Author Topic: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue  (Read 9229 times)

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TealDragon

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"Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« on: October 28, 2012, 08:02:36 PM »
I have a neighbor who is an older woman (70s-ish) and perfectly fits the stereotype of grumpy old lady who yells at the kids to get off her lawn. She lives across the street and about three doors down. I've had one conversation with her; when we first moved in, she came over to make sure we were not drug addicts and wouldn't be creating or selling any drugs or having any "hoodlums or rascals" hanging out on our curb that she'd have to look at or worry about breaking into her house. Now, I am very clean cut looking, my wardrobe involves a lot of cardigans and khakis and I own 7 different strands of pearls, so most people don't exactly jump to that conclusion when they meet me. My DF can look a little scruffy if he's just hanging around the house (which is his right) and physically looks a little intimidating, but also dresses himself well, and we are very interested in getting along with all of our neighbors and keeping the peace, and aside from an occasional afternoon of watching football, we are pretty quiet people. Aside from that one assumptive conversation, we have not spoken but if I happen to see her, I try to smile at her.

This morning, I was going out to get our newspaper when Mrs. Fussybutt was outside. She started calling out "Young lady! Young lady!" so I looked up at her and around and pointed to myself to see if she meant me. She made a face and said yes with a rude tone and came over to my yard. Then she told me that I needed to be aware that my planter boxes on my porch are almost dead and I need to keep up with my gardening better or else not keep one because it's unsightly and will make people think that this is a neighborhood that accepts delinquents and irresponsible college students. She said she knows who my landlord is and will let him know that I am letting his property fall apart because I'm "too busy partying and doing drugs or whatever you people do."

First of all, my planters are not dead at all, I've taken them in when it's too cold out, and she has no way of knowing their state unless she's been coming up on my porch, which I find creepy and meddlesome. Second, my yard and garden are well maintained and kept up because we enjoy using the yard and my attached next door neighbors enjoy gardening and I've told them that they are free to consider my actual garden space theirs because I don't have time to keep up with anything more than the small boxes on my porch. Also, my landlord hires a landscaper who comes bi-monthly to handle things like tree/hedge trimming and leaf clean up and lawn mowing, and this is included in my lease, so my landlord is well aware of the state of the yard. There is no HOA here and I really just don't think my yard is her business, unless maybe it posed a hazard to people. Third, it bothers me that she made the comments about a potentially dead planter box attracting the wrong sort, which basically amounts to young people. However I decided not to say anything about this to her because it would only lead to a fight. But probably at least half of these houses are occupied by college students since we live very close to a university and this is a neighborhood that is affordable and relatively safe. Fourth, the comments about me partying and doing drugs need to come to an end, like yesterday. Fifth, it took everything that I had not to address her as "Old Lady" when I went inside after all of the things that she said, but she did start the conversation off with me irritated at being addressed angrily as "Young Lady". What I ended up saying was "How kind of you to take an interest" and used an Icy Glare and went inside. I was too surprised to come up with anything else and it was 6am and freezing and dark outside, so I just wasn't in the mood to start anything with her.

I'm not sure how to deal with this woman, as being a pleasant (if silent and distant) neighbor and showing her that we are not delinquents or hoodlums has not had any effect. However, I will not be continually referred to as a drug addict/user/dealer when I and my DF are so vehemently against such things and live a completely opposite lifestyle. If she said this publicly, it would cost me my job because I work with children. If that happened and word of it ended up on the internet, it would very likely have a severe negative effect on my ability to pursue the career path I intend to (to become a barn manager and eventually build my own barn where people can board and take lessons). It would affect DF similarly as the field he is in grad school for is one involving government security clearances and having a sketchy past would prevent him from ever obtaining a high level position and current allegations of drug use would get him immediately kicked out of his program, no questions asked. And as for short term consequences, I have no idea if she is sharing these thoughts with other neighbors, but I'd hate for someone to get the wrong idea about us because some bitter old woman hates young people.

