Dealing With An Adult Neighborhood Bully

Rock gardenElsa,

We have a neighborhood bully. He is an older gentleman, recently retired as he owned a landscaping business and recently moved to the neighborhood. The gentleman is married and his son and grandchild also moved to the neighborhood as an investment (beyond my understanding)

I had one extremely unpleasant interaction with him while I was in my yard gardening one day. Since then I have avoided him and that has been about a year or so.

This last week I found out he has been bullying every single woman in the neighborhood that works on gardening. I say woman because it is the women around here that plant and maintain all of the local park (it is tiny and not on the park board’s care list so the neighborhood offered to care for it with volunteers), the boulevard gardens, the block corner plantings. I think in the 20 years I have been here we have had one or two men help. This is all volunteer run and I guess he has been telling them how they are doing things wrong. Like every time they are out working, every meeting we have to get plans approved by the city and public works, etc.

Our volunteers range in age from Karen, in her 80s, who is not a Karen at all and who does rock gardens and low growth stuff to some of the renters in their 20s studying at the local university. We really range widely and, I want to be clear, men have been welcomed but for some reason it is women who have shown up year after year to maintain this stuff.

But an email went around where a bunch of volunteers are quitting because of this guy.

I was not at the last few meetings due to family stuff and did not get how bad he has been until now. I am in NO position of power but i do live here.

So how does a volunteer only organization caring for the neighborhood deal with a bully?

Signed – a gardener

Bullies tend to keep coming until they’re confronted. I’m not entirely sure that’s what you’ve got here, but based on what you wrote, this sounds like a old man, bored after retirement. One of those people who approach a younger person doing their job. “I used to do this work, thirty years ago…”  Like the young person cares! I am not on his “side”.  You said it yourself, he’s recently retired and hasn’t found his way yet, or his place.

Now the behavior on the women’s part is puzzling to me. You have this guy outnumbered. Anyone of  you could tell this man to back up, but instead, it’s avoidance and quitting.

It sounds to me as the ladies are expecting the world to conform to their standard of decorum, or it’s, take the football and go home.  You’ve be far happier, living in the world with integrity, which means you stand and tell this man, you don’t like his remarks, don’t care what he thinks, or whatever it is you want to say.

I’m sorry, but this sounds like “learned helplessness”. Women tell men to what to do, all the time.  And they listen!

I may be missing part of this story, but this guy doesn’t sound like he’s intentionally trying to cause harm.  It’s pretty common, older people begin to have frontal lobe issues. This can cause them to say things that are untoward as well.

Bottom line, if the ladies walk away, they lose their chance of handling this guy. It would be like me, being run off my own blog, by people who tell me I such, which happens, several times a week, at a minimum.

Please read of my Aquarian friend, for ideas and inspiration.

She Attracts Predators & Feels Overwhelmed

Good luck!

8 thoughts on “Dealing With An Adult Neighborhood Bully”

  1. Seconding this. He needs to know this lady and the working women won’t take it. Me and mom had to put up with disrespect (in our home) from a man that came under contract to do his job except that not only he has been disrespectful to both of us, he also did a stupid thing without asking and I had to tell him straight up. I was honest, not angry and he ended up saying sorry and in the end even giving us a discount. The stupid thing he did still stays and when I see it and am reminded of the situation. But I am also reminded that people can be reasoned with. He was a big man. My mars in aries seems to run into muscle men. This man with the gardening situation is retired. He needs more sun and naps. Like my cat.

  2. I learned this too late in life but valuable I drive a bus. I had a woman chase after my bus one day and tell me this that and the other thing and for some reason I was listening and I began to smile ( I believe she was trying to tell me how to drive; my best advice to any one near Bus don’t get close. Stay out of the way. )and she said why are you smiling at me and that comment made my body involuntarily laugh ha ha and she got so angry. She pounced away and I thought all I have to do is smile and laugh ha ha every time. Don’t give up smiling & laugh he might be so interested. He comes around to your way of thinking, who knows his body might involuntarily smile and laugh and then it would be quite a nice thing.
    PS smiling, and laughing might not work for every cuckoo out there so don’t lose your gauge for noticing cuckoo.

    1. Absolutely! Smiling and laughing at Boorish behavior is the best response. They may bluster and bleat for a bit at first, but keep laughing ’til they shrink back and slink away.

  3. Elsa! This comment is related to your attracting predators blog.

    I’m going to send it to my Mars in Pisces daughter. We had a conversation very along the lines of your blog over the weekend.

    It’s much easier for me to tell creepy men off or “scare ’em with a glare”, but I have Mars in Leo. She also has t Saturn on her Mars. I hope it will help her!

  4. Isn’t there a man in your group who can put this clown in his place? I don’t think it would be hard, either physically confront him or threaten him with a lawsuit….

  5. i dont know, maybe im too neptune on the descendant-but….sometimes i can smell the psycho undertones, or the nutty revengfull kind of personality and would much rather disapear then give them a piece of my mind. because then there is nothing to attack. and id rather sacrifice this one thing, then make my whole day/place i live a diffuse place of negativity or danger.

  6. This is a tricky situation, which I’ve been in before, as I run a community garden in my neighbourhood park. Public garden space presents a host of challenges that private gardens don’t. And these troublemaker types infuriate me, especially when good gardeners relinquish their invaluable community work, like you describe. One bad apple… as they say.

    Does he always bully one single gardener out there on their own? It’s difficult to fend off a bully without backup support. I never bring my camera phone to the community garden, but if there was a regular bully, I would, and take a photo of him, then tell him I was going to notify the park board that he’s bullying community gardeners. That might scare him off.

    Headphones and/or deaf ears to the bully works well if they’re just verbally harassing you. I’ve ignored ignoramuses that way. However, if the bully gets physically aggressive, that’s different because you have not only yourself, but the public space to protect from damage.

    I’ve tried confronting these types of troublemakers directly, which once led to the guy shouting at me in the local grocery store, calling me a psycho stalker loudly in the store, but he never attacked me physically, even though I’ve seen him walking around the neighbourhood at other times.

    The trouble with confronting these a-holes is that they might appear to back off initially, but later could take out their revenge not on people (hopefully), but might destroy the plants and all the hard work and money spent on the gardens. Public park space is at the mercy of vengeful troublemakers (or just inebriated idiots) when no one is there to witness them.

    As much as I love my community garden, I have many stories to tell of the difficult people and crazy situations I’ve had to deal with over the decades.

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