Are you the type of person who always follows the rules, or are you more of a “bend the rules” kind of person? Maybe you’re somewhere in between? Either way, we’ve all encountered situations where someone has asked us to do something that seems unreasonable or outside our responsibilities.
Today’s story is a perfect example of what can happen when someone decides to follow the rules, even when it’s not necessarily in their best interest.
Magnus was responsible for the garden and grounds-related issues for a housing developer, a job that came with its fair share of challenges.
One such challenge was dealing with difficult neighbors. He encountered one such neighbor day while working on a project.
It was a typical day when Susan, a woman living next door, popped her head over the fence and greeted Magnus with an abrupt and rude tone.
“Are you going to cut back all of these weeds growing over to my side of the fence?” Susan asked.
He Was Reclaiming the Path
Magnus took a moment to assess the situation. “Yes, I have to reclaim this public footpath. And those weeds are also on council (local authority) land, and they will also cause me problems if I don’t deal with them. I’m actually here to do that now.”
But She Wasn’t Happy
Susan wasn’t satisfied with Magnus’s response. “Because it’s ‘your company’s land, and I expect it to be cut all the way around,” she retorted while motioning to all three sides of her long white garden fence.
“Look, it’s all growing over into my garden, and it’s not been dealt with since your company bought the land.”
He Offered to Help Her Out
Magnus tried to explain, “That’s actually why I’ve been hired full-time. I’m not part of the development crew; I’m here to maintain areas and deal with issues like this.”
“Today, I can clear the ivy from your fence, but that triangle of wilderness between yours, ours, and the council will have to be next week sometime.”
But That Wasn’t Enough!
Susan was still unhappy. “You’ll be cutting down on the other side?” she asked while motioning to where Magnus couldn’t see due to the triangle of wilderness.
“Actually, no, that side is between you and the council. That school on the other side doesn’t open for another year, so I suggest not waiting until then to contact them,” Magnus replied.
She Was Irate
“Well, what am I supposed to do?” Susan asked in frustration.
He Tried to Patch Things Up
Magnus tried to ease the tension. “I’m happy to pull down the ivy for you this once and poison along the fence line. It’ll do you for now. The company I work for is trying to improve relations, and as I’ve stated, I’ll take care of this one side indefinitely.”
She Wouldn’t Let It Go
Susan wasn’t convinced. “I need you to prove you aren’t responsible for that side, too,” she demanded.
He Double Checked
Magnus knew he had to check his drawing (map) of the grounds and property line to be sure.
He Realized That He Was Wrong
The next day, he consulted his drawing and realized that he was wrong. His manager forbade him from tackling anything near Susan’s fence line.
He Had to Let Her Down
When Magnus returned, Susan asked him, “Are you back to cut down this area?”
Magnus was ready this time. “I’m glad you’re here,” he said as he showed her the drawing.
“This is the area in question, and it’s all council property. The yellow line is where my responsibility ends.”
She Had to Live With It
From that moment on, Susan never had anyone cut down the vegetation on her side of the fence.
Ivy, bramble, and nettles absolutely ate her fences over the next three years, and the last time Magnus checked, she had the fences replaced a meter inside the property line.
She Shouldn’t Have Pushed Her Luck
Susan tried to push her luck, but it eventually backfired. She lost the free maintenance that Magnus had provided along her fence line.
She Never Called
She even once asked Magnus to put ‘lots of poison’ on the offending weeds, but all he could offer her was a normal spray that his company provides if she called.
Magnus said they might offer it for the same nominal price he would do a driveway for, but she never called.
Magnus enjoyed a good laugh about Susan’s fate – she could have got free gardening work done had she just been a little nicer! He could safely say that she’s more like a lazy Susan!
He Had Tried
Magnus’ approach was not only effective but also ethical. He did not compromise the company’s values to appease Susan’s demands. Instead, he offered a reasonable solution and followed through with it.
The moral of this story is that it’s always better to be calm and collected when dealing with difficult people.
Keeping your composure can prevent the situation from escalating and find a resolution that benefits everyone involved. It’s also important to remain true to your values and not give in to unreasonable demands.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Asier Romero. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.