A Rocky Dilemma

by admin on September 9, 2015

Good day fellow e-hell’ers. I’m writing because a family altercation has gone even further downhill, and although it’s probably not really an etiquette issue, I think I may have inadvertently made the situation worse, and I’m not sure if there’s anything I can or should do now but pretend nothing is going on.

I married into a family 10 years ago that, for the most part, gets along very well. I had to sever ties with my own biological family years ago for relatively severe dysfunction, so it was wonderful (and very awkward at first) to attend actual family reunions… where people liked being with each other, laughed and talked with each other. Amazing.

So when some nastiness came up between my hubby, B, and one of his nephews, J, my dysfunction-developed ‘survival-mode’ default kicked in which means I listen warily and then pretend afterwards that no nastiness ever happened. Some helpful info: 1) The local branch of this family lives in our little village of about 100 people. They include B’s parents (who don’t play in this story), B’s sister, C, and J who is C’s son. 2) B does a lot of work at C’s very-mini-ranch (divorce many years ago) which she repays in baked goods sometimes, as well as a lot of landscaping work for the village. 3) B is an elected trustee of this village, which you’ll see is important shortly.

This began late last winter, January maybe, when J called to talk to B about some alley rock that leads into his driveway. There was a 15 ton load tailgated down this alley that very week, and J was calling to ask if there would be more brought soon. B was aghast, as 15 tons for that stretch of alley was quite a lot. J then admitted that he and one of his friends had raked off a great deal of it onto their driveway, and he said ‘I think that we might have taken too much.’ B informed him that he has essentially stolen from the village, and he didn’t know when any more rock would be brought in. B steadily got louder and louder, and the phone call concluded with some F-bombs and hanging up, which I witnessed from my unhappy perch on the couch.

B informed our village president who thankfully found some humor in the situation and, recognizing that J would, of course, not be doing what he did again, said that the alleys would be re-rocked in the next year or so anyway. Time passes, Easter and other family get-togethers were awkward between B and J since that time, and B’s mom has been especially vocal about ironing over the disagreement. C and I have had an especially close relationship since B and I started dating over 15 years or so ago, and I’m thankful to report that nothing has changed since then, but since yesterday it’s become even a little tense between us for reasons you’ll learn in a moment.

Yesterday, C had a load of hay brought in for her ponies, and traditionally friends and family who are available would come over to help load the bales into her barn. I decided to opt out this time as the temperatures were horrible and I had a headache to boot. B walks over and J is also there. B calls J down from the high trailer and attempts to make amends for his behavior on the phone all those months ago, saying that he should not have said the things he did. J believes the issue was B’s opinion of him being a thief and a liar, and so he would not accept B’s apology. The interaction deteriorated badly, apparently involving some smarmy comment from J, that B became enraged to the point he doesn’t remember specifics. C had arrived on the scene at some point and intervened fearing B may swing on J. B swore never to have anything to do with J again, and departed.

This morning, C and I had planned to go do some shopping. She was not sure if she should get into my truck, thinking bad feelings had migrated to me. She discussed everything while I drove, though, sadly, I am never really confident in the veracity of her storytelling as people at her work are virtually always ‘screaming’ and swearing and/or acting in some other violent manner, since she works at a hospital. Maybe they really do, I have no idea. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, C sides with her son J, who has somehow found justification in taking that rock all those months ago. C also lays blame for B’s rage behavior on a head injury he received in an accident in the late 80’s which resulted in a plate in his head, and a second one from a road rage incident a couple of years after we started dating when he was hit with a crowbar. (Note: I don’t want to portray this rage as ‘often’ or even ‘occasional’. It is extraordinarily rare. Also, he has never been, nor his he now, at all violent or aggressive with me. That would be the end.)

My mistake was relaying all this back to B. He didn’t really prod me for it, so I just gave him those highlights. There were things I even left out that would have made it even more horrible, like when C told me that she and J had a chuckle at B’s behavior after he left the encounter, remarking about brain damage and tried to carry on with their work. I gave up on getting any kind of pertinent detail once I remembered that C can’t give a cogent statement on actual events, and B doesn’t remember after the red rage hit him, but it really doesn’t matter anymore. I could even go and talk to J (not likely, even though we talk/wave at each other on the road when we see each other), but my gut, not to mention my ‘survival-mode default’, says it’s really not my business to be prying, and you guys will probably make sure I stay on that path.

I’ve mentioned that this will probably only be mended by a family intervention. B’s father is currently dying of cancer, so this disagreement is obviously going to take a back burner.

Let me have it folks. =( 0906-15

Before reading your seventh paragraph,I had already come to the conclusion that your husband, B, has a serious anger management problem.   Anytime someone gets so angry they cannot remember what occurred, this is not a trivial issue.    And B does this twice which means he lost control of both situations and nothing productive was accomplished.   By getting angry following an attempt to apologize, all your husband did was confirm to J that his apology was not sincere.

Further, B’s reaction to his nephew’s admission to having taken more alley rock than he should was overkill.   The response was not commensurate with the “crime”.   B failed to realize that J had taken the initiative to admit to taking more rock than he should have and that is actually an act of integrity.   Thieves, especially entitled ones, would never admit that and certainly not have taken the initiative to call the trustee of the village, your husband, and admitted to “taking more than he should”.    The calm, professional, and dare I say it, rational response to J’s phone call would have been to thank J for bringing this to B’s attention,  inform J that the alley rock was intended for a specific village purpose  and now there was likely not enough to accomplish that purpose and therefore could J please recommend a solution as to how he would rectify this deficiency since he was the one who created it.   Do you see how this conveys to J that his offense was not against B but rather the village?   That by taking too much rock that it hurts the village?  There are ways to communicate a message without directly spitting it out and had B done as I suggested, J himself would make his own conclusion that he had done something wrong that needed  restitution because J’s conscience was already tweaked leading him to confess without prompting.  I very much suspect that had J been treated professionally and civilly, he would have responded positively and taken the necessary steps to resolve the problem.

As the village trustee, your husband B does have an obligation to act in a manner that achieves the best results for the entire village and if the conversations occurred as you said, B appears to have lost sight of that.   He essentially made the issue about himself, as if J’s actions were a personal offense against him.   The end result is that the entire family suffers from the tension and drama of two men who are fighting over a load of rocks.    The only redemption I can see happening is if B completely owns his part of this conflict with no reference to what J did to justify himself and that includes a humble apology for calling J a thief.   Part of that apology is to verbally acknowledge to J that he does appreciate that J took the initiative to tell him about taking more alley rock than he should and that B should have given J more credit for that.     J won’t accept that first apology, he will no doubt reiterate his offense again and B’s only recourse is to agree that he should have never called his nephew a thief.  If  B will not display the leadership qualities necessary to end this tension, I think he will voted out as the trustee later.

 

{ 126 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracy P September 9, 2015 at 9:03 am

B should have just called the cops when the theft occurred. J stole the rock and even admitted to it. There isn’t a gray line there. He stole. If I lived in that village and learned that J stole and B knew about it but did nothing, I would be ticked. My taxes paid for that rock and B is letting his family benefit from that? I’d have no trust in that trustee.

Sounds like the OP moved from one dysfunctional family to another.

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admin September 9, 2015 at 9:13 am

I don’t think you understand the nature of the village. It is owned by the entire family of 100 members and is held in a trust of which the OPs husband is the trustee. You further failed to note that the village president did not view J’s action as an egregious crime against the village and he noted that there were plans to rock the alleys next year anyway. Further, had B provided a way for J to give restitution for the amount of rock he took, either by paying for it or going to get more himself, that would not have been B “doing nothing”.

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Mags September 9, 2015 at 11:01 am

Nowhere does it say that the village is owned entirely by the family. Is that information the OP provided to you but not in the letter?

Either way, I get a completely different impression from J’s actions and subsequent phone call. But then again, in my little community, there are people who are known to help themselves to whatever they want and expect others to replace it, and guilt is not something with which they are familiar.

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Emma September 9, 2015 at 11:39 am

Admin,

I think you should read the submission again. The village is not owned by “the family of 100 people.” The OP stated that the village has a population of 100 people and then listed the family that lives in the village. OP’s husband is an elected trustee. I believe in my town, it’s called the Board of Alderman. The rock was never supposed to be used for the nephew’s driveway. It wasn’t that he took “too much.” It was that he took any at all. He took rock that did not belong to him. If he wanted to gravel his driveway, he should have bought it himself. Maybe I’m sensitive because my husband is a city government employee, but I know 15 tons of rock would cost thousands of dollars.

Additionally, J was calling to see if “anymore rock would be brought in.” Why? So he could take more for his own driveway? Again, it wasn’t that he took too much, it was that he took any at all. None of the rock belonged to him or his driveway.

