Dear Crabby,

At least every other day, someone drives past our neighbor’s house and taps the horn twice, as if to say, “Hello!” The honker lives up the street and is presumably friends with my neighbor. Very cute for them to say hello to each other, not so cute for the people who have to hear it all the damn time. Would it be inappropriate to send an anonymous letter to the suspected honkee — and their neighbors, in case we’re wrong about who they’re honking at — asking them to ask their friend to PLEASE stop honking? We live on a residential street, in an otherwise quiet neighborhood.


Annoyed By A Noise

Dear Annoyed,

Everyone in the world is just the worst, huh? Well, allow me to ask YOU a question: How do you get from two taps “at least every other day” to “all the damn time”? Because you say it’s both, but it seems to me that those are vastly different things. Here’s you: “Oh heavens! People with cars are making car noises in the street. And near MY house!” What’s next? People walking by and talking loudly? Total anarchy.

I’m not trying to completely dismiss your complaint, Annoyed. I’m just trying to offer some perspective, because what you’re proposing — an anonymous note, the very height of passive-aggressive neighbor behavior — is likely to be taken as quite an annoyance itself. This may just be me, and it’s important to remember that I am a maladjusted weirdo, but I’m much more likely to take your suggestion with grace and good humor if you knock on my door and just ask me than if you send an unsigned note. If I got an anonymous note telling me to ask my friend not to tap his horn (even you say it’s just a couple of taps, the car-horn equivalent of nodding to someone you pass on the sidewalk), I’d probably either not mention it at all to my friend or tell him to, “please honk a little louder because, you know, sometimes I can barely hear it.”

But, if you came to me as one human being speaking to another — neighbors at that — I would absolutely tell my friend to please stop honking. It would help of course if we already knew each other; nobody wants their first interaction with a neighbor to be some kind of scolding lecture. But if we didn’t know each other, it would still be OK so long as you approached the situation with tact. You could simply explain that the noise was bothering you, and I’d be on the phone to my honking buddy as soon as you left my doorstep.

Even then, though, I’d probably think to myself, “Doesn’t this guy have anything better to do?” It’s a horn, tapped twice every other day, Annoyed. The occasional horn is part of the deal we all make when we decide to live among other people, no matter how quiet our street is. I don’t know if there’s really any getting away from that, short of moving to the woods. Have you considered the woods?

Hope that helps.