Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - Con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email, By Amy Dick­in­son

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 about hav­ing to ask us to do things, and thanks us each time. But it is be­com­ing a prob­lem for me.

My girl­friend nicely sug­gested that maybe she should look for a home health aide or that some­one in her fam­ily could check in on her. Her re­sponse was “I’m not that old” and, “Why would I need that?”

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’m at the point where 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.

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 flight. 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.

Dear Amy: Thank you, thank you for your ex­cel­lent ad­vice to “Wor­ried Fu­ture Mom,” the ex­pec­tant mother whose in-laws said they would only visit the new­born with their two ag­gres­sive dogs. My child was bit by a fam­ily mem­ber’s dog, and I blame my­self for let­ting the fam­ily mem­ber guilt me into be­liev­ing the dog was safe, even though my in­stincts said oth­er­wise. — Been There

Dear Been There: Many read­ers have re­sponded with sim­i­lar sto­ries. Dogs aren’t nec­es­sar­ily prone to bite chil­dren, but they are an­i­mals and young chil­dren are of­ten un­pre­dictable. Par­ents should al­ways be cau­tious and should teach their kids to al­ways ask a grown-up be­fore ap­proach­ing a dog.

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