That said, OP’s husband could have handled it more calmly, but at the same time for an elected official that’s a big deal. An elected official’s nephew took rock that the city paid for and used it for his own personal use. It’s illegal, and could get the city in TONS of trouble. Not to mention, could cost B his job and livelihood. I’m willing to say B overreacted, but I’m not willing to let the nephew off. He stole. End of story. The rock was not his to use.

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tsukinon September 9, 2015 at 11:26 pm

I agree. This is really not aome trivial issue where someone was a tiny bit greedy. J took gravel that was intended for the road, not the driveway. This is a huge problem because what happens if everyone decides to take property paid for by the government? And if anyone is in doubt that this is a serious thing, there’s a federal investigation going on in my county and people have been served subpoenas over (you guessed it) gravel.

It also sounds like the family may be taking advantage of B’s position in government, which is another problem we have locally. I admire B for taking a hard line and telling J that he had stolen the rock because he had. He also put B in a really unfair position. Frankly, J should reimburse the village for the cost of rocks he stole.

B definitely has anger problems and needs to deal with them. If he has had head injuries in the past, then he may want to talk to his doctor and find out if his past injuries could cause the behavior and, if so, find out what can be done, like specific anger management techniques. The fact that he got so angry he can’t remember what happened actually frightens me on his behalf. That’s the kind of angry where someone can be injured or killed and that goes way beyond matter of etiquette.

As for the rest, it sounds dysfunctional to me, especially laughing about the head injury. The entire exchange strikes me as family drawing battle lines and that always gets messed up. I’m glad that you all realize the father’s cancer is more important than any of this. My advice is to be civil but distant. B probably should apologize for losing his temper (though it sounds like they know how to push his buttons), but he was in the right about the rock and J is a thief. OP, if your inlaws start bad mouthing your husband again, tell them you aren’t comfortable discussing that and change the subject,. And for pity’s sake, don’t run and tell your husband what they said. It does nothing but throw fuel on the fire.

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iwadasn September 9, 2015 at 11:43 am

OP says they live in a little village of 100 people, and that her husband is an elected trustee. Nowhere does she say that all 100 members own the village, or that all 100 people in the village are part of OP’s family.

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admin September 9, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Point taken.

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Alli September 9, 2015 at 12:17 pm

I didn’t think that all 100 people were part of the family, just that all of his immediate family were part of the 100. If the village paid for the rock with village money and it was designated for a particular road, then yes, J did steal from the village. How egregious this may be, is immaterial. He admitted he took so much, that the original project was now incomplete. It sounds as if J feels he should be allowed part of the rock for his own purposes, B disagrees.

While I do think that B has some anger issues that may need to be addressed. J’s inability to accept the apology is inexcusable. It was J who erred initially (in taking the rock) and it he put B in an awkward place by asking if there was more (conflict of interest for B- responsibility to village or to family). When B apologized for his outburst- J refused to accept is because he feels B sees him as a thief ( he is, he just hasn’t admitted it).

C’s and J’s follow up giggles about B’s brain damage- show they have little respect for him and I suspect- they treat him as such.

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Cat2 September 9, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I think you misunderstand the nature of the village, admin, or at the very least are making a rather large assumption. OP says that local branch of the family lives in their village of about 100 people, not that all the members of the village are part of the family.

Also, my read is that it’s not that the village president didn’t view it as an egregious crime, so much as that he was willing to let it go under the impression that AFTER having received B’s reaction to it, J would be unlikely to repeat the crime.

I see no indication that the alley rock was some sort of communal supply. Instead it seems very clear that the alley rock was there to be used *for the alley*. It was NOT available for the villagers in general to pick at for their own use “as long as they left enough for what it was bought for” – certainly not without any sort of permission to use what was agreed on as overflow.

J, however, seems to remain under the impression that he “took too much” vs any understanding that he shouldn’t have taken *any at all*. This is exactly like an employee admitting that they’ve taken “too much” copy paper home for their own use, and then asking when more will be brought in because they’re afraid there’s not enough to run off the company reports now.

J’s anger and refusal to accept the apology is B told him this was theft (and thereby that he was a thief). The major disconnect here is that J IS (or at least *was*) a thief.

B’s rage to the point of blackout the 2nd time around is extremely worrying, but the fact that C and J are so blasé and willing to blame the rage on B’s accident rather than the idea that B might have an actual point here – well, lots of people can get pretty angry in the face of such entitlement and lack of ability to get the point across.

Yes, he still needs to be better controlled in his role as a village trustee and have a better way to cope with this problem. But it’s actually unlikely that somebody who thinks the issue is that they took “too much” rather than having taken any is going to accept that they need to make restitution. No matter how politely it is couched.

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Tracy P September 9, 2015 at 1:15 pm

I don’t see where the OP defines the nature of the village. “The local branch of this family lives in our little village of about 100 people.” That does not say that the entire village is family or the family owns the entire village. Elected trustee can just be the name of an elected position within the village.

The village president failing to see that J is a criminal doesn’t change that he is. Just because they will re-rock it in a year or so doesn’t make it OK. That line of thinking makes J a special snowflake.

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LadyV September 9, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Admin, I’m not sure where you got the idea that all the citizens of this town are part of the same family, and that they “own” the town – or that the town is “held in a trust”. In this case, a trustee is not someone in charge of a trust – it’s an elected (or sometimes appointed) official that is responsible for certain duties attached to the running of the town. In most places, it’s the public trustee’s office that deals with real estate issues – foreclosures, deeds of trust, etc.

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Airelenaren September 9, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Thanks for this little clarification, admin. I did not catch all of that from the original poster, as I found it hard to keep track of who did what. I don’t know if I’m in the minority with this, but I always find it hard to follow a story in which every person is represented by a single letter.

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admin September 9, 2015 at 2:46 pm

I debate sometimes whether to change those letters to actual names I make up BUT if I did and I accidentally applied the person’s real name, it could be legally problematic.

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Mary September 9, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Maybe if the submitter refers to someone as B, you could change that initial to a name with s different letter such as change B to Garfield, C to Zelda and J to Heathcliff. Something where the it’s very unlikely to be the same names.

Sarah September 9, 2015 at 8:22 pm

What if you changed them to names that *didn’t* start with the letters supplied to you by the submitter? Or if you had a policy of always using the same male/female names whenever somebody doesn’t supply names, going down a list depending on how many males/females in that particular story? If you use the most common baby names of the previous year, you’re unlikely to hit a whole lot of coincidences, because the new names would be more the age of babies than adults, but if there *was* any sort of legal issue, you could point to the list and say that it’s your policy to always use those names.

Ulla September 10, 2015 at 2:22 am

Maybe some other placeholders, like fruits or vegetables or such, general nouns used in then in the story with capitals. To avoid accidentally using the real names. Well, maybe something bit … politer than saying someone is totally bananas could be in order 😀 I admit, single letter is bit harder fro me to read too. Somehow, it does not stick to mind different enough from all the other single letter names, and lot of going back and forward is needed.

Amanda H. September 10, 2015 at 2:30 pm

I’ll second Sarah’s suggestion. I read another website where the default is to use the names Alice, Bob, and Carol (with a male D name added as necessary), for examples. A similar stance of having a standardized list of names you use when no names have been supplied could work quite well, especially if you use either extremely common or extremely unusual names.

oregonbird October 20, 2015 at 4:24 pm

That the next guy up the ladder was willing to give theft a pass doesn’t make theft okay. It doesn’t matter why he was willing to wave the theft away, he should have stepped in at that moment — this was a leadership fail all the way up the line. The nephew is the only one capable of seeing that he actually had a moral fault in this, and his admission was abused so badly by his uncle he’s taken up a position he doesn’t even believe.

Somewhere up this thread, someone must have said, “This is not your business. It isn’t your problem to fix, even if you *are* the female, and therefore in charge of herding All The Feelz.” You do NOT have to get involved, OP. Ending negative clan dynamics has to start somewhere, and it might as well start with you. Let these guys have their forever-hate, and treat each one in exactly the manner that you wish them to treat you — tend to your relationships, and let your husband and the rest of the clan deal with theirs.

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L.J. September 9, 2015 at 9:25 am

What’s alley rock? I couldn’t find the definition on Google. Also, I wish letter writers would assign names rather than initials. Bob, Jason, and Carol would have been easier to remember.

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lakey September 9, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Alleys aren’t paved. The city will put gravel or small rocks in the alley. As a homeowner, you are NOT allowed to help yourself to rock that the city placed in the alley. The city pays for it. If you want gravel for your driveway, you would pay for it.

It may not have seemed like it to J, but what he did was theft. That being said, it sounds like B over-reacted. I also think that any comments by C and J about “brain damage” are also out of line.

