My next-door neighbor is a mad scientist. He’s nice and all, keeps to himself, friendly, good neighbor material. It’s just that his experiments are getting annoying. He’s had my weed-eater for six months, he keeps borrowing my car battery, and he’s severed all the power in the neighborhood five or six times. I don’t feel like I know the guy well enough to confront him, but somebody’s got to, you know? What’s the best way to ask him to shape up? 

Suburban Dad in Abington 


My initial response would normally be “burn his house down” but given that he still has your weed-eater and has an apparent need for enormous quantities of electricity, he very likely has a you-know-what in his basement. As such, do not add fire. Instead, whenever he borrows something or cuts the power, just go over to his garage (mad scientists aren’t good about security) and take something. Sooner or later, he will confront you on this subject at which point you can simply say “Sorry! I thought that we had a mutually assumed relationship of randomly inconveniencing each other! My mistake!” and he will take the hint – especially when he sees that you’re not even using his atomic distillation unit.