Where do other people end and you begin?

I’ve been thinking lately about taking care of my own yard. When the kid I hired to mow comes over, I asked him to go ahead and mow all the way to the edge of the neighbor’s driveway in the right-of-way section near the street. I just think it looks weird to have a few square feet of longer grass in that blocked-off section if you stop at the property line. My neighbors don’t seem to mind, and sometimes they do the same thing in return. It looks a little tidier and we aren’t usually on the same mowing schedule. Win-win.

I feel differently, though, about dog poop. If my neighbors decided to let their dogs relieve themselves in my yard and leave the pile there, I would not be okay with that. If I knew for sure whose dog had done it, we would have a conversation. I would make a request that they either keep the dogs out of my yard, or clean up after them. And I wouldn’t even have to be mad to do it.

If I made such a request, my neighbors would be likely to apologize and promise to be more diligent. I have nice neighbors.

But it’s also possible that they would tell me to go jump off a cliff (which I have done, but that’s another story!). Either way, I don’t get to decide what my neighbors will do.

I only get to decide what I will do.

I might decide that every time it happens I am going to hand them a plastic grocery bag and ask them to clean it up.

I might decide to pick it up with a grocery bag and leave it on their doorstep. (Theoretically. I can’t imagine myself actually doing this.)

I might decide to pick it up with a grocery bag and put it in their trash can. Or mine, and not say anything.

What I don’t get to decide is what my neighbors will do.

When something happens that isn’t okay with me, I get to decide what I will do about it. And I don’t even have to be mad.

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