Snowed In

by admin on February 10, 2011

My story is short and frustrating. I recently moved into a new house in the East Coast and the neighbors seem to be decent.

Up until the snow starts.  The “kids” of my neighbors decided to shovel the driveway after a snow storm. These “kids” are in their mid 20′s and in college and decided the best place for their snow was in my yard, ACROSS the street. Usually its the two boys and their girlfriends or other friends dumping it.

It was annoying and I thought it was a one time thing, but I was wrong.

This year we are getting slammed with snow and as of today’s date we have at least 40 inches of snow on the ground, with another 8 inches expected. Growing up in the midwest I was always careful to make sure I could see out of my driveway and take great care in ensuring my safety.

Again these kids decided to pile their snow in my yard. At the first snow storm as soon as they saw I was out shoveling my driveway, they stopped. This time, they didn’t, I asked them to stop putting their snow in my yard expressing the safety concern. They looked at me like I had 8 heads, took one shovel load and put it in their yard, and then back to dumping in my yard again, even while I was out there.

I understand they are frustrated and don’t have any place to put their snow, but I’m frustrated that they think that my yard is a dumping place for their snow.

I’m trying not to be the crabby new neighbor, but this is getting to the point of insanity. I’ve thought about putting up a snowman with a sign saying No DUMPING, but I don’t think that would help.

Now let me note the first time the father was out helping them shovel snow and didn’t say anything to them putting it in my yard, but since then it’s only been the boys. Also, they have plenty of room on in their yard, if they walked 2 steps over, it’s just easier to walk across the street and dump.

I’m at the edge and after asking them to stop politely several times, I’m really tempted to go out with a shovel and put it all back at the end of their driveway. 0128-11

{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }

karmarat February 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I have to speak up here, and advise the OP that calling the cops would be ill-advised. The police, as a rule, do not handle civil issues such as neighbor disputes.

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Aje February 10, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I agree with Michelle P. It’s better to have neighbors that you can trust, and after all, winter doesn’t last forever. Your life will be easier in general if you can get along with the rascals.

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winter February 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm

If the neighbors were being incredibly rude by taking their snow and dumping into the neighbor’s yard, there should be no problem with the neighbor saying stop it.

So, I can only surmise this is not the total story, because it really doesn’t make much sense.

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WithMyEyesOpen February 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm

OP, please, grow a spine! It is your yard, you told them to stop and they did not respect you. What else you need? I understand it´s snow and it melts, but would you also silently suffer, if they start dumping actual trash into your yard?

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Dorothy February 10, 2011 at 5:26 pm

It would be interesting to have a follow-up on this situation to know what eventually happens!

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Sharon February 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm

@ mmaire and JustLaura:
Think of it this way… if I had a water hose that I could not turn all the way off and I didn’t want to deal with the mess it would cause on MY lawn, sooooo, I took my water hose and let it run in YOUR yard instead making a gooey muddy mess of your yard and with the potential of flooding your home?
You ask me to move it. I move it for a while, but while you are still outside, I move it back on your yard and it continues to leak water on your property.
You would not be offended? Really?
This is the same thing, if not worse. All that snow is a LOT of water. That water has to go somewhere when it melts.
This is a major issue for our friends who live with snowy winters. I live in Texas, I don’t have to deal with it. My son lives in Pennsylvania and he does.
To me, I don’t care if it is “just snow”, I would no more do this than I would take my trash and pile it up on a neighbor’s lawn.
The fact that the OP said something and they stopped and then started right up again while she was till outside was thumbing their nose in someone’s face.

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Maitri February 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Get a big, loud, dog? :)

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Tori February 10, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Get a fence. Seems like more work for no real reason to me.

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kingshearte February 10, 2011 at 7:10 pm

OK, I have to admit that aside from safety and/or flooding concerns, honestly, it’s just the principle of the thing. To just assume that it’s OK to dump stuff (anything, really) onto someone else’s property without asking is baffling to me. And to continue doing it after you’ve been asked to stop? No excuse whatsoever.

That said, they are your neighbours, and it really does make life more pleasant when you’re on good terms with your neighbours. So while I would keep lawyers and police in mind, I’d try very hard to avoid having to go that route. Cookies and a hopefully pleasant conversation definitely sound like a good first step, and only escalate to legal action if you get no results from a frank discussion.

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TTFK February 10, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Walking ACROSS the street to dump it?

