ASK AMY Tired of needy neigh­bor

Los Angeles Times - - COMICS -

Dear Amy: My girl­friend and I live in a small condo build­ing. Our neigh­bor is a mid­dle-aged woman who lives by her­self and also hap­pens to be very over­weight.

Since we moved in about a year ago, at least once a day (some­times twice), she knocks on our door and asks for me or my girl­friend to bring her gro­ceries up the stairs, bring up pack­ages, take boxes to the trash or move var­i­ous things around her condo. We al­ways do th­ese things for her. She has mo­bil­ity is­sues due to her size, and she’s al­ways out of breath.

She is very nice and apolo­getic, but it is be­com­ing a prob­lem for me. This seems like it’s too much.

An­other neigh­bor said that the pre­vi­ous res­i­dents in our unit had the same is­sue with her. He said he thinks they moved be­cause they were tired of deal­ing with her.

I just don’t want to an­swer the door any­more, but my girl­friend feels that our neigh­bor will know we are hid­ing from her.

What can I do here? Won­der­ing Res­i­dent

Dear Won­der­ing: You have the right to the quiet en­joy­ment of your own home, and in or­der for you to have that, you will now have to be spe­cific about what you are will­ing to do for this neigh­bor.

You and your girl­friend should de­cide to­gether what neigh­borly chores you are will­ing to do. For in­stance, per­haps you would be will­ing to take out her trash, if she leaves it out­side her door. (If she can make it across the hall to knock on your door, she can likely han­dle her own trash.)

Oth­er­wise, she will have to make ar­range­ments, the way many peo­ple do when they have chronic phys­i­cal chal­lenges. A home health aide could come to her home twice a week and per­form many of th­ese house­hold func­tions on a reg­u­lar sched­ule.

You and your girl­friend should say to her, “We will al­ways as­sist you in an emer­gency. We are will­ing to han­dle your trash for you and if we see a pack­age down­stairs for you, we’ll bring it up, but oth­er­wise, you will have to find other help.”

If she comes to you with a non­emer­gency re­quest, you should say, “You ob­vi­ously need more help than we are will­ing to give. It’s time to hire some­one.”

Dear Amy: I missed an im­por­tant work meet­ing this morn­ing away from the of­fice. It was to­tally my fault, and I feel ter­ri­ble about it.

How do I apol­o­gize? Dan

Dear Dan: Quick story: Re­cently, I was sched­uled for a flight out of busy O’Hare air­port. I mis­read the de­par­ture time and missed the f light. I pon­dered my op­tions: I could have blamed any num­ber of out­side fac­tors and of­fered up ex­cuses, but in­stead I tried some­thing rad­i­cal.

I ap­proached the busy ticket counter and said, “I to­tally blew it and missed my flight. It is com­pletely my fault, and now I am throw­ing my­self on your mercy. Can you help?”

The ticket agent seemed to go out of her way to resched­ule me, and even waived the re­book­ing fee.

The les­son for me was this: Ev­ery­body makes mis­takes. If you claim your mis­take, peo­ple tend to be un­der­stand­ing.

In your case, you should quickly take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for your own er­ror, apol­o­gize pro­fusely, of­fer to resched­ule at their con­ve­nience, and ex­pect to be for­given.

Send ques­tions to askamy@ amy­dick­in­son.com.

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