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Shyla September 10, 2015 at 1:00 am

I think it means putting gravel in the roadbed of the alley. If the road is not paved, it could be gravel and J’s driveway could be gravel. Rather than paying to replenish his own driveway, J and friends took their gravel from the alley.

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Aletheia September 10, 2015 at 1:13 am

I *think* it’s just rock meant to re-“pave” an alley, not anything special. Like the crushed gravel a lot of driveways have? 🙂

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Ulla September 10, 2015 at 2:24 am

This is totally guessing, but in the context (it being raked and so on) I thought that it might be kind of crushed stone that is used on driveways and some smaller roads. At least in my neigbourhood many had driveways covered with that kind of small, loose rocks.

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LJ Briar September 10, 2015 at 4:46 am

I think that might mean gravel?

Other LJ out. 🙂

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L.J. September 10, 2015 at 10:06 am

Thanks other LJ and everyone else who replied 🙂 Never thought about it before, but now I’ll be peering down alleys on my daily walk, to see how my town handles the groundcover for them.

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Michelle September 9, 2015 at 9:30 am

So your husband had not one, but two, screaming, cursing arguments over rock? One that was so bad he couldn’t even remember all of it? And he’s the village trustee? Then you and your SIL gossiped about it and you reported that back to your husband?

Sure, what J did was wrong, but your husband losing it twice, and one of those times he can’t remember the whole argument, signals he has an anger management problem. Reporting back the conversation you had with your SIL accomplished what? Making your husband even angrier. WHY on earth would you do that? Unless it was a flat-out lie that could damage his reputation or something that was dangerous or illegal, you should have just kept that conversation to yourself.

I agree with Admin that J admitting he took too much rock was actually not entitled but admirable and B should have given him the opportunity to make it right without all the cursing, raging and name calling.

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Mags September 9, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Where I live, it would absolutely damage a county trustee’s reputation if one of their relatives helped themselves to gravel intended for a county road and used in on their private driveway.

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Mary September 9, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Absolutely!

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Michelle September 10, 2015 at 7:26 am

I agree that what J did was wrong and he should reimburse the city for it. The part about damaging his reputation was more about the conversation OP had with SIL, and how SIL and J laughed about B’s head injuries. B will damage his own reputation if he can’t get his temper under control.

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Marozia September 12, 2015 at 3:22 am

Reading between the lines, it sounds to me like nephew J had been playing the entitled snowflake for a while. Maybe I’m incorrect, but it does say to me that J had been playing on the ‘uncle being trustee’ number for a while and considered himself entitled to that alley rock. The way OP states how nonchalantly J’s ‘I think we might have taken too much’ statement comes over says J’s been doing this sort of thing for a while.
Is it possible B’s rages are not so much the head injuries but the fact that a loved one is taking advantage of him and his trustee position?
Please let me know if I’m on the wrong track, but these villages are supposed to inspire closeness not to inspire nepotism.

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JenAnn September 14, 2015 at 8:08 am

He didn’t take too much, he stole the gravel. And because of B’s position, it’s being swept under the rug. There is nothing admirable about “admitting” he took too much, because he blatantly stole from the village. It’s not a victimless crime, it affects everyone in the village when that happens and it isn’t addressed, because village funds were spent to buy that gravel. He completely took advantage of his uncle’s position and doesn’t seem willing to acknowledge what he did.

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starstruck September 9, 2015 at 9:38 am

Its so hard to really know who is in the wrong in these situations without being there. In actuality , J had no right what so ever to take the concrete and put it in his driveway. He did in fact, act as a Thief and B said as much. I understand what the adm means when saying , B overreacted and probably should apologize for calling J a thief, but we have no idea what j said to him. The OP said J called to see when more rock would be delivered. That suggests to me that he expected the village to bring in, and pay for more rock. But again we can’t really know that. I must agree with adm though. To make peace with the family, the only way would be for B to apologize. Sometimes its worth it just be the bigger person and live with the satisfaction of being the one to make it right. I heard someone say once, would u rather be right or be Happy? I know lots of people who are miserably right. Sorry for you having to be caught in the middle. Just keep being friendly with sis in law, and the rest of the family.

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starstruck September 9, 2015 at 11:02 pm

Sorry , said concrete, i meant rock

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Shalamar September 9, 2015 at 9:39 am

Am I the only one who had a lot of trouble following this story? What with the initials instead of names (for the love of Pete, folks, PLEASE use “Bob” instead of “B”) and the extra details contributing to the Wall of Text, I could feel my eyes glazing over.

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Raven September 9, 2015 at 9:22 pm

Agreed. I gave up partway through.

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delislice September 12, 2015 at 5:13 am

Agreed. Unless it’s really brief, my eyes glaze over big time keeping track of people by initials.

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clairedelune September 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm

I know—I always just make up names for them and mentally replace the initials with the names as I read. it seems to make it easier somehow.

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Lisa September 9, 2015 at 10:03 am

I can’t see J’s admission that he stole the rocks as being some huge act of integrity, considering they were sitting in his own driveway and people – especially the family – would certainly notice at some point. Why didn’t he just return it when he realized he had taken so much that the village road was left without?

But that said, the rational response would have been, “Ok, what plans do you have to replace it?” Maybe that did happen and then the conversation went downhill from there? Probably OP doesn’t even know the answer to this since she wasn’t actually on the phone call, so it’s difficult to say what actually happened.

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TaterTot September 9, 2015 at 5:40 pm

“Why didn’t he just return it when he realized he had taken so much…?”

This is what I don’t get. Just put the dang rocks back!

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tsukinon September 9, 2015 at 11:43 pm

And he didn’t admit to stealing the rocks initially. He just called and wanted to know when more would be delivered. He only admitted it when he was cornered and still characterized the problem as “taking too much” instead of the fact that he took any. B handled it badly, but in B’s position, I would be livid, too. J took advantage of his relationship to B and B had to own up to the fact that his relative had committed a fairly seriously crime and could drag B’s reputation down wth it. My response would have been to tell him if the rock wasn’t replaced by a certain point, he would be receiving a bill for the cost and if he didn’t pay, legal action would be pursued.

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Lisa H. September 9, 2015 at 10:11 am

OP, I concur with Admin. Your husband has some anger issues and doesn’t react well to confrontation. Given his history, he really needs to hold himself in check when confronted with situations like this. That’s not to say what J did was correct, but it could have been handled in a better manner. Perhaps now is the time for fences to be mended with B making the overture?

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Chicalola September 9, 2015 at 10:12 am

I did not get the impression from OP’s statement that the village is only made up of the family. I got the impression that the village, made up of 100 people, also include the family she listed, and that her husband was an elected official. It does appear he has some anger issues, or that he feels that what his nephew did reflected badly on him and his position. Just sad that something that could have been so easily resolved has escalated like this!

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Elizabeth September 9, 2015 at 10:14 am

You are adding to the drama here by relaying info (‘she said this and that…”). I suggest trying to stay out of the fray and let brother, sister, and nephew work things out for themselves.

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Michelle September 10, 2015 at 7:28 am

+1,000.

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Amanda H. September 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Especially if C is known for embellishing or exaggerating her account of things, I would be very leery of repeating what she’s said to anyone. I don’t necessarily blame OP for sharing with her husband; I’d likely make the same mistake. But for future reference, it probably didn’t help matters any.

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JF September 9, 2015 at 10:38 am

Honestly, Wouldn’t surprise me if something like this happened in the small town I was raised in of roughly 600 people where there are a couple of large extended families who have been active on council and caused family disagreements because of village decisions…. oh wait it did years ago and caused the president as well as one of the council members to resign as they had essentially re-grated their own driveways as well as two or three family members driveways one summer with gravel from the alley next to their homes causing damage to the alley and rendering it useless for the plow to safely negotiate it in the following winter. As the alley had already been topped, council cannot amend their budget to re-top it again that year. It caused all sorts of chaos as there was a bus stop on that alley for part of the town as well as other council members threatening to sue (never happened, but never reimbursed either). There was also hell raised over the fact the retiring maintenance man had hired (with permission) his son (but not son in law or the council president’s son- also both residents in town who did similar work) to help with maintenance as he was nearing retirement thus handpicking the new maintenance man once he was done. I was extremely thrilled when my mom quit being on the council and sold the house to get away from my hometown and the dysfunctional politics and family relationships there!

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Cat September 9, 2015 at 10:49 am

I got tired just reading about this. It’s all about who did what ,and who said what, and who repeated what. A small incident has gotten blown all out of proportion and heads may roll.
J did take rock that didn’t belong to him. He realized it and turned himself in to B. B reported it to the concerned party and it was not big deal. That is where it should have ended.
Your mistake was in telling your beloved some of what C said after the second angry discussion took place. You poured gasoline on the fire.
The only two people who should be dealing with this are B and J. The more input they have from others, the more the lines in the sand will be drawn and the more likely the family will split between those who support B and those who support J. You folks are headed for the Hatfields and the McCoys, all in one family.