This story smells bad right from the start. It is clear we’re only hearing one side of things, and likely a very slanted version at that. The real stinker in this tale is that the OP claims they were clearing THEIR driveway, ACROSS the street from her yard, yet THEIR yard was mysteriously two steps farther away than HERS?

The more I think about it, the more I think that the OP is not only lying, but that they probably did at least three separate things to piss off their neighbors before this alleged incident.

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Just Laura February 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Sharon,
As I said I couldn’t find any legal reason that they couldn’t do this except for one town in Indiana. I also said that I stand corrected if the OP has a legal leg to stand on. It’s not the same as a hose in the yard, because that’s presuming I don’t already have a hose filling the yard. She already has snow in her yard that will melt. Now, if they are truly blocking her driveway and any other path of egress (sidewalks, etc) then she can probably do something about it in civil court – and I would encourage it! I do agree that it’s rude to keep doing something after someone has asked that it stop.

In my life I’ve had neighbors blow snow onto my convertible car, I’ve had neighbors who threw late weeknight parties, I’ve had neighbors call the police on me for something another neighbor did (that annoyed the cops), and I’ve had neighbors who were drug dealers. Some people throwing snow in a yard that already has snow? It’s happened to me, and I didn’t care that much. There are worse things in the world a neighbor could be doing.

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Rug Pilot February 11, 2011 at 1:08 am

Sounds like vandalism to me. But then my neighbors dump vomit on my cars and dirty baby diapers in my yard as well as whatever else should be flushed down a toilet or garbage disposal.

You might try returning the snow saying that it was mistakenly left on your yard and you are sure they would want it back.

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jen February 11, 2011 at 5:38 am

I don’t get it – you’re mad because some kids are lifting a huge amount of snow across the road and dumping it on your lawn. Like earlier posters, I really don’t get why they’re going through the effort. Are they sending some kind of passive-aggressive message? Or was there some kind of complicated agreement with the previous owner of your house, and they’ve always done it this way? If I take this story completely at face value, then I agree with an earlier poster. Go over with cookies, ask them to stop, explain why, and wait and see. If they keep doing it, get out there and stop them in their tracks. That’s if it really bothers you to have snow in your yard.

Calling the police? Serving legal letters? If you did that where I live, you’d look like a lunatic. Who wants that kind of hassle?

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TTFK is a troll February 11, 2011 at 6:13 am

Where did you get the idea that the OP must have offended the neighbors at least 3 times? Your comment is by far the rudest I’ve ever read on this site.

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bookworm February 11, 2011 at 9:34 am

@Karmarat: They may not be able to handle civil disputes on their own, but they can provide support to the OP when she has to approach her neighbors and ask them to stop dumping in her yard. It may not be what they were trained to do, but their job is still to ensure the safety of citizens.

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crystakay February 11, 2011 at 9:49 am

I think that if they continue with the ‘snow deliveries’ after a direct but friendly neighborly chat, there isn’t much you can do for the remainder of this year. However, this spring some landscaping involving a tall fence or tall evergreens, making your yard an inconvenient place to throw snow- may be a good investment. As for the water in the basement, try digging snow out around the foundation and sandbagging before the thaw. Good luck!

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Jen February 11, 2011 at 11:05 am

TTFK – In the town where I work, there are some bizarre driveway configurations as the properties are very old and weren’t originally designed to have a traditional driveway set up. This situation isn’t common, but it’s certainly possible. There could also be features of the landscape which would make piling snow in the yard difficult, such as retaining walls.
Calling the OP a liar and accusing her of instigating the incident is inappropriate.

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Hal February 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm

It costs about $80-$100 to hire a man to remove the snow from the average suburban type driveway and walk. This is what your neighbors would pay to have their area cleared. Document with photos the placing of the snow on your property. Video it, too. Then sue in civil court. Have quotes from snow removal people under their letterhead. I believe a judge will be very much on your side. This is a violation on you in several ways. Don’t be timid! We want you to win!

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phoenix February 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Wow, people are so quick to call OP’s liars these days. Um, yes, it an OFTEN be easier to deposit snow across the street. Think about how you shovel snow- often, you are scraping the ground while pushing forward. The driveway is flat, the street is flat, so keep pushing and you’re pushing it up against your neighbors yard pretty quick. Depending on how driveways are oriented (not all neighborhoods are straight line roads with evenly spaced driveways) and it can be a lot easier to just build a wall of snow on the edge of a neighbors lawn.

