Dear Neighboor


I’m sorry you’re unhappy. 

Maybe not at this moment, but it is evident that whenever you have occasion to walk past my porch, you are unhappy. I make this inference based on the note you left taped to my door, coupled with the reasoning that someone of a neutral emotional state would not feel moved to post such a thesis. 

Let me be clear: I admire your breathtaking display of passive-aggressiveness, and I want to return the thought in kind. Full disclosure, part of my motivation here is selfish. I’m planning to write another “Every Game I Played This Year” post, and I would hate for the 2021 and 2020 lists to be right next to each other on the blog roll. 

But the remainder of my reason for writing this response is because I think you deserve it. So I hope that the energy contained within this blog post, which I don’t expect you to read, finds its way to you. 

Now then. I want to take a moment to walk you through some of the things you’ve failed to consider when suggesting that I sweep my porch.

First, let’s talk about leaves. They fall from trees, land on the ground, and then somehow end up on my porch. A stranger might assume that the wind deposits all those leaves on my porch, but you live here, so you should know better. You know that our apartment complex has contracted a landscaping crew that seems to show up at minimum three days a week. We all have to tolerate the dirge of their leafblowers while they carry out their mission, which is to remove leaves from the sidewalks and breezeways between our units. And do you know where those leaves end up?


You know where those leaves end up.

Next, I find it curious that in all your time looking in on my porch, you never once locked eyes with my esteemed work-from-home supervisor, Artemis. Several times a day, she likes to part the blinds and observe her subjects. I’ll have you know that although she has a lot to say about squirrels and cardinals, she has never complained about the state of my porch. Her opinion matters to me more than anyone. Don’t you think I would have busted out the broom if I thought it would make her happy? 


Besides, I think she probably likes all the dirt and leaves because it encourages critters to crawl around out there, which brings me to my next point.

You can’t see this from outside, but there is a wasp nest dangling from the underside of my porch’s railing. Is it too cold for wasps to be active? Probably. Is the nest broken and abandoned? It looks like it at a glance. Does the mere presence of a hive of evil insects discourage me from setting foot on my porch? Yes. Moving on.

Finally, in a hypothetical where the nest was gone, I want you to think about the circumstances within which I would actually use my porch. My apartment is, of course, on the ground floor. The scraggly hedge out there offers no seclusion—you’ve proven as much. Other people, like the neighbor two floors above me, like to step out onto their porch to smoke, but I’m not about that. I guess on a nice day, I might sit out there and read a book, and yet I haven’t done that in all the time I’ve lived here. 

I hope you can see how disuse, along with these other reasons, would lead me to disregard my non-balcony. What’s important is that none of these reasons are that I wish to make my neighbors unhappy.

To confess, I have never been a perfect neighbor. 

You might have heard me laughing or yelling with my friends on a voice call, late into the night. 

Sometimes, when I get back from a run, I wipe my shoes off on someone else’s doormat because I don’t have one—maybe that’s yours?

There was also a time when I was expecting a package that I hastily opened one that had been misdelivered to my door. I taped the parcel back up and attached an apology note to it before putting it in front of the correct door (though I will say that I signed it with my unit number, just in case the person felt compelled to come chew me out). 

I assert that imperfection is a quality shared by all neighbors. 

For example, one night during the first year of my lease, I got a knock on the door at 8:30 p.m. It was a police officer responding to a noise complaint. A noise complaint. At 8:30 in the evening. I apologized. The police officer apologized. I walked back in and turned my sub woofer down. Later, I asked someone in the front office if anyone had complained to them, and they said no. So that means somebody in an adjacent unit went directly to the cops because I was playing Devin Townsend too loud.

There’s other examples. Logan, the miniature schnauzer who lives upstairs, can be heard barking at all hours of the day, but I don’t think any of us hold it against him.

We all have to live with the knowledge that one of our neighbors has an AR-15 “Come and Take It” sticker on their car. 

And for that matter, there are a lot of people living here that cannot park straight (although let’s be real, the parking spaces here are too damn narrow).

This is just an unwritten part of the lease agreement. Just another piece of the deal. Quarterly pest treatment. Maintenance costs. Valet trash pick up. Neighbors that get your goat.

If you walk by my porch in the future and see that it has been swept, I hope the sight improves your day. But I also hope you will realize that you had nothing to do with it being that way. 

Remember what they say about the things you can’t control!!


Dear Anon,

Your spirited defense means a lot to me. I’m glad to hear that in all the years we’ve shared this building, I’ve managed to leave a good enough impression to inspire your reply. 

While I have never made much of an effort to get acquainted with the people who live around me, I’ve tried to be considerate when possible. That you would lend me your support during this challenge tells me I have succeeded to some extent.

As renters in a buyer’s market, we owe it to each other to stay strong together.

In solidarity,