Friday, June 18, 2010


off-put·ting   /ˈɔfˌpʊtɪŋ, ˈɒf-/ Show Spelled[awf-poot-ing, of-] Show IPA
provoking uneasiness, dislike, annoyance, or repugnance; disturbing or disagreeable.

I have these next-door neighbours. Next door here being a relative term as this couple are not within shouting distance but about 500 metres from my own house.

She irritates the hell out of me. And she did it again this morning as I picked up my messages off my voicemail from yesterday evening. There she was, as usual, parked at position 3.

"Call me NOW!" she says charmingly, "Where the heck are you? It is 9 o'clock in the Pee-Em at my house."

She uses 'heck' a lot. She never says please or thank you. Never mentions if it is an emergency health situation or whether she needs cat litter.

I invited her and her husband once here for a dinner party. Husband didn't even bother to show but she did. And insisted, just after dinner, that everyone walk the 500 metres to her house and admire her new floors. End of dinner party. End of invitations to her.

I call her back, bracing myself. Without preamble she says:

"I need your fax machine".

This has happened many times. It is never just about the fax machine though. It is an hour out of my life listening to her go on and on and on and on. About nothing. She never asks a question, never extends any kind of courtesy.

And I realize that the reason I dread contact with her is that she always wants something from me. Always. Pick her up something in town, fix her turbo stick, bring her up newspapers for her painting. And the white lie creeps up on top of me and I can't shrug it off.

"Elsie," I say, right easily, "I disconnected it. It's all scanning and PDFing now."

But she's not finished with me. There's a nasty edge to her voice as she responds:

"Well, heck then," she huffs,"You should change your voicemail, shouldn't you? You're still announcing your disconnected fax number on it along with your disconnected old cell phone number!"


  1. Well, heck! You SHOULD change your voicemail, ending in "for further service, deposit ten dollars."

  2. Jeez, the neighbour from hell, for sure. Totally demanding, totally rude, offering you nothing whatever. All you can do is cut her dead, for your own sanity.

  3. Bottom line is the more you acquiesce to her requests, the more requests you will have. I realize the old rule about helping neighbours applies here, but there is a limit. What you have to decide is how much inconvenience you’re prepared to accept in your own life in order to satisfy her needs. Once you make that decision, then you move ahead; until then, be prepared for those 9 pee-emm calls.

  4. Eeeeeoooow - That makes me glad that all our neighbours keep their do I.

    I'd feel like being out and out rude to someone like your neighbour. :-(

  5. I'm stand offish to the point of rude with my neighbors. I like to keep them at a distance. I don't like any of them very much. I didn't choose them and wouldn't if I could.

  6. @Murr:
    Great idea!
    I've tried that but like a steam-roller immune to normal human emotions, she never gets it. If I don't answer my phone she's on my doorstep, if I don't answer the door she calls the cops. Seriously.
    After a while she does fade away, gathers what's left of her wits and plots fresh assaults on my sovereignty. This is a very small place I live in so I walk a fine line.
    Like most of her ilks he is impervious, you know the type. You just can't be rude enough to them. Years of this awful barrelling has made her immune both to human disregard and courtesy. It would help if she had a sense of humour but she literally has none.
    I could do this in the city but alas in a small village you have to be pleasant to everyone and 99% of people are truly wonderful. Elsie and her ilk ruin it for everyone.

  7. You are lucky she's 500 m away! Just think how worse it would be if you lived in an apartment block and she was just the woman downstairs!

  8. Perhaps the solution then lies in being more direct: "Please do not call me in the evening. Thank you." This gal is definitely a user and as long as you're prepared to be used ...

  9. @PC:
    I can't even imagine her at closer quarters!
    I've tried that kind of approach with her but she doesn't hear it. She is a total user under the guise of "pity" and she does have some sad stuff with her kids, etc. I positively hate what she brings out in me when she brings up the son dying of cancer for the 100th time and needing to fax, god knows, for him - he lives in another province, btw. See what I mean? I've suggested she get her own fax to no avail.
    I am hoping she is angry enough with me now that she'll leave me alone.

  10. Every Eden has its serpent, and I guess Elsie is yours, my dear. Short of a Howitzer, there's really nothing you can use to repel this kind of neighbour, so I guess you'll just have to keep hoping for a kindly thunder bolt aimed at her house, or chronic laryngitis. Sounds like the husband gave in years ago and has retreated into his own little world?

  11. Ah Tessa,
    "Sin Sceil Eile" as we would say in the old days.
    Guy is blotto from 6.00p.m. on and when she goes away infrequently he always calls me at night to 'keep him company'.


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