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Robin September 9, 2015 at 8:24 pm

Agreed. I also dislike stories that use initials in lieu of actual names. For the love, just give everyone a pseudonym!

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AS September 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

I do agree with the admin. I got the feeling too that OP’s husband has issues about controlling anger. Maybe he controls it enough that he doesn’t fly off the handle too often; but he did get angry twice within year – and so angry the second time that he doesn’t even remember what he said, and his own sister was afraid that he’ll swing over his nephew in she doesn’t interfere! For an adult who also holds an official position in the community, he should have learned to act more tactfully, and maybe laugh off as the village President did. Also, I’d love to know what made the nephew call up in the first place. Was it because he wanted to just report an incident, or because he felt guilty, and wanted to make amends – like paying for it, or something. Yet, the fact remains that he took the initiative to call up, and admit to his wrong doing. Which was met with him being called a thief? That’s awful! (How old is the nephew, by the way? Using the F-bombs is bad enough; but it would be even worse if the nephew was pretty young).

It is possible that OP’s “survival-mode default” has blinded her to her husband’s anger issues too. It is not a bad strategy, as she says that the family is usually a loving one. But it might help if she lovingly talks to her husband about the issue. She could either tell him to just get over things. Or she could explain that it is a trivial one, and he could sincerely apologize to the nephew without flying off the handle (you might need to do some moderation on that), and get things going. What you say depends on how comfortable you feel with your husband – with his temper tantrums, and your need to protect yourself.

In the mean time, be nice to the nephew. The reason I’m saying that is because I once had a neighbor who yelled at me like crazy (for something I didn’t even do! I was an 18 year old, who was visiting my parents from college, and I couldn’t even reply because I had no idea what he was talking about). My mother very calmly moved him from me, and explained that she’ll not tolerate such behavior from someone towards her daughter. I think she also asked him if he’d tolerate if someone behaved this way with HIS daughter. We had a very cold relationship since, but his wife made sure to be very sweet to me. I think that was her way of showing me that she still loves me as she used to before all these happened (maybe she also didn’t condone his yelling at me.)

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Shyla September 10, 2015 at 1:03 am

The nephew is old enough to own a driveway. He can’t be a child.

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K September 9, 2015 at 11:03 am

I cannot believe how long it took to tell this story. J nicked some rocks, B lost his rag, it was dealt with. B went to apologise, it kicked off again, they are not speaking. C was rude about your husband.

In fact, the only issue I’d have bothered with here is the last one. I’d have told C I found her jokes offensive. For the rest…big wow. Leave them to it. I kept looking for the big, breathy drama here but nope, trivial family spats it is.

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Harley Granny September 9, 2015 at 11:14 am

Soooooo…..B (btw I hate it when submissions just use intials) got into an argument with his nephew….the OP could only hear her husband’s side of it so we don’t know what the nephew said that might have provoked B.
B decides to be the bigger man and issues an apology which J decides not to accept and along with the rejection of the apology, J also makes smarmy comments and somehow B is the bad guy?
AND now the OP knows that B’s sister is laughing about her brother behind his back.

OP just so once again your husband can show he’s the more mature of the two, suggest that he issue one more apology to J. It’s then up to J.

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KA September 11, 2015 at 7:21 am

This is what I kept thinking reading the OP’s post, admin’s response, the other responses. There have been times I was mad, and couldn’t tell you EXACTLY what was said. I didn’t black out, but the exact details were lost. If someone asked me, I might say I was so mad I forgot. But, I’ve never been accused of having an anger management problem. J sounds like the bad guy in my reading of this tale.

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JenAnn September 14, 2015 at 8:18 am

I agree! Somehow the fact that J is a thief and put B in an extremely awkward position becomes trivialized because B got too angry. Furthermore B did actually apologize, which wasn’t accepted because J says that he knows B still thinks he is a thief. Well….he IS a thief, and apparently facing the truth is not popular in this family.

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Christina September 9, 2015 at 11:15 am

B definitely has anger issues, there is no doubt. And hopefully it is possible in such a small village to seek help from someone outside the family for this.

But J isn’t innocent in this, and his mother just made it worse. Like OP said, he admitted to taking too much rock to begin with, but later justified it. So he is no longer admitting to his “mistake” and instead feels he had a right to do so. Then J and C both made fun of this man, their uncle and brother, respectively, for a possibly brain injury. That is just ridiculously immature. If B’s family is worried about his rage and brain injury, they should be getting him help, not making fun of a very serious situation.

B did apologize and for some reason, J refused to accept it. Then there was another fight. J is just as much to blame, if not more so (for originally taking too much rock), in my eyes. He needs to apologize for stealing from the village. B, as a leader, was doing his job to question him about it.

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Kelly September 9, 2015 at 11:25 am

The response was not commiserate with the “crime”.

**I think you mean “commensurate” – B certainly wasn’t commiserating with anyone! 🙂

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admin September 9, 2015 at 4:19 pm

hahaha! Ooops.

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Dee September 9, 2015 at 11:47 am

J didn’t phone B to admit taking the rock; he phoned to find out when he could get some more! It was only when B expressed astonishment at the exceptionally large load already delivered did J confess. Nevertheless B does, clearly, have anger issues. He could have hung up the phone anytime during that conversation before things got too heated, and then reported J to the authorities to let them deal with the issue. But, no, he stayed long enough to be out of control. Then, after issuing the apology that was rejected, he looked as if he was going to come to blows with J. This is not a guy who’s managing his emotions well. The OP didn’t do anything wrong, and if she feels that reporting C’s conversation back to B was a problem because it set B off even more then it’s clear that there really IS an abuse problem in their marriage. If C and J can laugh off B’s behaviour as originating from previous serious head injuries then that should inspire curiousity as to B’s historical behaviour. It sounds as if the family is well-versed in B’s anger and has chosen to make as light of it as possible.

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admin September 9, 2015 at 4:19 pm

I’m not sure how you concluded that J wanted more rock. He asks when more will be delivered because he realizes he took too much and admits to that very fact.

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TKD September 9, 2015 at 4:50 pm

J didn’t simply take more than his share (“too much”) of a communal resource. He took stuff that was never his at all. When he realized that he had taken enough for his pilfering to be noticeable (what “too much” really boils down to in this instance), he wanted to know when the *village* was going to bring in more rock to replace the stuff he stole. He may not have wanted more rock for his own driveway, but it certainly sounds like he expected the village to shoulder the work and expense of fixing the alley after he messed it up.

If he had truly recognized his error and wanted to make it right, he had some options:
1. Put the rock back where it belonged. If he could rake it from the alley to his driveway, why couldn’t he rake it from his driveway back to the alley?
2. If he couldn’t return it in the same state (e.g., if it was now mixed with dirt or debris from his driveway), then call B or another village official to admit that he’d taken some rock that he shouldn’t have and ask how *he* could replace it.
He did neither, and apparently he still doesn’t recognize how wrong he was, given his grounds for rejecting B’s apology.

B certainly didn’t behave well either, but I don’t see much display of “integrity” from J.

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Mary September 9, 2015 at 8:24 pm

Exactly. He didn’t take too much. He took what never belonged to him in the first place. Also known as stealing.

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psammead September 9, 2015 at 4:52 pm

I’m not sure how you concluded that “asking when more rock will be delivered” is different from “asking for more rock.” J hoped that more rock would be delivered because–after he and his friend had taken as much as they wanted–there was not enough rock for its intended purpose, and apparently, he didn’t want to have to restore what he took.

It’s likely that J’s neighbors noticed that some of the rock that was intended for the alley had ended up in the driveways of J and his friend instead. It wouldn’t be surprising if they were to think “Hmmm…B’s nephew thinks he and his buds can help themselves to Village property because B is a Village trustee.” I’m sure it would be just great for B’s standing in the village for his neighbors to conclude that B is cool with his relatives stealing public property.

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admin September 10, 2015 at 9:11 am

According to the OP, the entire village board is cool with J taking the gravel.

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InTheEther September 10, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Or the president decided to let it slide this one time after hearing that B put his nephew through the ringer for it. More likely it just wasn’t worth litigation so long as it was a once off and he was doing a favor for B by brushing it off.

Dee September 9, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Because that’s what it says in the submission. J phoned B to ask when more rock would be delivered. J did not come forward with his admission of theft until B made it clear that the original amount of rock delivered was already overly generous, essentially forcing J’s hand in admitting his guilt. But J’s initial (and possibly only) reason for calling B was to ask about receiving more rock, either to cover up for the rock he stole or so that he could put even more on his driveway. Either way, J was the sole initiator of the request for more rock.

