The Poisons of Proximity, or Cry Tough - THE CATASTROPHIZER
 
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The New York Times's Social Q's missed the boat on this answer, so I will catch the boat and then pilot it. Badly.

The Enemy Next Door

A longtime neighbor responds to my greetings with stony silence. I suspect this has something to do with a noise dispute I had with an upstairs neighbor who was then her employer. But that was a decade ago! Now, she avoids taking the elevator if I'm on it. Should I confront her and clear the air?

H.S.
Answering letters of this kind is really one of the most irresponsible things one can do, as one is provided with so little context. One, however, will proceed.

1) What
are those greetings that are greeted in return with a stony silence? Do you say, "A pleasant morning to you," or do you, say, drop your pants and say, "What would have happened if the Nazis had won the war?" 

2) In terms of the noise dispute - who was responsible for the noise ten years ago? Was it you? Is it possible you're still creating a stupefying amount of noise and she's too shy to reprimand you? At what level
do you play Poison's Unskinny Bop repeatedly?

3) I find your dilemma to be delicious in a catastrophic sense because there is more than one right answer. Whatever you decide, you will most likely spread interpersonal poison. If you do not confront her, you will stew and brood and your elevator rides will be exercises in quiet resentment and tension. If you
do confront her, there's a good chance that you will manage to alienate and upset her and that your elevator rides will become exercises in quiet resentment and tension. If she manages to avoid riding the elevator with you, try to dawdle near her front door or parking space so that you can cultivate that quiet resentment and tension. At least then, you'll know the feelings are mutual.
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