Also, I feel like the "young lady" thing is a separate issue. Unless I am a child and you are an adult and I'm in Big Trouble, I feel this is a very inappropriate way to address someone. However, in this case, we are both adults, and I do not appreciate being scolded like a little kid. I can't think of any situation where this doesn't come off in a very scolding manner or one that suggest the person being spoken to is inferior or a child. I'm not sure if those negative connotations are all my own or if others might feel the same way. Is it inherently rude to address someone this way, or are there times when it might be ok?

edit: left out a word
« Last Edit: October 28, 2012, 08:42:41 PM by TealDragon »

greencat

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2012, 08:17:21 PM »
You may want to approach her and inform her that if she comes on your property again, as she must have in order to have seen your planters, or if she continues to refer to you as a criminal, you will be pursuing legal action. 

Consult a lawyer for the actual how-to on the pursuit of the legal action in your area.

Kudos on the use of the E-Hell polite response!

Chickadee

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2012, 09:10:54 PM »
Well, since I'm not going to see 45 again, I don't mind "Young Lady" quite so much  ;) , but I do understand how you feel. Depending on the situation, there are times when I feel like I've done something Terribly Wrong when someone address me as "Young Lady".

Perhaps next time (hopefully there won't be one) you could introduce yourself to her:

"I don't believe we have properly introduced ourselves. I'm TealDragon." Hopefully she will remember her manners at that point and tell you her name.

If she doesn't, Smart-Mouthed Chickadee would ask if she prefers Mrs. Old Bat, or is just Old Bat okay. But then, Smart-Mouthed Chickadee isn't allowed out of her pen very often.

gramma dishes

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2012, 09:18:37 PM »


...    "I don't believe we have properly introduced ourselves. I'm TealDragon."   ...

I see your point, and it's a valid one, but I'm not sure I'd want this particular old woman knowing my name.   :-\

I'd preempt this woman and have a heart to heart with the landlord about her and her accusations.  He may have some suggestions on how to handle her. 
« Last Edit: October 28, 2012, 09:20:32 PM by gramma dishes »

weeblewobble

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2012, 09:24:00 PM »
I would pre-emptively contact my landlord and inform him/her that they may receive a call from Mrs. Old Bat regarding your "delinquent" planter boxes, and that said Old Bat has decided you are troublemakers for some reason and has been harassing you. If nothing else, you won't be put on the defensive and the landlord will be aware that neighbors are harassing his/her tenants. Which is bad for business.

Sharnita

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2012, 09:27:37 PM »
I can't help but think it might be a nice area when people speculate "Maude, I hate to say it but I think college students might have moved in next door."  Kinda funny that in her mind those are people she finds disreputable.

kglory

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2012, 09:30:15 PM »
I'd be concerned about the drug use allegations, especially for your husband -- for government security clearances, they really do interview all your past neighbors from every place you've lived.   Not to mention, it's just insulting.

If she starts in again, talking about "partying and doing drugs and whatever you people do," I don't think you'd be out of line to cut in and politely but matter-of-factly say: "Ma'am, we are both working professionals, and we don't do drugs or condone that behavior."

Amara

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2012, 09:30:36 PM »
"My good woman," said in hushed whisper as you glance furtively around, "please keep your voice down. DH has to operate only under certain conditions which I cannot disclose to you. The government requires that our planters maintain a certain look. Messages, you know. And danger. I wouldn't want anything to happen to you so please stay completely away. I can't even know precisely what he reads in the flowers but I do know it's important."

 >:D

kherbert05

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2012, 09:42:09 PM »
\As far as the neighbors go - they probably already know she is a nut case.


Your current job and DF's grad program - if gossip from an fruitcake can hurt you - speak up now. Hey boss/professor I have a bit of a pickle. I have this crazy neighbor that accuses everyone under 30 of doing drugs and partying all night. I'm worried about her hurting my professional reputation. What would be the best way to handle this?

I would also call your landlord and let him know you are having a problem with a neighbor making false accusations.

I would see if the university has some type of legal aid for students office and see if they could send something official telling her to stop slandering you and to stay off the property.


