Ask Mindy: Love Thy Neighbor

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Ask Mindy

Readers, it’s that time again: time for another “Ask Mindy.” Welcome back to the world of Mindy Morals, the ethics astronaut from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Houston, we have a moral dilemma! In this installment, Mindy answers questions about neighbors.

Dear Mindy,

I am a shareholder in a very fancy East Side co-op. I won’t say which one since I’m thinking of selling my apartment and escaping and I don’t want to hurt my chance of a profit. I’m thinking about that because two of my neighbors are making my life a living hell, even though they no longer live together. He’s a public figure and a lawyer so our board seems understandably afraid of him. He’s also a drunk who was sometimes poured to the curb in front of the building, totally hammered. It would be front page news if this ever came out. He was out when she filed for divorce. We hoped for a reprieve. But she’s no prize either. And things have gotten no better. They used to scream at each other so loudly it reverberated through the building. Now, I guess, she’s just screaming at God, because his departure hasn’t helped matters. Then there’s the screaming at our doormen and super. I want to go to Page Six. Should I, Mindy?



Mad as Hell on Madison


Dear Madison,

I’m afraid that whatever political scandal you’re hinting at here is well beyond my pay grade—as regular readers of Ask Mindy know, the world Mr. Morals and I inhabit is as apolitical as they come. I haven’t voted since 1976. Who even is the President now? Is it Paul Tsongas?

But I’ll try my best to answer your question. Calm, respectful, well-meaning neighbors are easy to deal with. But irrational kooks? That’s much, much harder. It sounds like there’s nothing to be done by engaging with your neighbors—if anything, doing so will only tip them off that any resulting censure is your fault.

Nor does blabbing to your co-op seem particularly wise. From what I know, those sort of organizations can take years to actually do something.

I don’t think leaking to Page Six is a bad idea, Madison. It seems unlikely that one loud tenant would seriously scare off homebuyers—if anything, a little bit of notoriety might well raise your building’s value. And the embarrassment the co-op board feels when the story goes public might well result in the one thing you want most: an eviction.


Dear Mindy,

I just moved into a new apartment complex. I brought a fruit basket to every one of my neighbors. “Howdy,” I said to them. “I’m your new neighbor. I’m happy to be a part of this new community.”

For the most part they were nice, except for one. “We were doing just fine without you,” he said. “I remember when Old Tony lived in your apartment. He was better than you’ll ever be.” And he spat in my fruit basket and shut his door.

I want to be a good neighbor, but this guy—he’s just so difficult, Mindy! I don’t know what I can do!



Basket Case


Dear Basket,

When I moved into my first apartment, I got along with all my neighbors except one. “Hey Morals,” he used to yell at me from down the hall. “You better stop with all that ruckus or I’m going to call the police on you!” I told him that I wasn’t making any noise, but he refused to believe me. Ultimately, he got fined for frivolous complaints—I really wasn’t making any noise—and moved out.

I bring this up just to say that you can’t get everybody to like you. And provided that they aren’t doing something actively harmful to you, that’s okay. You might try doing the good neighbor routine for a little longer—always saying hello, assuring your neighbor that you have no intention of replacing Old Tony—but if that still doesn’t work, it might be time to admit defeat. Sometimes it’s just the other guy’s fault, not yours.


Dear Mindy,

For over a decade, I’ve lived in a charming brownstone on a charming, tree-lined street. Or at least it was charming.

Recently, an entire block of row houses across the street was torn down to build a 40-story high-rise. The new building is only a few stories high right now, but it’s alright starting to blot out our sunlight. And the construction is so loud! Every morning, I wake up to loud cranes and hammering.

My wife and I are at our wit’s ends, but we don’t know what to do. Any advice, Mindy?



If you Build it, They Will Ruin Your Property Values


Dear Build,

It seems like they’re building something new everywhere these days, doesn’t it? In Fayetteville, where Mr. Morals and I live, they recently tore down the old Wanamaker’s to build a big new Whole Foods. Let’s just say it left a “whole” alright—a hole in my heart!

There’s little that you can do to stop the pace of progress, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s all good. But the best revenge is always living well. For now, the high-rise is a noisy mess. But when it opens for business, try befriending your new neighbors. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

That’s it for this week, but Mindy is always taking questions. Need help solving your dilemma? Just email You just might read your answer in next week’s column.


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