Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Neighbors Don't Follow Apartment Trash Rules

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in an apartment building that has strict rules about trash disposal. Tenants are supposed to separate their trash and put it outside in the hallway between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. each day. The guy who picks it up is always on time.

My next-door neighbors commonly put out their trash at any time of the day or night. They don’t use strong trash bags, either, so depending on what they ate that day or week, the garbage smells regularly fill the hall. I have asked them to follow the directions of the building, but they scoffed at me. Would I be wrong to bring this to management? One time I had guests, and when they got off the elevator they were greeted by rotting food smell. -- Yuk, Detroit

DEAR YUK: Yes, you can speak to management -- but only after reminding your neighbors once more. Point out how bad the hall smells when it is hot and the garbage is sitting out there for hours. Add that roaches and rats gravitate toward such rank smells. See if your appeal works. If not, go directly to your building’s leadership and ask for help. Supplying them with photos and times for when the trash is languishing in the hallway may help.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Friends & Neighbors

Former Goody-Two-Shoes Slacks Off on Project

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have always been a goody-two-shoes. When I was a kid, I was the one who sat in the front of the room and raised my hand when the teacher asked a question. I have been that girl for most things over the years. Today, though, I find myself in a situation where I feel like the bad kid in school. I’ve been working on a project that I thought would be a lot of fun and enriching. While it is, I feel like my efforts to do a good job consistently fall short of the project leader’s expectations. He is super critical of everything I say and do, and I have found myself retaliating in little ways. Because it never seems like I measure up, I sometimes don’t even try to do the best job. I know this is wrong, but it seems to be a knee-jerk reaction.

Recently, I got called in to my project leader's office and reprimanded because I had not completed a task well enough. I couldn’t defend myself. I’m wondering if I should just leave this project. I’m no longer feeling positive about it. It is so rare that I slack off, I’m thinking this must be a sign that I should go. -- Slacker, Chicago

DEAR SLACKER: Rather than walk away from this project, consider this a wake-up call. Do a self-assessment and project review. What specifically do you think has prompted you not to do your best? Work to isolate that so that you can evaluate how to make a different choice in the future. Pay close attention to your behavior, as you are the only one you can control. You do not need to revert to goody-two-shoes status, but it would be wise for you to understand what made you veer so far off your norm. This will help you to course correct. You may be able to adjust a bit and stay right there, or the signs may tell you it is time to go.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Work & School