He Didn’t Want To Bug Her

by admin on September 27, 2010


This just happened moments ago and I would like your opinion on who was wrong in this situation and why. And how I should have handled it.

I was home early from work today. The doorbell rings. Normally, when the doorbell rings and I am home alone, I don’t answer unless expecting someone. We don’t have a peephole or a window to see who is there, and usually it is some door to door salesperson or teenager trying to sell magazines/cookies/popcorn. And there are a lot of burglaries in my town. The doorbell rings again after a minute. The whole time my is dog barking up a storm. I ignore it and forget about it. About 5 minutes later, I can hear the water running from the spigot outside our house. I look out the kitchen window and see the hose running along side the house to the front. I look out another window and see a “Generic Bug Service” truck in our driveway. We have a contract with a bug service, but this was not it. And I had never heard of the company before. I call my husband and ask him if he knows anything about this. He does not. I go outside and confront the man, who came from the neighbor’s house. This is our conversation:

Me: Can I help you?
Bug Guy: Oh, well, I rang the bell twice and your dog was barking.
Me: Why are you using my hose and running my water?
Bug Guy: Well my tank is out of water and they (points to neighbor’s house) don’t have a hose.
Me: I wish you would have asked permission first.
Bug Guy: Well I rang twice and your dog was barking so usually that wakes people up.
Me: I am sorry, but I am home sick and was in the bathroom. Normally no one would be home all day. (I know this is a lie, but I didn’t want to tell him I don’t answer the door to strangers and I don’t think it’s his business.)
Bug Guy: Well, can I use your water?
Me: You already are. Are you serving my neighbor?
Bug Guy: Yea, and they don’t have a hose.
Me: I suppose as long as you don’t run it more than a few minutes.
Bug Guy: Well, I did my due diligence. I rang twice and your dog was barking.
Me: Ok.

Then I went into the house, gave the company name to my husband over the phone after explaining the situation, and he called the company to complain.

Was I wrong? Was he wrong? I don’t think it is appropriate to go on someone’s property, use their hose and run their water without permission. Even if it means not being able to service a client (my neighbor). Should I have just been stern and tell him to turn off my water, roll up my hose and leave my property before calling the authority? Or should I have been nicer? I just don’t think ringing a doorbell twice with no answer serves as permission to use one’s property and run their water (which we pay for).

Can I get your insight on this? I would love to hear your thoughts and the comments of your readers.

Thanks!   0923-10

His problem of no water is not your responsibility.   His company’s failure to plan by supplying hoses to their employees does not constitute an emergency on your part to remedy his dilemma.  He could have easily driven to a local gas station and gotten water there.  Trespassing on your property is not appropriate either and that was worth the call to the company to complain.   His claim of having “due diligence” does not relieve him of his duty to not trespass or presume upon someone’s resources.

Your conversation with him was appropriate and given that he did ask eventually, I would have said the same thing to him as you did.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon September 27, 2010 at 3:59 pm

What the man did was rude. I am inclined to agree with “Really! post # 33” in the scheme of things, it was rude but not unforgiveable. I would never in a million years do what this man did unless it was a matter of live and death… He put himself in a dangerous position, there are all kinds of folks in this world. People have been shot and killed for stepping onto someone’s property uninvited.
Having a rude attitude of self entitlement is not worth dying for.


Kriss September 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I assume if he needs a hose to fill the tank as opposed to being able to do it from the tap he needed more than a gallon or three. Once you get up in gallons it becomes theft. I saw a $10 hike in my water bill this summer just filling a kiddie pool (a larger one). I don’t know too many people who can afford to be that generous today.


Tara September 27, 2010 at 4:39 pm

He stole your water. This has nothing to do with manners. You are not required to answer the door, even if you know who’s there. If he can’t get permission, that doesn’t mean it’s alright to STEAL water. Sure, that water probably cost you pennies, but the cost doesn’t matter. He’s the one who didn’t bring enough water in his truck, it’s not your responsibility to provide it. You were far too polite, although really, you shouldn’t have lied, and you shouldn’t have told him he needs to ask permission. I wouldn’t have been RUDE per se, but there certainly would be a lecture.


