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David Eddie's Damage Control

Should I rat out my noisy, pot-selling neighbours? Add to ...

The question

I have a moral dilemma. The kids in the house next door to me are clearly selling pot, which is obvious because they more or less smoke non-stop, and they have a steady stream of "visitors" who stay only for a minute or two and then zoom off in their crappy little sports cars. I live in a pretty quiet residential neighbourhood and the smell, combined with the constant banging of their gate, makes this more or less impossible to miss. I'm tempted to report them to the police, but it's complicated by a couple of things. One, I don't mind the occasional puff myself, so clearly know someone has to sell it. And two, these kids are the worst neighbours ever, having loud parties and blaring music late into the night, and part of me would be reporting them just because I want to get rid of them. But I'm also legitimately concerned about a drug deal going bad and guns coming out, which seems to happen fairly often in my city. Should I turn my terrible neighbours in?

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The answer

A lot of us don't mind the odd puff, myself included.

So as you correctly imply we should be cognizant that by creating demand we are helping create monsters like your neighbourzillas.

It's like the BP oil spill. Everyone's furious with the company executives, and rightly so. One oyster guy I know likes to shock people while he's shucking by darkly muttering that maybe the best way to plug the pump would be to stuff it full of BP execs.

But we should also be mindful as we fill our SUVs with fossil fuels we're all a little bit complicit in this unprecedented eco-disaster.

Anyway, back to your problem. It doesn't really seem like it's their drug dealing per se that's bothering you.

Sounds like if they were dealing drugs quietly you might be able to turn a blind eye and deaf ear on it.

It's the noise and music, impinging on your peace of mind and your right to quiet contemplation in the confines of your domicile - and you do have a right to that.

Consult your local bylaws. The bylaws in my area are quite wordy and cover everything from vehicles without mufflers to barking dogs to construction to snow blowers.

But when it comes to the playing of loud music (or, as the bylaw puts it: "The operation of any electronic device or group of connected electronic devices incorporating one or more loudspeakers or other electro-magnetic transducers, intended for the production, reproduction or amplification of sound other than a security alarm" - I love those civil servants and their almost sci-fi verbiage: Betty from HR, cue the transducers and soon we shall return to our home planet!), the bottom line is I have what seems like a very bare-bones right of quiet from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

I should imagine it's something similar where you are. If the kids next door are in violation, you're well within your rights to call the police.

I'd go to them first and explain to them, politely, that all the noise emanating from their abode is bothering you; and ask them nicely if they wouldn't mind, in future, keeping it down, as a favour to you.

Now, over the years, I've known quite a few people who wind up through no fault of their own with wild-party-teen neighbourzillas. And from what I've observed, these types of encounters can go one of two ways.

Sometimes these kids can surprise you when you knock on the door by being polite, deferential and compliant. In which case, I would say drop the whole matter with a mutual God bless and go in peace.

On the other hand, some teenagers, being teenagers, don't like (to use the now horribly dated parlance of my own adolescence) to be "hassled" by "the Man."

And you're the Man, now (where does the time go?). You could wind up with a face full of pot smoke, expletives and attitude for your trouble.

If so, well and good: Now you have not only righteous moral but also angry personal indignation to steady your hand as you call your local constabulary to issue a noise complaint.

(Vis-à-vis your worry about guns, it's certainly legitimate in this day and age, and I'd hate to be wrong about this, but I'd say getting the police involved will make your drug-dealing neighbours less, rather than more, likely to use any guns they may have stuffed in their waistbands.)

And if noise is the "probable cause" that gets the cops inside the house and sniffing the aromatic atmosphere, that's probably all for the best.

After all, they were rude to you, right? The sooner these punks learn that if you mess with the Man, then the Man may mess you up right back, the better.

David Eddie is the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad . Damage Control , the book, was released in March.

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