To pick snow up of your own driveway, lift it over the edge difference between unshoveled yard and shoveled driveway, then dump it, is actually far more physically taxing.

It’s the same reason a lot of people (not the nice ones) will sweep their driveway after mowing and just sweep it directly into the street. It’s easier.

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TheOtherAmber February 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Why would they dump it in OP’s yard rather than their own if it’s further away? Simple – when that much snow melts it’s going to be a real problem, and they’d rather someone else deal with it.

Right now where I live we’ve already been told to brace for the worst flooding in over 100 years because of all the snow. The government has advised us to cancel spring travel plans and prepare for evacuations. The snow beside my driveway is taller than my car. Am I worried about spring flooding and my basement? You bet. Would clearing the snow out of my yard and dumping it somewhere else lessen my chances of my basement flooding? Of course. Am I going to saddle one of my neighbours with that headache? Of course not. But some people aren’t as courteous and really just care about their own property.

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Bea February 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm

From the OP’s update, I think that the neighbor’s basement also floods due to the melting snow, and the father has instructed his sons to dump it across the street. Maybe they always did this, I would ask other neighbors.
It would be a shame to have to get police and lawyers involved.

Definitely shovel it back into his yard. (invest in a snowblower or hire some young boys from the neighborhood). You could approach him first and ask him directly not to. Tell him you’re not sure if he’s aware, but some of these houses flood, etc., and I’m sure he doesn’t want to be responsible for your pumping and repairs.

Also, consider writing to your local newspaper – people do read it. My uncle was in a similar situation, and he wrote generally that he was bothered by this unlawful/costly/dangerous activity. The offending neighbor wrote a reply to the newspaper i.e. I should be allowed to [put my snow anywhere I like]. In response the editor cut him down – no you can’t.

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Drunkenatheist February 12, 2011 at 1:50 am

Woah. What is with all the passive-aggressive responses? Calling the cops or sending a cease and desist letter (ROFL) is a great way to ensure that you will be miserable until you/your neighbors move or you/your neighbors die. Same goes for writing a letter to the newspaper.

“…I asked them to stop putting their snow….”

I think that’s the problem. You need to open your mouth, express your issue and your desired solution in a CLEAR DECLARATIVE statement, and accept that you may have to learn to live with it. (Yes, regardless of legality, just deal with it and remember that you could have it significantly worse.)

To be honest, I had to re-read your letter several times just to get the timeline of events straight. Judging from your letter (both the content and the lack of clarity), I really have to wonder if they honestly don’t realize that their snow on your yard is causing you such duress. You can’t be angry or resentful with them if you have not made your grievance 100% clear. They may honestly not know or realize that it’s such a problem for you, especially if you have been asking them. For all you know, they might think that you only want them to keep the snow off your yard if it’s convenient for them to do so.

Sit down and talk with your neighbors. You won’t know if they’re being malicious or oblivious until you actually speak with them on a sunny day (when they aren’t as likely to be concerned with getting home ASAP).

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Shayna February 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm

@Drunkenathiest – Yes, I agree that the OP needs to be very clear to the neighbours that they cannot dump their snow in her yard. However, she should not “…accept that you may have to learn to live with it…” as you say. Why? Because once that snow melts, it could cost thousands of dollars worth of damage to her home. That is unacceptable.

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GroceryGirl February 13, 2011 at 1:06 am

I can’t say revenge will make life any easier for you. But this guy went for it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5bMuPTk50E

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The Other Me February 13, 2011 at 2:24 am

I don’t know, “Don’t dump snow on my yard,” seems pretty CLEAR and DECLARATIVE to me.

Bottom line – it’s the OP’s property and nobody has any right to put anything on it without her permission.

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Enna February 13, 2011 at 9:42 am

Snow melts and goes away but where? It could cause damage the OP’s house/garden plus it is rude to dump things on other people’s property. The OP should be nice and frim, cookies sound a good idea and bring the safety issue up – you don’t want your house to flood or the snow to melt then refreeze and casue your garden to get icy and dangerous for you and others such as Great Aunty Doris who has had two hip replacemnets. Also maybe put a fence up? You could get a fence which only a couple of feet high and that way if they still do it they have to go over an obvious boundary. If they pile the snow up against the fence then that could damage the fence or block the pathway.

