#891: “My neighbor has decided that he is the boss of me.”

Hello Captain Awkward,

i live in a building with 4 condos, all on the board. our current president and wife are retired, while the rest of us are all 30- or early-40-somethings. He wants to be involved in everything, despite thinking the rest of us don’t do enough, and treats us like an office where he is the manager, rather than us being neighbors and equals. usually i tune him out, but he emailed me the other week and again today about untangling an issue with our bylaws, dating back to before my husband and i became owners, and which will certainly take months to resolve. I volunteered to do this when it first came up in January, but at the time, he asked me to hold off (a new neighbor had just moved in). Now, i am 8 months pregnant, prepping for maternity leave and transitioning to an unexpected promotion, during my office’s busiest time of year. i work all day and work more every night at home, plus there are things to get ready for the baby. when i said I was busy and asked if this really needed to be a ‘right now’ kind of thing (as opposed to the fall) since we’d already waited 6 months, he started talking down to me how at 8 months pregnant, his own daughter handled more than whatever i have going on, and he knows better than me how i will be busier after the baby so he would “appreciate it” if i would just do what he “requested” and work on this right now. even implied he had a right to insist because I should have already gotten this done ‘in a timely manner’ (forgetting his earlier request). i don’t know whether to just say something non-committal to mollify him while still having no intention of working on this until after my kid is born (probably fueling his martyrdom), or to try continue to calmly explain why i hadn’t done it already and that while i appreciate his concern, it’s simply not possible for me to add another thing to my plate right now, but that like i said, i’d be happy to begin in the fall since this is a long term issue–my MIL will be helping a lot and while i’ll be tired, i won’t have to spend 12-15 hours a day on a computer. Or should I be honest how upset I am by this conversation and his presumption, especially since he still hasn’t given any condo-related reason for wanting this done now? If i tell my husband how much this escalated, he will be angry and definitely shoot off an inflammatory email. i know the neighbor’s a cranky old man and i would prefer to not have an adversarial relationship when it’s such a small group, but I’m pretty offended myself.
frazzled almost-mom

p.s., emails pasted below so you can see what I mean.

5:22 PM (19 hours ago)
to me

I know you have a lot on your mind at the moment, but I’d appreciate it if you would follow through and find out the procedure for changing by-laws. You’re busy now, but , take my word for it, it will only get worse. Thanks, [neighbor]


8:05 AM (4 hours ago)
to [neighbor]
Hi [neighbor],

yes, i honestly am pretty busy right now, given that it’s the last month of the pregnancy, and i’m trying to do all of my current work as well as prepare for maternity leave and a new job at my company, and get the house ready for the baby! what was the timeline you were thinking about for this? we first talked about this about 6 months ago, so i didn’t think it was urgent when you mentioned it again recently.

8:22 AM (4 hours ago)
to me
Yes, I know you’re busy. I have a daughter who was 8 months pregnant with twins, was working fulltime and had to clean out the over-stuffed apartment of her recently deceased mother. So I’m sympathetic with your situation, but not overwhelmingly so. I’m acting as de facto managing agent for the building. No one else pays much attention to whether the building gets painted or whether we have a place to put the garbage. I’m not a power-hungry type who revels in the role. I expect others to pay attention at least some of the time. So please just honor my request. Thank you

8:29 AM (3 hours ago)
to [neighbor]
Hi [neighbor],

i’m just wondering why this has become urgent right now, given that we’ve already waited 6 months since it first came up?

8:48 AM (3 hours ago)
to me
I just have to turn the question around and put it to you: Why have you waited six months to get around to taking care of this? When someone says they will do something I expect them to do it in a timely manner. I imagine you have the same expectations. And let me put this in perspective for you: You’re not busy now. You’re going to be busy the minute the baby is born, and that will last a long, long time. Parenthood is great; relaxing it ain’t. Cheers


p.p.s. the other units don’t even know he wants this done. 

Dear Frazzled,

This guy is such a patronizing shitbeard. Thanks for including his emails, they really make the whole thing.

If it is easier to handle the thing than it is to further antagonize him (like, the effort of dealing with him and explaining yourself is honestly greater than the effort it would take to do the thing), and if the change is in the interest of and has the buy-in of the other residents (big if, if they don’t even know it’s happening) quietly knock out the thing on your own timeline.

If he continues to antagonize you, you could send oneI’m sorry, after you told me to hold off when (neighbors) moved in, I definitely misunderstood the urgency of this project. Bottom line is: I won’t be able to make this a priority until after (date), so, if it’s important that it be done now, time for a plan B” email to him, but given the level on contempt on display in his messages to you, you might just skip that step and drag this one out into the sunshine and off of your plate entirely. To do that, send an email to the whole board/everyone in the building:

“Hello, everyone. Back in January, I volunteered to handle ( bylaw issue), but at (Neighbor’s) request, we held off until (Nice New Residents) bought their place and settled in, and it’s been on the back burner since then. (Neighbor) kindly reminded me that this still needs doing, but sadly I am not going to be able to get to it until sometime next year. Since it’s so important, I wanted to let the board know so that you can get it on the next meeting agenda and make an alternate plan. My notes/progress* are attached if they’ll assist someone in picking this up from here. Thanks!”

*If you have the email where he told you to hold off, DEFINITELY include it somewhere in your “notes” that you send everyone. Definitely. Look, I try really hard not to antagonize people, especially people I have to see & deal with all the time, ESPECIALLY people who share a roof/wall with me, but sometimes the “Oh, forgive me, I must be mistaken, because based on our last email (helpfully attached), I thought that (the opposite of this bullshit you’re trying to pull) was true. How would you like to handle this going forward? (So thoughtful of you to CC (our entire team)(both of our bosses) so I don’t have to type the addresses in myself)” email can be a thing of beauty and peace on earth.

This is not only the easiest way for you to handle it (by getting it off your plate and getting him off your jock) it’s the right thing to do since the other owners will need to sign off.

In the meantime, I would stop replying to him utterly about this topic and definitely stop giving him reasons why you can’t do it. You’ve told him that you can’t do it, why you can’t do it, and now here you are, where reasons are for reasonable people and private back-and-forth replies are for annoying you and making you mad but without getting anything done.

He’s trying to shame you for not doing what he wants you to do, when a) He is not the boss of you or of the building b) He’s the one who told you to hold off, and he won’t answer your question as to why it’s so important now, so he’s wrong on the fucking facts AND being a bully c) In professional life, when you know you’re not gonna get to something, the right thing to do is to admit it and kick it back to the team so that the work will get done. His way only works if you feel/accept the shame he’s trying to hand you. If you politely tell the whole building, “Hey, I’m so sorry, I know I said I’d handle it, but I know now that I won’t” you remove his lever to manipulate you and you also make his bullying emails about his daughter who is better than you in every way go *poof.*

His martyr complex is sadly *poof*-proof, but it can grind on someone else for a while. Maybe his daughter, clearly the greatest parent/condo association member of all time (OF ALL TIME) would enjoy hearing about it. He gets to quietly think that you’re unreliable (even if he’s incorrect), you get to quietly think that he’s a pompous asshole (correct), and as long as it all stays quiet and isn’t filling up your inbox every day, that sounds pretty okay. I hope all goes well with your busy late 2016.



213 thoughts on “#891: “My neighbor has decided that he is the boss of me.”

  1. Wow. What? This guy has no sense of decency whatsoever. LW, ignore him and pass this off to the board to make alternate arrangements.

  2. Yowza. I am impressed with how you’ve held onto your patience so far. Second the idea of handing it back to the board (possibly with the available options: (A) you’ll get to it at estimated X date or (B) they can find someone else to take over). Don’t mollify OR explain to him. Just state clearly, here are the options, OR, Done. Now.

    Congratulations! Promotion! Baby! I hope the rest of your neighbors/co-owners are wonderful to compensate for dealing with asshat.

  3. Having had back to back babies, I can assure you that the rest of your neighbors will totally understand and probably not even care that this task didn’t get done. A sweet, pre-emptive apology to the entire complex, as Captain suggested, is excellent. I’d also, in passing chit-chat with neighbors express a lot of regret about having to step away from Board duties. I might even say “It’s a shame I won’t be able to research that bylaw issue” and see how many looks of confusion you get. (Which will give you clue about howmany neighbors even know that it’s an “issue.”

    Also, from experience, this asshat is right about one thing – you only get busier and have less free time once a baby comes along. All the more reason to GIVE YOURSELF GRACE and prioritize your life. I would think your paid employment and your new baby take presidence over researching and resolving a by-law issue that only one neighbor seems to give a shit about. You’ll find that once baby’s here a LOT of things that used to consume your time and energy and level of give-a-care will fall away. AND THAT’S OK!!

    1. “Also, from experience, this asshat is right about one thing – you only get busier and have less free time once a baby comes along.”

      Seconded. I’m so much busier now than I was before kids. Yes, you won’t be working 12-15hrs at work, but when you come home you’ll not be free until after they go to bed. At which point, all you’ll want to do it veg. And you need to remember that resting isn’t laziness (something I have to remind myself).

      Congrats and good luck!

  4. I swear I know this guy professionally. Total jerk. Thirding you pass this off with the entire history and enjoy your promotion and new baby, and ignore him forevermore (to the extent possible).

      1. I’ve never known this guy professionally, but I did end up in a long term relationship with him (thankfully over with now). Tbh I’d say rejoice if the only relationship you have with him is a professional one.

  5. *gasp!* Those emails were even worse than i had thought by reading the LW’s letter!!!

