Sunday, June 6, 2010

Firing The Neighbor: Part 2

So to recap, I put up a fence and then my neighbor painted it without asking me first. Shocking and a little bit strange, I know.

I am a firm believer in property rights - mine, to be specific. I get a little bent out of shape when I see people encroaching on my land (or my view). The former I have a right to, the latter merely an expectation.

So I made it clear that I expected her to pay to have it fixed; she claimed she couldn't afford it. (So why was she wasting paint on my fence? She apparently thought she was being "neighborly".)

"Look", I said, "you have clearly made a mistake. We all make mistakes. The important part is what you do about it. I have no wish to call the police, make a complaint, and sue you for the money, but I can. I'm sure you don't want that either, so let's make a deal."

"You buy me new pickets and rails. I'll try to sand the paint off the posts with my belt sander (yay, power tools!) and rebuild the fence. Your job is to get the paint off of my house, both siding and concrete. If this doesn't work, then I'm hiring someone to do it and you're paying for it."

"Deal?" Deal.

She had written us a note and put it on our doorstep asking us not to be "mad". I'm not happy, I told her, but I'm not mad. You make it right and then we'll be squared up; if not, then I'll be mad. Our religion tells us to be forgiving, but also to make up for our offenses.

So instead of fixing my shed door, ramp, and tractor I instead rebuilt the fence. And other than pulling some muscles in my back, every thing is mostly OK. Not great, but OK; I definitely wouldn't hire me to do this professionally.

I used this as an opportunity to show a little mercy while still insisting upon righting the wrongs. I also used it as a lesson for the Nodlings on how to resolve disputes and apply some Christian values at the same time. I was firm but I never raised my voice or called my neighbor nasty names. We solved the problem in the most economical manner and I donated all the sweat equity.

How many times must I forgive my neighbor? Seventy times seven, which means a whole lot. Some day I may be in need of the same.


evanscove said...

Sounds like you had some tense moments! Life does love to throw curve balls at us, doesn't it?

But I'm glad you didn't end up having World War 3 with your neighbor over this. Sounds like they don't have much in the way of common sense. Go figure. And it sounds like they need to get rid of the vicious hell hound of theirs!
I hope this week goes much better for you.

Be blessed!


Nod said...

Thanks for the sympathy, Evan.

To be clear, the clueless neighbor with the fence is to the right, the nice neighbor with the hell-hound fence is in back.

Sweetums5 said...

Wonderful example of forgiveness without being a doormat. Thanks for sharing!


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