BJ'S BLOG 07/17/14 "Should I Tell My Neighbor I Destroyed Their Property?"
by BJ Shea,posted Jul 17 2014 6:29AM
Howdy, neighbors! Let’s have a Group Therapy Block Party!
We heard from Mary, who is having a crisis of conscience. She and her husband live next to a single older man, who is the proverbial Neighbor from Hell: he complains about everything, calls the police about anything he considers suspicious, and once tried to sue a neighbor over tree branches.
The mean neighbor probably wouldn’t be too happy to find out that Mary recently backed into his mailbox, destroying it. This was no ordinary mailbox; it was obviously handcrafted, and Mary says it’s very nice. Mary’s husband says it was an honest mistake, and told her not to say anything!
The neighbor has gone door-to-door around the neighborhood, asking who did the deed. As it turns out, the mailbox has considerable sentimental value to the man, because it was made by his wife before she passed away. Needless to say, Mary feels terrible…but her husband still insists that she should keep the secret, because he’s sure the neighbor will make their life a living hell if he finds out the truth.
This whole mess is really fascinating to me, because it says a lot about the current state of our society. This man has created an impression in the minds of Mary and her husband (and probably the rest of the neighborhood), and that impression may never change, but they’ll never know if they don’t give him a chance. You wrecked his mailbox, Mary…so who’s the bad neighbor in this particular scenario?
This situation could have a ripple effect in the relationship, too. Women have a strong moral compass, and this might be something that Mary can’t easily shake off. I think it’s better to risk the neighbor’s unhappiness by doing the right thing, rather than keeping the mistake a secret for what could be many years to come.
Set an example for the people around you, Mary. If you’re lucky, maybe the act of being a good person will rub off on your mean old neighbor, too.