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admin September 10, 2015 at 5:55 am

I’m not sure how many people reading this blog gravel their driveways but it’s very evident where the new stone is covering the old so it would not have been difficult to figure out where the shortfall of gravel meant for the alley had gone. J and a friend “raked it off into their driveway” meaning that J’s driveway will have been noticeably obvious as the final destination of the missing gravel. One could interpret J’s acknowledgement that he took moer than he should because his driveway was now declaring it by the presence of new rock and a noticeably reduced pile of alley rock. In other words, the evidence of the alleged theft was demonstratively spread on J’s driveway for everyone to see.

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MM September 9, 2015 at 11:47 am

Agree with Admin. B does not come off well here and your attempts to justify his behavior (as well as cast doubt so quickly on C by invalidating her opinions and experiences) raises major red flags. I’m sorry but I do not believe that V’s rage is rare at all.

You should have him look into anger management and own up to his behavior towards J. As an elder, not just literally but also within the community, B has a responsibility to lead by example. That does not include screaming obscenities at a younger person but demonstrating forgiveness, understanding and resolving issues calmly and productively

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cdubz September 9, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Yeah, I’m with admin on this one. Your husband lost his temper. People generally don’t like being accused of stealing, there’s no possible scenario where that happens that J doesn’t get defensive. The president didn’t see it as a big deal, so your husband shouldn’t, either. When J called, B should have just asked if it was possible he could put some back, and explain that it would be another year before more rock could be brought in. I’m sure if that happened, J and his friends would have complied.

Now, if B was giving J a sincere apology for his behavior, bad on J for his reaction. It sounds like your nephew loves playing the victim. And your husband has a bad temper problem. I think some family therapy might be in order.

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JenAnn September 14, 2015 at 8:40 am

It really doesn’t matter if the president didn’t see it as a big deal. It just means he is lacking in integrity as well by being okay with sweeping this theft under the rug. It’s not like the nephew stole directly out of the president’s personal bank account, he stole from the village. Unless every resident of the village is “okay” with someone stealing a commodity with a dollar value, it simply is NOT okay.

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admin September 14, 2015 at 8:46 am

Wow, the drama escalates with your accusation that the village president must be corrupt. Add in the village board as well since the OP reports that they were apprised of the situation as well and collectively were not concerned about it. It’s a den of thieves and accomplices in that village, right?

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cdubz September 14, 2015 at 9:16 am

Where did you see that he, or anyone else, was sweeping it under the rug? OP said the village president found some humor in the situation and said he wouldn’t be doing it again. We don’t know if the president or someone working for him talked to J about never doing it again, or maybe a letter was sent. Or maybe they felt the lecture he got from B was enough. If this was a larger city, then yes I can see J getting fined or even going to prison. But smaller communities often feel public shunning is enough punishment for a minor crime.

It’s gravel, for pity’s sake. Their not trying to cover up a government conspiracy.

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cdubz September 14, 2015 at 9:23 am

Also wanted to add, the rumor mill is fast in a small town. People who witnessed the altercation between B and J, along with seeing J’s newly rocked driveway with rocks mysteriously gone from the alley, are going to know what happened and that B was not okay with it. I don’t think B’s reputation is on the line for this.

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JenAnn September 15, 2015 at 10:44 am

Well, if I stole something, and gravel does indeed have a monetary value, I would fully expect the police to show up at my door. Wouldn’t you?

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Jasmine Forsythe September 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm

It sounds like your husband has sustained some severe head trauma. The two of you could get help living with his condition from the Brain Injury Association of America. This is a serious medical problem. http://www.biausa.org

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Shyla September 10, 2015 at 1:05 am

Maybe. Maybe not. But his sister and nephew laughing about it is horribly wrong. I do have a brain injury and would not like that.

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stacey September 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm

It does sound like an excessive amount of drama. Perhaps this will result in ‘lesson learned” for each of the people involved, if only insofar as avoiding speech and actions which needlessly escalate an already stressful situation.
I don’t think the nephew should get off lightly. His attitude is one of entitlement at the expense of his fellows (based on the original theft and on the mocking comments, if OP’s report is accurate). But it is likely that his “crime” will be swallowed up in the brouhaha over how OP’s husband responded. Pity.

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A different Tracy September 9, 2015 at 1:14 pm

I think there’s some confusion about the rock – admin, was the letter edited? From where I sit, it looks like the rock was intended for the alley, and J took some for his personal driveway. I don’t see how that is anything but theft.

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Rebecca September 9, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Screaming over some community owned gravel seems extreme. I have to agree that B has anger issues and needs to realize how asinine getting that angry over the situation. You paint the nephew in a reasonable light in all this and your husband as the one who cannot get over it. It sounds like a bad apology that was rightfully refused, only to cause a blank out rage!

It’s gravel. Someone owned up to helping themselves too much. The president found humor in it, that should show who is taking it overboard.

I love some irrational people myself, I understand you being in between the two. Dont pick sides or deny yourself a relationship with his sister. Do tell her you want to keep her close but cannot talk to her about the squabble to stay neutral. I know it’s difficult

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Mary September 9, 2015 at 8:29 pm

They didn’t help themselves to too much. They were never entitled to any to begin with. Therefore they stole it. One does not get to help themselves to road construction supplies, even if they are repairing the street you live on.

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Reaver September 9, 2015 at 9:24 pm

“Taking too much”?

He shouldn’t have taken any! That’s like going to the local park, seeing a beautifully done fountain, with flowers all around it, taking over half the flowers and then calling in saying you took the flowers, so when will they replace them? Because you might have taken too many…They weren’t /yours/ you had no right to take them.

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Danielle September 9, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Remind B that this isn’t an issue of being right, it’s an issue of doing what’s right. Men have a hard time apologizing when they feel they are in the right, and in the end, B is in the right. J did steal something, and B had every right to feel angry about that. However, he didn’t handle the situation correctly. Anger and name calling wasn’t called for; a civil discussion about solving the problem was, and in that he has failed and created a much larger problem for it. I will contend that J showed little grace in not accepting his apology; he too could have ended an ugly family dispute with a simple act of forgiveness. Convince B that a real heartfelt and humble apology is what is required to be the bigger man in this situation.

I’d just completely forget any comments C made. If the two of you are as friendly as you say you are, you’ll realize that she’s just getting swept up in the argument and she doesn’t really mean the things she said. If you let it wait until this all blows over, she’ll probably apologize all on her own.

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Amanda H. September 10, 2015 at 2:44 pm

It’s not just men, either. I know plenty of women who have a hard time apologizing when they feel they’re right, or admitting when they might actually be wrong.

But I was thinking pretty much the same thing. This sounds a lot like people I know (including extended family of mine) getting into extended feuds because every one of them has to have the last word, to be the “right” one and force everyone else to admit when they’re wrong…when no one will actually admit it because they’re all as stubborn as mules.

I really do think B needs to not only continue to try to make heartfelt amends, but also seek help for his anger issues (it’s really problematic to me when someone gets so angry they black out for a bit, even if they get angry very rarely). J needs to accept that he shouldn’t have taken the rock at all and his and his mother’s behavior isn’t helping matters any.

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LadyV September 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm

OP may think of her husband’s rage incidents as “exceedingly rare”, but as Admin said, the fact that he loses his temper to the extent that he doesn’t remember what he’s done or said afterwards is extremely concerning – as is the fact that he TWICE had an anger reaction out of all proportion to the cause. If OP really cares about her husband, she will arrange for him to get some counseling, stat. Suppose instead of it being J that took the alley rock, it was another citizen of the town? Would B have reacted in the same way?

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SJ September 9, 2015 at 4:12 pm

I’m also concerned for the OP. Twice in the story, he lost his temper. Yuck.

I can see that as trustee, he might feel personally offended and responsible for a breech made by his own nephew. I might feel that way, but feelings don’t necessarily excuse behavior. Dropping f-bombs on the phone is over the line, unprofessional, and no way to treat family. That struck me as a red flag, not to mention an etiquette blunder (to put it mildly).

I suppose there’s nothing for the OP to do but to continue being polite to everyone.

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mhop September 9, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Oh no, I’m the OP and I certainly did not mean to give the impression that the *whole village* was part of this family. Unless I have completely misunderstood the posts above…? The only members of the family in the village are B’s parents, C, and the nephew J. Also, my husband is only ONE of… I want to say, at least 3, maybe 4 trustees, so this incident was made aware to the entire village board months ago. No one made a big deal of the thing at the first meeting this was brought up, so far as I know. I would think that maybe J would have been sent a bill or something; we certainly would have heard about that, but nothing has been mentioned.

