December 30

“Dear Apocalypse”

[The Advice Column for our Troubled Times]


Dear Apocalypse,


I was wondering if you could give me advice about a property dispute I’m having with my current neighbor.

Remember during big snowstorms, when city people had to clear out their own parking spaces on the street?  All that effort, but then you’d have to go to the store or to work, and you didn’t want somebody just to swoop in and take the space after you drove off.  So you’d put a lawn chair in the cleared space, which meant it was yours for the duration of the storm.  You’d earned it, through a kind of sweat equity.

Different day, different storm — right?

See, I’ve put a lot of effort into improving the home I’m occupying now.  The gates are reinforced with locks and chains I scavenged from the hardware store.  I’m the one who gathered boards and nails and metal bars, and used them to secure the doors and ground floor windows.  I also figured out how to make two of the fireplaces work, and set up a generator to power the  stainless-steel kitchen appliances.

Granted the house was pretty nice to begin with — during the initial crisis, I claimed the best place I could find.  But I’ve been a good homeowner.  I made some real improvements to the property.

Imagine my surprise when this guy shows up and starts yelling through the front gate.  He says he’s the son of the former occupant, and demands that I vacate his family home.

Well, as I told him, things don’t work that way anymore.  There’s no point to land surveyors or property deeds.  Possession has gone from 9/10ths to 100 per cent of the law — if we had laws, that is, or police to reinforce them.

I’ve got my locks and keys, but this guy — let’s call him Dwayne — moved into a fallen down carriage house across the street and keeps glowering at me.  The minute I leave, I think he’s going to try to crowbar his way into the house I renovated — not respecting the figurative lawn chair I’ve placed in the parking space I’ve shoveled out.

I was thinking, Apocalypse, maybe you could knock some sense into him.  Print my letter, and add your own response to help this Dwayne guy listen to reason.

What do you say?



Homeowner in Hartford



* * *


Dear Homeowner,


What planet do you think you’re living on?  If there’s no law and order, there’s no law and order.  Any guy who wants to kick over your lawn chair and ram his car in your space, he’s got my blessing.

And you can respond however you like.  Be an animal or be a gracious loser.  Your choice.

Or maybe, just maybe, recognize that Dwayne has his own claim to the property, as valid (or more so) than your own.  If that’s true, you might consider a mutually beneficial compromise — for example, share the property and work together to improve it further.

But that kind of solution might be beyond human abilities at this point.



The Apocalypse