Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Couple Looks for Way to Get Neighbor to Clean Up His Act

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have come to the conclusion that you are our only hope. We have had an ongoing problem since moving into our home two years ago.

Our trash is picked up weekly in the alley at the rear of our home. We have a neighbor who uses one broken plastic container for his trash. The container is full early in the week, so by the end of the week, there is unwrapped garbage all over. We fear the worst -- rats.

The sanitation men do an excellent job, but it's not their responsibility to scoop up garbage that's scattered on the ground.

I've thought about confronting this neighbor, buying him more trash cans, even sending him pictures of the mess -- anonymously, of course.

Our dilemma is this: He's not a bad neighbor. His children play with our children and we like him -- we just want his trash to be contained like the rest of the neighbors'. Above all, we don't want any hard feelings. Please help, but keep us anonymous. -- EVANSVILLE, IND.

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Sending your neighbor pictures of his garbage won't help -- I'm sure he already knows what a mess it is. Call your sanitation department and ask if there are city regulations about garbage containers (I'm sure there are). Ask the director of the department to write a letter to your neighbor pointing out the infractions and insisting on compliance.

If the letter doesn't cause the neighbor to correct the problem, explain your concerns to him and request that additional containers be purchased -- and used.