Re: The Martial Art of Difficult Conversations
Michael speaks much wisdom.
Let us assume for a moment that the author and Leslie are not simply neighbors, but good neighbors, friends even. Perhaps they enjoy cook-outs together, or have baby-sat for each other's kids. I for one would be hesitant to threaten any of my friends with the police, unless they were threatening physical harm, which certainly does not appear to be the case here. The author thus wanted to resolve the situation peacably, treating their friend as a friend.
From a strict legal standpoint, of course the author and his wife were not in the wrong. It was their property, and someone had parked there illegally. But from a social standpoint, having the car towed was a bit drastic. Let us look at it from Leslie's point of view. Her son comes home, but has no where to park. She sees that her neighbors aren't home, so he wouldn't be blocking anyone from getting out. I'll have him park there, she thinks, and then we'll move the car when they get back.
Presumptous? Perhaps. But if you can't impose on your friends a little bit, who can you impose on? So imagine her shock when her friends and neighbors simply have the car towed. One might imagine that they at least would check with the next door neighbor before something as drastic as towing. So she gets upset and angry.
One's legal standing ultimately has little to do with relationships with friends, so while it was in the author's rights to have the car towed, it's understandable, from a friend's point of view, to be upset that the author had the car towed without even checking with the neighbors to see if the car was theirs. I mean, it takes some time for a tow truck to arrive, hook up the car, and take off, so you'd think they could have taken five minutes just to knock on the neighbor's door. Was the author in the wrong? No. Was it worth an apology to a friend? Sure. If this was a stranger, likely to sue, yeah, apologizing is probably not the best course of action. But it'd be a sad life indeed to approach all relationships from the perspective of legal liability.
In the end, this article is not how to deal with an irate neighbor over possible ligititous issues, but how to approach an upset and angry friend.