I live in a neighborhood with many children. One of my neighbors is a terrible driver who races through the streets and wears headphones while he is driving. Now that summer is here, his driving habits are even more frightening. The main two issues are that he drives very fast and he is almost always wearing headphones when he drives.
The last time someone tried to speak with him about this he slammed the door in their face. We live in a neighborhood with an HOA but they don’t want to get involved.
What can I do to get this guy to listen to me and drive more safely in our neighborhood? I am terrified he is going to run over an innocent child someday.
Helen in Huntsville
First of all, there are no innocent children. Don’t you know anything about the concept of “original sin?”
Religion mocking for the day out of the way, I can now render advice. I have been in this exact same situation before, as I think most people have.
I used to live on a very narrow street in a quiet neighborhood. Without fail, every morning at exactly 7:20 my asshole neighbor would roar down the street in his sports car, make a left turn without stopping or even looking right, then do the same at the next turn.
I made a point of trying to flag him down one morning but I swear to Christ on a crutch he tried to run me down before he flipped me off. So here’s what I did next:
Running a property search to get his name, I was ASTONISHED to learn that he was a pediatric surgeon at OHSU. Perhaps his driving habits were an effort to increase business.
I called his office one morning to have a conversation with him and told him this was my first and last call to him on the subject. I made a point that everyone in the neighborhood was very angry about his driving habits and that we would begin calling the police every day if he didn’t alter them immediately.
I also informed him that we would begin a public shaming effort by videotaping him running stop signs and traveling upwards of 35 miles an hour on winding, narrow streets and posting them on youtube.com along with his name and address.
Lastly, I told him my next call would be to his employer, and after that, I’d write a letter to the editor about him and when it was published (mine always are – I’m awesome like that) I’d mail it to everyone in the neighborhood with his photo and name.
You know what he said?
“I’m sorry, I didn’t think I drove that fast. I’ll slow down. It doesn’t really matter anyway, because I’m moving to Portland Heights next month.”
I told him I had friends in that neighborhood, I grew up there, and I didn’t see much of a difference between running over children in Westover Heights or Portland Heights. Both options seem less than ideal.
I also told him that I was recording our conversation (legal in Oregon, may not be in your state) so I could prove he was “on notice” if an accident happened and that I’d happily testify in court for the family of whatever poor soul he would inevitably send flying with his penis extender (Porsche).
He did indeed move about a month later, but he slowed WAY down that very next day and for the remainder of his time in our neighborhood. No, this is not a blog devoted to me and the clever way I handle problems. This is my way of illustrating to you the power of public shaming.
You told me when we talked that the gentleman in question is a rather well-known insurance broker in your city. I would think it would be detrimental to business if people knew what a reckless driver he is, so herein lies (lays?) your leverage. Call him up or send him a letter and let him know you plan to take all of the actions described above if his driving doesn’t improve AND he doesn’t pull those fucking headphones out.
Some people are not capable of being shamed, either publicly or privately. I should know.
If he is one of those people, I suggest you ask your local police or sheriff’s department to patrol your neighborhood, and ask everyone else to do the same. A few tickets might be enough to get this asshole to ease up on the right pedal. Be unrelenting in your requests and provide any evidence you can to support the need for help from the authorities.
Until things change, I’d keep your precious children out of the street and away from this guy. And forget about your HOA. The only purpose of an HOA is to hassle and annoy you, not to actually help you. I wouldn’t seek help there unless you are eager to have your mailbox deemed inadequate or your taste in foliage questioned.
Please write back and let me know what happens. I’d be happy to harass him from here if you think that might help!