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The return of Groucho Marx

I live in a brownstone in the Upper West Side, and for the past couple of years, there’s been a neighbor of mine who sits on our front steps and smokes cigars. First of all, I find the whole idea of sitting on someone else’s steps to be both rude and irritating. Surely if this was a neighborhood in the suburbs, I wouldn’t walk over to my neighbors house and sit on their front porch and make myself at home. From what I can gather, I’m fighting a losing battle, because it seems like it’s quite customary in New York City.

Since I’ve moved into my apartment, I’ve come home to a filthy starircase littered with cigar ashes and bits. It’s like a child who makes a mess and waits for his mommy to come clean up after him. While I have encountered this neighbor on several occasions, I never had the courage to address my annoyance until this afternoon when I came home from work. He sat there all wide-eyed, glaring down at his iPod as he sucked on his giant, smelly cigar, and ashed carelessly on my steps, a heaping pile already forming at his feet.

I asked, “Do you plan on cleaning up after yourself today?” He seemed dumbfounded that I had the audacity to ask him such a rude questions. “Uh, do I plan on cleaning up after myself,” he inquired, “Uh, no I don’t.”

I could immediately tell that this was the kind of person who prided himself on being a New York tough guy. He stood up and told me he didn’t like the way I was talking to him. I told him I didn’t care. He replied that I should “mind my f’n business and take it up with the owner.” I am minding my own business. Unfortunately, you have chosen to sit on my front steps and smoke that smelly thing and not clean up after yourself. He claimed that I didn’t own the building and that he lives next door, so that should be reason for him to be allowed to do whatever he pleases. Um, excuse me you inconsiderate bastard, but I pay quite a lot of money to live in this apartment and I shouldn’t have to be subjected to this disgusting habit of yours everyday. Go smoke on your own front steps.

We exchanged a few more barbs before I went up to my apartment. When I came back downstairs to take out the recycling, he was no longer sitting on my front steps, rather he was standing on the curb talking to some woman.

Here’s the thing, I know that New Yorkers like to sit on other people’s front steps like they are relaxing on a park bench, but I find it frustrating. I called my landlord tonight and emailed them and am awaiting a reply. He’s been asked several times by our super not to sit on our steps, yet he continues to do so. Any thoughts on how I should proceed?

Boris Knott replies-One solution that comes to mind is to provide an ashtray.

ill literate it

I moved into a 24-home neighborhood in the suburbs of Southwest Florida a few years ago, hardly a “gated” upscale community, but one of mobile homes that are well-maintained and where the residents own their property. During the brief time I’ve been here, I’ve landscaped my property far more than anyone else, some of whom have lived here, like my next-door neighbor, for 15 years or more. On moving into my house, I gave a rare tropical fruit tree that cost me $62 (a guanabana tree) to the 80+-year-old neighbor next door as a goodwill gesture. I have 24 different tropical fruit trees planted symmetrically around my land, am taking full advantage of the climate to enjoy fresh fruit and the beauty these trees have to offer.

Anyway, recently a female stray dog has been hanging around our street. She was emaciated and obviously weak. I called animal control folks and they said they were too short-staffed to respond. I began to place food and water out for the hapless creature. She reluctantly ate it, twice daily, and finally would even approach me and take hot dogs gently from my hand. My goal was to get her accustomed to and trusting of me so perhaps I could adopt her as a pet. Recently she gave birth to a litter of puppies under the porch of my elderly neighbor. He called animal control on his own, which his his right, and this time they did respond. They placed a “catch cage” in his yard with food, and when I approached and asked about how to adopt the dog, once captured, the neighbor (who is 87) loudly cursed me, saying I was the cause of his problem having the litter on his land, and he raised his fist and said, “If you don’t leave right now, I’ll lay you out,” meaning physically assault me. I was stunned, and the surly animal control fellow offered no comment on adoption, simply said, “If you tamper with the dog after she is caged, you can face arrest and a fine.”

I assured him I obey all laws and would even remove my feed/water bowls from my yard. Frankly, at age 65, I was amazed how rude, inconsiderate and ignorant acting some people can be. I’ve resolved to never again look at or speak to this neighbor. At his age, I assume Mother Nature will, obviously, neutralize my problem one day via that thing called “old age.” Perhaps one can see why I prefer animals over people. People can act, as Mark Twain said long ago, like the lowest form of animal–irrational, heartless and cruel. “

Boris Knott replies-Great story – hope it turns out well for you and Mom.


We live in a neighborhood where most people are very friendly and take pride in maintaining their homes – except for the person across the street from me. The lady who owns the house is okay, but her adult niece and her children live with her and have turned the house into a complete dump. Her string of live-in boyfriends have turned the yard in to an auto junk yard – with cars up on blocks and even an old, broken vending machine just sitting in the driveway for months – and she spends almost every day and night (usually till about 1am) sitting in her yard in age-inappropriate clothes chain smoking, drinking and having loud, profanity-laced conversations with her friends that are hard not to hear.

All that aside, I have always been polite to her, as well as to all my other neighbors. I help her elderly aunt with the trash cans in bad weather. For Halloween, I put special trick-or-treat baskets together for all the neighbors’ kids and at Christmas I drop a card and cookies off to everyone.

