Dear Crappy Neighbor

Suzanne Cowden

Dear Neighbor,

The first time I cleaned up your dog’s poop, I chalked it up to carelessness.  You forgot to bring a bag when you went out for a walk.  No big deal.  It happens.

At the time, I remember feeling grateful that I noticed the small mound you left in my wood chips before I had the misfortune of stepping on it.

The second time it happened, right there in the same spot in my front yard, I have to admit that I felt a bit annoyed.  Maybe you thought kicking some wood chips over the mess was enough.  Maybe you didn’t realize that leaving a pile of poop in someone’s yard isn’t such a nice thing to do.  I cleaned it up and hoped it wouldn’t happen again.

But you kept coming.  All the way up my front path to the same spot in my herb garden.

I thought if I asked you politely to clean up the mess, you’d extend me that courtesy.   You see, I’m out there all the time snipping herbs for my kitchen. Finding a pile of poop isn’t such a fun thing, especially when you’re cooking.

So I Sharpied a note on a piece of tile and left it right in your dog’s favorite spot: “HERB GARDEN! Kindly clean up after your pet.”

But maybe you’re out walking your dog late at night or early in the morning. Maybe it’s just too dark for you to make out the words on my note.  Maybe you thought someone accidentally dropped that piece of tile right there, right where your dog likes to do his business.

When you missed my note, I moved some large rocks to my herb garden. I hoped that making it more difficult for your dog to squat would help you put two and two together.  This was a big mistake, though, because your little pile ended up almost on top of my oregano plant.

I’m tired of cleaning up after your dog, neighbor.  But more than that, I’m sad that your actions have made me suspicious.  Now, whenever I see someone out walking a dog, I can’t help but wonder if it’s you:  the thoughtless, self-absorbed person who thinks it’s okay to walk through my front yard to let your dog poop right next to my house without cleaning it up.

I don’t like this cloud you’ve cast over my thoughts.  We live in a welcoming neighborhood full of friendly people.  I love how folks stop to chat when I’m gardening in the front yard, and I love greeting my neighbors while I’m out walking.  I love that people with dogs stop to talk when my young daughters — who are eager to get their own dog — ask to pet their animals.

We’ve probably met you on the street and chatted with you amicably on more than one occasion.

I have to tell you, neighbor, that I’m having trouble understanding your behavior.  I can’t help wondering if this is somehow personal.

Maybe you’re waging a silent war against me or some member of my family.  Did I do something to make you mad?  Did my husband?  Did my kids?  Are we irritating you in some way without even knowing it?  If we did, I wish you’d come talk to us about it.

We all make mistakes, and sometimes we do things that annoy others without even realizing it.  If we talk about how we’re feeling, though, we can usually make amends.

If this is the case, please tell me with words.  Words I can work with.  Shit, I can’t read.


Your Neighbor


Dear Crappy Neighbor

 This post was written by Suzanne Cowden exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Suzanne usually writes about sweet and savory baking projects over at Flour Arrangements, where she focuses on food as a centerpiece for both everyday routines and special occasions. Each recipe, from simple loaves of bread to fondant decorated birthday cakes, comes with a story that blends life with cooking. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughters.