Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When Being Nice Isn't Nice

For the last few days there's been a sign on a car that I pass in my neighborhood. This morning I finally slowed down to see what it said.

The car is a new-looking black SUV parked in the gravelly area in front of someone's house. There is no sidewalk or curb there, and it's nowhere near other peopls's houses.

The sign says something like: "Please move your car from our house within one week."

It's sad, but I had to laugh. The homeowners think that someone needed to temporarily park their car in their gravel area, nowhere near other homes, and they're being amazingly considerate to give the person a week's notice before calling it in.

Except what I suspect is going on is that the car was stolen and dumped at the house, and that week's grace period is just another week that the car's owner is going to be separated from their vehicle. Sometimes it really is nicer to just call the city, really.

Another case in point: Surely I wasn't the only one bothered by the blaring music that suddenly came on at 2:00 a.m. last Wednesday. It was coming from a car parked several houses away, yet it rattled my bedroom windows.

In the old days, when I lived on Capitol Hill and then in the Eastlake neighborhood, I would go over to neighbors' places in middle of the night if their loud music bothered me. Me and my husband paid many middle-of-the-night visits to neighbors when the music got loud enough to rattle windows.

But ever since my Beacon Hill neighbor a few blocks away went out at 2:00 a.m. last September to deal with some noisy people and got shot to death for his troubles, I am not having any more middle-of-the-night noise discussions. Unfortunately, if you have a late-night noise complaint and you don't want to risk getting shot, the city forces you to tie up the 911 system. (The noise complaint line is unstaffed, as is the precinct non-emergency number.)

But what are you going to do, just let someone wake up the whole neighborhood at 2:00 a.m. on a Wednesday and keep them up for half an hour? How nice is that?


PM said...

Earlier this year, when we were still living in our Mid Beacon Hill house, my parents came over to take some unwanted plants, and found what turned out to be a stolen Honda parked in our backyard. I think that was really our last straw. (In our seven years there, there were two separate murders at 23rd and Graham, our car was broken into once, another one of our cars was stolen, and yet it was the parking stolen property in our yard that was the straw that broke this camel's back.)

Anonymous said...

I'm having troubles posting this so sorry if duplicates show up.
Please do not hesitate to call 911! I know it's completely ridiculous to tie up the emergency lines for stolen cars and I also had to over come my problems with this system but 911 gets results....
Recently we discovered a large safe with the door blown off left in front of our neighbor's driveway. My husband and another neighbor asked him what was up with the safe blocking his driveway. He said someone dumped it. We told him to call the police but he didn't want to. I guess having your driveway blocked for all eternity by an obviously stolen safe was a better idea. It is Seattle after all...we don’t want to upset anyone.
I called the police the next day from my work and the safe was gone by the time I got home.
I've also had cars hauled away. Don't take half the day knocking on all your neighbors' doors trying to be nice. Don't start thinking it over too much. Just call and have the damn thing hauled. I've also called 911 when our drunken neighbors who live behind us start burning their trash in the over grown alley in the middle of August. Happens several times each summer. The flames shoot up over our 2 story house. You can feel the heat from our balcony. Apparently this is ok with all the other neighbors because we're the only ones that call 911. The fire truck shows up, lectures the drunken mom, pop & children, and we're good to go until the next drunken trash burning party. It's almost gotten comical. Anyway, I'm ranting. The point is - please call 911!

litlnemo said...

I must admit that when the loud 2:00am parties start at the triangle park on Beacon I have never thought once about going over there and asking them to quiet down. It's straight to 911 for that.

Anonymous said...

Agree with @2 - call the police next time this happens. Whether it's a neighbor or a visitor doing this, he/she will get the idea that this neighborhood won't tolerate that kind of crap. I called the police when the "family" (we all think it's a boarding house) behind me were yelling at this little girl for over 15 minutes - she was sobbing and they were relentless. I told the cops over the phone that I don't mean to be a buttinsky and there could be cultural differences here at work, but BULLSH!T on this abuse - I could not sit there and know I didn't at least try to stop it. Our neighborhoods here are nice but we've got to keep things in line because all it takes is one house, one bad neighbor and it's all downhill.