    1. Ok now that that is out of my system: More importantly: Congratulations to you LW on your new promotion and on all the family news! ❤

  6. The Captain’s email script is perfect and this guy doesn’t get any more reasons from you. The script gets this guy off your back and lets the issue see the light of day. If he responds to all in a condescending manner, then everyone else will see it and have your back.

  7. ““I’m sorry, after you told me to hold off when (neighbors) moved in, I definitely misunderstood the urgency of this project.” Noooooo. “I haven’t done so because you said not to.” The end of that. Taking on the blame will only encourage a guy like this. She didn’t misunderstand a thing.

    1. I agree with this! There was no misunderstanding, I understand the urge but at this point there is no need to soften it that way.

    2. I don’t know, in my experience the “this is what you told me to do” usually seems to come across clearly even when it’s surrounded by polite (fake) apology. I use a “I’m sorry, did I misunderstand, I thought that [our standard procedure/the client’s instructions/etc.] said…” sort of script sometimes at work, and nobody has yet mistaken it for an actual admission of fault.

      1. This is exactly the right application of the non-apology used so well by celebrities and politicians. “I’m sorry IF…” as opposed to “I’m sorry for my actions.”

        1. Exactly. “I’m sorry if I misunderstood the situation, but based on [irrefutable proof] I thought we had concluded [reasonable interpretation]. Please let me know the actual state of affairs.”

          You’d have to be a special level of asshat not to quietly accept the backtracking made possible by this non-apology.

          Also, LW, congrats on all the good stuff going on in your life!

          1. Yeah, it gives the gaslighting asshat a face-saving out, so it’s a concillatory de-escalation tactic. If ze’s wise, ze takes it (realizing that ze can’t pull zir usual gaslighting bullshit on someone trained in bullshit judo); if ze’s not wise, ze winds up looking like the obvious douchebag ze is in front of all concerned parties. Accepting meaningless (and sometimes obviously undeserved) culpability in order to properly position meaningful culpability is a great method for handling this sort of person IMO.

    3. True, but women are socialized to react a certain way (passive, putting blame on themselves even when they know it wasn’t their fault) and besides he would have been a douche about it no matter how she fired back.

      1. ‘he would have been a douche about it no matter how she fired back.’

        This is key. Specific word choices or perfect formulations don’t banish wankers. Dude would be a wanker no matter what LW said exactly.

      2. I agree with this, and it’s exactly why I use the fake-apology in situations where I’m dealing with a condescending dick. Going against that socialisation costs me energy and doesn’t necessarily gain anything, since this man’s going to be a tosser either way.

        “This is a female-socialised way of conmunicating” =/= “this way of communicating is wrong”. Pick whatever is least-energy for you, LW!

          1. Seriously. And to flip it around: just because men do (or are perceived and/or expected to do) something doesn’t automatically make that behavior great, compulsory, or particularly useful. Men are not experts in all things and male-socialized behavior is not inherently superior to any and all other choices. Avoiding things that otherwise feel natural or polite or productive to you for fear of looking cooties-riddled because what you’re doing reads as “female” (and “female” as icky or soppy) will not lead to happiness.

          2. This discussion is something I really needed to read right now. I am struggling in a work environment that prizes masculine communication styles and have had a supervisor tell me during a fit of frustration that—among other things—I was one of the most retiring people he’d ever encountered.

            Honestly, I wish men were encouraged to adopt more female-socialized ways of communicating. It would make the seminars I attend (and life in general) far more bearable.

          3. Totally – I find a “deference first” M.O. is invaluable because 1) it lowers any upturned hackles, 2) it signals my intention to cooperate, 3) all things being equal, there’s a 50% chance it really was my fault.

        1. This!

          For me, having it out right there would be less stressful. For some people, smiling and nodding while making it clear to all observers that he’s an ass is less stressful. Women tend to deflect and de-escalate more, but that doesn’t make it wrong, it’s just not a technique that works for all people or all situations.

      3. This this this! There are no magic words that will make someone who doesn’t respect you stop being a jackass. LW, that bratty little child is going to behave like a little brat no matter what you do, so please don’t waste time beating yourself up about explaining yourself wrong. Just tell him no and think of it as practice for when your actual baby arrives 🙂

        As an aside, this is why I have such utter contempt for all those articles about how if women just stop saying “just” people will magically respect us at work. Uh, no. People who respect women listen to us even if we use the “wrong” words, and people who don’t respect us never will no matter how much work we put into policing ourselves. Why would I go to that much trouble for literally nothing?

    4. Absolutely. With someone like this, who comes across as well and truly narcissistic, any attempt at making concessions or apologies will be interpreted as an acknowledgement that you are fully at fault, and will only escalate his demands and blaming. Go with polite, distant, unable to help. And document everything.

      1. “And document everything.”

        This. This, this, this. Document and make backups of the documentation just in case something goes wrong and you lose the first set. I am firmly aware of my sometimes irrational need for double and triple backups but in addition to having them to hand in case I need them it gives me a kind of relief just because I can feel secure that if, eh, my computer crashes I’ve still got the set in Dropbox or something.

        This is not my most eloquent comment, but I hope the meaning comes through.

      2. I think this guy will hear “I’m Sorry” as a warm, pulsing jugular. The conflict needs the light of day. Oh, how I hope there’s an email that dates your first offer. Neverless, letting the Board know your earlier offer was derailed is appropriate.

        I’m thinking that this task could sound like a trivial matter that in truth has legal implications. That there exists Errors and Omissions insurance that a volunteer and co-owner to the Board wouldn’t be covered by. It strikes me that this isn’t an area to volunteer in, and that the turn of events is a blessing.

    5. Or a mid-ground “I’m sorry, based on our XYZ conversation/email in [Month], I had understood that we were waiting on this project.” – you didn’t misunderstand, but you did understand something different from what he is now expressing.

  8. “So I’m sympathetic with your situation, but not overwhelmingly so. ”
    That’s all. Just had to say it.

    1. That line really got me as well. I would venture a guess that he’s in fact not AT ALL sympathetic with her situation.

    2. Yeah, that was where I gasped. That’s not even the phrasing of feigned sympathy, lol!

      1. Yup, that one astonished me. At that point the only reason to show courtesy in return is out of self-respect, because he sure as hell doesn’t deserve it on his own account.

    3. That’s the kind of phrase you use when you’re talking about a situation to someone else, not when you’re actually talking to that person! Seriously, I have no problem with “I’m sympathetic but not overwhemlingly so” in the context of me talking to my best friend about someone else’s behavior. I’ve said things like that myself.

      But in this context? Hell. No.

    4. This is such an asshole line. There is no way this line can be used for good. I’m filing it away tbh. If I ever need to communicate “don’t bother me with this, because I will only be even MORE of a jerk from here” to someone, this line will come in handy.

    5. “So I’m sympathetic with your situation, but not overwhelmingly so.”

      More like:

      “I acknowledge your situation because I can’t get away with not doing so, but I don’t actually give a crap about it, because I’m an unabashed jackass”.

      This guy is a total jerkwad. I’m fuming on LW’s behalf. Nobody needs that, but people with babies on the way and busy careers ESPECIALLY do not need that.

    6. Y’know what else gets me about this?

      It’s not a sympathy-worthy situation. It’s an acknowledgement-worthy situation. LW is about to have a baby and this is an exciting thing for her! Wonderful! LW just got a promotion at work! Hurray! These are fantastic and exciting things! (Btw, LW: CONGRATULATIONS AND THE HIGHEST OF JEDI FIVES IF YOU WOULD LIKE THEM!)

      However, the massive changes in her life- which are good, good things- require a reshuffling of priorities. He shouldn’t be sympathetic to her. He should be congratulating her! And then he should be working with the new (excellent, exciting, positive) reality that LW now has a ton of things on her plate and all the homeowners need to figure out a new way to get Bylaws Thing done, or to push Bylaws Thing back another few months if necessary.

      But like.. sympathy in this situation just seems grossly condescending, y’know?

      1. Yeah, it’s SUCH A WEIRD WORD CHOICE.

        Like, she hasn’t asked for sympathy, she’s asked for respect for her stated reasoning. She doesn’t want an ‘oh poor you’, she wants to delay the research or have some other non-pregnant goddamned person take it on.

        1. Using “sympathy” in this context reinforces his framing that he is the boss and she is the subordinate who failed to complete an assignment. It’s the kind of thing a (not fabulous) boss might say when reprimanding an employee–it’s part of the “suck it up” speech so many had bosses give.

          1. I don’t think it’s even a boss/subordinate thing, just a “I know what’s reasonable to ask of you/expect you to be capable of/can handle” thing. Basically a faux-polite “stop being lazy.”

      2. The key for me is what he said before.
        “I have a daughter who was 8 months pregnant with twins, was working fulltime and had to clean out the over-stuffed apartment of her recently deceased mother.”That’s the reason he gives that he thinks OP deserves or wants sympathy, just like his daughter.

        Huge Speculation-fest:

        He watched his daughter have a hard time (did he help in any way, like listening? did he try but just like now with OP fell into explaining how it should not be a problem in his opinion?) and separately also liked her because she’s his daughter, now he seems to think he’s expected to express positive feeling to a similar person.
        Taking the mere facts as the cold, hard information they are didn’t even enter this guy’s mind. He tries to manage OP’s emotions and change facts he doesn’t like so people do what he has determined is best. He basically put OP in the family box with him as the patriarch. Watch out for the other neighbors also being recast as people close to him in the past or present and him trying to stirr their emotions.

        1. I’m left feeling sorry for his daughter, who had to deal with all that plus being stuck with Papa Mansplainer.

    7. Yep. Once I got to that point, I wouldn’t be lifting a finger for this guy. Ever again. A super brief “Circumstances have changed, I’m afraid your request is not possible at this time” would work, with “I’m afraid that’s not possible at this time” repeated every time he tries to argue back. Though I do like the Captain’s idea of looping in all the other neighbors before he can get to them.

