About a year ago my wife suffered (and largely recovered from) a mild stroke. As a result she can’t be exposed to too much direct sunlight and has an exacerbated reaction to insect bites. So, we decided to screen and cover our rear deck. The handyman whom I hired to work with me explained that we didn’t need a permit because we were merely making an improvement on an existing structure in the rear of our home. So, we proceeded with the work (silly us).
Yesterday (a Saturday so local government offices were closed) a police officer came to our home and informed us that someone had complained and unless we had a permit to carry out this project, further work had to cease.
Two thoughts entered my mind:
1. Now my wife and I will have to traverse the local government’s complicated, time consuming, and potentially expensive bureaucracy.
Then I recalled all the other times neighbors have reported other neighbors for real or imagined infractions of a city ordinance.
2. Couldn’t the ‘neighbor’ who contacted the city have said something directly to us? Was that asking too much? Maybe. Why would someone want to contact authorities about a project that did not infringe on their space, or that interfered with their peace and comfort? No idea. Had I done something that aggravated them? Perhaps, but I’ll never know unless they tell me. Were they worried about a possible confrontation with me? Possibly. Has the reporting neighbor any idea of the time and money I must now spend to possibly correct the situation? No idea.
How many neighbor-to-neighbor relationships are wrecked because direct conversations never took place? Probably thousands.
So, in the interest of finding an alternative to tough conversations that may never take place but should, I intend to start a neighbor to neighbor mediation effort to help mend fences, pre-empt neighborhood disputes, and bring some balm to wounded relationships.
Stay tuned to see how this moves forward…..
Lynn Rosen says
I’m distressed by the intrusions into your lives because of a neighbor’s unwillingness? inability? to speak directly with you. Nevertheless your response to all of this is both brilliant and compassionate. Thank you, anew, for modeling how to be in relationship in our world.