are intrinsically rude.

I have little sympathy for the neighbor, even if the shed is the worst godawful shade of pink imaginable - she should have been enough of an adult to voice her complaint in person. If she can't bear to complain to the OP's face, she shouldn't complain in the first place.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:17 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know it's wrong, but here's what I'd do: photograph your shed, open the image in Photoshop, and do some creative "painting." Make at least one based on the goatse image. Send her a few printouts of your best efforts, with a note saying, "Yes, you're right! It's time to paint my shed, and I've been meaning to. Here are some of my ideas for the next paint job."

Seriously, I can't stand nosy people like that and I'm afraid I would be the type to bait them and have a little fun with it.

Also, yes, please do post photos of this shed!
posted by TochterAusElysium at 7:23 PM on June 30, 2008


Ignore the passive-aggressive-pacifying advice of amtho and SuperSquirrel, and as for the sanctimonious implication from flabdablet that somehow you are to blame for not being neighborly enough, well... I can only assume you are sensible enough to ignore that nonsense.

I had a crazy neighbor. My coworker has two. By the time someone thinks that it's a good idea to advisie a neighbor on how to live their lives & conduct their business, that someone is beyond common courtesy & ordinary civil interaction. The less contact the better.

And save the note. It's the sort of thing that would impress a judge later. Just pop it in an envelope, label & date it, and store it with your taxes.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:48 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The color of that shed is NOT THE NEIGHBOR'S BUSINESS. If she were asking how much money they made or telling them they should not have kids or telling them to sell their car and buy a hybrid/SUV/donkey and cart, it's all the same. NOT her business. Period.

The kind thing is to pretend the note never existed.
posted by konolia at 7:58 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Write 'No soap. Radio?' on a piece of paper and put it in her mailbox.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:25 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


does she have any right to tell you what colors are appropriate? some obscure homeowners association bylaw? anything in writing?

I'd get a bunch of pantone color chips. there are beautiful bright yellow, reds, oranges, lime greens. throw in a metallic silver for fun. leave her note up and just paste them onto the wall below it as if you were considering those as an alternate choice. (home depot color chips might do the trick as well.)

or just post a scary sign.
posted by krautland at 8:30 PM on June 30, 2008


I have a neighbor who has a similar history of unacceptable demands. She's a nice person, but apparently her sense of aesthetics is superior to (and more important than) everyone else's. She has complained to (at least) two separate neighbors about elements of their property (one is a bit untidy and overgrown, the other one isn't, but she seems perturbed by their shed/garage, much like your neighbor). Despite the fact that I don't really think anyone has violated town ordinances, she has reported both to the local governing body. At times, I feel as if I'm living on egg shells because my property isn't exactly perfectly manicured, either, and I've been dreading the moment she reports us, as well.

I completely agree with malter51 and IAmBroom. You definitely want to keep the note, as well as any future correspondence, and, if she confronts you in person, keep records about when/where and what was said. As far as the note goes, I wouldn't even respond. I think leaving her a note that simply says 'no' might antagonize her further, which is the last thing you want to do. I believe you're definitely in the right..

Unfortunately, this seems to be a sad trend. I recall seeing something on the local Philadelphia news about a person who decided that they wanted to remove all grass from their property and just have a large garden. Clearly, the gardener in question spent a lot of time, money, and effort working on their property, and it looked beautiful to me. However, her neighbors were aghast at her show of self-expression and reported her, and, unbelievably, their local government sided with the people of the neighborhood and forced her to remove it all. If something doesn't pose a danger or a health threat, then whose business is it?
posted by Mael Oui at 9:00 PM on June 30, 2008


Do nothing? Or put a note where she left hers, saying "keep off my property." Wow, people are silly.
posted by citron at 9:09 PM on June 30, 2008


Unless you have a local ordinance that sets out what color you home/shed might be...

That's true. But, unless you just painted your shed a few days ago, I'm sure that you would have been contacted by someone with more clout than the neighbor before now.
posted by Mael Oui at 9:14 PM on June 30, 2008


Regarding the whole issue of it being your fault for not introducing yourself:

We have new neighbors, husband and wife. We met them (courtesy of our old wonderful neighbors) before they made their offer, and we told them about our dogs and their barking during the day (we keep them in at night, starting around 7pm.) We also mentioned that it was a very dog-occupied neighborhood, lots of barking. They made an offer and bought the house.