      1. I agree 99% — the other 1% being that I can actually think of *one* finger I’d be willing to lift for him.

    8. “So I’m sympathetic with your situation, but not overwhelmingly so. ”

      “Sympathy wasn’t requested or required. A polite response to another adult was. Please re-phrase before any further communication may occur.”

      And yes, I’m actually the kind of person who would send that. De-escalation is not my strong point…

      1. I have a friend who says things like this and she is my hero. I am totally in awe of people who are able to draw such strong boundaries in regards to how others may treat them. I’m better than I was but nowhere near this level!

      2. I answer stuff similarly when pushed to a point. One day a co-worker, who is very nice and we have the sort of relationship where this is okay, was listening to a story (a different colleague had sent an email asking permission to go against protocol on something AND COPIED A MALE CO-WORKER IN MY DEPARTMENT LIKE HE WAS MY BOSS and then immediately regretted it) and said, “I don’t have a different word for this, but trust when I mean it’s a compliment, I really really do: you’re a bitch!”

        It’s sad that we don’t have a better word for it, but I did believe him that he meant to compliment me and laughed my head off.

        LW, this is not my saying you *should* answer emails this way, but that if you feel like you want to, you’re absolutely justified. It’s sometimes very satisfying.

      3. I’m evil enough that I’d turn his own words back on him:

        “While I understand this issue needs attending to, I did offer to take care of it months ago. You told me to wait due to new residents moving in. It is now months later an I am no longer willing to take on the task. This may create a problem for you, and while I understand and am sympathetic to the situation you find yourself in, I’m afraid it pales in comparison to my own personal demands.”

    9. I’m curious where he was when his 8 month pregnant daughter was cleaning out the overstuffed apartment of her recently deceased mother. Git.

      1. Also, the cleaning out the overstuffed apartment of her deceased mother line? Sir just managed to take a sideswipe at his dead ex-wife in the middle of taking a swipe at LW.

        Given that, were it me, I would definitely go with something that loops the rest of the group in, because it looks like this gentleman talks shit as a reflex.

      2. Seriously, it’s amazing he doesn’t realize how bad that situation makes him look even in his own description of it.

    10. Seriously, this guy is a jerk. His sympathy is irrelevant anyway. He doesn’t need to care about her situation. She cares about her situation and he really has no say in whether or not she moves forward. Obviously the OP cares about getting things done. Beat him at his own game “I hear you that this is important to you. Thanks for letting me know your concerns.” No solutions, no timeline, no explanations.

      “Bossypants Lesson #183: You Can’t Boss People Around If They Don’t Really Care.” Tina Fey

    11. Mmm. Dead right, Ramona.
      Wishing this guy all the haemorrhoids in the world. And swollen ankles. And all the other pains of pregnancy.

  9. Yeah, I have to second the Captain’s advice to turn it back on him by a) pointing out that you were willing and ready to get it sorted in January but he told you to put it on hold, and in the intervening time your personal situation has changed, and b) throwing the conversation wide-open to the rest of the residents so he’s no longer putting pressure on you in private.

    I can see why you wouldn’t want your husband to fire off inflammatory emails…but on the other hand, your neighbour’s getting pretty inflammatory with his condescension and his Olympic gold medal in “My daughter had bigger problems than you do so that means you don’t have ANY problems”. Given the way those emails of his have already escalated in tone whilst you’re still trying to be reasonable, I’m really not sure that it’s possible to keep the situation calm and friendly, without someone shutting this guy down and making him realise how inappropriate he’s being.

    Either way, the Captain’s script is a masterpiece of literary judo which should help to put him on the wrong foot for once, and hopefully ensure that you get some backup.

    1. Yeah the captain’s script is great, but in the event that your husband did say something to this guy about his crappy behaviour, I wouldn’t waste time feeling guilty or anything. He is WAY over the line.

    2. Love the way misogynists habitually hide behind women’s skirts. “But my daughter!”

  10. If there were more than four units, I would swear you and I were in the same condo complex, LW. I live directly across from our board’s president, who is also retired and has nothing but time to harass me, people who visit me, and any service provider he sees doing repairs or cleaning in my condo. Having read your letter, I’m starting to wonder whether the Retired Pain in the Ass Board President is just a type who exists in communities worldwide. ANYWAY, I have no advice, but tons of sympathy, and I hope you’re able to get your own RPITABP off your case asap – he is definitely in the wrong here!

    1. Having spent five years working for a not for profit with a membership and Board full of retired people, I can absolutely back up you on your theory. This guy has many many clones. When they get together, it’s something else 🙂

      The Captain’s advice about passing the task back to the Board with proof that the reason it wasn’t done was because the LW was asked not to, is perfect.

    2. They do – our HOA president is a retired Republican-appointed judge who, by the way, was completely unfit to hold the office he was appointed by a Certain President Who Shall Go Unnamed Here and he is Such. An. Asshole.

      His favorite thing to do is have stealth HOA meetings and then try to change the bylaws when no one’s looking, until someone pointed out that he was actually not abiding by the bylaws in the first place because you need to have a certain amount of time to review AND consensus from a percentage of the homeowners before amending the bylaws. His second favorite thing to do is try to award contracts to do routine maintenance for ridiculous sums to certain companies, despite the contracts being WAY above what that maintenance would normally cost. We’re like 90% sure he’s getting kickbacks from the companies he keeps trying to foist off on our HOA.

      1. There’s something extra disconcerting to me about petty corruption, BECAUSE it’s so petty. I guess I can sympathize – though not overly so 😉 – with selling out one’s integrity for some kind of big (or desperately needed) payout, but to do it for so little suggests a total disregard for the concept.

    3. RPITABP is 100% a type, as is Retired Pain in the Ass non-board-member who constantly stirs up excrement and dumps on every decision the board makes. Source: live in a condo complex run entirely by RPITAB members.

    4. Yes, it’s a common type. When you don’t have much going on in your own life, small things take on a lot more urgency. It’s also harder to imagine how someone could honestly not have a few hours to make phone calls or something.

    5. I live in a housing association block and we have one of these too. He is currently furious with me because I haven’t dumped our insurance brokers (nothing wrong with the brokers – just he has a personal dislike of some of their staff) and is sending vicious e-mails to and about me. Not nice at the best of times, but my Mum died last week and I could do without it.

      So I can totally sympathise with the LW’s position. Her new baby and new job are so much more important than this jerk.

    6. In their spare time, they like to go to conferences and presentations and ask “questions” that are really five-minute-long rants. Captain Shitbeard is the reason public agency meetings have a strict 2 minute comment limit.

    7. The (former) Retired shitbeard president of our civic association wrote a screed in the newsletter calling people who didn’t pay the (voluntary) dues (for scholarships, grounds maintenance, the newsletter of screeds) “[community name] freeloaders” and said they should all be ASHAMED of themselves. Unless maybe they volunteered, but EVEN THEN.

      New president is a retired woman who at least doesn’t write screeds.

  11. “I have a daughter who was 8 months pregnant with twins, was working fulltime, and had to clean out the over-stuffed apartment of *her recently deceased mother*. So I’m sympathetic with your situation, but not overwhelmingly so.”

    Captain Subtext here to translate!

    “I am a martyr by proxy. When my ex-wife died, I wouldn’t help our daughter clean out her too-small apartment, even though she was pregnant with twins and working full time. If my daughter survived my self-centered lack of empathy, so can you.”

    1. “I’m acting as de facto managing agent for the building.”
      I’m a bossyboots who’s constantly trespassing on people’s tolerance.

      “No one else pays much attention to whether the building gets painted or whether we have a place to put the garbage.”
      I’m constantly pushing my petty issues at people who, unlike me, have things other than flaky paint to fill their lives with.

      “I’m not a power-hungry type who revels in the role.”
      Oh yes, I am.

      “I expect others to pay attention at least some of the time.”

      1. I had a nosypants neighbour with an itchy calling-the-codes-enforcement-office dialling finger, and I found that after years of harassment, he toned down quickly when (this was in Kansas in 2005-6, for context), I pointed out that the last person I’d heard of who cared so much about his neighbours’ grass and whether it was a millimeter too long turned out to be a serial killer. Power-hungry type revelling in the role indeed. 😛

      2. “I’m not a power-hungry type who revels in the role.”
        Considering LW never accused him of being one, methinks the board president doth protest too much…

        1. OOOOOH, SNAP!

          I wonder how he’d take to a response like “I’m not the kind of person who one day just has enough, and sues you for harassment/punches you in the face/prints out all the emails you’ve been sending them and posts them up in the lobby…

        2. TVTropes calls this the “suspiciously specific denial,” with examples including the East German official who blurted out that “nobody is talking about building a wall,” when in fact nobody had been, and nobody had asked him about it, shortly before they built the Berlin Wall.

          1. Yes, I think there was something similar with the Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate. Or at least in the movie version.

      3. “I’m not a power-hungry type who revels in the role.”

        Why are you making me hit you?

    2. I kinda hope his daughter actually hired some people to clean out the aforementioned apartment and then just told him that she “took care of it” and let him come to his own conclusions.

      1. I also hope that she was her mother’s executor and billed it to the estate, rather than paying for it herself.

        1. his daughter actually hired some people to clean

          That is the proper way to take care of an estate. A better way would be to set a match to the whole hoarder mess.

          The wrong way is to spend months doing it yourself, going through everything to make sure you’ve found all the porn and naked photos of your parents and their equipment before you have the estate sale, especially when you have been disinherited. Just saying.

