Almost coincident with this Smart Money article by Quentin Fottrell in which I am quoted: “Try to build a good relationship with your neighbors because friends usually don’t sue friends,” I got myself involved in quite a rumpus with my friend and neighbor. This was my error!
Without going into particulars, I wrongly felt that I was being challenged by a quasi-boundary dispute issue. I asked and was granted an audience with my neighbor immediately the night the issue was discovered. I expressed in an text message the next (Friday) morning: “I do request that you … . Regardless of your decision I appreciate your consideration and will be fine with it.” I was hoping and expecting a change. However, I returned from the Memorial Day Weekend to find no changes had been made.
Then I made my error – I sloppily researched the municipal code and sent it over to my friend and neighbor with a message indicating that I thought he was out of compliance.
This was error because as a lawyer, particularily one who practices boundary dispute law, unlike my own misperceived challenge, doing this is considered a challenge.
This one email then generated a series of back and forth emails that ended with me proclaiming in the final email that while I was reserving my rights to pursue the matter further, I presently intended to devote my time to more pressing matters and I then invited my friend and neighbor to join me at a golf driving range where we could proceede to “bash balls.”
Well, I saw my friend and neighbor this morning at the coffee shop and approached him. He politely asked about a separate, disconcerting event which had more recently occurred to my wife. When I asked him about my offer, he answered indirectly no by stating that the legal angle doesn’t fly with him and that he was and still is hurt by my attempt to use it.
To be honest, I am still not happy that my neighbor generated the cause of my issue and I told him this too. However, and this is the most important part, I exaserbated and magnified the issue. That was my folly. Folly that I usually attempt to steer my clients clear.
As an aside, advising my clients in this way certainly does not make me the richest lawyer in town. But, it is often times the right thing to do.
Why? Well, because while we might have plenty of “stuff,” the only thing of any lasting value in this world, and perhaps that which we can take to the next, are our experiences. And this begs the question: What sane individual would want to fill their time creating bad experiences with family, friends, neighbors, work colleagues … ?
As to my friend and neighbor, perhaps in time, the relationship will become patched-up. Time is the key word. Our relationship will never be quite the same.