Depending on your living situation, having neighbors can feel like a blessing or a curse.
Unfortunately, when misunderstandings arise, it can make it really hard to continue living next door to that person, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit
Redditor dariuskxx realized that he may have caused his neighbors to move after a joke he told was taken the wrong way.
Discovering this, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he should apologize.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for accidentally making my neighbors move house?”
The OP had an easygoing relationship with his neighbors.
“I live alone (35 [Male]), and I’ve never had much contact with my neighbors.”
“They’ve been my neighbors for a couple of years, and I’ve lived here for about 12 years.”
“Their kids sometimes play in my front yard, leave their bikes and balls in my driveway.”
“It’s a minor inconvenience, not really a problem. I just push their stuff back into their yard/driveway when this happens.”
“On occasion, they partially block my garage with their car. Again, not an issue, I’m not the type to make a big deal out of minor inconveniences that can easily be ignored.”
The OP learned the neighbors weren’t so tolerant.
“The other day I was cleaning my house, the windows were open, and I was playing music quite loud.”
“It was a sunny day, it was nice to have a breeze through my living room as I cleaned and my tunes turned up.”
“It’s worth noting that this isn’t a regular occurrence. Usually, I have headphones on, but I was spring cleaning this day.”
“My neighbor rang the doorbell. She looked fairly grumpy and irate.”
“She abruptly told me to turn it down. She wasn’t rude or anything, just abrupt.”
The OP decided to make a joke.
“I very politely and with a smile said, ‘Sure, but you should know that the music helps drown out the voices in my head.'”
“Immediately after saying that, I turned to no one in particular and said, ‘Yes, I agree, looks delicious, but I’m not going to do that.'”
“I don’t know why I said this, it was part joke, part wanting to be left alone, part being annoyed that my enjoyment was being interrupted.”
“She looked stunned but left immediately without any comment.”
“I left the music turned down.”
The OP realized the joke had consequences.
“Since then (2 weeks), they’ve kept the cars well away from my garage, and there’s been no sign of their kids.”
“I’ve also learned from a different neighbor that they’re looking to move (they’re renting).”
“Now, all of this could be a coincidence, but I have a suspicion that they might be moving because they’re uncomfortable living next to someone who they think hears voices.”
“Should I tell them it was a joke?”
“AITA if I don’t?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some thought the joke was absolutely hilarious.
“As someone who legitimately hears voices; this was f**king wonderful! They are not only horrible neighbors but outed themselves as being paranoid and ableist for assuming those who have mental health issues are dangerous.”
“I say this is wonderfully done. NTA, I hope you get more considerate neighbors next time.” – BrokenBunnyMama
“NTA. You, sir or madam or whatever you like, are a genius! I too don’t let myself get annoyed by small inconveniences from my neighbors, but they complain if we so much as fart in our house.”
“I might just have to steal your idea. You handled it beautifully.” – whynousernamelef
“NTA. I have a neighbor that I wish would fall for that! Sounds like you’ve done the neighborhood a favor by running them off!” – VioletSkyeDreams
Others thought it made people with legitimate mental illnesses sound dangerous.
“Hi, someone with hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. It really feels like Reddit and everywhere else only gives a s**t about mental health awareness when it’s pretty, neatly packaged, and with a bow.”
“No one gives a s**t about the hard parts and the messy, especially if it’s something beyond depression or anxiety.”
“Everyone loves to mark every bad person they see with all sorts of disorders and then laugh at jokes at the expense of those who suffer from these problems and cope with them, just digging in that we are violent and without lucidity. It’s really sickening.” – ratsgore
“YTA. Look, petty neighbor disputes can suck, they shouldn’t block your garage, you shouldn’t blast music with the windows open.”
“But pretending to have a mental illness and threatening (by way of implication) your neighbor through a ‘voice’ you hear further marginalizes people with those mental illnesses on top of being a shit response to someone who by your own admission wasn’t rude, just abrupt.”
“Also, I think you meant to go way over the top with an ‘I’d kill you and eat you’ joke (which if you don’t know each other is still harder to pick up on as meant to be in jest), but know that your neighbor probably took your ‘delicious’ comment as a threat to rape her.” – SorceryPointalism
“OP implied the voices were encouraging cannibalism.”
“That’s not them being paranoid and thinking all mental health issues are dangerous. That’s OP playing into the very stereotype that all mental health issues are dangerous and deliberately scaring his neighbors with this BS (bulls**t).” – eepithst
“I was mulling this because while I found it funny, I was uncomfortable at the immediate playing to the stereotype of ‘hearing voices’/mental health issues = a danger (the ‘looks delicious’ line).”
“If it had been left at the ‘it drowns out the voices,’ sure, that’s neutral and if they freak out, that’s on them, but he did imply the voice was telling him to eat her. Which, y’know, would unnerve most people!”
“God knows people don’t need any encouragement to think anyone with any sort of neurological issue has their neighbors on the menu.” – RandomPotato43
Some also thought the OP’s joke sounded dangerous and predatory.
“IDK (I don’t know) why men don’t realize that threatening women is a big deal? women are so often raped and/or murdered by unhinged men. and this woman has children she needs to protect.”
“I mean, don’t threaten anyone, but from a female perspective, it just seems like so many men are incapable of empathizing with situations that they don’t experience.”
“Obviously she could have been more considerate about your music and her kids’ stuff/their cars, but you threatened her life.”
“I say awkward, dumb things I regret too, it’s annoying, but at a certain point, you have to be accountable.” – Xvrinv
“Yeah and I also have to say like to OP it could be obvious that it is a joke but not everyone is gonna take it that way.”
“This story immediately reminded me of a guy I knew who was unintentionally so creepy, legit he would have made this joke and not understood why people avoided him after.”
“It’s in the way you say it, your tone, obviously we only have what OP posted here, but I guess OP sees this as an overreaction.”
“The neighbours probably got really disturbed and are scared for them and their children. OP could have played the part too well” – Firm-Vacation-7060
“You can be legally in the right but still act like a jerk.”
“If I’ve been trying to put a toddler down for a nap or keep a 3rd grader engaged in their Zoom class or I’ve got a migraine or worked a night shift or am trying to have a nice phone call with my elderly aunt and my neighbor with a house close enough to have near-touching driveways is practicing with their heavy metal band in the garage with the door open and the amps cranked, it’s not some great moral wrong for me to ask them to turn things down and maybe shut the door.”
“I can be understandably grumpy about it, and they can be ticked about me asking. That’s normal levels of neighbor dispute.”
“Responding in a way that your neighbor thinks their family’s physical safety is at serious risk to the point that the kids no longer are allowed to play in their own yard is crossing a line.” – SorceryPointalism
Though the OP and some Redditors thought the joke was hilarious, most of the subReddit was not so convinced.
While the joke might be funny with friends or family, people the OP generally knew well, the joke landed more so as a threat than as a jest between neighbors.