Elizabeth September 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm

@Shredder- It seems to me that OP feels violated. How would you feel if a stranger came into your yard and used your things? Everyone is different and I think she has every right to feel upset.
@Really?- It wasn’t his neighbor he was taking water from, it was the neighbor of his client. He is providing a service to OP’s neighbor and takes it upon himself to use OP’s stuff even though she is not a client. Yes, it is just water, but his logic as to why he was not in the wrong is flawed. The car example everyone else is using explains it all. And the fact that he wasn’t apologetic makes it all the more rude.


Simone September 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I would have probably behaved just as you did, including letting him run the hose for a few minutes. It’s not nothing and I would let the company know that this policy may lose them business as well, but it’s not a huge deal either so I think you were just fine in the way you behaved.

For the people suggesting calling 911 or the police over this…I’m going to assume you were being sarcastic…


TheOtherAmber September 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Wait a minute, aside from the fact that he’s trespassing, and stealing her utilities – exactly how much water are we talking about here? That question is for those who are saying oh come on it’s just a little water and suggesting that the OP should have been fine with it. I’ve seen some of those tanks and some of them are HUGE. Some don’t appear to operate unless they’re filled up to a certain point. So sure it might just be “a little” water, or it might be a LOT of water. Also, what are the chances are the Bug Guy would have filled up his tank with enough water to cover not only the neighbour’s application but also the next several clients as well if she hadn’t let him know that she was home? Why should she have to pay so that other people can receive services from a company she doesn’t use?


Threepenny September 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm

@ Really – are you serious? The man came uninvited onto property and assisted himself to something not granted him and the OP is in the wrong?

I think I will just stroll over to your place to see if you have a safe… I’ll knock a few times first. If you don’t answer, I’ll just assume I can help myself to whatever I wish.

Honestly. That is ridiculous. I cannot BELIEVE you would fault the OP for this. He STOLE. People do have to pay for water, you know!

Thank goodness you are not my neighbor!


Sarah Jane September 27, 2010 at 6:18 pm

His coming onto my property and using my hose to help himself to my water would have been aggravating enough, but his attitude of entitlement would have sent me over the edge.

One more thing…I have every right to be at home in the middle of the day SLEEPING if I choose, and for someone to come along unannounced, ringing the doorbell and getting the dog barking, would have been infuriating. His thinking that was okay, too, would have really ticked me off.


Zhoen September 27, 2010 at 6:31 pm

The attitude of the water thief/trespasser, AND the owner, indicate that this is standard practice, and they’ve probably used OPs hose and water before, and may well try again. Keep the hose inside, put a lock on the spigot, and file a report with the BBB. I’m sorry she was so flustered she didn’t just call the police. Politely and calmly.

I suspect “Really?” and the other apologists for the employee, have stolen water/electricity on the job, and are trying to defend the ethics of an indefensible position.


Toni September 27, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Honestly, I would not have reacted that way. He was taking a little water in order to properly service the neighbor. Now, I don’t live in a high crime area and I’m never afraid to answer the door, so I would have been asked permission, and would have granted it.

And since the OP asked, my opinion is “yes, you should have been nicer.”


My neighbors are evil September 27, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Eh…why do I get the impression the neighbor’s hose only goes missing when said neighbor might have to actually pay for water used by the bug guy on their property? Call me a cynic if you must, but I have a whole neighborhood full of cheapskates who would gladly let someone else pay for their water/cable/power (I had a neighbor stealing power from MY home to run her leaf blower until I cut off the power to the outlet) if they think they can get away with it. It’s not a matter of the OP not being generous enough, it’s about a stranger thinking they have the RIGHT to enter your property to steal from you just because you didn’t say no. What kind of society do we live in where some people think that way? I was taught not to steal. EVER! I was not taught “Oh you can take it if they didn’t tell you not to!” Yikes!


Giles September 27, 2010 at 6:54 pm

We have this problem constantly with our driveway. We live in a sort of semi-suburb and we have a nice paved driveway that we paid for and maintain, including paying someone to plow it in the winter. I’ve had everything from tourists parking there to wander off and take pictures (don’t get me started on tourists) to our neighbours, who we’re not friends with, parking there all winter so they didn’t have to pay to shovel out their driveway.

