DEAR NATALIE: I'm living in rural America and my landlord thinks differently than I do. (Different backgrounds, I think). I’ve gotten a few things wrong in the few years I've lived under their roof. It's not like I haven't tried to fulfill every single demand they list on their website. The weirdest part, for me, was that the landlady or property manager for the entire building constantly avoids me. I’ve only seen them one or two times in my entire tenancy. She told me that “I'm around” but I literally never see her, unless she is busy speaking with another person. She doesn't even say hello to me. Is there a proper informal way, now that we have been introduced, to bring up general complaints and maintenance requests to her even though she is so avoidant to myself and my family? It is an old apartment, so things fall off, break down and wear out. For your reference, I do not know her, nor have I complained or spoken ill towards her. I'm confused as to why she acts like I'm just not even here. Also, why would someone rent to someone they do not speak to? -PERPLEXED TENANT
DEAR PERPLEXED TENANT: Having an avoidant landlord makes me think that they are neglectful to the issues of their tenants, and your letter speaks to that. While I can’t say why she won’t interact with you, I can tell you that having requests for maintenance in writing can be important. Send emails, follow up by phone calls and be consistent in your communication until she acknowledges you. The next time you have an issue, contact your property manager or if that is her, reach out directly. She could also be socially awkward or shy. She may mean well but not have strong social skills. I don’t know why she won’t speak to you, but I wouldn’t take it personally. Who knows why people behave the way that they do? It could have absolutely nothing to do with you, so please don’t internalize her dismissiveness as something that is wrong with you. Instead, just communicate with her if and when you need her via email and then follow up with a phone call. Perhaps she is just a disorganized person who can’t keep track of things as well as she should be. However, if you are feeling as though she isn’t responsive and things around your home aren’t being addressed, it may be time to look for another place. This is a last resort, as I know moving is expensive, finding affordable housing is difficult and putting down a security deposit plus rent can be financially overwhelming. I hope you can work this out, instead.
DEAR NATALIE: How do I deal with a friend who seems to enjoy constantly doing the opposite of what she agrees to do? For instance, she says "I will be there at 3 p.m." but she actually arrives about 3:45 p.m. She says, "I'll bring fries to share," but she is late instead and brings tortilla chips and salsa. Then, she enjoys them herself. Why is my friend seemingly incapable of being considerate of others and how do I talk to her about this? —ANNOYED BY SELFISHNESS
DEAR ANNOYED BY SELFISHNESS: I would lower your expectations. “People show you who they are, so believe them” is one of my all-time favorite quotes and for good reason. If this is who she is, then stop expecting her to magically change. If you invite her over, tell her the time is a half hour before you really want her there so she’s only 15 minutes late. If you want snacks, buy them yourself. Don’t rely on people who are unreliable. Keep her at arm’s length and engage with her only when you are in the mood to deal with her nonsense. Not everyone is thoughtful, and when you are a thoughtful person, you can’t unsee this behavior. Just be thankful you aren’t like her.
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