I live in a terrace house and it is in the second house into the terrace. The ppl on our left were complaining about our bushes in our front garden being too high and blocking out the sun to their living 1) the bushes are not 6foot down the garden, they are at various heights and the tallest is barely 5foot tall, plus the plants are not thick bushes, plenthy of light can get through. 2) What was blocking light was the ppl who live in the house on our right (semidetachted) did have thick tall fir trees that blocked out light (they have been cut down now so we get more light too) 3) as well as the trees on the green infront of the house 4) the house next to the complainers is several feet infront of their’s so it blocks out even more light 5) they have a seperate lounge/kitchen dinner so the sunlight that mainly comes through the back of the hosue is blocked off from the living room. 6) they even tried complaining to the council about the bushes (when there was an application to build another house on a green nearby to us we spoke to council and the lady siad she had spoken to the ppl next door).
It blew over in the end.

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karma February 13, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I have to interject: I really, really hate when people suggest carrying cookies to deliver negative communications.
That’s flat out insulting if you ask me. It implies that the person is so stupid that a pseudo-gift will hush them up like a child or a puppy. For REAL?
Wait. You never brought cookies before, but today of all days when you have an unpopular request, you suddenly felt the urge to be generous?
Pardon, but anyone with half a mind could see right through that bribe/ruse. I’d rather someone just ask me for what they want or don’t want than assume I was such a slave to scooby snaks that I’d roll over for a plate of treats.

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JS February 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Here’s a question: If OP was a man, would anyone be suggesting that OP bring over cookies when asking the neighbors to stop dumping snow on OP’s lawn?

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TheOtherAmber February 13, 2011 at 11:07 pm

I have to agree with Karma, never take over a gift with negative communications. For one thing it just confuses the issue, also the recipients are just going to associate the gift with the negativity. If a neighbour did that with me and brought over cookies in a situation like this, even if I agreed to cooperate with the neighbour I still couldn’t bring myself to eat any of the cookies and would just end up throwing them out. I don’t like bribes.

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My Story February 14, 2011 at 8:45 am

Thanks for the comments everyone! I was fully prepared to back down if I was over-reacting.

To clear up a few questions that were asked:

1. My neighbors have a small drive way that fits 4 cars. One side is a very high retaining wall, so in order for them to toss the snow to their yard, they have to go over the width of 2 cars or throw it up about 8 feet. Which is most likely the reason it’s easier to shovel it from garage to street to my yard. (I assume)

2. The end of their driveway meets the otherside of my yard, we both have about a 1/2 acre of yard. So the neighbors complaint of “no where to put it” meant no where to put it right next to their driveway. They could put it in their yard if they walked over 2 steps to the right or left.

3. My immediate next door neighbor throws snow in my yard too when he is shoveling, but it is because our driveways are so close together. That doesn’t bother me as it’s kind of par for the course. He also cuts down the sides so we can both see. It’s also not malicious, I promise I’m not running around freaking out over a few snow flakes.

4. I used asked and told interchangable, so even after I told the kids to knock it off (with father present) they continued.

5. Aftermath, I did talk to the father on a day it wasn’t snowing. Explained to him the reasons that he couldn’t use my yard as a dumping ground. He argued and said it was only snow, I finally put my foot down and told him it was not an option. “I understand you feel you don’t have a place to put your snow, however I don’t have a place to put your snow either.” He then said sorry and they would cease. So far it’s worked, but we’ll have to see if we get another snow storm.

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Harley Granny February 14, 2011 at 9:12 am

Ok…I’m late to this party but I feel I have to chime it.

Ditch the cookies…go over when you know the parents are home and act as bemused as you are.
Tell them you noticed the snow being shoveled into your yard and ask them if there is a reason for it.
Be sure to mention that you had asked the kids the year before not to do this.
LISTEN to what they have to say and then reply something along the lines of “OK…I understand but when you do that it blocks my line a vision for my driveway and creates extra water seeping into my basement.”
Explain that they need to find an alternative. I bet you that this will work….you don’t need to be passive agressive at all.
If you act like a jerk you’re going to be treated like a jerk. You might need those neighbor’s help one day and if you start out on the wrong foot then they won’t be there for you.

Now if being an adult about it doesn’t work….next year we’ll help you rent a snowblower to put it all back in their yard.

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Caper February 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Count me on on the “forget the cookies” train. I honestly don’t see why it’s thought to be okay to bring over cookies to deliver bad news, if any news ? If a neighbor brought me cookies, they’d go to waste and be thrown in the green bin. I think it would just make the situation 10x more awkward.