This is actually pretty mean, but I started getting my plow guy to just do enough for one car if we’re not expecting our eldest home. My youngest daughter likes having the extra snow to play in, anyway.


Kriss September 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm

@gramma dishes who knows if she really did or not. She was a shady landlord and was only concerned with getting a check on the first. We ended up becoming friends with the bar owner over it though so it wasn’t a loss in the end. It’s nice when good things come out of unpleasant situations.


crella September 27, 2010 at 7:46 pm

I think when caught off guard, a response that pops out of often ‘but you didn’t even ask’….I don’t think the issue here is that the OP didn’t make the best verbal response. Anyone can say something less than stellar when flustered.

The fact that this guy thinks he did his bit to get permission, but took what he wanted anyway even without said permission is the problem here. It’s some of the most ass-backwards logic I’ve heard in a while. Their not customers, whatever this company calls ‘due diligence’ doesn’t apply.


Jenneh September 27, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I called the police when some “gardeners” who were taking down a tree on the property behind mine came into my yard and didn’t leave when I asked. They also dropped half the top of the tree into my hammock, so I was pretty annoyed. In order to even get into my yard, they had to climb over a wrought-iron fence from the carport roof next door, so it’s not like they were unaware they were on my property.

The officers kept telling the men (who were not with an actual tree removal service) that they had to get permission to come into my yard. The men kept arguing with them. That’s why *I* called the police, because I wasn’t going to escalate an argument with two guys holding power tools.


The Cat Whisperer September 27, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Just one comment about a safety issue here: in my neck of the woods (Southern California), there have been a number of news reports of break-ins by people who go up to a home, knock on the door, and if they don’t get a response, immediately start to break in to the house. (They’ve been caught on home security video and observed by neighbors.) In one case that was reported, a home owner who was elderly and hard of hearing and hadn’t heard the knock on her door was surprised inside her home by the intruders, who fortunately took off as soon as they realized someone was home.

You may not want to interact with everyone who rings your doorbell or knocks on your door, but you might want to do something to let them know you’re there for the sake of your own safety.

Also, worth mentioning: the lady told the man “Normally no one would be home all day.” This is information you never, ever, ever want to tell a stranger! Even if the person you tell this to has no bad intentions, he may innocently tell someone who does have bad intentions.

Finally: when you have any activity going on outside your home, anything that you don’t immediately understand or that seems strange, your best move is to call the police immediately. If the person is on the up-and-up, there will be no problem. But if they aren’t on the up-and-up, the knowledge that someone in the neighborhood is watchful enough to call the police may spook them enough to scare them away. If you’re alone and you have any reason at all to believe that there’s something wrong, you’re safer calling the police than confronting the person yourself. It literally only takes seconds for someone with bad intentions to overpower a householder who is alone and not prepared for an attack.

I know this isn’t exactly etiquette, but I believe it’s worth mentioning the safety issues.


patty September 27, 2010 at 9:36 pm

The OP states that it is a high crime area and she doesn’t open the door to strangers. Then upon hearing the water running she goes out to confront the man. He could have been a dangerous person, just because he works for the bug company is no guarantee that he is an upstanding citizen. She is lucky he wasn’t a rapist or murderer. It was just him and her, the neighbors weren’t home. She should have opened a window and called out to him that he was tresspassing and to shut the water off and leave imediately. Calling the husband and the company was a good idea.


Dear! September 27, 2010 at 10:19 pm

This is a tough one. Being in a country where water was super expensive, my water bill was $300 for one month for two people, I can understand the OP’s distress. What the worker did was inconsiderate and rude, but it’s a situation where alot of people might have forgotten their manners given a fear of not getting the job done. Seeing that she dealt with the situation and then she gave her permission, I think it was overkill to call the company. This could have cost the worker his job. Usually, being caught would discourage the worker from doing it again. I would have been p/oed that the guy did it, but if it was only a one time thing for a few minutes I would have let it slide with a telling the worker not to do it again.


