Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What would you do?

I just had a fun chat with a friend on my 1+ hour drive into the office - we are both "ex" smokers and the conversation began with her comment "Smoking is so 1993, sitting around a table in Swiss Chalet." - and quickly wound itself to just how ridiculous it seems now.

As an ex-smoker of just over 3 years, I know I'll never go back - it holds no appeal and no allure to me now. I've been told I'm a little more nazi-anti-smoking than is necessary, because I'm very vocal and obnoxious as to the stink and grossness of it all.  (My response to that is simply, "I'm vocal and obnoxious about everything - how am I supposed to keep quiet as to how stinky you are?")

In my conversation this morning, I actually compared how our kids would view smoking is likely how we view our parents habits of driving around without seatbelts and with a beer between their legs. Such ridiculous behaviour that you just have to shake your head at the audacity that it was socially acceptable at one point.

But this post isn't a soapbox where I pontificate on the disgustingness of smoking. To each his own. I think any smoker realizes that it's an unhealthy habit. And I can understand and sympathize with the difficulty of quitting. Just don't do it in my house, that's all I'm sayin'.

And this, leads us to the point of this post - where I ask you, dear readers, to weigh in with an opinion...

We have a smoking neighbour - who clearly isn't allowed to smoke in or around his house, so he takes to his car. In the summer, in the winter - that's his "smoking" place. Sidebar: he has also scared the shit out of me numerous times, while I was walking from the backyard to the garage, and didn't notice he's just sitting there in his car, smoking away, until he says "hi" and then I jump a mile in the air and he looks at me like I'm perhaps wound a little tight, and all I want to say, is wtf dude, you're sitting in a car at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon smoking, I'm just doing my gardening - but instead I just respond "hi" with a friendly neighbour smile, as if to say, sure, randomly sitting in your car smoking is not in the least strange or weird or some other trait that I could easily do without in a neighbour....

So this is not a new thing. It's weird (in my opinion) yes, but not new. What is new, is that last week - during the early season thaw as I walked around the side of the house to take a look at the perennial beds, to check out if there was anything going on - I noticed a PILE of butts beside my side-garage-door. Which happens to be exactly where his car is always parked.

And the thing is - I get it. Smokers are bad at not thinking of what happens to the gross little butts they throw on the ground when they're done. I never used to use those "butt-out" containers when walking down the sidewalk in the city. Smokers are pretty self-absorbed about the garbage they are creating. Especially in the winter - when the butts magically disappear into the snowbanks.

But regardless of whether I get the "how" of it happening, I don't want it happening. So as I'm explaining the disgustingness that will need to be cleaned up come springtime to the Hubs, I asked him how I should bring it up to the neighbour.

He looked at me, a bit shell-shocked. "You don't." he replied.

Me: "What do you mean, I don't?"

Hubs: "There's no nice way of saying it. You're just going to make him feel bad."

Me: "If I started leaving Maddie's dirty diapers on their lawn, do you think they would choose not to say anything? They'd just clean them up without complaint?"

Hubs: "That's not the same thing."

Me: "'Eff off, smoker."

When I posed the same question to my friend this morning, she had a similar response. Not that she counseled to not say anything - but she recommended I make up some convoluted story about raccoons must have got into the garbage, found a pile of butts on our lawn - thinking they must have been yours - no worries, cleaned it up - but just wanted to let you know...

(It sounded a lot better when she explained how she'd handle it.)

(She also lives in the city where raccoons are evil little dirty beggars that can easily be blamed for a number of things. Doesn't really work that way in the suburbs - at least not ours - haven't seen a raccoon-attacked garbage bag yet, in the 2 years we've been here.)

But when I told her that I didn't think I was out of line in just confronting the neighbour (nicely) and asking him to (nicely) not throw his dirty-ass butts on my lawn - she had the same response. "It's just going to embarrass him and now you'll be living next to someone who hates you."

So - what would you do? Would you confront the neighbour (nicely) and ask him to eff off (nicely) with the throwing of the cig butts? Or would you ignore it and hope it stops when spring gets here? Or would you clean up the butts and leave them in a wrapped little gift box on the neighbour's step? (Which I think would be an adorable little Easter surprise - but maybe that's just me)...


PS - to those that know the Hubs - no, it wasn't him. I mean, I believed him when he said he wouldn't be that disgusting, and he doesn't smoke at the side-garage-door. I  trust him - he would admit it if it were him... And I checked the type of cigarettes - they're not his brand ;)


Rob said...

"Smokers are bad at not thinking of what happens to the gross little butts they throw on the ground when they're done."

I'm calling bullshit. As a smoker, I'm always consicous of where and when I'm smoking - as all smokers should be (but sadly aren't). It's littering, plain and simple, and you shouldn't have to accept it just because he might be embarrased. You didn't make the situation awkward - he did. Besides, he should recognize that you've got a kid, and therefore might not want cigarette butts on your yard.

If you don't want to confront him directly, I'd start with simply picking up the butts and redistributing them to his driveway. If that doesn't work, mention it to his wife when you see her - she obviously doesn't support the filthy habit, so you'll probably find an ally.

Jenn B said...

I think Rob is onto the right approach. His wife could be a good person to have in your corner - and using the spin of not wanting your children to have them as snack is good too.

It's his habit and if he wants to make his own pile, then it should be on his lawn, where someone other than yourselves will need to clean it up.

Sara...noH said...

Ha - Rob, you and I are so alike. I had already suggested that I "redistribute" the butts to his driveway - but as Seth pointed out - they'd probably just blow back onto our lawn.

I will clean them up this time, in good neighbourly fashion. But if he's dumb enough to do this again, when there is no snow - I'll be chatting with his wife.

Jen O. said...

I think I lack your tact, if you can believe it. I'd be baggy-ing them up in a Ziplock and leaving them in his mailbox with an anonymous letter "I think you "accidentally" dropped these."

We had a neighbour who would let their dog poop on our front lawn. He let him do this while we were outside watching him do this. And he never once cleaned it up. He's lucky he moved because he was one shit away from getting his garage door repainted. In dog shit.

He's the one who should be embarrassed, not you. If you word it politely, saying it's no biggy, but maybe he could flick the butts onto his lawn. Oooo!!! Tell him that Maddie picked one up and put it in her mouth!!! He'll stop.

Sara...noH said...

But Jen O - I think you don't lack my tact. Because I can tell you that I would FOR SURE have made a comment if someone was letting their dog shit on my lawn IN FRONT OF ME. Not cool.

But I do like your guilt-trip idea. I may just have to mention it. Because while I like the whole, keep it neighbourly, idea. I also like the idea of not having to deal with this ever again. And I think saying something, in a slight chagrin state, like, 'ooh - just wanted to mention, and I'm sure you haven't realized it - but your cig butts are landing on our lawn and my daughter tried to eat one the other day - yummy!'

If that doesn't smarten him up, he's an official douche.

Do I get bonus points if I say that to him in front of his kids?

Melis said...

Is it possible that he littered these in fact on his own property, and a strong gust of wind moved them into a pile on your property right before a big snow?

My advice is not to jump to conclusions. Clean 'em up, keep quiet, and if you catch him in the act - confront the littering bastard!

Denise said...

YUCK! I would say something for sure, the last thing you need is to clean up the nasty soggy butts or for your daughter to get into them. If the tables were turned I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate you throwing your butts on his lawn. Maybe you can give him an old paint can and tell him to throw them there instead of on your lawn. I wouldn't care about the so called "embarrasment" he might feel - he should feel bad not embarrased.