          1. I started reading this comment without checking the username and thought ‘wow, that sounds like the gold digger’.

            And so it was. 😀

  12. As all four condo owners are the board, throwing the by-law change back to the committee of the whole seems the cleanest way out. And do, please, include his request that you hold off.


    Only tweak I would make to the Captain’s wording is to remove the ‘since it’s so important’ – it’s insincere and it sounds insincere, as what you clearly mean is ‘since Patronising Gramps McTwistedKnickers across the hall is so fucking bothered about it’

    (I don’t advocate replacing it with that; just take it out.)

    1. I think that’s actually what I like about it.

      Of course, if it was me, I’d take that entire thread of emails, forward it to the rest of the board, and add the captain’s wording with a note to see emails below for context.

      If you’re gonna be inflammatory, better set it the fuck on fire, y’know? 🙂

      1. I hear you (and I would probably also be inclined to forward the whole email chain and start with ‘As per the below,…’ myself)

        I’m just also aware that the other board members haven’t done anything bad and it’ll be awkward for them to be caught in the crossfire? It’s as well to be straightforward with them as to be snarky.

        1. Absolutely- to make sure there aren’t other misunderstandings that they might catch. And then when he sends you a pissy note about keeping private emails private, make that public as well. Just so there are no future misunderstandings.

  14. Pretend I inserted a GIF of the late, great Madeline Kahn saying “Flames, flames on the side of my face,” because that’s how I’m feeling right now about [neighbor]. “I browbeat my daughter into dealing with her deceased mother’s belongings when she was 8 months pregnant with twins, why isn’t this same trick working on you?? Get in line!” I have no advice for you, dear LW, but all of my rage. Those emails contain so many layers of awful, entitled bullshit that I don’t even know where to begin.

    1. “I browbeat my daughter into dealing with her deceased mother’s belongings when she was 8 months pregnant with twins, why isn’t this same trick working on you?? Get in line!”

      Ye gods and little fishes, that’s the best translation yet.
      I think I may have to go and boil myself in a bath of bleach to get the icky off me now.
      I hope the daughter lives far, far away, and never quite reaches her phone before the answerphone has a chance to cut in.

  15. Oh my god. What a total and utter fuckwit. Those emails are astonishingly awful. LW, you are a saint for managing to reply politely! No wonder your husband would be angry – I don’t even know you, but I’m outraged on your behalf!

    I have to say, I’d be SO tempted to dash off a sarcastic reply along the lines of:
    “It is clearly a very hard job to be de facto managing agent of the complex, what with all the painting to arrange, garbage to locate, and pregnant women to harass into investigating bylaws. However, since you actually asked me to pause this six months ago, back when I had time to do it, I’m sympathetic with your situation, but not overwhelmingly so. Perhaps your daughter could use some of her boundless reserves of energy to take on the job instead of me?”

    But since that would certainly be the nuclear option, I suggest you do as the Cap suggests instead.

    1. I had the Deadpool-inspired image of a reply that escalates to the point of absurdity the burdens LW is working under. Like “well, since I was only running the governor’s election campaign, building houses for Habitat for Humanity on the weekends, fostering six children with special needs, and scheduling the kidney donation I’ve planned for later this month, I had some extra downtime when I offered to help, but unfortunately just this week I was asked to use my SCUBA training to assist in a criminal investigation, officiate a wedding, and lead a weeklong retreat for firefighters, so my available time has been taken, sorry!”

      But then, I’m a snarky lady.

    2. Thank you for the *snork* this gave me.

      Especially throwing his “but not overwhelmingly so” back at him.

      Oh, so, sooooo tempting…! Good job Frazzled sounds to have more sense and patience than me 😉

      1. That was the phrase that hit my beserker button – Frazzled really must have the patience of a saint not to have hulked out on reading that!

  16. Grabbin’ a seat on the kick-it-back-to-the-board train, and sending you a virtual can of Entitled Asshat Repellent, to boot. Christ on a cracker, what an ASS.

    1. OMG where do I buy Entitled Asshat Repellent? If it’s not yet available on the interwebs, I’m sure getbullish would stock it for us!

  17. Remember, this doesn’t have to be a fight over whether you *can* take on the work or how busy you are. You can simply not want to do the work, and that’s reason enough. There are other people who can sort out these bylaws. You can even get together with your neighbors and pay a lawyer to do the work!

    Probably not a young, female lawyer, though. Everyone knows young women’s time and labor aren’t worth any respect, not when you can bully them into doing economic and emotional labor for free and put all the pressure of *not making waves* on them instead of on you, the bully. Being an older man, particularly a family patriarch, puts you in a great position to look down on people and push them around. But in a pinch, anyone can do it, so long as they don’t mind being a jerk and leveraging other people’s own desire to be polite against them.

    (I am a young, female lawyer. I would charge well over $100/hr to redraft some bylaws. Your labor has value, OP, and this guy is trying to squeeze value out of you and make you think you’re the one who owes him, somehow!)

    1. “Probably not a young, female lawyer, though. Everyone knows young women’s time and labor aren’t worth any respect, not when you can bully them into doing economic and emotional labor for free and put all the pressure of *not making waves* on them instead of on you, the bully. Being an older man, particularly a family patriarch, puts you in a great position to look down on people and push them around. But in a pinch, anyone can do it, so long as they don’t mind being a jerk and leveraging other people’s own desire to be polite against them.”


      Why is this so true? Why???

      And then if you do become a mother, you’re just using your children as an excuse to flake on people. Or being selfish because you’d still like to have the time to take a bath. Or just incompetent because all the other mothers are juggling work and partners and pedicures and playdates and probably replastering their house, too, while remaining beautifully manicured at all times and getting dinner ready for their hard-working partners, because they deserve them.

      (I know lots of young and not-so-young female lawyers. They are universally treated shitfully in their chosen profession. It’s horrendous. HORRENDOUS.)

      1. I am so happy that lawyers are not allowed to be called “honey” or “darling” or “sugar” anymore. I am not a lawyer (not for me) but it drove me up the wall every time I heard it.

      2. I work two jobs so sometimes I come home after a 14-hour workday dead on my feet. I’m working 50-hour weeks right now with two food service jobs and only Sundays off, while my fiancé works 40-hour weeks at an office job with weekends off. You know who’s making most of the dinners and tidying up and keeping track of the calendar and making sure my fish gets fed? Not this girl. He is voluntarily doing it all because as he rightly points out, I have the harder workload right now.

        It’s so disturbing to realize most people can’t get their brains around something that simple. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t make things automatically easier for me.

        1. If your fiancé has a brother, send him over, please. It makes me both mad and sad that I want to say “OHMYGAWD YOUR FIANCE IS AMAAAAAZING” when actually I should think that you really are just acting like normal, healthy human beings who care about each other.

          I’ve tried to have the “you work three days a week, I work five days plus overtime, you get home at three, I get home after six, why is it that when I get home I get complained at because I haven’t gotten dinner ready yet, I know you’re not reading sci-fi so why are you offended because I can’t bend the fabric of space-time to your will” so many time with an ex it wasn’t even funny. In the end he worked out that I wasn’t going to be there at 5 with dinner on the table. So he started to make his own dinner – not OUR dinner, just his own. And leave the washing up for me.

          When I think back about all the times when I didn’t totally lose my shit and just throw his stuff out of a window, I want to kick myself.

    2. THIS. Thisthisthis. Everything about this comment. Yes.

      Frankly, if he wants the bylaws changed, why doesn’t HE do it? Or does his time have more value so he can spend it happily harassing you? ARGH.

    3. I feel so happy at your reply, assigning the real monetary value of this work- and that real estate is the thing a lawyer is called in for.

  18. My mother owns a condo and there’s always one person on the board like this. Recently my mother was made treasurer of the board (against her wishes, which is its own issue) and she’s been bombarded with issues from the bossypants, nosy neighbor. It’s gotten her so ticked off she reached out to a management company. The reps from the mgmt company showed up at the last board meeting and guess who was the only board member who voted against having an outside company take over the upkeep and enforcement of the condo grounds and rules? Didn’t matter…the board voted, they agreed and now it just has one more vote to go (all owners) and the nosy, bossypants neighbor won’t have a valid reason to poke her nose into other owners issues. This happened last week and my mom is so proud of herself for taking the wind out of this woman’s sails that I may have heard this story about 10 times in the last week. 🙂

    1. A week sounds like a perfectly reasonable length of time to revel in a victory of such magnitude.

    2. Oh the drama with a board. My mom owns a condo and is furious with the busybody, bossy, nagging emailing president of the board who has insisted that the outdoor – OUTDOOR – pool be heated all summer and then through October. At the expense of everyone in the condo community.

  19. Does the board in general know _why_ Mr. E. Asshat wants to know how to change the bylaws?

    1. I wondered whether there might be an external factor, so that they need to be changed to meet a minor local planning issue/change in law on companies/charities by a certain deadline. And he forgot and is now panicking they have to be done NOWNOWNOW (which they do), but of course he can’t ‘fess up that the reason is as Board chair he forgot there was a significant deadline that needs to be met and he fucked up.

  20. Oh man. In addition to adding the email where he told you to hold off to the notes, I’d be so tempted to throw in your most recent correspondence with him.

  21. The other condo owners/board members don’t even know he wants to do something altering the bylaws? Even if it’s correcting a “problem?”

    Back away, stay busy with your own life, and communicate the existence of this issue to the other owners via the cc’d email suggested! Then, let the full board/condo association agree on whether there is a problem, how to handle it, and who has time to do anything about it. His job as president is to call a meeting and provide the relevant photocopies. (If he has so much time on his hands, he can research this himself and write a complete, footnoted, reference-cited memo to all the other board members.)