Her older daughter is very polite and always asks me to her birthday party, so I make sure to drop off a gift for her every year. When her kids are selling raffle tickets for school fundraisers or girl scout cookies, I always happily buy a few. I have even babysat for her (at no cost, of course) several times when she needed to run out abruptly. Most of the neighbors are so disgusted with her that they don’t even acknowledge her but I, being the newbie on the block (now I’ve been there about three years), I started with a clean slate with her and we’ve always made friendly conversation when we see each other. I looked the other way on the fact that she leaves party decorations up in her yard for weeks, till they get washed down and blow all over my yard for me to clean up, or the fact that she lets her kids draw in chalk all over my driveway when I’m not home.

For the last 8
months or so, I’ve hit my breaking point with her. Her friends have been parking in front of my house every single day – even though there is more than enough parking in front of her house for them to park there (I guess they just don’t want to take 2 extra seconds to turn their cars around). I ignored it for a while but last winter we had a lot of snow and they continually blocked my walkway, making it difficult to shovel & access the mail box, and all summer they took up all my parking so my frie nds had nowhere to park when they come over. Plus, quite frankly, I just don’t
like the way it looks and it seems totally unnecessary. I work hard to afford my house and I feel like I’m being walked all over. Plus there is an influx of cigarette butts and fast food wrappers on my lawn – none of which are mine.
Although it’s not against any laws to park there, it’s just not something that people in my neighborhood do (everyone has plenty of their own parking…as does this person). I spoke to her friends at the beginning of the summer (after they had left their cars there for two straight days to go away for the weekend…during which time I had a BBQ and no place for my guests to park) and very politely asked them to park in front of her house. I have also spoken to her aunt about it. Despite attitude and eye rolls, they moved for a few weeks but for the last month they have been there again every.SINGLE.day.

Yesterday I walked by her when walking my dog so I stopped and politely mentioned that her friends have been – and were at that very
minute – parking in front of my house every day. She got in my face yelling at me, repeatedly telling me it’s a free country and she’s a f*cking mother so not to tell her what to do and that I’m a b*tch, etc. and giving me the middle finger. I have NEVER been talked to like that and I pointed out that I have always gone out of my way to be a courteous neighbor and went above and beyond to be accommodating, and I’m just asking for some courtesy in return – to which she continued to swear and tell me I can’t make her do

What can I do?? I love our house and neighborhood and now every time I see her friends pulling up in front of my house I know it’s deliberate disrespect (not just people who are oblivious to courtesy). I don’t want to do anything to make the situation even more hostile, but it’s not fair to be treated like that at my own home!

Boris Knott replies-stories are usually edited for length but this one was so well written that we published the whole story. Any suggestions on how to deal with this rude neighbor?

Jerry Wallbanger

Our only crime is being too nice! We live in a condo and our next door
neighbor is a problem for 2 years now. When we first moved in, I thought
this guy seemed kind of dim witted, but my husband is Mr. Friendly and
decided to be buddies with him. I didn’t say anything. Then the neighbor
started calling and texting day and night, wanting rides, demanding my
husband come outside to help him with things, even during dinner.
My husband changed his number and we cut off the sort-of friendship.
Ever since then, we can’t run into this guy outside without him harassing us.
We try to be civil and ignore him but nothing makes it stop.

A lot of times he bangs on the wall we share. We went to the cops
anyway for help. They told us that’s just what happens when you live
in a condo and that they can’t do anything until he attacks us, and
that they’re sorry but being an idiot isn’t illegal. So there’s
nothing we can do. We own, we don’t rent, and we owe more than what
our condo is now worth. The neighbor is a renter but he just won’t
leave. Ay Carumba! I just don’t want my kid involved in this kind
of stuff. We never “fight back” because we think it’s trashy and we
don’t want to be living Jerry Springer over here. We just want peace
and quiet to live our lives. Never doing condos again! I think my next
move is out to the country where my neighbors are a mile away! lol

Howdy Rowdy Neighbors!

Everything was fine and dandy when we first moved in. Yes the neighbors kids seemed a touch rowdy but boys after all. It was not until our second week here I realized why they cannot keep a
tenant in our condo! It started out simple, screaming matches, items being thrown, moms car window being broken with rocks (by her kids). It all came to a head though when one of the boys lay
on the floor in our living room literally kicking and screaming calling my husband profane names. I was unsure exactly what to do at this point! We were watching him for his parents. They left
their meeting and came and got him.

Nothing was done. Nothing was done when their oldest told my daughter she was slutty, nothing was done when their kid threw rocks at my husbands head, nothing was done when the 13 yro wrecked
our bonfire in the back yard and smashed the bonfire pit we made, nothing was done when one of the boys put rocks in front of our door hoping my husband would break his ankle, nothing was done
when their 16 yro broke out windows with golf balls, nothing was done when they let their trash pile up in the basement ATTRACTING RATS, nothing was done when they left a pile of cigarette butts
in my driveway, nothing was done when they opted to dump half their trash in the rubbish bin and half on the ground, nothing was done when they started to walk their dog in MY front yard to go,
nothing was done about the fact they now seem to be running a hostel with over 10 people living in their unit now There is no discipline with these children. What the hell people what the hell!

