DEAR ABBY: We moved my elderly parents into an adult assisted-living center last year because they were no longer able to safely care for themselves or their home. They have now decided to put their house up for sale. Our problem is that sometimes when we have driven by the house to check that everything's OK, we have found some of the neighbors enjoying the afternoon sitting on my parents' front porch.
The house has been shown three times, and one of the times another neighbor was in the backyard sitting on the deck. Another time, a neighbor walked into the house during a private showing. We have been as polite as possible in requesting them to please not do this. We finally told them plainly to stay off the property. But it continues.
We would hate to post "No Trespassing" signs for fear that a prospective buyer may think there are problems with the neighborhood, and I don't think a sign would deter these perpetrators. Any ideas on how to get them to stay in their own homes? My sisters and I are starting to think the neighbors don't want the house to sell so they can enjoy it themselves. -- FED UP IN TENNESSEE
DEAR FED UP: Because of the long relationship your parents may have had with these neighbors, ask them once more, firmly and politely, to stop using the property as an extension of theirs. If the request is ignored, it will be time to involve your lawyer, who will have to write these nervy people a strong letter on your behalf. Not only is what they are doing illegal, but if an accident should happen while they are on your property, your family would be liable.
DEAR ABBY: Living in New York City, public transport is the way to travel. After picking up my 5-year-old from school, we took the train home as usual. During the ride, my son fell asleep and his head happened to rest on the arm of another passenger -- a middle-aged man who was sitting next to us.
As my son's head rested on the man's arm, he reacted by pushing my son's head up violently, waking him from his sleep. Disgusted by the man's reaction, I lost my cool and yelled at him, almost forgetting my screaming 5-year-old. Other passengers expressed their feelings, too, and the man left the train earlier than he wanted.
After my boy calmed down, I had time to reflect and concluded I didn't handle the situation correctly. The other passengers suggested I hadn't been assertive enough. What should I have done? -- COMMUTER MOMMY IN BROOKLYN
DEAR COMMUTER MOMMY: Your seat partner clearly overreacted to having his space invaded. But by screaming at him, you escalated the situation. So your little boy wasn't caught in the crossfire, it would have been better to have moved your seats. If that wasn't possible, you should have switched seats with your son so he wouldn't be near that volatile individual.
DEAR ABBY: If a doctor is present at a party and another guest takes ill, would it be appropriate to ask the doctor to treat the person? -- CURIOUS IN DAYTON
DEAR CURIOUS: If the problem is not life-threatening, it would be advisable that the guest contact his or her own doctor, who is already familiar with the person's medical history. However, in an acute emergency such as a stroke or a heart attack, help should be summoned by calling 911 immediately.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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