Dear Annie: I live in a small condominium community of 24 units. Two units down, there is an older woman who is a hoarder. She continually has trash piled up by her front door and back porch. When you look through her glass sliding doors, you can see trash from floor to ceiling. She piles up garbage on her car, and it sits there for several days before she takes it to the dumpster. She also has two dogs, and we never see her walking them. This has been going on for the past 15 years.
The board of directors of our condo association has tried everything from calling the county municipal department to notifying animal control. The board has fined her for various misdemeanors, such as not allowing pest control in her unit and leaving all that trash around, but it makes no difference.
The woman does not talk to anyone in the community, and we never see friends or family visit. We are all afraid of what that unit looks like inside. Any suggestions?
— Condo Owner
Dear Owner: Hoarding is a form of mental illness, and this woman likely needs professional help. Since you can see the trash inside her home, as well as outside, it may constitute evidence that her hoarding has created a health code violation and the Dept. of Health could order her to clean it up. There may also be a fire hazard, in which case the condominium board should notify the fire department. As a last resort, the condo board could sue her. Ask the board to discuss this problem with their association attorney to see what steps can be taken.
Dear Annie: My wife and I are friends with “Mike” and “Marty,” who are in their early 20s, a bit younger than we are. Mike and Marty pick fights over the most ridiculous things, and even if you make a good point, they won’t agree. They do things they know will bother or offend us, such as when they make anti-religious comments.
They also seem unappreciative of things we have done for them. I helped Mike work on his car and was never thanked for it. We have had them over for dinner more than once and have yet to be told “thank you” or to receive an invite to their place. They sometimes say nice things on Facebook about their other friends, but never about us.
I honestly enjoy hanging out with Mike and Marty, but the little fits they have over ridiculous things are getting old. Lately, we’ve stopped communicating, just to see what will happen. It would be nice to be appreciated for our efforts. How do we handle this?
— Unappreciated in Massachusetts
Dear Massachusetts: You are at a different point in your life than Mike and Marty. What you have in common is no longer so obvious. We are not sure why you wish to maintain a friendship with people who do not seem to appreciate you, but since you do, try to understand their limitations and accept them as they are. And if they say something offensive, by all means, ask them to stop.
Dear Annie: You printed a letter I wrote that I signed, “Still Here Doing This.” I told you that I was married to a mentally ill, emotionally abusive man. I stayed for the children, who now rarely visit.
I wanted to let you know that I am not “still here” anymore. I finally mustered the courage to leave when it was apparent that my husband was only getting worse. I had the police remove him from our home, took out a restraining order and filed for divorce. I encourage anyone who is married to such a person to get out. I have no regrets. The emotional and physical abuse needed to end.
— Not There Anymore
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