I once had a volunteer at the museum making slanderous statements about me. (according to her all pictures of kids on a computer were dirty and illegal. I had a digital camera that I used to document activities at the museum.) My boss threatened her with legal action if she didn't stop. She stopped.
Don't Teach Them For Your Past. Teach Them For Their Future

DollyPond

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2012, 10:19:22 PM »
Quote
"too busy partying and doing drugs or whatever you people do."

You people...really?

mindicherry

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2012, 11:01:21 PM »
Make a phone call to the landlord (or better yet, put it in writing) letting him/her know that Old Crazy Lady Up The Street is "at it again" (trust me, if he has owned this property for more than a few years, I am sure he has dealt with her before)

The next time she comes running over to you at SIX O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING (or any other time, but the 6:00am scolding, for me, gives you a "pass" to not worry about respecting your elders), just say "Please get away from me now.  I have no interest in what you are saying"...and then WALK AWAY and don't engage the crazy

TootsNYC

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2012, 12:03:47 AM »
\As far as the neighbors go - they probably already know she is a nut case.


Your current job and DF's grad program - if gossip from an fruitcake can hurt you - speak up now. Hey boss/professor I have a bit of a pickle. I have this crazy neighbor that accuses everyone under 30 of doing drugs and partying all night. I'm worried about her hurting my professional reputation. What would be the best way to handle this?

I would also call your landlord and let him know you are having a problem with a neighbor making false accusations.

I would see if the university has some type of legal aid for students office and see if they could send something official telling her to stop slandering you and to stay off the property.


I once had a volunteer at the museum making slanderous statements about me. (according to her all pictures of kids on a computer were dirty and illegal. I had a digital camera that I used to document activities at the museum.) My boss threatened her with legal action if she didn't stop. She stopped.

I would like to simply sign on here.

CaffeineKatie

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2012, 06:17:18 AM »
Oh lordy--nutty neighbors!  I've had a few and used dead silence to great success--I'd stand there, no response, until they ran out of steam in their rant and began to realize they just looked like a fool.  However, if this woman's flakiness can have longterm effects on your careers, I think the earlier suggestions of threatening legal action are good ones.  She's crossing the line; I doubt she will stop her bahavior, but at least she might pick a new target.  (My evil twin wants you to tell her "Wow, you're hallucinating again--I better call the police and have them take you in for medical observation."  I better stuff evil twin in the closet again >:D)

figleaf

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2012, 07:17:09 AM »
I agree with all those who recommended speaking up now with your landlord, and mentioning the old battleaxe's comments to anyone in your workplace who might be in a position to be influenced by her slanderous comments.

My work involves the security clearance process, and I can assure you that if one neighbor made such damaging comments during an interview, the investigator wouldnt take them as gospel, they would be required to prove or disprove them, and interviews with all of your other neighbors and landlord would discredit the battleaxe. I would, however recommend that your DF  be proactive and tell his security officer or background investigator about her shenanigans at the outset of his investigation. They'll still have to talk to her, but they'll be forewarned.

As for dealing with her personally, I would be icily polite, and immediately cut her off if she starts with the partying and drug talk. "Ma'am, you are making a baseless assumption about my DF and me, and it is clear that you have trespassed on my legally rented property, as well as on my good will. Rest assured, my landlord has been made aware of your comments and behavior, and my next step will be to contact the authorities to report your trespassing and slander. Do not approach me or DF again or come onto this property."

She hasn't made any attempt to be neighborly with you, and has been aggressive and assumptive when she has interacted with you. Your last reply to her is a good segue into telling her she needs to back off if she approaches you again. Make sure she knows you will not tolerate her spreading lies about you.

Good luck, it is so hard when you have unpleasant neighbors.

jane7166

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Re: "Young Lady!" and a nutty neighbor issue
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2012, 08:14:31 AM »
Well it's a good thing we don't need security clearances because our dead impatiens lingered in our plant boxes for over 2 weeks. 

If someone said that to me, I hope I would remember to say,icily, "Thank you for your concern.  I will give that matter all the attention it deserves."