What do you think of this question, folks?
What's your advice? I'll post my response on Friday -- and we've got a live chat scheduled for Wednesday, so come join me then!
I was born and raised in Boston, but I moved to Philadelphia for school a few years back. For about two years, I've been living in a row house on a fairly quiet block in South Philly. I don't know any of the neighbors well, but they're mostly middle aged or older and have been here for years. Our street also has one unofficial resident- a homeless man who hangs out on the bench outside a house up the street from me. I've seen him nearly every day since I moved in, and he even welcomed me to the neighborhood my first week here. He's obviously slightly off, but he never bothers anyone- he sits on the bench and says hello to people who pass by, and occasionally in the summer asks for a drink of water (never money).
The problem is this: A young woman just moved into the house next to the bench-owner, and after seeing me give him a drink one day, asked me to stop. She said that having him so close to her house makes her very uncomfortable as she lives alone, and she doesn't want to encourage him to keep coming back. Her next door neighbor had refused to tell him he couldn't sit there. I said that in the time I'd lived here I hadn't heard of him giving anyone any trouble, but she insisted he made her uneasy. I don't think this man is dangerous. I know I'm not the only one who gives him drinks, and a few people even invite him inside sometimes. I do understand why she's nervous having a homeless man sitting right outside her house everyday, and if he was asking for change or cigarettes, I would probably stop giving them, no problem. I don't feel right ignoring her request, but giving someone water in the middle of the summer is such a basic kindness that I don't feel right ignoring his either. What do you think?
The author is solely responsible for the content.
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.