Ashlee September 27, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Call the company and complain. If the person on the phone is apologetic and agrees that stealing water should not be part of their business model, accept the apology and drop it. If the company has the same attitude as this one employee, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to call the local news crew and let them know what went on. I would definitely want to know about this if I lived in the OP’s neighborhood!


lkb September 28, 2010 at 5:22 am

@Cat Whisperer: I agree with you 100% that the OP should not have said noone is usually home during the day. Now that she has done so, I think I’d be inclined to be extra watchful over the next few weeks or months.

Also, I rather wonder if this employee has been doing the same thing for months. Exactly how much water has the OP had to pay for that was actually used by this exterminator and his company? And, how much water was used each and every time? If they’re gone during the day, they’ll never know. So, yes, I do think it was right to call the company.


crella September 28, 2010 at 6:48 am

Giles, we have the same problem with our driveway. I go out to find cars parked in it quite often, sometimes blocking me from leaving. I’m really tired of people saying things like ‘It was only for a few minutes’ or ‘Oh, were you going out?’ What part of the driveway being my property do they not ‘get’? The road is asphalt, my driveway is stone…my name is out there on the gate….how hard is it to understand? I’m sure they’d be really upset if I went and parked in their front yards.


badkitty September 28, 2010 at 8:00 am

Since he was taking something, “due diligence” only applies if it’s an actual emergency, which this was not. If he was getting paid by the neighbors, he should have been using their water, even if he needed to borrow your hose. As others have pointed out, would he have used that logic to borrow your car? Your child? Your barbecue? I would probably have done just what you did, right up until he pointed out that he thought the dog barking would have woken me up: he thought it was acceptable to wake a stranger to borrow a hose and steal water? Nope, sorry, anybody so rude as to decide that whatever you’re doing should be interrupted for his lack of preparedness doesn’t get to take anything from me.

(I might have shut the water off before going to talk to him, but that’s mostly because we already pay an outrageous water bill here and I people have been known to steal from their neighbors so they don’t have to pay to water their own lawns.)


Princesssimmi September 28, 2010 at 8:27 am

The cat whisperer: I agree also. I’ve made a habit of coming and going at all hours of the day and night, sometimes I leave my car here when I go out and sometimes I park around the corner when I’m home. I also often leave a light on for the cats. As a single white female living in an area mainly of single (and creepy) men I try not to let them know what I’m doing at any given time. It’s bad enough my neighbours know where I live and the car I drive.


AS September 28, 2010 at 9:28 am

@Giles and Crella: isn’t it possible to call the police and get the intruder’s cars towed? Especially in the case of Giles’s neighbours who park them there all winter (and a few friendly warnings don’t work). I live in a rented apartment complex, and no one is allowed to park there without parking permit (tenants or guest permits) after 10PM and until 7AM. Can the same thing be done with house that you own?

@Shredder and Really?: I am surprised that you don’t see anything wrong with a man just take water from OP’s house. It is not that the OP wasn’t nice about letting him fill up his tank! (As some people pointed out, the tank must have been several gallons too!). This man just came and helped himself to the water, which is nothing but stealing.

@OP: I am glad you and your husband stood the ground and told the exterminators exactly what you thought about the situation. I hope he learns something from it. Luckily, he just seems to be dumb, entitled and uninformed about basic courtesy, and not viscous.


Kai September 28, 2010 at 9:46 am

Am I the only one who may have read more into the tresspassing? The OP said that she looked out the kitchen window and saw the hose running along the side of the house to the front. To me, that sounds as if the man has walked into her backyard to find her hose. Maybe I’m wrong, but the comment about it being along the house to the front, as well as most kitchens being in the middle or back of the house makes it sounds that way.

I’d like to know if that is the case, but even if the hose was sitting in her front yard, theft is theft. To the posters there whinging about how selfish and ignorant the OP is, I’m sure you would feel differently if it was done to you. It is theft, pure and simple.

I think the OP was far too nice. If it had been me, and the guy had actually asked, I would have allowed him depending on how much he needed (bearing in mind, filling a tank on a truck could be a LOT). But if he had not asked me (irrelevant that the OP didn’t answer the door. If she hadn’t been home, the result would have been the same, no answer so use it anyway), and I caught him, I would have turned the water off, taken my hose back and ordered him to move his vehicle before I called a tow truck.

