Wrestling with Neighborhood Etiquette – Once Again!

swing-setSally’s baaaaaack!

You remember “Sally”? Sally and her husband “Bob” are the neighbors with the massive, aging tree that threatened to demolish our house with the next strong wind … until they removed it this fall after some neighborly back-and-forth.

Two weeks ago, I received this email from Sally:

Are you at all interested in selling your swing set?  We would love to take it off your hands and move it to our house.
If not no worries.  Just let me know.
Thanks ~ Sally
Background information: Our swing set is similar to the one pictured above. Sally’s kids wander over to our yard every now and then and play on said swing set, which we have invited. As our kids are older, the only other times the swing set is used is when our young nieces and nephews come over, which is just a few times a year. I also know that Sally previously approached another neighbor about selling their swing set a year or so ago and was rebuffed. Reportedly, Sally was not gracious in her reaction.
Knowing this was a family decision and we couldn’t get back to her right away, I sent a quick response:
Let me talk to Mike. We head out this morning for a road trip to look at colleges with Caitlin, so I’ll get back to you right after Easter. Enjoy spring break! ~ Elaine

To which she replied:

heart in stomach! Colleges? my did it go that fast? I keep thinking she is at XYZ Elementary School ; )

Ahhh, isn’t that nice … a little neighborly bonding over email. A few days after returning from our trip, I got back to Sally:

Sally ~ We did a family pow wow and every one’s on board with your moving the swing set to your yard. A couple of caveats/disclaimers …

(1) The swing set is due to be resanded and sealed. The wood’s getting a little brittle and splintery.
(2) There’s a wood panel missing from the rope ladder section.
(3) We had Creative Playthings (where we bought it) install it back in 2001. I’m not sure how you would move it over, but it is staked pretty deep into the ground to keep it stable. Something to consider in both your removing it and reinstalling it in your yard.
(4) Moving the swing set will probably leave holes in our yard. We’d just like you (or whoever moves it) to fill them in so the ground is flat and stable. We’ll throw grass seed on afterward.

If all of the above and the swing set’s “as is” condition is OK with you, have at it!  $100 sound fair? And, if you don’t want it after all, no worries.

College trip was fun and informative although it does feel like my kids should still be in elementary school! ~ Elaine

This last email was sent on Wednesday. On Friday we hear banging in the yard next door. A quick peek through the trees (No, that was not me craning my neck for a better look) revealed that Sally and Bob have gone out and bought their own swing set and are having someone assemble it.

Which is exactly what we would have done, if we were in their shoes!! The only sticky part is that Sally never got back to me to say “never mind.”  Now the exchange feels awkward and unfinished.

Is my reaction rooted in lingering bad karma from the tree incident? What’s your reaction? And, what (if anything) should be done to close the communication loop?


  • Maura Says:
    4-15-2010 08:22:45

    As I read the end of your post I got a pit in my stomach. Sally really should have sent you a response, especially with your gentle out of, “and if you don’t want it after all, no worries.” Perhaps she read the “no worries” to mean that she didn’t need to close the loop with you. However, it feels like it needs to be finished. Remember the “limbo” you felt over the unresolved tree issue? So in the name of getting this off the needless things we shouldn’t have to worry about (but we do anyway) and neighborly harmony, I would shoot her a quick e-mail and acknowledge her new swing set and hope the kids enjoy it. In the end, if you are the bigger person, it will make the next time you interact so much easier and, more importantly, it will free this issue from your mind and you won’t spend any more time on it.

  • Barb Says:
    4-15-2010 09:01:32

    Unbelievable!!! I’m glad Sally doesn’t live next door to me!
    I agree with Maura 100%. Sally didn’t interact appropriately, but you probably should close the loop with a short email — for your own peace of mind. It’s always better to be the “bigger person”, even if it’s not easier.
    My take is that Sally and family thought they could get something for nothing, and it didn’t quite work for them.

  • Leanne Says:
    4-15-2010 09:17:23

    I would let it go. If you happen to run in to her and it comes up then I would mention it but it seems as if you respond it will be a bigger deal than it is.

  • skippy Says:
    4-15-2010 16:22:29

    Ditto what Leanne says.

  • Anne Says:
    4-15-2010 22:15:27

    yes, I agree with Leanne and Skippy – I would just let it go and not worry about it.

    However, I do suggest throwing a party with a lot of little kids who have a whopping good time on your swing set …. :)

  • Stacy Says:
    4-16-2010 08:49:04

    Sorry Elaine….but I’m with Sally on this one. That swing set is destined to sit in your yard and rot until you go to sell your home one day and the potential new owner asks you to remove it. I’m surprised that you sent such a detailed email response. I think it’s wacky that you told them they should sand and reseal it and fill in your yard holes AND pay $100!

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