I agree with Admin on her comments 100%. I hope to show this to my husband sometime after everything cools down, and he’s known for many years that he has a temper. I’m sure he’d be more than willing to go to counseling. Unfortunately, his father did indeed pass away this morning, so this really has just become a very minor thorn in some sides until at least after the funeral on Friday.

Lastly, I wanted to reply very kindly, to Tracy P about my marrying into another dysfunctional family… this family is the equivalent of rolling on the lawn with a pile of happy puppies compared to what I grew up with. I’ve come to learn there are few families with *no* issues, so I’m counting my blessings if this is the worst that could happen.

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mhop September 9, 2015 at 4:36 pm

(My apologies -this is a resubmission of my original comments; there was a problem with my browser and I’m not sure if the first one went through, and I’ve also added to my previous submission since there were more questions)

Oh no, I’m the OP and I certainly did not mean to give the impression that the *whole village* was part of this family. Unless I have completely misunderstood the posts above…? The only members of the family in the village are B’s parents, C, and the nephew J. Also, my husband is only ONE of… I want to say, at least 3, maybe 4 trustees, so this incident was made aware to the entire village board months ago. No one made a big deal of the thing at the first meeting this was brought up, so far as I know. I would think that maybe J would have been sent a bill or something; we certainly would have heard about that, but nothing has been mentioned.

Yes, the original load of rock was intended for the alley only, since it was paid for by the village. Not to be raked off onto private property.

I agree with Admin on her comments 98%. My only reservation is to the nephew’s new and perplexing feeling of justification as to the original offense, though my husband’s reaction absolutely was regretful. I hope to show this to my husband sometime after everything cools down; he’s known for many years that he has a temper. I’m sure he’d be more than willing to go to counseling. Unfortunately, his father did indeed pass away this morning, so this really has just become a very minor thorn in some sides until at least after the funeral on Friday.

Lastly, I wanted to reply very kindly, to Tracy P about my marrying into another dysfunctional family… this family is the equivalent of rolling on the lawn with a pile of happy puppies compared to what I grew up with. I’ve come to learn there are few families with *no* issues, so I’m counting my blessings if this is the worst that could happen.

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Mary September 9, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Personally I think the nephew stole from the village and his uncle has the right to be upset.

However, I read Admin’s reasoning behind only using initials but I find it almost impossible to read these stories trying to follow the initials instead of names.

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Mags September 9, 2015 at 5:13 pm

My jaw is dropping at how many people think J has the right to stand on his high horse about being called a thief after stealing from the village. If I’m reading the submission correctly, the village bought gravel for the village roads. This was not gravel intended as a communal supply where someone happened to take more than a fair share. This was gravel needed for necessary road maintenance. Maybe some of the people on this site who think it was no biggie because there will be more gravel next year have not spent much time driving on non-paved roads. The result of the theft — not having sufficient gravel to maintain the road — may mean that the road is severely degraded over the next year. Maybe B shouldn’t have yelled at him, but I don’t think B would have been out of line in filing a police report either.

Now, I take admin’s point that not calling J a thief and instead treating him as though he were intending to make restitution might (only might) be an effective way of getting him to actually make restitution. I’ve lived long enough now to see that sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and get what you want than to give everyone the telling off they deserve and get nothing. In this case, the police might or might not be able to lay charges and it probably isn’t worthwhile for the village to sue, so for the village to get the gravel replaced, they probably need J to willingly cooperate. However, just because J is a touchy thief who might be manipulated by not calling him a thief doesn’t actually make him not a thief. It’s like when people post ads asking for the return of their stolen camera/wallet/phone, no questions asked — that makes it easier for the thief to return the item and maybe save face, but it doesn’t make them not a thief. I find it very aggravating when people are forced to accommodate or dance around the feelings of a wrongdoer.

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psammead September 9, 2015 at 8:14 pm

You took the words right out of my mouth! “J” deserved to be called a thief because that’s what he was! I suppose admitting–grudgingly!–that he “might have taken too much” of the village’s stone is marginally better than pretending that too little was delivered and casting suspicion on the supplier. But that’s hardly what I would call “admirable” or “showing integrity.” Integrity would have been, oh…maybe buying his own stone instead of taking what doesn’t belong to him, and apologizing to his uncle instead of making himself the injured party.

In a village of some 100 souls where everybody is up in everyone else’s business, it probably wasn’t lost on J’s neighbors that a goodly amount of the stone that was meant for their alley wound up on “J’s” driveway. Very likely, there’s been speculation that J thinks he can just help himself to public property because his uncle is a village trustee–perhaps even speculation that B condones this abuse of the public trust by his relatives. I’m sure this is just wonderful for B’s reputation!

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admin September 10, 2015 at 5:44 am

What you and others who defend B for calling J a “thief” seem to refuse to acknowledge is that B reported the situation to the village president whom I presume is higher in the village hierarchy than B and the president did not view this as a big deal at all. He even found humor in the situation and certainly wasn’t calling forthe police to arrest J or that there be a community tar and feathering. The wise president was letting B know that his response to the situation was a bit over the top and B responded by apologizing to J.

I say it over and over again on this site that failure to remain civil and calm in a tense situation means you’ve lost control of the ability to defuse the situation to your own advantage. Making accusations and resorting to “F-bombs” means B was in full rude retaliation mode and obviously lost control of the conversation. Had B calmly said to J, “Well, dude, you took enough rock from the alley that we now cannot complete the task the village paid for. Can you suggest ways in which you will resolve this dilemma before I report it the village president and council?”, B would have calmly and decisively lobbed that ball right into J’s lap.

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Tracy P September 10, 2015 at 6:51 am

And I don’t get how you seem to think that the president brushing it aside makes J’s theft OK. So the president is corrupt too, that doesn’t mean that J is off the hook.

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admin September 10, 2015 at 9:10 am

What part of this statement from the OP do you not understand?

“…this incident was made aware to the entire village board months ago. No one made a big deal of the thing at the first meeting this was brought up, so far as I know. I would think that maybe J would have been sent a bill or something; we certainly would have heard about that, but nothing has been mentioned.”

Are you stating that the entire village board is corrupt as well?

Mafdet September 12, 2015 at 11:01 am

Yes, the president as well as the entire board brushed J’s theft aside, so he seems to be off the hook legally.
But J’s neigbours saw what he did. And they might well think that B knows and encourages what J did, thus ruining B’s reputation among the village folk.
That alone explains much of B’s anger in my opinion.

JenAnn September 14, 2015 at 8:59 am

If the whole village board let it go, then yes, they are all corrupt. They should be doing their duty to protect the proper use of the funds they’ve been entrusted to oversee!!! This sort of thing is way too common in small communities, and it’s not okay – from the perspective of the villagers who are not part of the inner circle (i.e., probably aren’t from there originally), I doubt it feels even a bit “okay”.

Dublin September 10, 2015 at 8:47 am

I think you are absolutely right here Admin, there seems to be a lot of focus on how much of a thief J was being instead of the actually problem the OP is facing. This is not about how much gravel was stolen but the family drama that developed in the aftermath. The president moved on from that issue so we should too.
The problem is that B clearly handled the admission that J did something wrong very badly and acted over the top. J handled it badly by refusing to accept an apology. Both handled it badly by allowing the apology to disintegrate into yet another screaming match where violence became a genuine concern. Sister in law handled it badly by not calling them both out on their BS at the time and forcing a calm discussion between her brother and son. She handled it worse by laughing at B and gossiping with you. You handled it badly by adding fuel to the fire. Basically all of you are in the wrong in one way or another.
But most importantly, you are also all family and this situation, one that was laughed off by the only person who has reason to be upset, the president. It is a stupid situation to be so dramatic and aggressive over. The best course of action now is for all you to get together, agree to get over the initial problem with the gravel just like the president did, and take responsibility for the roles you each played in making it worse and agree to move on like a family because this fight is basically silly and family is more important. Say “I am sorry for my part in this and I want to move on”, shake hands and move on. If someone decides not to do that, than fine. Again this situation is not worth tearing your family apart, as you are experiencing now with the death of your father in law, some things are more important. You and your husband should take responsibility for yourselves and move on, hopefully your nephew and sister in law will take also join you on the high road and you will all live happily ever after.

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Ernie September 10, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Admin, while I’m not really prepared to say that the village board is corrupt, it is possible to say that they may be non-confrontational, otherwise occupied, lazy, or un-interested. Their lack of willingness to take action on something like this doesn’t equate to non-theft.

The law enforcement and local government of the town I live in doesn’t place the people who sleep in between the warehouses, leave drug paraphanalia there, and steal anything metal that is not bolted down, high enough on their priority list to do anything about them or their actions, despite many complaints from business owners and people in surrounding areas. It doesn’t make it right, or legal. What this does do, however, is get the citizens to disapprove of the local government, not vote for them in future elections, and take any other initiatives that they are trying to propose less seriously.