Due diligence? Bull.


Lynne September 28, 2010 at 10:02 am


In addition to acting completely unprofessionally, what the worker did was theft. If he did lose his job, it would not have been unreasonable. The OP is under no obligation to promote the job security of strangers. He should have realized how inappropriate his actions and justifications were. If he didn’t, that needed to be impressed upon him.


LovleAnjel September 28, 2010 at 10:27 am


It may be time to invest in a gate locked by a numeric code. You type in the key pad & it opens for you, then closes and relocks. With that level of irritation I would have chained off my driveway with a padlock or crime scene tape.


The Cat Whisperer September 28, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Princessimmi, we were victims of a burglary some years back and this really sensitized us to some of the security issues.

I retired a little over a year ago, and now that I’m home most of the day, I am ASTOUNDED at some of what I see going on. In our neighborhood, it’s not uncommon for the gardeners who have contracts with some of the neighbors to leave their cards by the front doors, but I’ve found out that a lot of them will also go poking around in the back yards if they think nobody’s home!

We also had a homeless lady who would go into people’s back yards or side yards to dig through the trash cans looking for recyclables. She would go all the way to the very back fence and poke around behind garages if she thought no one was home.

In our city, we separate our recyclables from the trash and they go out in separate bins to the curb. On trash collection day there are many people who go out before the trash collectors come to take the aluminum cans and redeemable bottles out, and I’ve seen some of these people go into yards if they think nobody’s watching.

And of course there are the people who go door-to-door leaving flyers and ads for everything from real estate agents to pizza delivery.

While most of these people are honest and have no bad intentions, it isn’t a good idea to take chances. And of course if the pass along the information that in such-and-such neighborhood during weekdays, almost nobody is home, it can lead to break-ins.

Your first line of defense against people breaking in is to let them know that you regard intrusions on your property as exactly that: intrusions. As someone else observed, in the specific situation this OP brought up, the default when someone knocks on your door and nobody answers isn’t that it’s okay to come onto the property and turn on your water, or do whatever they want to do; the correct default is when someone knocks on your door and nobody answers, they go away! Anyone who doesn’t respect that convention should be regarded as having bad intentions and you do not owe then courtesy, you need to start thinking of your safety and act accordingly.


Hellbound Alleee September 28, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Uh, yeah. No one answers, that’s a clear indication that anyone can take anything from your yard that they want. Gee, why didn’t I already know that?

And what’s with this “your dog was barking” excuse? I don’t know how that’s relevant. That guy should be fired.


I Don't Know September 28, 2010 at 3:32 pm

My question is: After being caught why did he not ask for the hose to use at the house he was servicing instead of asking to continue using her water?

I do not always answer the door when I am home alone either so her choice not to answer the door was just that- her choice. She is under no obligation to answer the door.

As for people who say it was only a little water. Depending on the type of bug service we could be talking about a ten gallon tank (which I know for a fact will fit under an outside faucet) or one of those tanks that is somewhere near 50+ gallons. I would not want to pay that bill.


Goldie September 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm

If I was a business owner/manager and I found out that one of my employees barges onto random people’s property and helps themselves to their stuff, while on the job, I’d be horrified. Not only does he give the company a bad name, but, as the OP said, this is a bad neighborhood. He doesn’t know whether the owner is home, is armed, is unstable… he could get himself shot one day. Extremely unprofessional and dangerous! I think the OP’s husband was absolutely right to call the company with a complaint. Better put an end to this before this guy gets himself and others in a world of real trouble.


Merriweather September 28, 2010 at 11:17 pm

For those who don’t see a problem with the man helping himself to “a little water” without permission, consider these scenarios:

Landscaper takes water from client’s neighbor’s yard hose without permission, takes 20 – 50 gallons of water.
Contractor plugs his power tools into client’s neighbor’s deck outdoor outlet without permission, uses several hours of electricity.
Realtor picks apples from client’s neighbor’s backyard apple trees, filling a couple of grocery totes full.
Workman syphons gas from client’s neighbor’s second car sitting in driveway, taking a few gallons.

