Hedge Help: How can you ask Neighbors to Contribute to Yard Work?

Q: Recently, our next-door neighbors, were evicted from their home. The house now sits vacant, with weeds, tall grass, and newspapers in the driveway. My husband has gone over a few times and mowed the grass (front and back) and I have been picking up the papers. Is there a nice way to ask the neighbors on the other side of the vacant house to help us keep the property up until someone else moves in?

A: Sure. Invite them over for a cup of coffee and ask them if they are as distressed about the condition of the house as you are,  and if so, if they would be willing to lend a hand keeping it presentable until it is occupied again. The worst they can say is no, but it’s worth a try, and it’s also a nice chance to get to know them a little better.

Tired Third Wheel: How can you Handle Being Left out of a Friendship?

Q: I introduced two good friends of mine who didn’t previously know each other one night. One friend is a person I confide in and the other is a person I don’t trust but who always has idle time like myself so we often hang out. They exchanged phone numbers and have become friends. They are leaving me out of their friendship and my friendship with both has suffered. I’m hurt and feel selfish but I wish I could have the strength and security of both friendships again.’

A: It is always so hard when this happens and there is little you can do about it except make a point of keeping in touch and planning a get-together with one or the other, periodically, probably not both since your instinct that they are leaving you out wouldn’t make a threesome comfortable. It is not selfish at all to be hurt when something like this happens, but it is good to be as proactive as you feel comfortable being to maintain the friendships you once enjoyed. Be sure not to talk about the other when with one of them, especially since you don’t particularly trust the second friend and wouldn’t be sure what he would say or not say to your other friend.

Intrusive Inquiries: How can you Escape Personal Questions?

Q: I am graduating from college and just got my first job. I am very excited about it, but whenever I tell anyone, the first thing they ask is If you don’t mind me asking, how much are they paying you? I don’t feel comfortable answering that question. How do I get out of the situation politely? Thank you.’

A: Ask them right back, “Gosh! Why do you ask?  I’m just so excited to be starting this great job. . .” and then go on and say something else about the job. It is only the most persistent person who will go back to the original question. If that happens, reply honestly, “Oh, I’m sorry, but I never talk about salaries and money.” and leave it at that, changing the subject so there is not an awkward silence.

Monumental Mortification: How to Handle Accidentally Passing Gas

Q: I know it sounds silly, but sometimes when I’m laughing, I accidentally pass gas. I’m so embarrassed, but I’m not sure how to handle the situation!

A: Simply apologize and move on. This is something that can happen to anyone and should not be a cause for further merriment or discussion, as much as it can seem embarrassing and requiring comment. Just say “Oops, sorry . . .. and continue the conversation. The less you make of it the less other will, as well.

Lending vs. Loaning: How do I Kindly Collect Money from a Friend?

Q: Recently I went on an overseas trip with a long time friend. She said that she could not afford to pay half of the hotel room we were sharing. I agreed to pay the entire amount myself. I also paid a rather large taxi expense. In addition, she only reimbursed me for part of her airline ticket; which I put on my credit card. The strange thing was, she bought a large amount of souvenirs; some were quite expensive. Am I wrong to feel upset about this? Any advice?

A: No, you are not wrong to feel upset about this. You offered to pay the hotel room; the taxi expense may have been a choice as well. But nowhere do you say you agreed to pay part of her airfare, too. It is fine to call her and say you were going over your bills and found she still owes you $X for her airline ticket. You can ask her if she wants a copy of the bill for her records. You needn’t bring up the souvenir shopping or other expenditures – just keep it upbeat and friendly and a reminder that she has an outstanding debt.