Just because the local governing body doesn’t care doesn’t mean that it wont effect the Husband both professionally and in the eyes of his peers, friends, and neighbors.

I guess what we would need from the OP is an answer to this question that is still disagreed on by many of us… Is it:
A) Gravel which was solely intended for public road use was taken and used on private property (Which would be theft, no matter who is in charge of calling it so)?
or
B) The gravel was intended for all to use on their driveways, and J used too much of it. Or his driveway is actually public property as well, but he overused his share of it. In this instance, I think that the Husband’s reaction is obviously over the top.

If it’s A, yelling isn’t constructive among two adults in disagreement, clearly. But I don’t think the same applies when one of them has broken the law. It’s not a disagreement at that point, its one person needing to make restitution, and refusing to do so. Coddling people like that only encourages their false belief that they are never in the wrong.

JenAnn September 14, 2015 at 9:01 am

Unless the president solely funds the village’s gravel expenditures from his own pocket, he is not the only one who has reason to be upset. And certainly is not even the person who has MOST reason to be upset.

Cat2 September 10, 2015 at 9:34 am

Again, I disagree that the village president did not take this as a big deal, rather than that he thought it had already been handled to the extent that the *most* important part was taken care of – that J would not be doing this again, in the face of B’s response to it. That he may not be pursuing billing J for the rock, or anything else may be in response to B’s overreaction in his handling of it, and is his form of diplomacy and letting the whole thing die down. This is not the same thing as it being taken for granted that he did not think the theft was a big deal.

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Jays September 9, 2015 at 7:02 pm

I’ve been a small-town (well, city) reporter, and nothing gets people more riled up than even the appearance that the relative of a town official committed some (even minor) wrong-doing … and that the official then failed to do anything about it. So I understand how unhappy the OP’s husband could be about this.
That said, I agree about the anger issues. I sounds like a real problem to me … and the OP didn’t help by reporting all the gossip back.
No one really came out looking well.

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BagLady September 9, 2015 at 9:20 pm

Regardless of whether B’s angry reaction to J’s theft was over the top, his anger is justified. J *did* commit theft, and B was right to tell him so. As a village trustee, it reflects very badly on him that a member of his family stole village property for his own use. The voters won’t care that he didn’t give permission for this — it still happened on his watch and involved his own family.

The only way that J could have atoned for his theft was to offer, in that first phone call, to apologize for taking the rock and offer to reimburse the village for it, or to rake every last pebble back into the alley and reimburse the village for the cost of regrading it. He did neither. And now he’s trying to justify himself as blameless because the only reason Uncle yelled at him is because Uncle has a brain injury.

Uncle apologized for the initial blowup. Nephew refused to accept the apology because Uncle called him a thief (which is true). And that set off another rage episode from Uncle. Yes, he probably does need anger management counseling, but I still think he’s a bigger person than his nephew, who neither admitted to stealing nor accepted a sincere apology.

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Ernie September 10, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Yeah, this is how I read it too. J strikes me as the kind of person who has uttered the phrases “I got a bad grade because the teacher hated me” and “the boss fired me because he’s mean”.

I really wouldn’t trust any third party account of how the Husband reacted in this situation, as J, and seemingly his mom C, seem to be the types to blame everyone but themselves for people being angry with them.

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Lisa Marie September 10, 2015 at 8:37 pm

I agree with BagLady. J is a thief, even if he admits it. I don’t think B owes him an apology, I think J should apologize and repay the town for the stone, which ( I work construction) cost hundreds not thousands of dollars. If he is not made to pay for his theft this will only encourage other community members and they too will take what the want from the town while the honest citizens pay for it.
I think B’s anger is justified and J puts a slight on their family name.

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SJ September 9, 2015 at 10:44 pm

When Nephew J says “more than his share,” it’s deceptive. He really shouldn’t have taken any at all, should he?

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David September 10, 2015 at 12:11 am

Mhop, I am sorry for your and your husband’s loss.

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Shyla September 10, 2015 at 1:15 am

I do not understand at all the sympathy for the nephew and the odium for the husband. J is a thief. The end. He stole and did not return it. B got mad and said some swear words. This does not make him a horrible person. It makes him human. Then B tried to apologize and was rejected. He got mad again. It does not say he blacked out. He did not remember “specifics.” I often have trouble remembering exactly what I said because I was so upset I was crying. I do not have a problem. I have emotions. (I discuss my times of being upset with a qualified therapist and she agrees.) B is a normal human who got angry. Have none of you ever been angry?

The fact that his relatives think a brain injury is funny tells me a lot. The fact that they think it’s ok to steal tells me a lot. I am really disappointed by those who say it was ok to take the gravel. I would recommend a therapist for B though. His family treats him awfully and he could use help dealing with that.

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Michelle September 10, 2015 at 7:48 am

I agree that J taking any gravel at all was *wrong*. However, I think calling someone a thief (even if they are one), especially a family member, and then cursing at them with “F-bombs” is not going to end well. If B has been able to hold his temper, maybe he could have asked J how he was going to replace/reimburse the village for the gravel he took.

My main issue was the wife reporting back the conversation she had with SIL while shopping. That did nothing to help diffuse/resolve the issue. In fact, if anything, it escalated the issue.

OP- my sympathies on your family’s loss.

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Ernie September 10, 2015 at 12:43 pm

That’s where I fell on this too Shyla. J stole, didn’t atttone for it, and acted like it was his due. He put the Husband in a terrible spot, both personally and professionally. Now he feels he is in the right becuase the person who he has wronged, repeatedly, dared to react to it?

I also think a lot is being made of a “black out”. The husband got really angry (because he is getting treated really terribly, though no one in his family seems to realize it), and didn’t remember some specifics.

“May swing on J” but didn’t actually swing on J is the same exact action as “Didn’t swing on J, just yelled at him.” It’s all being seen through the perception of a thief who fancies himself a victim.

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psammead September 10, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Agreed. This post certainly shows the folly of flying off the handle even when the anger is abundantly justified. Even people who regard themselves as experts on courtesy and proper behavior fall all over themselves to excuse the person who has roused your ire–even when they ungraciously brush aside your apologies, disrespect you in public, and go on to mock your disability.

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SS September 10, 2015 at 10:28 pm

Years ago, when I first started working with the public, I attended a training session about conflict resolution. The one thing that stuck with me was the number one rule…. No matter how mad you get or how upsetting the interaction becomes, NEVER NEVER NEVER use the f-word. A situation will never de-escalate after that. Anyone who ever says that to me has loses my respect, especially if they are supposed to be acting in an authority position and will not regain it back again. And it is even more disrespectful and offensive to use it towards a family member.

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Annie September 17, 2015 at 10:46 am

Use of the f-bomb is a cultural thing. I used to work in a culture where dropping the f-bomb constantly was normal. It was like a small safety valve to keep from saying anything worse. I never found it offensive when someone said it to me. Outside of that culture, I would find it offensive.

I am not sure whether the culture of OP’s husband “permits” this sort of thing. But I am sure that a few f-bombs dropped in anger are more forgivable than laughing at a loved one’s brain injury in cold blood.

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Catherine September 10, 2015 at 9:11 am

This reminds me of the story about a monk who also had a horrible temper. He would see red and go off on one of the brothers. He was warned about it and told he needed to learn to control it.
One day, a novice did something very, very stupid and the brother turned red, began to shake, and dropped dead on the spot. The other brothers were concerned about burying him in consecrated ground as he may have died in an unholy rage. The abbot spent some time trying to decide what to do and then he went to bed, still undecided.
During the night, an angel came to the abbot and said, “Don’t be afraid to bury brother in consecrated ground. He did not die from losing his temper. It was the mighty effort he was making to control it that caused his death.”
As a very slow-tempered person myself, this helped me to understand those with quick tempers.

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EllenS September 10, 2015 at 9:28 am

OP, the best thing for you to do in this situation is to resolutely refuse to carry tales or reports of any kind between the people who are upset with each other. That simply stirs the pot.

Fires need fuel and oxygen. There are people who talk badly about each other behind their backs (fuel), and their are people who carry the tale (oxygen). Stop one half or the other, and the fire will eventually go out.

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Cat2 September 10, 2015 at 9:40 am

mhop, sorry for your loss, thanks for replying and clearing up some of the misconceptions.

I certainly can see why you would want to stay out of it, but I think that if C thinks her son has done nothing wrong, that is something you can get back to her about in terms of she’s talking to you about it and you have your own opinion about what J has done. “Do you not understand why it was wrong for J to be taking this, and what a bad position that put B in as his relative and a trustee on top of that?” Noting that you’re not defending the extent of B’s reaction, and you’re not letting J and B’s issue be an issue between you and C, but that C’s reaction, and how she is talking to you about it is an issue between you and C that you’d like to clear up.