Brooking a rude neighbor

The woman who lives next door is very rude and has no respect for anyone. She has parties all the time with people drinking and doing drugs outside. She always has new people living with her and she keeps a dog outside all the time at all hours and it does not stop barking.

Editor’s note. The writer of this e-mail complaint gave her address and warned people not to move next door to her rude neighbor, Rudeneighbor.com does not publish addresses ornames, but we will report that this rude neighbor lives somewhere in Brooklyn.

Fencing duel

Our neighbor keeps getting worse with each passing year.
We try our best to be on good terms with him.
We say hello, wave and smile when we see him.
We have our lawn mowed every two weeks and keep our dogs quiet and in our own yard.
He is some kind of ex athlete , child star that believes he should be paid attention to.
He admitted that he climbs the fence when we are not home and goes in our back yard.
He did not say what the reason was.
He left an obnoxious bullying note about the adjoining fence.
There are two other neighbors, we all share a common fence and there haven’t been any such problems!
He told us to get a wire fence inside our own fence!
Every 5 days or so he cuts his grass and dumps every bit of the clippings , clumps and dirt right in front of our driveway.

He does it only when we are gone or sleeping.
This has gotten worseover time.
Recently, he had a deck built.
He never lets anyone visiting or working park in his driveway, He instructs them to park in front of our home.
We would appreciate any advice on this matter.


Dual Exhaust

I’m just exhausted with neighbors and renting. It’s hard to deal with those who don’t respect shared dwellings.

We’ve moved numerous times for bigger space or more amenities or to avoid cigarette smells coming through the vents only to be upgraded with bigger problems that only seem to come back on you in the end.

All we ask is to have our share of the duplex we rent but we get more then our share.

We get the share of dog mess that piles up week after week, and the neighbors truck that stays parked in front of our garage.

All this boils down to being told that we don’t need to be babysat and all we do is complain about everything.

We ask nicely and still it’s a losing battle and the neighbors nasty letters pile up.

Being a nice neighbor is taken for granted and apparently being unhappy and dealing with being walked on is our only option til we have to move yet again.

If there’s a nice neighbor out there I admire you for keeping your sanity.

Most of these stories sound worse than mine.

Hopefully we all find our happiness and live peacefully, after all that’s what this life should be about.

Fighting is exhausting.

Movin’ on out

Where to begin?

For some reason I’ve had a spate of bad neighbors. Years ago I was living in a
triplex. I was in the middle. Imagine. On the one side was this couple
that had screaming fights fairly regularly. Fortunately they didn’t last long.
On the other side was the dirtbag. This guy would wait until I got home from
work, tired and ready to drop, then flip the switch on his super stereo and
blast the most outrageous, thumping music till 10 or 11 pm. It was so loud that
the base would literally knock the pictures off my walls. You could look at a
bathtub of water and see the vibrations, similar to those when a rock is thrown
into a pond.

Moved and rented a house thinking that having my own walls and space would be
better. It was, but only barely. The neighbors across the street liked to party
and in the morning I’d find beer bottles in my yard and in my tree.

So we moved again. This time we had a neighbor who liked to stand outside his
house and curse at the top of his lungs. Just crazy. We heard that he had some
kind of war trauma or something. He also liked to climb the fence and go into
our yard to cut down plants that he didn’t like. I asked him about it and he
says “Yep, sure did. That stuff will spread to my side if I don’t”.

The next place we chose out of desperation to get out of the last situation. A
place in the country that I hope will give us some privacy. But though we have
land around us, now we are across the street from a tavern. The guy who had the
house before us told us that this tavern only has 4 concerts a year. Four turned
into 8 for us. Big events with thousands of people and hundreds parking all
along our property line. Drunks throwing beer bottles in our yards, jumping our
fence, vandalizing, stealing and cursing me in the most foul way in front of my
4 year old daughter. The owners of the tavern also allow people to park all
night next to us and we’d get car horns and alarms going off in the wee hours
complete with flashing headlights in our windows.

Keep in mind that we have always been very polite neighbors that mind our own
business and only react after taking abuse for an extended period of time as we
don’t like confrontation. But it seems that some people take quietness as
weakness and use the opportunity to get out their aggressions and frustrations.

So were moving again. I hope this time we can find some decent people to move
next to. Maybe another country?

Editor’s note. This rude neighbor story was edited down for space concerns. There were
other rude neighbors who were also plenty rude.

Barrier Larry

I have a neighbor who took offense to our new driveway at a property we are rehabbing as a rental.

He and his wife continued the harassment along our deeded right of way through
his driveway, erecting barriers to our property, doorway and oil tank fill
pipes. We finally were so fed up that we made funny videos and put them on

After a year of taking the high road, ignoring these nuts and others
who resented our presence, we feel a great sense of peace knowing the world can
see this pathetic fool. We did nothing to this man.

My Neighbor from Hell ACT I Revised