    A small condo building like this has to run on goodwill, and that requires mutual respect and trust. Presenting everyone with an unexpected “just vote yes on this, it’s fine, really, it’s good for everyone” bylaw measure can look a little hinky. In fact it often is a little hinky.

      1. In a small building like this, it’s essentially the same as a tenancy-in-common. Large buildings with professional managers handling stuff like “paint exterior,” “clean interior common spaces,” and suchlike ordinary maintenance are better.

        1. I used to work in a job where I was exposed to condo boards all the time. The Worst was actually a large building. Any condo board can be contentious, and condos are notoriously litigious (to the point where companies that deal with them pay more for their liability insurance, and are directly asked about the percentage of work they do with condos when applying for insurance coverage). The only thing worse than a contentious condo, though, is a contentious co-op. Think long and hard before you buy into either, and do your due diligence on the board, reserve, and by-laws before purchase.

          1. Good co-ops are great though. I live in one. Actually I just finished a term on the board, and it was a generally pleasant experience.

          2. Good ones can be great (I used to live in a great condo!). But if it’s bad, it can be a nightmare. Some co-ops can block owners from selling, for example, and choose to do so purely because they can. The worst I saw with condos, other than people suing each other for no real reason, is the president deciding by fiat to level special assessments to do quasi-necessary work on the building. So all of a sudden each unit owes a surprise $8,000. People who don’t know how these things work sometimes buy in and then find out that the rose garden has a lot of thorns.

      2. Note to self: Never, EVER buy a condo. If I want to have to discuss improvements on my living space with a third party, it had damned well better be the landlord.

        1. Depends on the condo, and how it is run. In ours, everything from the walls in for our unit is our responsibility. So if we wanted to paint the whole thing purple, install black shag carpeting and set up parallel bars in the living room, no one would care, unless we made too much noise on the dismounts.

          Everything from the walls out is handled jointly. We actually find it reduces a lot of headaches and costs to be able to have support when things like our front steps needed to be replaced, or the roof started leaking.

          But, then, all the people in our association are reasonable people who basically agree on most things. This is why reviewing the board meeting minutes and meeting the neighbors in person before signing anything is essential.

          1. Agreed. My townhouse strata works the same way. We are only 14 units so quite small, but because everyone is reasonable and we all want good things for the complex, nothing tends to escalate into drama. But you do definitely need to do your homework before buying into a strata.

  22. Given that such entitlement is not created overnight, it sounds as if this gentleman is replaying his life script.

    Younger siblings who took all of his mother’s attention away from him, and who he fought on everything (and bullied!) from that moment on. Wife who stopped doing what he told her the moment he told her when the children arrived and Actually Made Him Wait. Daughter who was so annoyed that he made her clear out her mother’s apartment at 8 months pregnant that she did NOTHING EVER AGAIN for him. ‘Sorry, Dad, the twins … ‘

    It is those evil babies, dammit! They stop him being the rightful King of Everything every single time!

    It sounds as if he is jealous of the baby.

  23. Hi LW – just a tip for when you write anything to this entitled, near-abusive, self-preening fathead. Proof-read your email/letter/note and remove the word “sorry”. Find remoter phrases such as “it is a shame that I cannot…”, or “unfortunately, circumstances now dictate…”. Keep any communications you feel you have to make extremely brief, thus avoiding any JADEing or giving him anything to use.

    It may be best of all never to communicate with him again, but I would say avoid writing anything that sounds like an apology.

    Maybe write out a wonderful take-down of him just for yourself, then burn it… “Dear Self-preening Fathead…”

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. It’s time for LW to show this ahole her all-business side; he is not her boss, she does not owe him any special deference and she does not have the time or will to put up with his shit. It’s entirely possible to be faultlessly polite while still showing someone you will not let them take your lunch.

      Alternatively, LW could speak to him in person with her husband nearby. I’ve responded to many a passive-aggressive (or aggressive-aggressive) email with a phone call or in person meeting. Most people who are perfectly willing to shoot off jerky emails immediately wilt under direct confrontation and it’s a great way to end a burdensome email correspondence. You could also have an email to the full board already written and hit send as soon as you have finished your in-person conversation, that way all bases are covered.

      Good luck, LW!

  24. I worked on a community project with someone like this. Face to face, he seems quietly spoken and almost reasonable; via email / online he proves himself to be a pompous arsehole and always believes he is right / knows best. Also, he is a total misogynist and will never, ever, agree with a woman’s opinion, which made life harder as he was the only man involved with this group. Anyway – eventually everyone saw through him.

    Different people have different ways of handling him: some say whatever he wants to hear, then ignore it; some avoid him and if cornered, are dismissive, then go back to ignoring him again; some challenge him – but eventually give in, as this guy is Always Right so whatever logic we try to apply, it becomes exhausting – we will never win as he isn’t a reasonable human being. And nearly all of us join forces and talk about him behind his back, because it’s the only way to confirm that yes, it’s HIM being unreasonable here, and no, nobody else cares about whatever he’s currently bitching about.

    I would hazard a guess that everyone in the building sees through your own pompous arsehole, that they’re all keeping their heads down, and they sympathise with you for being his current target but they are thinking “rather Frazzled than me!”

    I don’t generally like going behind someone’s back, but I’d talk to the other building residents / board members to sound them out. If they’re just laying low, but didn’t realise how stretched you are with the pregnancy / work etc AND how this guy is pushing you, they may be kind and offer to take over this bylaws project. If not, it’ll still be useful to get a sense of how they feel.

    But at the end of the day, with our own guy, when confronted by everybody else, he blathered on about “achieving consensus” and when I said “er, you mean you want to meet, to talk at us and tell us what to do. I suspect you don’t want to listen to our points of view and reach a majority decision, you just want to tell us why we are wrong and you are right” his reply was simply “You’ve got me there” (!!!)

    So we all ignore him, and let him say whatever he wants, knowing that nobody else gives a damn what he says, so we can all just carry on as we are. I strongly suggest you – subtly – sound out your other board members, and see how they really feel.

  25. The Captain’s advice is spot on. Also – if you want some well-deserved breathing space from this pompous jerk, you could also follow up with ‘[Husband] will be taking care of our administrative responsibilities during this very busy time for me, so please go to him first about anything condo-related.’

    I’m guessing knobface won’t try his toxic routine on your husband, as the Way Of Knobfaces like seems to be that the brunt of their knobfacedness is directed at women, who they believe are obliged to do their knobfaced bidding. At the very least it will be a screening mechanism for you and give you space to focus on this exciting and challenging time in your life.

    1. Yes. I was being harassed by an ex-friend’s former landlord who was CONVINCED that I could be held responsible for jackassery that ex-friend had gotten up to in their apartment. (Why? Because multiple years before I had been a co-signer on the original lease. I had not been a co-signer on any leases since the original one, but that wasn’t stopping the landlord in question from harassing me.)

      It was remarkable how quickly it stopped when Mr. Hypotenuse picked up the other extension (ah landline days) and thundered “YOU WILL NOT TALK TO MY GIRLFRIEND THAT WAY.”

  26. LW, one other thing – if your husband does decide to kick off over this, resist the urge to manage the aggro that results or to try and smooth it over. If jumping in snarling is his way of dealing with things, point out to him ONCE that doing so will create drama and stress for you that you’d rather avoid, but if he does it anyway, step back and let it play out however it will.

    It is very annoying when men come over all overprotective and combative and you have to add “dealing with my father/husband/brother/son’s anger over how I have been treated” to your to-do list. So resist it. Your husband’s anger and any escalation he chooses to engage in is Not Your Problem. Make it clear to him that you consider the matter closed once you’ve handed it back to the board and that you’d rather the angry-man count stayed at one, but if he can’t resist, don’t give into the temptation to manage it for him. Let the consequences be his.

    1. This. Then you end up with a way huger issue plus a pissed-off, self-appointed male “protector” all butthurt that you wouldn’t let him leap in and solve the problem with flames and swords.

      I have lately been having an issue with a coworker who is being inappropriately touchy and mentioned it to my new (probably soon to be ex) boyfriend, whose ever so helpful response was to say that he’d come to my workplace! And punch this dude!

      Um, thanks, but we have an HR department and a process for dealing with this stuff that doesn’t involve Manly Punching and Duels of Honor and I am actually capable of fighting my own battles, unless it’s removing a bug from a room, in which case feel free to leap in and be all manly all over the place during bug removal.

      1. Punch the dude? Holy actual fuck. Your comment brought me to a screeching halt because WHAT. Holy toxic masculinity.

      1. All I can think of is when Anna the housemaid got assaulted on Downton Abbey, and instead of being worried about HER, you know, the WOMAN WHO WAS ASSAULTED, everyone was all worried about WHAT WILL BATES DO?! HOW WILL HE FEEL?! and he ends up (spoiler alert) MURDERING SOMEONE, which of course has all sorts of terrible consequences later.

        And I’m kind of like, um, why is everyone so concerned about Bates? ANNA WAS THE VICTIM HERE and ended up spending the entire episode fretting about what her husband would do.

        1. Oh, the number of men who pop up in discussions of sexual assault and say things, “if I found out that someone had assaulted my daughter/wife/girlfriend/sister, I’d be out there with a baseball bat”, and you think, GREAT, thanks buddy, brilliant. Do you realise that’s exactly why your daughter won’t tell you if she’s been hurt, because what she needs is acceptance and care and love, not having to talk you down from starring in your own personal fucking Tarantino film.

          1. In my experience, guys who say this sort of thing are all talk, and won’t even stand up verbally to someone who has hurt a friend, let alone take any sort of concrete action. There’s always some reason why they can’t, like the perp is a friend of theirs, or they used to date the perp’s mother (true story), or that it’s the victim’s fault and therefore not worthy of their intervention.

