Weeding Out The Bad Neighbors

, , | Friendly | June 19, 2017

(It is during summer and I am about nine years old. A few months prior, the city had decided to fix some nonexistent cracks in the sidewalks and make the residents pay about $500 each for it. Obviously, people complained, but the city informed them that the sidewalks were city property and that the residents had no right to decide whether the repairs were necessary. The residents tried to fight the cost being forced on them, but they lost. One of my neighbors is a bit of a grump who likes to turn tiny problems into huge issues. He also has a large garden, which he tends to obsessively. When I’m walking past his house on the way to a friend’s place, I see a tiny flower (clearly a weed) growing between the cracks of the sidewalk. I pick it and tuck it behind my ear before continuing on my way. My friend isn’t home, though, so I go back to my house. I find my mom and the grumpy neighbor arguing on the front porch.)

Neighbor: *pointing at me* “There! There it is! See? In her hair! That’s the flower she stole!”

Mom: “That little thing? The way you were going on, I thought you meant an expensive flower, like an orchid or something.”

Neighbor: “It doesn’t matter! She’s a dirty thief!”

Me: *thinking I’m about to get in a lot of trouble* “But it was just a weed! It was growing between the sidewalk cracks.”

Neighbor: “I don’t care where it was growing! You stole it from me.”

Mom: “What exactly is it that you want me to do? She can’t put the flower back.”

Neighbor: “I know she can’t put the flower back. Do you think I’m stupid? She destroyed it, and I want her punished! If you refuse to address this matter, I’ll have to involve the police.”

Mom: *pulling me behind her* “Go right ahead.”

Neighbor: *shocked* “What?”

Mom: *trying not to smirk* “As you well know after those repairs, the sidewalks are the property of the city, not you. The city has no laws forbidding children from picking flowers. Now, if that will be all, I think it’s time for you to leave.”

Neighbor: *sputtering* “But… but… she stole from me!”

Mom: “No, she clearly didn’t. But you’re on private property, and I’ve already asked to leave once. If you stay here, you’ll be trespassing, and I’ll have to involve the police.”

Neighbor: *leaves, looking like he just swallowed a lemon*

Me: *staring in shock at my mom, who’s normally very soft-spoken and non-confrontational*

Mom: “Never give in to people like that, honey. If you do, they’ll walk all over you forever.”

1 Thumbs
  • Flami

    It’s a weed. Nobody except this guy cares if you pick weeds out of the public city sidewalk.

  • Lord Circe

    You’re going to call the police? Go ahead. Try and use them like your bully-stick, I’ll be laughing when it swings around to hit you in the face.

  • mikomi

    Now that’s what you call good parenting

  • Joe Weatherford

    And at the end, the mother gives what is probably the best bit of advice for individuals who always have to have their way.

    • Cathrope

      No truer words have been spoken.

  • Jackie Fauxe

    “the city had decided to fix some nonexistent cracks in the sidewalks and make the residents pay about $500 each for it”

    “I see a tiny flower (clearly a weed) growing between the cracks of the sidewalk”

    Two things: A) maybe those cracks aren’t so nonexistent, and B) you mean it came from taxes, right? People weren’t sent bills, were they? Because that would be awful.

    • cursormortis

      A) I’m assuming the sidewalks there are like sidewalks everywhere I’ve lived, in that they are made from slabs of cement that have cracks between the individual slabs through which weeds occasionally grow.

      B) People probably were sent bills. One of my work friends had a lengthy battle with our city just last year over something similar. The city was doing some sort of work on her street (I don’t remember what exactly, but the residents had no option to decline) that billed everyone on the street $3000. It was so high because the area was zoned commercial for “future use” (i.e., someone got it zoned commercial some years back so businesses could build in the area but that never happened and it wasn’t rezoned), and eventually she and her neighbors got it down to the $750 it would’ve been for residential-zoned areas/

      • Sal Wolffs

        “It’s not your property so you don’t get to decide if it gets repaired on your dime”? I think I’m starting to understand why Americans hate “big government”. American government sounds awful.

      • Jackie Fauxe

        That really stinks. Thanks for the info, though.

    • xXNamirXx

      People here are charged (yes, bills) for this bs. And as cursormortis said, they are slabs with intentional gabs but they likely had purely cosmetic issues the city didn’t like.

      • Lord Circe

        When I was a kid, they tore up the sidewalks in my neighborhood because they were “uneven”, and then laid down new ones, not taking into account that the tiles were all on a sloping hill, so the various tiles settled differently, and, lo-and-behold, just a couple months later the sidewalks were as uneven as ever.

        So, of course, they ripped them out and put down new ones twice more, and possibly more later after we moved away.

  • Well, that’s just dandy.

    • TSBJ

      You ain’t lyin’.

  • RallyLock

    Having grown up in a VERY rural area – stuff like this is exactly why I refuse to ever own property within the limits of any city that has these sort of laws/policies.

    My uncle does live in such a city, and he received a $200 fine because, while he was on a two-week vacation, the grass in his yard had grown too tall – yes, city zoning officials had walked onto his property (which is COMPLETELY surrounded by a chain-link fence, except for the concrete driveway), held a ruler up against a few blades of grass, took pictures as proof, and left the pictures and a ticket in his mailbox.

    My uncle tried to fight it, but in that city, zoning officials somehow have a legal right to enter anyone’s outdoor property at any time, regardless of whether they have a fence or not. As long as they don’t go inside any permanent structure (house, garage, or gardening/utility shed), they don’t need any homeowner approval at all to enter the property.

    • Apologetic CheeseChomper

      That’s terrible! (and completely ridiculous) I also wonder about the legal aspect if they damage some of the property or are injured on the property. Would the owner be liable?

      • Lord Circe

        Given that you can be held liable for burglers getting injured on your property due to “negligence”, I would not doubt that some inspector twisting their ankle while tromping around on your lawn would be judged to be your liability.

    • Jami

      When we remodeled our house one of the code enforcement officers was out to get us. (Surprise, surprise, she’s friends with a contractor in our neighborhood who’s known for filing false reports with CE and is mad no one in the neighborhood will hire him.) She dinged us for everything, including a couch someone – probably the contractor – put in the street in front of our house that we, ourselves, reported to get removed!

  • Kitty

    *sigh* I kind of wish my mom had given me that advice growing up… but she was also doing growing up and changing her personality and view on life, so she was different back then.

  • jokergirl129

    Best advice the mother gave at the end. Never give into demands those type of people make. They’ll never be happy, still complain and will just make your life miserable.

  • HeadlessGhostOfAbrahamLincoln

    Very good lesson she taught you after, unfortunately, having the city walk over her.

  • Kat

    I would’ve thought that any repairs on public property like sidewalks would’ve been covered by taxes.

  • kaosfury

    Usually the sidewalk actually IS your property as property lines go to the center of the road with a public access right of way extending on either side to allow for roads and sidewalks. That argument isn’t valid. However, they DO have the right to either maintain or require you maintain the sidewalks. My village sent fines for not doing so after sending notices to repair/replace sidewalks.

    The better point though is your mom’s handling of the situation. It was brilliant and exactly what a good parent should do. She is awesome.