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Situation with neighbor awkward after I ‘violated’ rules

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a man in my 50s, and I’m worried because my situation with an elderly male neighbor is awkward.

The man is probably in his mid-70s and is really energetic. Whenever he has free time, he cares for trees and does gardening in front of the condominium where he lives. I often see him chatting with female neighbors who are out walking their dogs.

The problem started when he told me I wasn’t parking my bicycle properly and said I wasn’t leaving my trash correctly at the garbage site. Since then, he doesn’t respond when I greet him. I also heard him talk to neighbors about me behind my back, saying, “That guy is strange.”

As he seems to have many acquaintances in our community, I’m worried I may end up being ostracized by my neighbors because I got on his bad side.

I don’t want that to happen. These days, I force myself to smile when I greet him. How should I deal with this? Please help me.

I, Tokyo

Dear Mr. I:

As you know why relations with the man soured, you must first make things better.

To maintain peaceful relations with neighbors, there are two main points — observing rules in your neighborhood and in the area where you live and exchanging greetings with your neighbors.

There are many other things, but these two are essential.

You are already greeting your neighbors, so now all you have to do is observe the rules.

In each community, there is a bulletin board where various notices, such as how and when to leave trash at garbage sites, are posted. These rules differ depending on the area, so read these notices carefully.

However, anybody can be careless and violate the rules. So if you get a warning, say you’re sorry and don’t do it again. It’s important. You shouldn’t bear a grudge against the person who warns you as long as the warning isn’t unreasonable.

You say you force yourself to smile when you greet him. I think this is the correct way to handle this. I think the man must open up to you eventually. Continue greeting him even if he doesn’t respond. Don’t get too upset about this.

Tatsuro Dekune, writer

(from Sept. 8, 2015, issue)Speech

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