No complaints and lots of daily "hello"s for a while, then while we were away for a week our dogsitter evidentally didn't stick to the rules, because we came back to a pleasant enough note about it, but it did claim that the dogs barked "constantly", and that we should keep them inside and the windows closed. I did some drive-bys and such to catch them barking, to no avail, and so we chalked it up to our being away and have kenneled them ever since. In a conversation with the husband, he said it was fine since we returned and there were no problems.

Then, months later, during a yard sale we were having (and so our dogs were inside and yipping) the wife stuck her head out the window and screamed at my wife that we hadn't done anything since her note, our dogs were still barking constantly day and night, we never keep our windows closed (actually, they're never open) and that they were driving her insane. My wife responded that she had probably started there (oops) and she threatened to call the police (nothing's ever come of that.)

She had always been distant before, but now she won't even make eye contact or acknowledge our presence, even if we're having a pleasant exchange with her husband (who's always been quite relaxed and groovy.) Meanwhile, in the middle of the night we sometimes hear other dogs barking and whining on the side of their house that has the bedrooms, and I wonder if she heard those and just assumed it was our dogs. We'll never know, because rational conversation with her isn't possible.

In short: some people are just like that, and your best bet is to avoid 'em altogether. Nthing the ignoring her route -- plus, she can never be certain that you got the note, right? So that'll probably drive her nuts.
posted by davejay at 10:14 PM on June 30, 2008


correction: the actual quote was "they're driving me to insanity" and my wife's response was "I think you started out there."
posted by davejay at 10:16 PM on June 30, 2008


Notes get lost or blow away. It's not a real complaint from a proper grown-up until she discusses it with you in person.

Until such a time, you're official line can be that you assumed that since nothing was said to you, the note was probably just some prank from neighbourhood kids, and you didn't give it a second thought.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:24 PM on June 30, 2008


You could submit the note here for everyone's amusement.

I'm a big believer in not picking fights with people you are forced to live nearby. By this I don't mean appeasing her (I also vote for ignore), but not doing anything to make it worse. Anybody who is this rude and nutty unprovoked, is sure to be a real nightmare to have as a sworn enemy.
posted by snarfois at 1:14 AM on July 1, 2008


What exactly did the note say? Was there any politeness at all? Did she offer to pay for it?!!

IF she hadn't been a complete Wiartch (witch / biartch) in her note,
and
IF it were a side of the shed that I never see anyway (and had only painted it because it was part of the shed) I would tell her that she could come over and paint it. Or do whatever? Her husband would probably appreciate the break!

Although if her note was just disgraceful, I'm inclined to be a bit of a Wiartch myself. I'd give the other neighbors a heads up... and I'd paint it. Fuck her. I hope it irks the absolute shit out of her!

I'm sure if she'd been polite and come over and said "I noticed you've painted your shed... I hate to be a bother but I find X very distressing. I was wondering if maybe we could find some sort of solution - which I'm more than happy to pay for." - that your question and its replies would have been very very different!
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 4:15 AM on July 1, 2008


SENSIBLE ANSWER:

Do nothing. Don't communicate with her at all. If she escalates, let her be the annoying/crazy one. Keep all evidence just in case.

SILLY ANSWER:

Send her a note back saying "Please repaint your fridge. I have to look at it 150 times a day from my back yard." Maybe then she'll buy curtains.
posted by mmoncur at 4:45 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ignore the idiot.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:31 AM on July 1, 2008


Is she old and lonely? Does she have dementia?
posted by A189Nut at 6:39 AM on July 1, 2008


wow, some 'neighbour' issues going on here. Maybe it was a light-hearted comment meant as a bit of fun; a 'we've been neighbours for 4 years' introduction if you will...
posted by xla76 at 10:58 AM on July 1, 2008


From the other side of a story like this: My neighbors across the street painted their house green. Very green. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mutagenic ooze green. Glow in the dark green. Visible from space green.

We did the only thing we could to: diddly squat.

Oh sure we made some jokes, mocked them a bit (in private) and moved on with our lives. There are reasonable people in the world and sane ways or handling aesthetic disagreements. Passive aggressive notes are not one of them and do not need to be dignified with a response.
posted by Skorgu at 12:22 PM on July 1, 2008


That's just rude. Ignore.

And I tell you, I have the neighbours with the worst taste EVER - think big china jars with huge plastic flowers and china dogs. I would never, ever say anything to them about it, as much as it pains me to put up with it. It's seriously ugly, but it is their terrace. What it does turn out to be is a sort of freak show attraction for friends: "here, come have a look at my neighbour's china dog. It looks like a dalmatian from the back, but it's actually a boxer."
posted by neblina_matinal at 5:15 AM on July 2, 2008


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