          2. zaracat, yeah, that’s the other thing, isn’t it – when you raise the stakes to “anyone who hurts my woman needs to be killed”, you’re either going to have to kill a lot of people or find lots of reasons why “your” woman wasn’t reeeeeeeally hurt…

          3. Warning: child abuse.

            And this was why at 5 years old I did not tell my parents that I had been repeatedly molested by a family “friend” (after a little while, once I realised that it was wrong). My father had always raved about how he would kill anyone who hurt any of us. I didn’t want him to get in trouble or go to jail, so I had to deal alone.

            (That was 40 years ago and I am mostly fine, so please don’t worry, lovely commentariat.)

          4. This actually happened in my family, four generations ago. Little girl molested; nothing was ever done because her (horrible) father would have killed someone, and then they would have all starved because Great Depression + no breadwinner.

            So. Don’t be that rageaholic.

        2. Lo, these many years ago, I got into a discussion about this issue on LiveJournal, and to a woman we agreed that this was another way to make a woman’s experience not be about her, but about a man- and not her attacker, but the person she should be able to go to for help and comfort.

  27. This man is literally unbelievable. As in, if I wrote him into a story, my readers would be like “Don’t you think you went a bit overboard with the whole Nasty Overbearing Neighbour trope? He seems like a caricature.”

    LW, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this nonsense while you’ve got much more important things on your plate right now. However, the Captain’s group email is such an UNBELIEVABLY PERFECT solution to this problem that I would send it off right now this minute with no delay. I would go one step further and send it as the concluding email of the chain you shared with us here, so everyone can see this man’s misogynist asshattery on display in its raw and undiluted form. Bullies rarely survive having a spotlight shone on their actions in this manner. He can’t come back to you and be like “Why did you share those emails!?” because that would be as good as admitting that he has behaved poorly.

    I wouldn’t be so certain of this course of action if this man was actually your boss, but he’s not your boss. You don’t have to ask for his permission to drop this task and you certainly don’t have to complete it on his timeline. The Captain’s email is a) the responsible thing to do, as it ensures that the entire board are aware that some by-laws need untangling and that you cannot be the one to do it and b) lets Mr. Asshat know, in the most polite and proper terms, that you are NOT someone who stays silent in the face of bullying.

    This man is on a power trip. He thinks he can get a way with this because he sees you as a polite and accommodating young woman who would never dream of making waves or questioning his Older Male Authority. (I can guarantee that he has the exact same relationship with his poor daughter.) I can’t think of a neater way to prove him wrong and get this stupid task off your plate all in one fell swoop.

      1. And if he does complain about his emails being seen… “Excuse me, are you saying you would not have addressed me like that if you knew other people would witness it?” *light of a thousand burning suns*

  28. “I’m not a power-hungry type” said the neighbor… LIES!!!
    At this point it doesn’t really matter if you go through with the project, given that to this guy’s eyes you are THE WORST, and I am pretty sure that whatever you do is going to be micromanaged at lenght. So take glory in your already “bad” reputation and just pass on it as the Captain suggested. If you have the option of getting rid of such annoying potential “boss” so early on in the assignment, do it.

  29. Everything about this is gold. From the email exchange included from LW, to the tone and nature of the Captain’s advice and the applicability across multiple domains of life…just…GOLD.

  30. Holy hell.

    This guy is….everything I can think of to say is massively impolite. I am not known for having a sense of restraint and these emails would have sent me through the roof, so kudos to you, LW, for not going ballistic.

    I am not at all saying the LW isn’t handling this beautifully, because her emails are a paragon of self-restraint, but I just want to throw something out there that I have learned in the past year or two:

    I have found that when I need someone to do something, whether it’s a coworker or a roommate, I actually don’t need to explain my reasons for making a request! That seems like such a minor thing but it’s actually been immensely helpful. For example, a new roommate just moved into my house who I don’t think has lived on his own before, or had to clean up after himself, so his approach to some things is…interesting. He runs the dishwasher every night, even if there are only 3 dishes in it.

    I don’t know why and I don’t particularly care, but I want it to stop. So I texted him and told him to only run the dishwasher when it was full. In the past, I would have added all sorts of caveats about it being an old dishwasher that uses a lot of water and our water bill will go up and there’s really no reason to run it with only a few dishes and it leaves me stuck emptying it every morning before I can cook and etc. etc. etc.

    All of that? Immaterial. It’s my house, I own it, and if I want the dishwasher run only when it’s full it’s going to be run only when it’s full. I have learned that for a lot of people, providing reasons why you want something done just gives them a fingerhold to argue with you, as evidenced by Shitbeard McShittiest, The First Shit of His Name.

    All of the LW’s reasons for not being able to attend to his NOW SO IMPORTANT REQUEST OMFUG are 100% legit and valid, but obviously Shitbeard McShittiest just sees them as more obstacles to knock down to get what he wants, because obviously what Shitbeard wants is the most important thing in the universe, right? You could reason with Shitbeard until the cows come home and go back out again, but it really is not worth it.

    Believe me, the rush of power from just saying no to a request and leaving it at that is uh-mazing. No is a complete sentence!

    1. This is good advice. LW has already offered her perfectly legit reasons for not being able to do the thing, but every specific objection or question about “why now” is just going to be met with an argument or a story about how your reasons Aren’t Good Enough. “I can’t” is plenty. So is “I won’t.” It all comes back to that “‘No’ is a complete sentence” philosophy.

      Reasons are for reasonable people, as they say. This cranky old bastard is not one of them. Definitely remove this task from your plate by airing it to the rest of the neighbors, and respond with any follow up from Cranky Old bastard with simple, short, “It’s not possible, please find someone else.”

        1. And as someone who has tried to reason with a toddler, be assured that you can’t reason with No.

          ME: It’s time to put your shoes on.
          KID: NO!
          ME: Don’t you want your feet to be covered?
          KID: NO!
          ME: But you’ll get your feet dirty.
          KID: NO! (usually at this point I got kicked as I was trying to force shoes on an unwilling two year old)

          AH: I need you to review these by-laws.
          LW: No
          AH: But you’re going to be tired when the baby comes so it’s easier to do it now, don;t you think?
          LW: No
          AH: I don’t like being the person in charge anymore than you do, but I have to insist that you do this.
          LW: NO! (feel free to kick him at this point if you’d like…or just slam your door in his face)

        2. As a parent of a newly-turned toddler (her capacity to remember and reassert a “no” has gone from about 2 mins to 20 mins in the last 2 weeks :-O ) I’d like I pointing that toddlers do struggle to get their Nos respected. 😉

  31. I agree with the Captain in every respect except one – don’t preface your answer with “I’m sorry.” In fact, for this jerk, NEVER apologize, or appear to. You can always begin with “unfortunately” or “unhappily” which gives the same general idea without assuming any blame. I get the idea that this old creep jumps on anything like an apology in order to try and suck more blood. If his behavior really gets bad and confrontational, you could always say (or better, write an email), “Even if I was getting paid to put up with your bad behavior, I still would say no, because I have bigger fish to fry right now. I am not getting paid so I don’t need to tolerate your harassment. I said no and I mean no. Please govern yourself accordingly.” Admittedly, you don’t want to do this unless he continues to harass you, but by the same token, you don’t need to be harassed right now.

    1. Just a caveat that even if she *was* being paid, she shouldn’t need to put up with this harassment!

    2. I think if LW is CC’ing other people into the conversation, putting something like “sorry if I misunderstood” can help her get off on the right foot with them, since they won’t know the whole backstory and may not be aware that this dude’s a total Jerk Store floor model, etc. First impressions are lazy and extreme, so I think some deference will hopefully steer their opinion of LW toward “reasonable person attempting to cooperate” rather than “careless layabout”.

  32. I’m dubious about how neatly this guy’s second-hand report of his daughter’s experience one-ups everything the LW just said. It’s so very tidy that the story feels embellished, if not entirely fabricated.

    …which helps the LW not at all, of course. But it might be entertaining for the LW to ask for an introduction to this very resourceful woman. I suspect that – if she exists at all – her story will not match her father’s.

  33. When you email this dude, copy everyone. Nonetheless my suspicion is that he will reply only to you, or at least that is my experience of dealing with someone I was not prepared to communicate with otherwise than in writing (in my case, the ex-housemate from hell, who owed me a lot of money and I am almost certain has some kind of certifiable personality disorder).

    I would mail her with my husband in copy, and then bingo! A reply addressed only to me.

    Make sure you put all the other people back in copy when you reply. Or if you don’t want to reply, at least forward it onto them with an FYI and possibly copying him if you want to get on his nerves. It’s harder to be a bully when everyone’s watching.

    1. And if he does reply to only LW, this will be one time that “reply all” actually uses its power for good.

  34. The other thing he’s doing, which is something that drives me CRAZY, is answering your question with another question. It’s a means for him to avoid having to answer the perfectly reasonable question of “since we were already waiting six months, why now?” He knows the only answer is “because I said so” but has at least a shred of self awareness to recognize that is not an appropriate response.

    “I just have to turn the question around and put it to you:”

    No. You don’t. You absolutely 100% do not have to turn around the question. You can answer the question. That’s why LW asked it in the first place, for it to be answered. I hate hate hate hate hate hate this.

  35. Board President treats the condo association like it’s a workplace. Letter Writer treats it as if it were a social/family situation. They’re both wrong. It’s a voluntary community association.

    The Board President is not, in fact, the “managing agent.” LW doesn’t work for him, isn’t his tenant, isn’t his subordinate. (On the contrary, a Board President works for the members!) Prez is acting the way he would as a work supervisor, except in the context of voluntary group process. That’s wrong, and that’s what’s driving LW and many of us commenters crazy.

