Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in New York City in a big apartment complex. Even though I try to stay in my home as much as I can, I do have to go outside to get groceries and sometimes just to get a little fresh air. The problem I’m having -- which is not new -- is that one of my neighbors seems to wait for me to go outside so that he can stalk me. He always seems to be around when I go outside, trying to help me or talk to me. I don’t want him near me -- especially now -- but he doesn’t get the hint. I have been backing off from him for years. What can I say now to get him to stay at a safe distance? -- Back Off

DEAR BACK OFF: Now is not the time for subtlety. You have to be strong, clear and direct with this neighbor. Remind him of the rules of interaction as a result of the new coronavirus. You are supposed to stay a minimum of 6 feet away from anyone you encounter at all times. That includes him. It should even include loved ones, by the way.

If you see him approaching you, put your hands out in the gesture of NO, and state loudly that he should not come any further. Ask him to honor the rules of social distancing. Keep moving. Do not talk to him. If you move with haste, he may get the message.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Since we have to stay at home, my husband and I have been purging big-time. We are doing the ultimate spring cleaning. A lot of the stuff we are discarding can just go in the trash, but other things might be of value to others. I just don’t know what to do with it. In the past, I would contact the Salvation Army, Goodwill or a local consignment store. What should I do now when most businesses are closed? -- Giveaways

DEAR GIVEAWAYS: My research suggests that you have to check in your hometown to see which of these charitable organizations are accepting donations. Apparently, in some cities, people have been dropping off their belongings in the wrong places, thereby creating dumping grounds that will be of no use to people who need the items. Call any of the organizations to ensure that you can give them your items and how to coordinate. Include local houses of worship. In some instances, there are drop-off times and locations posted. You really do need to check before delivering anything.

You also need to verify with your trash service to ensure that if you decide just to throw the items away that you aren’t overly stretching the capacity there either. A solution if you are only allowed a certain amount of trash each day is to spread out your purge so that you don’t overload your trash removal, but you still have the opportunity to throw out quite a few things.

(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.)