Ask Amy

Ask Amy column

Q. My husband and I are concerned that something fishy is going on with our upstairs neighbors.

A few weeks ago one of the occupants moved out and a new one moved in. Since then, there have been a lot of strange goings-on. I’ve come home multiple times (mostly at night) to find the door ajar. I asked that it remain closed for security reasons (we are on the ground floor), and now we can hear a steady stream of guests being buzzed in at all hours of the night. There is a mysterious lockbox on the fence, and there are sometimes strange people loitering outside the front door.

We believe they are selling drugs. Our landlords have investigated the situation and haven’t uncovered anything strange, but we aren’t convinced. We don’t want to confront them, and I don’t think we have enough evidence to take the issue to the police. Short of moving, what can we do about this?

Wary Neighbor


A. You don’t have to fully investigate the goings-on in your building in order to call the police. Investigating is their job. It is hard to fathom why your landlord isn’t curious about a “mysterious lockbox” on the fence outside your entrance. If there are groups of people gathering at the entrance and people coming and going at all hours, you should report this to the police and ask them to take a look.

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Q. When my mother was dying, she asked a lifelong family friend to be like a sister to me because my own two siblings were always mean to me, and my mother knew they would continue to be after she was gone. The friend, an only child, was great for about four years, but then she stopped returning my calls and once went several months without contacting me.

Every time I want to go home, she is conveniently unable to see me and she tells me whoppers about her guest room being unavailable. I have known her since I was a baby and have listened to petty criticisms of people we both know without comment. When I told her I really wanted to come home after many years away and said I needed a connection because I am totally alone, her response was “Get used to it.”

How should I handle this? Why did she make the promise to my mother if she was not going to keep it?


A. It is a tough truth to impart, but I have to tell you now that nobody owes you anything. People make promises and break them. You may feel wounded, hurt, upset and depleted, but you simply cannot make someone give you what she doesn’t want to give. Your job in life is to look after yourself and to find ways to get what you need — emotionally and otherwise. And so now you need to let it go.


Q. I am somewhat unsettled by your response to “Rested But Concerned.” Chronic insomnia is a condition that is not so easily solved with earplugs and separate mattresses. Many other conditions contribute to this illness. It seems that punishing the mother by insisting that she return to bed with her husband is just another way of “caving to the 10-year-old’s demand” and validating the father’s hypothetical spiteful behavior.

Sweet Dreams

A. Other readers also expressed your point of view. One solution might be for this mother to start out in the marriage bed and then move to another room later in order to sleep more soundly. I assume we all agree that the child should not co-sleep with the father.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.