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by Abigail Van Buren

Vacation Condo Busybodies Make Owners Long for Home

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Good Neighbor, Ventura, Calif.," prompts this letter. Who elected her to be the neighborhood cop? My wife and I own a condo in Florida. The majority of the owners use their condos only for short vacations and rent them out the rest of the year. The complex is beautiful, but the busybodies there drive us nuts. These full-timers, who occupy only 10 percent of the units, think the complex is their private domain.

The year-rounders are overly concerned about tenants who have unapproved sunshades on their balcony or who fail to get permission to fly the American flag from their sunporches on the Fourth of July. They complain to security about children playing on the lawns (which are not off- limits) and don't understand that people in the swimming pool like to laugh, splash and have a good time. These crabs and cranks have driven away repeat renters. They dominate homeowner board meetings and almost always get their way. All the owners in our complex are supposed to be equal, but it seems that some are more equal than others.

"Good Neighbor's" mother was right. She IS a busybody, and you should have told her to mind her own business. People like her make us wish we had invested somewhere else. I'm eligible for retirement, but there's no way I'd ever retire to a condominium. -- SUFFERING FROM A CONDO COMPLEX, PARAMUS, N.J.

DEAR SUFFERING: Reread my answer. I refrained from name-calling, but I did caution "Good Neighbor" to be judicious when informing on her neighbors, reminding her that disapproval is not justification for "turning people in."

I also stressed that law enforcement needs reliable, serious witnesses who are willing to report crimes. But to irresponsibly report minor infractions is a waste of important official time. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I was outraged when I read the letter from "Good Neighbor, Ventura, Calif." I am a law enforcement officer, and those "whistle-blowers" actually do more harm than good.

It is true that law enforcement officers frequently rely on citizens to alert them when a crime has been committed. These people can offer good leads, be good witnesses and provide a sense of security among their neighbors.

However, these whistle-blowers often don't realize that it is not their place to decide whether or not it is appropriate for someone to park, stand or walk somewhere unless their actions are creating a danger -- and not just an inconvenience -- to someone else. We are bombarded with crimes far more serious than illegally parked cars. Our time is committed to catching real criminals, not responding to tattletales. Nobody likes a tattletale. -- FIGHTING "REAL" CRIME, MILWAUKEE

DEAR ABBY: Your column on forgiveness some months ago was very moving. It reminded me of something I clipped from your column about seven years ago:


The friend who ran off with your wife

Forgive him for his lust;

The chum who sold you phony stocks,

Forgive his breach of trust;

The pal who schemed behind your back,

Forgive his evil work;

And when you're done, forgive yourself

For being such a jerk.


DEAR READER: The poem carries a worthwhile message. Who among us, at one time or another, did not need forgiveness?

To order Abby's booklet "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It," send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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