I live in an urban area where there are not enough parking spaces for all the apartments, so residents need to use street parking. Street parking space is scarce and coveted. There's a guy on our street who has no fewer than three cars that he keeps parked on the street all the time. He only uses one of them. Every week when the street sweeper is about to come (so street parking is temporarily prohibited), he strategically sits there for two hours, to guarantee that he gets all his spots back.

If ever he does use one of the cars to go somewhere, he backs up one of the others halfway, so that it's now taking up two spots. Then when he gets back he pulls the other one forward again. This way no one can ever take his spots, even when he uses one of the cars.

He seems like quite a nice older gentleman when I talk to him, but I find this behavior pretty egregious. He may have no other option than to get rid of two of his cars, or pay to have them stored. There may be emotional attachment to the cars, and he may not be able to afford to store them.

I don't have any expectation that he'll change his behavior (since he doesn't have to). If what he were doing were illegal I could report him, but I don't think it is. I think part of being honest with my neighbor is telling him that I think what he's doing is wrong: he's wasting a precious public resource. How might I do that in a way that is respectful, and avoids unnecessary conflict, but clearly expresses that I think he is making a moral error?

  • 5
    Given that you don't expect his behaviour to change, what outcome are you looking for?
    – user9837
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 14:22
  • @Spagirl The outcome that I have done the right thing with my frustration, been a good citizen, and perhaps maximized the probability that my words will cause him to change (though that probability still may be less than 50%).
    – Eric Auld
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 19:50
  • 1
    Have you ever asked him why he does all of these things? Instead of starting with an accusation, open up with curiosity.
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 11:32
  • @Erik That’s a good idea. I’d like to find a way that is both not phony and not accusatory. Any suggestions?
    – Eric Auld
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


There are several problems with expressing your opinion out loud.

Whatever this person may have for reason to behave the way he does, it is quite clearly a strong motive. Buying three cars is expensive, and moving one of them halfway every time you go out with one car is tedious. You would have to be prepared for his cars to be very precious to him. By making your opinion clear, you are clearly going to face a strong opposition.

More problematic, what you want to express would need to share moral ground. If this person do not share your values, like ecology and preservation of public space, you will simply fail at communicating anything meaningful.

Even if you did manage to get a common ground, the problem is that your neighbor is not invested in what you have as opinion for him. Unlike a friend or a close relative, your neighbor can easily ignore a message he'd find unpleasant to hear and disengage with you immediately.

I would think you'd have a more favorable issue if you kept what you think for yourself. He might not react well to an attempt to get him on a moral ground, no matter how subtle. And who knows, you may eventually find yourself in a situation where his help could be handy.

  • Good point. ——-
    – Eric Auld
    Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 7:07

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