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Dear Robin: I Am Fighting with the Neighbors Over Parking

Monday, January 19, 2015


Don't forget to send me your questions!  Email: [email protected]

Dear Robin,

I live in Salem in a house with a tiny single car garage too small for my car.  I park in my driveway and my daughter and her girlfriend who live with me park on the street in front of our house.

Recently my widowed neighbor's elderly friend who visits her often began haranguing the girls for parking on the street.  Her complaint is that it is hard for her to back out of her friend's driveway. We then parked across the street in front of her house and of course she complained about that.  The verbal judo is escalating and now accompanied by finger wagging.

I don’t really have a great relationship with this particular neighbor, she is rather well off and pays for lawn care and is very particular in how our lawns (those of us around her) should look. I am more of a naturalist, whilst I rake leaves and keep the grounds clean, I do not edge, trim and bark dust.

How do I relay to these women that on-street parking is legal, we have no other choice and these verbal spankings are not OK?  I don't want to make matters more strained by unloading on her, but since things have gotten so much worse recently I really want to let them have it.



Dear Cindy,

You have my deepest condolences.  What a horrible situation you find yourself in: living in Salem!

Salem is the worst: you live amongst criminals who sit around on the taxpayers' dime doing nothing all day, and besides the Governor, his First Grifter Girlfriend and the Oregon Legislature, you have the prison to contend with!

If you have been reading me here or on my blog at www.askdescamp.com you know I am a firm and proficient wielder of snark.  Were I standing in your shoes, I too would be tempted to unleash on Mrs. Kravitz and her Special Friend the following ditties:

1. Have you considered the possibility that if you can't back out of a driveway without major incident you may be too old, blind or stupid to drive?

2. If your attacks do not end, I will be forced to cease all my current gardening efforts, tear up my poorly-manicured lawn and plant marijuana in the front yard surrounded by garden gnomes and pink flamingos, and not in an ironic way.

3. No wonder your husband died before you.  Was he henpecked to death?  I bet you didn't let him park his Ford Probe in your garage very often, if you catch my drift.

However, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I am going to give you a kinder, gentler solution.  Dr. King said:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Since "driving out" is quite literally the problem here, I am especially tickled to use this quote!

Adopting the approach to problem-solving favored by these women will not drive out their antagonistic and negative behavior and is guaranteed to make things worse. Therefore, I herewith instruct you to perform the following actions in an effort to improve relations between you, your neighbor, and her OFSA (Only Friend Still Alive):

1. Invite them to your house for coffee and sweets.  Old ladies love that sort of thing.

2. Tell them the current strife over the parking situation is troubling you, especially since you enjoy a good relationship with everyone else on the street and you would like to have a positive one with them as well.  Ask them very directly to cease the verbal attacks on members of your household.

3. Point out calmly to your neighbor there is simply no reasonable alternative except parking in front of her home, an option about which she is not enthusiastic.

4. Show them the overhead photo you sent me that illustrates your dilemma including very limited parking on your side of the street due to a fire hydrant to the north and a stop sign (no parking within 150 feet) to the south.

5. At this point they will almost certainly chirp in unison that the girls should park in front of someone else's house.  Don't miss this opportunity to explain the hypocrisy in that proposed solution.

6. Point out the glaringly obvious: the friend could either park in front of your neighbor's house or back into her driveway to avoid the terrible peril of using her rear-view mirror when heading home to her miserable husband.

7. Give your neighbor this link and tell her to ask her great-grandson to bring it up on his stolen iPad next time he's on parole and comes around to beg her for drug money: Here's Where to Snitch about Parking issues.

The City of Salem will take a look at what's going on and tell her she is wrong. Perhaps that will end the problem.

Try to kill these gals with two things they have a very tenuous relationship with: kindness and logic.  Please be advised I mean that in the figurative sense and am not instructing you to murder your neighbor and her BFF.

If nothing changes and the verbal abuse continues, my advice is to do nothing because really, what can you do?  I wouldn't bother the police with this sort of thing; they are too busy looking for Oregon State Prison escapees and transporting Cylvia Hayes' dog hither and yon. 

Just laugh.  Every time these biddies get their Depends(R) in a bunch, smile at them and wish them a happy day.  Make notes when your neighbor's friend threatens an accident because that will help you if you ever have to file an insurance claim against her.

Come to think of it, she announced repeatedly she was in danger of an accident backing out of the driveway and yet she continues to park there.  That may be the sort of thing you could report to the DMV if you were worried that this elderly driver may not capable of safe motoring any longer.

I'll just leave this right here...How to Tattle to the DMV.

Even if these women refuse to behave, it can't be long until they shuffle off this mortal coil and move into their new underground condos (no parking problems but the occasional water issues).  Carrying around unreasonable anger and resentment creates stress which is hard on the body so you've got that going for you, which is nice.

Be patient, be kind, rise above the petty bullshit and one way or another, either through your utilization of my advice, intervention from the DMV or life's attrition process, your problem will be solved.

"Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness."  -MLK

Former Portland lawyer and current Portland big mouth Robin DesCamp, is the Velvet Sledgehammer of Truth, smashing through socially acceptable niceties to tell you how to live your life, and why. She blogs at www.askdescamp.com. Write to her at [email protected]. Photo credit: Andrea Doolittle 


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Put PBOT Out to Bid

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