JvA said...

Grr. I just submitted an abandoned vehicle notification and got this message:

Thank you for contacting the Abandoned Vehicle Website.

The application used to support this program will be down from 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20, 2008, until the morning of Tuesday, May 27, 2008, for a scheduled upgrade.

All Customer Request Forms received during the upgrade outage will be read after the upgrade is completed on Monday, May 27, 2008. You do not need to resubmit your inquiry at that time.


William E. Edwards, Director
Parking Enforcement Unit

Darby N. DuComb, Director
Customer Service Bureau

Amie said...

I had the opposite experience with my neighbors.

When I bought my house the former owners warned me about "the kids next door". I was told that they were terrible neighbors, that they weren't to be trusted, and that they had been caught attempting to rob my soon to be house.

It turns out these kids were in one of the toughest gangs in Seattle. Their philosophy was that home was home and gang activity belonged elsewhere. Sure, they looked scary and I had the occasional stolen vehicle dumped in my parking spot, but I have never felt safer or had better neighbors. When kids from another gang moved in and started causing trouble, they were the ones who put a stop to it.

The reason I had such a great experience was that I never called the police. If they were too loud I talked with them directly. I had dumped cars towed rather than calling them in (I left that to the tow companies).

Its all about respect. I made the effort to get to know these kids before trouble started so that I wouldn't just be the bitchy, cop-calling neighbor and they appreciated it.

Anonymous said...

Nice. Sounds like a great experience - and having stolen cars dumped in your parking spot? Ya gotta love it. Glad you had such a heartwarming, Hallmark movie relationship going on there, Amie. That's touching.


Anonymous said...

Amie, I understand the first part of your post regarding dealing with neighbors directly- if that’s possible to do. But I’m having trouble relating to the rest of your post.
First off I’m not sure we should be ok with your gang member neighbor’s philosophy that home is home and gang activity is elsewhere – that elsewhere is some other neighborhood and that is not ok.
Second - do they really deserve our respect? Why? Is calling the police regarding the occasional stolen car parked in your driveway a sign of disrespect? How about stealing a person’s car? Is that such a wonderful act of respect? Have you any idea what a person has to endure when their only car is stolen? How about if that person has kids to take to and from school and a job to go to every day that pays for the car and the insurance and the schools and the mortgage? How about having to use sick days, personal days, vacation days from work to deal with the punks who stole your car? I just hate this whole mentality of victimizing the victims but certainly let’s show respect to these jerks. It’s crazy.
Third – Your comment regarding “bitchy neighbors” calling the police is so wrong. It really smacks of calling us snitches – what’s that all about? I’m sure the police would much rather a person call them to deal with out of control neighbors rather than you take matters into your own hands. It worked for you and I’m glad you didn’t get hurt but we all know so many more cases where it tragically didn’t work out.
I really agree with the poster who wrote we need to keep calling the police to make it known we will not tolerate this activity and behavior in our community.
This is called SELFRESPECT

JvA said...

The day after I called the police about the noise last week, my husband went and talked to the neighbors about it. (They said it wasn't them -- it was their friend.)

Last night another neighbor was woken up by them (or their friend, whatever) at 3:00 a.m. She also called the police. And tonight she and I will go over to talk to them AGAIN.

I'm all for approaching neighbors directly when there's a problem -- I'm just never going to approach anyone in middle of the night ever again. It's just too risky.
For me, calling the police at the time and talking to the neighbors directly when it's light out seems like the best approach.

Although I don't know how many weeks in a row I want to go over and talk to them about their noise. You'd think with the toddler in their house, they'd have their friends keep a lid on it for their own sake!

Amie said...


I didn't expect to get blasted by people who won't identify themselves for things I didn't say (and generally don't agree with)!

My post was about being respectful in how you communicate, not about the other issues that have come up. For that reason I will not respond to them. My point was, and still is, that some of us have managed to turn a shitty situation into something livable, if not positive.

To clarify - the police were called by the towing company. That means that reports were made and the vehicles were promptly returned to their owners (I checked).

NoneoftheAbove said...

For what its worth. The car is still there.

JvA said...

But the sign's been taken off the back of it!