All are examples of going onto private property belonging to a non-client, and taking something belonging to that person without permission. The only difference is the value of what was taken. If you object to some because of the value of what is taken, then you must believe that theft is ok, as long as it is below a certain dollar value. As far as I know, law may define petty theft and grand theft, but I don’t recall hearing of “acceptable” theft.


patty September 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm

You know, it occurs to me that perhaps the neighbors shut off the outdoor spigot so the guy would not run up THEIR water bill filling his truck. They are paying for a service, if he has a water tank on the truck shouldn’t he fill it at the company before coming out?


Michelle P September 29, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Amen @Wink-n-Smile. You hit the nail right on the nailhead. OP, you handled that better than I would have. It’s irrelevant that it was just water or just a hose. No one has the right to come onto your property and use anything without your express permission. Being “courteous” does not extend to presumptous strangers. I’m all for manners, but he didn’t give her the chance to be polite.

I had a similar experience: I called around (endlessly) looking for a company to cut our grass when I was pregnant and my husband was in Iraq. I finally found someone. He came out and I just didn’t care for his work. He was late, the price was higher than he quoted over the phone, and I couldn’t get rid of him when they were done. He stood in my kitchen talking until I finally had to tell him I had to go and walk out the door. The final straw was when I commented that my back was hurting because of my pregnancy, (he asked why I was holding my back). He then said, “I thought your husband was in Iraq?” !!! I was so flustered I didn’t know what to say. I did calmly state that I was eight months pregnant and my husband had been gone six weeks. Anyway, I wrote him a check and told him goodbye. We had NO contract of any kind, written or verbal, that he would cut my grass again. A few weeks later, I pulled up in my driveway and he was there, with his equipment and two workers, having jsut cut the grass, without my being home, my permission, nothing. I hadn’t spoken to him since he was there the first time. I asked him why he had serviced my lawn when I had not asked him nor contracted with him to do so. He said something along the lines of, “well, just in the neighborhood, saw it needed it , so I took the liberty of cutting it.” I told him that I didn’t have the money to pay him right then, which was true. I was tempted to tell him I didn’t feel like “taking the liberty” of paying him for services I didn’t ask for. I was so flustered I jsut wrote him a check, and told him I was postdating it. Never saw him again.


Enna September 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I would complain to the compnay and also tell the man to leave – also I would have a word with the neighbour as to what happened – if the neighbour had allowed the extermiator to use it or the neighbour didn’t stop the exterminator form using it then tactfully point out to the nighbour that this is stealing.

The only time that not asking permission is okay is if it is an emergancy for example if something was dangerously hot and needed a quick short jet of water or on fire (non electical) then that would be different.


RedStick September 30, 2010 at 8:15 am

We do not pay for our water as we are on a well. However, we share a very shallow water table with several other very close people. Conservancy is critical.

Wells and septic systems cost money to maintain, especially older systems. We have spent $2,400 on our system and are looking at spending $10,000 more.

OP, you handled it well under the circumstances. He and his entire company are just wrong.


Rita October 6, 2010 at 1:23 am

In Texas we can SHOOT trespassers… and that’s what this guy needs. Call his boss, report him, and send them a bill for your water THEFT. “Uh, no one answered the door so I took your lawn furniture, mailbox post, and potted flowers…. but I rang the bell first.” Uh-huh….. ?

It is trespassing and theft and should be handled as such!


LMVattimo November 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm

@Really?: As someone who pays utility costs, I can assure you that he stole more than $0.50, and you seem to have entirely missed the point of this entry. It doesn’t matter how much he took, he took something that didn’t belong to him, without the consent of the owner. That is the definition of stealing.


Me January 8, 2011 at 5:45 am

No matter how little the expense of the water, I would have immediately called the police about someone trespassing on my property, taking my hose and stealing my resources. There is simply no excuse for it and theft is theft no matter what the value.

For all the OP knew, the guy could have been planning to take the hose, to fill a swimming pool on her dime, to pose as a fake bug service with the intent of robbing her, any number of things.

I value my privacy so much that just having some obnoxious stranger ringing my door bell would annoy me.


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