    But. The complex still has to get painted, the trash removed, and bylaws fixed. That work will only get done by the collective action of the 4 condo association members.

    LW is not paying Prez or any of the other members to do this work. She could feel that hiring contractors and lawyers could be preferable to members doing some of the work of the association, but even that proposal requires collective group action, since contractors have to be paid out of each member’s increased assessments, and still have to be managed to the will of the members.

    Simply not acting is just being a “free rider” and taking for granted the voluntary contributions of the other association members.

    Then, using the behavior of the bossy Prez as a justification for non-action is treating the association as a social thing rather than an association to which you belong. That’s really no more appropriate than the Prez treating the LW as his employee.

    The Prez’s inappropriate behavior doesn’t relieve any member from their responsibilities to the association. The paint, trash, and bylaws still have to get done, and whatever LW doesn’t do, she’s leaving to others to do whether they want to or not.

    The Prez is clearly trying to claim matyrdom. That’s wrong. The truth is, if he doesn’t like the work he’s doing, he’s free to resign at any time.

    By the same token, if LW doesn’t like the way Prez runs things, she’s free to run for President herself.

    Of course, serving as President would take a lot more of LW’s time and effort. So if she’s not going to do that, she has to figure out how to contribute to the necessary work of the association in a way that doesn’t take for granted the voluntary efforts of the other association members.

    Captain Awkward’s sample letter works for this as well. Refer the question to the whole group. And be prepared for the group decision:
    – The group might say it’s not that important to fix the bylaws right now, so postpone it until LW is ready to do the job.
    – Or, someone might say, because of LW’s challenging baby situation, I’m willing to take over some of LW’s responsibilities. I’m sure she will do the same for the rest of us at another time.
    – Or the group might say, well it has to get done now, and everyone else is already taking on extra, so is there something else LW can take on that would free someone else up to do the job?

    What doesn’t work is to say, I’m not going to act because Prez is being a jerk. Sorry, but that’s just being a jerk yourself, LW, not just to the Prez, but to all of the other association members.

    1. I don’t see that LW is using the behaviour of the President as justification for ducking out of her share of the tasks. If she were, I might be persuaded to agree with you, but it has nothing to do with him (except for the bit where he’s busy playing martyr and refusing to accept that life has a tendency to make a mockery of human plans).

      She was willing and ready to get stuck into this time-consuming task in January, and he used his Presidential influence to tell her not to. Now he’s suddenly (without explanation) decided it’s important again, but in the intervening time her personal circumstances have changed, and it’s that personal situation that makes it untenable for her. Not only that, but LW has stated both to him and to us that she’s willing to take up the task again in a couple of months, just as soon as she’s a) not working 12-15 hour days, and b) has her support system in place to help with the new baby.

      Also, bear in mind the fact that the other two housing units don’t even know this is taking place. That’s a big indicator that he hasn’t brought it up in any official association meeting, and means it shouldn’t be counting towards “her share” of any HA responsibilities.

    2. You know, there are some really good points here. There is no question whatsoever that Prez is everything every commenter has called him (and more), but looking at the e-mail chain again, with the above post in mind, I can see how LW unfortunately got trapped into Lord Doouchebag’s machinations.
      LDB Sez: “I know you have a lot on your mind at the moment, but I’d appreciate it if you would follow through and find out the procedure for changing by-laws. You’re busy now, but , take my word for it, it will only get worse. Thanks, [neighbor]”
      LW responds (i.e., rises to the carefully-hidden bait): “yes, i honestly am pretty busy right now, given that it’s the last month of the pregnancy, and i’m trying to do all of my current work as well as prepare for maternity leave and a new job at my company, and get the house ready for the baby! what was the timeline you were thinking about for this? we first talked about this about 6 months ago, so i didn’t think it was urgent when you mentioned it again recently.”
      LW, please don’t think you did anything “wrong,” but going forward with this asshole, leave out the personal stuff. Can you see how if you had just responded:
      “what was the timeline you were thinking about for this? we first talked about this about 6 months ago, so i didn’t think it was urgent when you mentioned it again recently.”
      –you would have shut down any attempts at condescension from this asshole? He purposely dropped in all that other shit so you could respond with personal details, allowing him to frame you in the (wholly inaccurate) light he did.
      Please, please, please keep it strictly business with this guy. Do not respond with ANY information about your personal situation — not only do you NOT owe him any explanation (like others said, reasons are for reasonable people), but it might discourage him from making these stupid patronizing remarks.
      Congratulations on the promotion and the new baby! You will be great in both jobs 🙂

      1. I think that your advice is good- no personal comments from here on out. LW could say “I just had a heart attack” and he’d follow up with “Yeah, well, I had a heart attack on a nine hour flight, so your problems are invalid!” There’s times where everybody tries to play “I’ve had it worse” poker, but this guy is really obnoxious.

    3. Do we know for a fact, though, that the Prez is doing things that really *need* to be done, or just things that he *wants* to have done? And is he doing things with the consent of the residents?

      It could well be that all other residents are happy with the state of the paint, their existing garbage disposal, and their bylaws. It could be he’s the only one with a permanent bugbear, and because of his domineering personality he’s forcing the other poor residents to expend time and money on things that could absolutely be left well alone.

      My aunt was the President in her condo, and she cost the rest of the residents in her condo an absolute fortune by constantly insisting that things needed repainting, repointing, re-this, re-that. Actually, they didn’t. She was just a giant fusspot. She was constantly remodelling her home, and she thought she had a duty/right/need to do the same to the house as a whole. She’d got herself on the board by nagging everyone to distraction. If anyone didn’t let her have her way, she’d have screaming fits. My uncle paid second fiddle to her performance. They had more disposable income and infinitely less to do than the rest of the residents (which included my poor mother). Eventually there was a huge ding-dong because auntie organised for some expensive and unnecessary work to be done without going through the proper channels, which caused enough of the other residents to speak up, which caused them to realise that they’d *all* been unhappy with how she’d been running things for *years*. But because they were all busy and all too nice, they’d never thought to kick up a fuss about it.

      1. Yep, this ^ We have a few resident ‘tenants association’ members in our complex who are supposed to use the meetings to improve the area but use it as a gossip session. They are known for their lack of social skills and ability to alienate anyone different from them. Quick to bemoan that no one attends meetings, such reps demonstrate that the meetings are pointless and any information shared will be used to fuel more ‘problems’ and gossip. From living in nice neighbourhoods and crappy ones, often the best way I have found to co exist is do neighbourly things while staying well out of the drama of committees and meetings. I will wheel my neighbours bins out on bin day and weed next doors garden out of kindness but nothing could motivate me to go the monthly coffee morning gossip fest of egotripping

    4. LW never said anything along the lines of “I’m not going to act because Prez is being a jerk.” She volunteered her time when she had it to spare, and has also said that she’d be willing to help again in the fall. She’s too busy to take on extra voluntary work right at the moment, and she’s asked how to deal with someone who is being incredibly rude about it. I think it’s awfully unfair to suggest that she’s being a jerk here.

    5. As someone who used to sit on a condo association board, I’m not getting this from her letter. The president, if he feels it was urgent, could have asked her if it was still feasible for her to check into the bylaws. When he got his answer, he could have gone to the other two members of the association. She didn’t say “I won’t do this because you’re an asshole” but “I’m very busy right now. When I offered to months ago I had the time.”

      Being the president of a condo association doesn’t give you license to be a jerk. The LW acted in good faith. She’s not ducking out of something. She’s not shirking doing her fair share. And frankly, if it’s that much work they can hire a management company (yes, even for a small complex). There are two other members whom the president hasn’t been in touch with.

      Having worked with someone like the president in my condo association, I can tell you that a) it damages relations with other owners and b) it’s irritating as hell. Don’t tell someone to hold off on something and then come barking at them that they should get it done.

      His behavior is beyond the pale and as far as I’m concerned, she should forward the email chain to the other board members. I’d want to see that and address it if I was on the board.

    6. Does the group, or the president, actually have the power to declare that this particular task on this new timetable is LW’s responsibility?

      1. It’s highly unlikely the president has the authority to delegate a task to letter writer. Snowonder has made some unfortunte assumptions in the above post. Since there’s only 4 condos it’s highly unlikely the board is actively involved in managing the project. Most likely the units are mostly autonomous and very few things are done by the board.

        The issue seems to be that because the letter writer volunteered to look into something 6 months ago, the President feels entitled to demand she look into it today. But offers to do things like this can be withdrawn or expire by the letter writer.

    7. Nope.

      The LW had the time to complete the task Shitbeard McShittiest asked her to do when he first asked her to do it, then asked her not to. She didn’t give him carte blanche to make demands on her time indefinitely, at any point in the future of his choosing, and I am pretty sure she didn’t say “oh, by the way, this task is way more important than anything else I have going on in my life, so please feel free to co-opt my time ANY TIME YOU NEED IT.”

      I also disagree with this:
      “The Prez’s inappropriate behavior doesn’t relieve any member from their responsibilities to the association.”

      It actually does. Harkening back to an earlier (terrifying) letter, let’s say Shitbeard shows up at the next association meeting with a machete.

      Yep, that inappropriate behavior does indeed relieve members from their responsibilities to the association, inasmuch as showing up to an association meeting may be a responsibility, but showing up to an association meeting wherein Shitbeard is waving a machete around is NOT a responsibility to the association, and no one is obligated to show up and risk the possibility of machete cuts just because “they have a responsibility to the association.”