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lkb February 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I see some people were upset about my suggestion about a plate of cookies.
I only meant it as a “Hi. I’m new to the area. I’d like to break the ice a little [pun not intended]. I’ve never really had a chance to meet you before and I’m sorry that it has to be over something a bit difficult. I’m really not a witch.”
It never occurred to me that a plate of cookies would offend anyone (they wouldn’t offend me — especially chocolate chip!). Sometimes you really can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, IMHO, but I guess that’s just me.

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kingshearte February 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I think the cookie thing is not so much supposed to be a bribe or anything like that, but rather an attempt to mitigate the I’m-coming-over-to-bitch vibe. The hope is that it comes across as a friendly enough gesture to open a dialogue rather than just show up, issue some kind of demand or ultimatum, and leave.

That said, cookies out of the blue from a neighbour who’s never shared such things before? Yeah, I guess that could come across a little weird. I’m trying to imagine how I would react if my neighbours came over to discuss some issue and brought cookies. Not sure, but I can see both sides.

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lkb February 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I should also have said that I never intended the cookies as a bribe or expect that people who “roll over” for “scooby snacks” as one poster said.
I meant it more as an ice breaker. Is there anything wrong with trying to diffuse a tense situation with a kindness? That’s all that was intended with my suggestion.
Going home now to bake something — for me this time.

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JS February 14, 2011 at 11:35 pm

lkb–don’t worry, I certainly wasn’t offended by the cookie suggestion. I just suppose I don’t see it as helpful. And I do think there are situations where it’s not helpful to diffuse a tense situation with kindness. Tension should not always be diffused. It is not OP’s job to make her neighbors comfortable in this situation. Don’t get me wrong–it’s not her job to make them unduly uncomfortable, but when you’re telling someone they’ve crossed a line, they *should* feel uncomfortable. Otherwise, it doesn’t work.

In this situation, I think OP needed to stand up for herself, and coming over with cookies would, IMO, undermine that. I also think this culture is particularly uncomfortable with the idea of women asserting themselves–we need to “soften” it and “downplay” it, so we smile when we say “no,” or we apologize before standing up for ourselves. Or we feel the need to “sweeten” a situation where we are standing up for our property rights with cookies. That’s why I asked whether a man would be expected to diffuse the tense situation with cookies. I really don’t think he would.

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M February 15, 2011 at 9:55 am

Thanks for the updates, OP.

I like your very logical argument that you don’t have anywhere to put the neighbor’s snow either.
I wonder at the intelligence you are dealing with too. It may be snow now, but will change into water and water naturally goes downhill-always. I hope the neighbor is really just ignorant instead of selectively forgetful about what happens to snow every spring.

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Wink-n-Smile February 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Go over with a plate of cookies and a smile, and cheerfully explain the safety/flooding issue to them. At the end of the visit, give them a paper with an estimate of the costs involved in cleaning up a flooded basement, plus pay for your time, as well as replacement value for all items in the basement, and tell them that if the basement floods due to their snow dumping, they can expect a bill for that amount. And, of course, they’ll be in charge of paying the auto insurance deductible, and health insurance deductible, if you should have an accident pulling out of your driveway. Be sure to hand over the estimates with a smile!

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Kennedar February 15, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I read all the responses, and I am very happy that this was dealt with and everyone is happy. I have to say though that you are lucky you do not live here (Alberta, Canada). In my entire life, I can not remember ever being able to see out the end of the driveway during winter time. Its just the way it is here, not anyones fault. In Edmonton I have been told that the snow banks are taller than most people, my parents could not find a spot to park their car because the snow banks are so wide. Tall snowbanks are a fact of life when you live in a cold climate, everyone does the best they can to make the best of a bad situation!

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Enna February 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm

With cookies I think it depends on the situation. Doesn’t matter if it is a woman or a man could go over with cookies in the aim of “we need to discuss an issue but I do NOT want it to turn into a fight.” It’s trying to make a possible conflict neutral. The OP managed to use logic to defuse the situation. Saying that I could imagine cookies wouldn’t work in all situations.

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N. Thompson December 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I feel your pain. I live across from a business with a parking lot. They have suddenly decided that the best place to push the snow from their lot is onto my back lawn (which is the ONLY place to put the snow from my double driveway), pushing it far in against the trees. They’ve already damaged a lilac and a cedar bush. I’ve written a polite letter requesting that they cease and desist, and hope that they will be respectful enough to abide by my wishes, but I was almost in tears today, filled with frustration and a terrible feeling of helplessness, and it is going to be a long winter ahead!

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