Bloomin’ Crazy

5 Apr

Letterbalm Colorful Flowers

Dear LetterBalm: I live in a tight-knit community for people over 55 where everybody has been friends for years. The biggest annual event is our flower show held every June. Over the years, it’s become a big deal – we get local media coverage, and we raise money for charity. But starting two years ago, one couple has taken the competition to extremes, alienating everyone. They’ve been seen pulling up plants, cutting flowers and snooping in other gardens at night. They start fights with neighbors who catch them in the act and yell all the time or they don’t speak to people they regard as enemies. What can we say to them to get them to back off or get them out of the competition?

–Root of the Problem

Has no one called the police? Has no one videotaped the crazy couple in action? Are there no photos? Is this a matter of a reluctance to confront them, rather than a lack of proof? Ms. L.B. says this nonsense has gone on long enough; you need to take back your community. First, talk with their family members to see if their behavior is a manifestation of mental or physical problems that should warrant a visit with their physician. If this fails and if you and your neighbors don’t already have proof, discreetly gather some (and don’t discuss this with others). Three trusted, relatively disinterested individuals – perhaps one of them a relative – need to meet with the couple, keep cool, show them the proof and calmly say the following:

Agnes and Roy, this has gone on long enough. You have put this community in chaos. You have unlawfully entered property, damaged gardens and acted in a belligerent and threatening way to others. Don’t deny it – here is the proof. We will not call the police on two conditions: First, starting now, you will not participate in the flower shows; and, second, you cease all unlawful actions immediately. No trespassing, no cutting plants and flowers, no confrontations, no retaliation. One misstep and we involve law enforcement. You may think this is deliberately snubbing you, but you have brought this on yourselves. It is long past time for you to start acting like good neighbors. And, maybe if we see evidence that you are behaving, we might reconsider letting you take part in future shows. A good start would be to apologize to everyone you’ve wronged.

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