      The LW is not saying she’s not going to act because Shitbeard is shitbearding. She’s not going to act because when she made the offer to take on this task, she had the time and wherewithal to complete it, and now she doesn’t. That’s a fact that has nothing to do with how Shitbeard is behaving.

      The three options you offered are all reasonable solutions to this issue, but the LW is in no way being a jerk.

  36. If it’s really *that* important, well, guess who doesn’t have a baby at home, or a promotion to contend with? Why, it’s this bellend! This isn’t about the work, it’s about his weird shitty little power trip, and how he thinks he can kick around women in general, and women younger than him in particular. He ought to be shot into the sun. You owe him nothing.

  37. What a buttmunch. I can’t stand people who whine that theiiiir problems are so much worse than yours, and then act as if the only solution is to put some of their apples in your cart, so their load is lightened. They act as if it’s your DUTY, nay, obligation, to help them, and are never ever grateful. Because you (and the world) owe them.

    I find, again and again, that some people cope with adversity by finding the good in others, and develop empathy with other’s problems. Others just assume that their problems are a special pass to be assholes.

    Congratulations on your job/new baby! I hope you get a chance to put your feet up and drink ginger ale!

  38. Thank goodness for the Captain’s excellent email script, because were I in your shoes, I would’ve been highly tempted to fire off “nah” as a one word response and never replied to him again. I mean, what’s he going to do? Nag you into researching the bylaws? Stand outside your door talking about how little sympathy he has for your current state and how great his daughter is until you do it for him?

    Basically, he’s trying to hand you a bag of shit, and talk down to you until you accept his shit bag as your rightful duty. It’s not. There’s no need to feel bad for turning it down– don’t let yourself be guilted or belittled by assholes like him.

  39. Eff this guy. He’s not the boss of you. Your plate is not just full right now, it is overflowing.Time to disengage from this project, and to decline any future ones that would involve him giving you any kind of advice or directives, because he is a raging anal wart of a person. Let him be someone else’s problem. BONUS: You are likely to outlive him, so rejoice in that.

  40. Ah, condo boards. I lived in a condo and swore I’d never do it again. So of course six years ago I moved into another one. Fortunately, the board members in my condo association aren’t little control freaks, but that sort of person does tend to be attracted to the position.

  41. “I have a daughter who was 8 months pregnant with twins, was working fulltime and had to clean out the over-stuffed apartment of her recently deceased mother. So I’m sympathetic with your situation, but not overwhelmingly so.”

    I think this pretty much sums up the dude right here. His own kid was ridiculously pregnant and still working full time and had to deal with mourning her mother while dealing with an entire lifetime of said mother’s stuff. Nothing in this email suggests that he helped her even a little bit.

    8 months pregnant! Every 8 month pregnant woman I’ve known has barely been able to pick out what she wants for dinner without crying because of stress and hormones.

    This guy sounds like a fucking monster.

    1. Yeah, that stood out to me, too. What the hell was he doing while his poor daughter cleaned out her mother’s house? If he’d helped, you’d think he’d be bragging his head off.

  42. LW, even if this neighbor is completely on the level and the criticism that you dropped the ball is correct, so what?

    You promised to do something, and it fell through the cracks. Whether he said “no rush” or whatever, it did fall through the cracks. But so what? Did the building burn down? Did someone not get their life-saving organ transplant? Did you blow the deadline for collecting on a $45 million lottery ticket? Or more realistically, did you blow the deadline for updating the building insurance policy, and then someone crashed a car into it? No. You simply failed to look at a document.

    He thinks you’re lazy. So what? You work hard at your job and in a few months you’ll be a working mom, so he’s demonstrably wrong.

    He thinks you’re a moral failure. So what? Well, that’s just his opinion, man.

    He wants a response from you every time he sends e-mail. So what? You don’t actually have to answer e-mails, ever. Or phone calls, or notes posted onto your door, or anything. (By the way, dig those by-laws and see if “notices” under the rules aren’t actually required to be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested. LEGALESE BONUS: The by-laws include the word “telex.”) If you ever do feel inclined to answer him at some point again, you can start with those classic CA suggestions of, “OK.” “Thanks.” “Right, will do.” No reasons, no explanations, no excuses. Just, “OK, got it.”

    I bet he’s gone through the other neighbors door by door before you arrived, and now it’s your turn. Forget this guy. You don’t have to be friends with your neighbors, and in any event he clearly doesn’t want to be friends with you, anyway. Ideally, condos are neighborly places (I’ve lived in condos for 15+ years, myself). But this guy isn’t being neighborly. He blew it.

  43. Or, put another way, what if you were to concede every point your neighbor makes? What do you actually lose?

    You lose an argument with a cranky old man.

    Maybe you lose getting continued e-mails from him.

    Maybe you lose his laser-like focus on your being the sole obstacle, among all the competent, home-owning adults in the building, who is keeping the condo’s by-laws from getting updated.

    Are you an attorney? ‘Cause the situation you described read to me like someone who is a lawyer going to their first condo association meeting and volunteering, “Oh, hey, I’m a lawyer, so I’d be happy to look at the by-laws when I get the chance.” If this is the situation, another thing you may lose is the neighbor (and anyone else in the condo) coming to you for free legal help and advice.

    P.S. I’m a little uncomfortable seeing attacks on the neighbor for not helping his pregnant daughter. Honestly, my first thought was, he sounds heartless, or he sounds like he literally has a heart condition. We’re missing a lot of backstory behind that one e-mail (which could be exaggerated or even a lie, to pressure LW), so I’d rather focus on helping LW, and not assume things about where the neighbor is coming from. Speculating on his reasons for or history of being a cranky guy isn’t useful. Strategies for dealing with a cranky guy are.

  44. keep it simple. “My situation has changed and I’m no longer able to do this.” Then save your energy for your wonderful baby and your challenging job. Quit renting space in your head to this man!

  45. “…So I’m sympathetic with your situation, but not overwhelmingly so…”

    This is the sort of thing a person in a zombie-proof well-stocked bunker would say over the intercom system to a soon-to-be-eaten individual asking to be let into the bunker so as to avoid a painful death like being eaten alive by zombies. LW, imagine yourself as being the lucky one with a bunker and your retired condo asshole as the one who is about to be dinner for a bunch of undead.

    I don’t know where you live, but in California (my state of residence) Davis-Stirling (statutory regulations for all CIDs – common interest developments – bylaws are under the category of governing documents which you or anyone who feels so inclined can check out at http://www.davis-stirling.com/MainIndex/GovDocsMenu/tabid/355/Default.aspx) indicates that bylaws are something that ALL owners/ownership interest-holders are going to ultimately be obligated to deal with – even if it’s just via a vote. So, given that there are so few of you making up the owner/membership in your HOA, I’m going to say that it’s time for the other two to be brought up to speed on the matter of needing bylaws unsnarled. I live in a community with a HOA myself, it seems that no matter the size (there are 255 homes in mine) there are difficult members and board of directors issues. Our current board president once tried to tell another owner that the paint color in his living room was too dark and too red, he told her to stop looking in his windows. The professional management company (offsite) leaves much to be desired in more than one way, but as they do what they’re legally obligated all that I can personally do is handle what I can and accept that the rest is what it is.

    PS LW, congrats on the coming baby and your promotion! Sorry about your having an A.R.N. to deal with.

  46. LW, having been “volunteered” by others for things (without my knowledge or approval) just because I had done them in the past, I would offer an alternate way out of this: a clear, concise explanation to neighbor of the idea that just because you offered to do this in January does not mean you’re offering to do it now. Alas, this is a common affliction among the self-important schmuck subgroup to which your neighbor belongs.

    “[Schmuck neighbor], I’m afraid there’s been a misunderstanding. I offered to work on the by-laws issue back in January, but said to wait until [new neighbor] was settled. However, that was a one-time offer. I cannot and will not take them on now. You will have to find another volunteer.” The end.

    I’m sure he’ll come back at you with the same things as before, in which case you just repeat that there is no offer currently and he missed his chance. His opinion of what you can and can’t take on is irrelevant, as you are not volunteering to do the by-laws revision.

    He will undoubtedly rant, rave, insult, cajole, belittle, and so on. I recommend one of two responses: either outright ignoring him, or simply repeating “No, I’m not doing it.” (I will admit that if it was me, I would add an explanation of how you are not his employee, and just because he has assumed the role of the “de facto” boss does not mean he has any power to order people to do things, but then again I have a bad temper and a law degree.)

    There is no obligation for you to do anything for this man. Period. And if he keeps emailing you and attacking you in that manner, I would remind him you have hard copies of everything and that what he is doing is bordering on harassment. (In fact, that might be something for your husband to bring up with him.)

  47. LW – due is a complete jerk and the fact that he thinks he can dictate to you what you “should” be doing right now is infuriating.
    I don’t know if this is your first baby and everyone is different, but as someone nursing #2 right now, the only nugget of wisdom his words contain is that you probably don’t want to do this after you have your baby. Trust me as someone who sets up projects to work on while on leave; what with being up every few hours to feed and postpartum hormones most any project can lead to extreme anxiety and considering this one already sounds terrible that’s the last thing I can imagine wanting to work on when one would probably want to be resting and enjoying the baby. Dedicate the time to yourself and balancing having fun for you and family with getting to know your offspring.
    I don’t know what the exact arrangements of this place is but can you beg off? Can you just say “hm, you’re right, working on this after baby is probably a bad idea; I volunteered to do this when I had the time but, after honoring your request to wait, I now am no longer able to do this. ” (don’t even apologize!) And then never volunteer to do anything for this guy again. Maybe talk to the other neighbors about managing him a little.

    Congrats on your baby! Focus on the baby and don’t let this @#$@# disrupt your first weeks/months with your new child.

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