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Shannan September 10, 2015 at 10:43 am

I know this is completely random and off- topic but who refers to where they live as a village these days??????

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Angel September 10, 2015 at 11:32 am

J was certainly in the wrong, but B’s reaction might have been a little bit over the top. He may have some kind of PTSD from the head trauma. But if he can keep his temper in check with the OP–he needs to try to do the same thing with other family members. I couldn’t imagine screaming or cursing at any of my nephews–especially if they are trying to apologize!

In the end this is more about B making a huge mountain out of a molehill. He needs to suck it up and apologize for acting like a prat!

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Ashley September 10, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Too much drama over some dang rocks.

Yes, taking the rocks that were not his was wrong of J, because they were not his rocks to take. But, thankfully someone else on the city board saw some kind of humor in it and the situation was ultimately resolved trouble free and it’s doubtful J will take the rocks again.

But B’s reaction was over the top. Would he yell that much if it were anyone other than his nephew? Was he taking all his frustrations out on his nephew because he CAN’T take them out on other people in the city? That much yelling and screaming over a situation that was resolved and unlikely to be repeated is frankly, scary.

And now the drama has apparently carried over into other members of the family. Why? Just why? Point out to everyone involved that it was resolved and won’t happen again and that people NEED to put aside their differences and make up because this much drama over some dang rocks is about the dumbest thing I’ve seen on this site.

Also, I’d like to add to the list of people saying please use some kind of full name instead of just a letter. I can’t explain why the letters make it hard to follow, but it does. I can understand why in this situation full names were not used, because if this ever makes it back to the town in question, and people see their actual names up there and people now know it’s them, could cause actual issues. But at least use full names, like call B “Robert” and call J “Ted” and call C “Susie” or something not even close to their actual name.

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InTheEther September 11, 2015 at 3:08 pm

This got pretty rambling. To focus it in, my real issue here is that B DID apologize (though he probably should send an e-mail or letter admitting his part of the 2nd blowup). But J rejected an apology for harsh words said in temper and wants B to state that J did no wrong and apologize for having a fully justified negative reaction to J’s actions. And apologizing for having logical human emotions is where I draw a hard line. The council chose not to sue, but during the phone call neither J nor B knew they’d be so lenient and he still had to go to the president himself and say “My nephew stole the gravel from the alley and now the project can’t be finished”.

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NostalgicGal September 11, 2015 at 11:47 pm

Okay let this one age for awhile. What I understand is gravel or cracked or crushed stone was brought into resurface a roadway (main or alley) and someone took most of what was delivered and redid their driveway with it. Then they realized how bare the main way was now and called to see when more would be delivered-either to cover up the fact so much was missing, or they needed more, or both.

When J admitted he took the rock, the what should have happened was at the very least J should have paid for the missing stone, both the amount he took and the cost to have it delivered. Charges could have been filed because J took something that wasn’t his.

B should have stuck to that, that J pay for what he took and the cost of delivery.

I live in a larger town than that, and our ‘paved’ is a sort of tar with a shattered crushed grey granitic stone pebble that is pressed into it. It’s sort of cold pack asphalt with a chip surface. A lot of us have just the pebbles for driveways, and we bought it off the county. If they are resurfacing your road, at the time they’re working on it you can ask for, pay for, and arrange to have some tonnage dumped at your place to rake out. Notice the arrangements and you pay for it. I can see that place having something similar, either the packable stones or asphalt and the stones surface as their paving.

It should have never gotten to screaming, losing temper, or allowing J to get away with taking the rock. If I lived there, at the very least I’d be voting against B next time the position came up.

Here we had someone that worked for the county take a tank of gasoline. Instead of buy from a pump and get reimbursed, they just went to one of the storage tanks for the county vehicles and took a tankful. It cost them their job, they had criminal charges, and did end up with jail time, probation, fines and fees; for $15 of gasoline. Why did J get off with nothing done over taking the a good deal of 15 tons of rock? As for B, they do need some anger management and also should have stepped in immediately about fixing the issue one way or another, immediately. C and the OP shouldn’t even be involved.

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Bell September 13, 2015 at 9:10 pm

I never post but I have to say that I’m rather taken aback by Admin’s willingness to excuse the nephew’s theft and vilify B.

Regardless of what else happened, the nephew DID take something that did not belong to him without permission, which even my children know is the very definition of stealing. Forgiveness after the fact is not the same thing as permission beforehand.

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admin September 14, 2015 at 8:43 am

You as well as many others refuse to acknowledge that the village president and the village board of directors were apprised of the alleged theft and
it is NOT a big deal for them.

A You as well as others are offended on behalf of the village and you refuse to acknowledge that the village is NOT offended. How the OP’s husband handled the situation appears to have greater impact on the relationships within the village than the alleged theft did.

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InTheEther September 14, 2015 at 3:35 pm

First line should be “council chose to have” not “chose not have”

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A different Tracy September 14, 2015 at 10:14 am

“B informed our village president who thankfully found some humor in the situation and, recognizing that J would, of course, not be doing what he did again, said that the alleys would be re-rocked in the next year or so anyway.”

This doesn’t sound like no one thought it was a problem. This sounds like the village president DID recognize it was a problem – why else would there be the need to recognize that “J would, of course, not be doing what he did again?” Sounds more like the president decided not to make to make a big deal of it, and not that it was simply considered an appropriate thing to do.

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InTheEther September 14, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Okay, I might not be allowed to address the admin directly so we’ll see how this goes. I feel like the admin is starting to willingly ignore people’s points with the whole “well the council decided it wasn’t a big deal” bit whenever people point out that J’s actions were wrong. The president laughed it off, and the one time OP knows it came up during an official meeting the 3-6 members didn’t throw a fit about it.

That does not mean that no person in the whole village will be upset about this. I’m sure that other people who live near the alley and will have to deal with the sucky paving will be at least irritated about said sucky paving and there will be words about how the thing was supposed to have been fixed.

Even with the council letting J off the hook, J’s action were straight up ILLEGAL!!!!!!! This is the equivalent of me running a stop light since no cars were coming and the cop that pulls me over grew up with my dad. Since I didn’t hit anyone or cause any damage he laughs, tells me not to do it again and lets me off with a warning. Even though I didn’t get a ticket in this scenario and the cop was remarkably nice I was still in the wrong and if that got back to my family they would be justifiably angry with me.

In my post that did not go through I noted that according to the OP B told J that his actions in taking the gravel were legally an act of theft, not that B angrily started yelling that J was an thief and deserved to be in jail or anything similar. So B made a statement of fact pointing out the possible seriousness of what J had done (again, though they did not, the council could have reacted much worse to this news and neither J nor B knew at the time of the phone call that they wouldn’t).

B was wrong in that he should not have lost his temper to the point of cussing and yelling at his nephew on the phone. And it seems that once it became clear that the council was not going to throw a fit over the event he agreed with the admin about ‘no harm no foul’, hence his going and trying to apologize to his nephew. B was also wrong in loosing his temper a second time and I would suggest sending an e-mail or letter in regards to this, since I wouldn’t trust J to react any better to the 2nd apology than he did to the first one. Also note that B already took admins advice about apologizing. OP said nothing about B using J’s actions to justify his anger during the 1st attempt at apology. J brought up that he just knows that B still thinks of him as a thief on his own. This is also when J justified his taking the gravel.

J was wrong in that he did something stupid. If he were really going to be moral about it he would insist on his own that he make some kind of restitution. J is also wrong in that he chose to reject B’s apology. J instead insists that he did nothing wrong and apparently B is supposed to agree that J was totally within his rights to take the rock in the 1st place. B SHOULD NOT DO THIS, as it is all but encouraging J to do something similar to verify B’s acceptance of his actions and I sincerely doubt the council will be so lenient the 2nd time around. And now to compound J’s sins J is going around making jokes and telling people his uncle is crazy because only a crazy person wouldn’t condone J’s actions and insist that J can take anything he wants.

So yeah, I’m pretty much letting B off the hook for the blow-up on the phone as he tried to repent those actions. He’s still on the line for the 2nd fight. But the person who is keeping this rift going and spreading it further is J as J has yet to acknowledge that he did anything wrong, refuses to give any forgiveness for something pretty understandable, and it is J who is dragging other family members into this with his jokes about old uncle brain-damaged.

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FowlTemptress September 16, 2015 at 12:34 pm

I really wish people would use fake names instead of initials! It is so difficult to follow and I end up not reading the entire thing out of frustration.

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admin September 14, 2015 at 8:48 am

You are speculating with no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the claim.

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InTheEther September 14, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Fair point, feel free to ignore any suppositions on my part to J’s half of the phone argument.

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