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Dear Urban Diplomat: My neighbours want to hire private security. How can I politely opt out?

The rise in car theft has my neighbourhood on edge, and we’re all being asked to pitch in. But I drive a 2012 Civic no self-respecting criminal would want

By Urban Diplomat| Illustrations by Salini Perera
Dear Urban Diplomat: My neighbours want to hire private security. How can I politely opt out?

Dear Urban Diplomat, Some of my neighbours want to hire private security to scare off car thieves, and everyone in the neighbourhood group chat has been asked to pitch in $100 a month. The thing is, I drive a 2012 Civic that no self-respecting criminal would want. But, when I mentioned as much in the chat, people accused me of being a freeloader. How can I opt out of this raw deal without becoming a neighbourhood pariah? —Withdrawal Symptoms, Clairlea-Birchmount

The question isn’t whether your car is worth the added cost but whether your relationship with your neighbours is. If you’re a close-knit bunch, think of the money as an investment in maintaining community camaraderie. After a few months, assuming the crime spree subsides, you can quietly pull out.


Dear Urban Diplomat, I take my eight-year-old daughter and her best friend to the AGO every month. Afterward, we head across the street to that store for Harry Potter diehards. The thing is, my daughter’s friend comes from a rich family and always buys expensive items. Meanwhile, I’m trying to teach my kid the value of money, so I’ve got her on a $10-a-week allowance—and she’s becoming increasingly cranky about it. I feel like this is a teachable moment and I’m failing miserably. —Dry Spell, CityPlace

Try orchestrating some friendly competition between the girls to level the field, like seeing who can find the coolest item for $10 or less. But I suggest you also have a heart-to-heart with your daughter. Tell her there will always be people who have more than her and many who have less. Harry Potter slept under a staircase, remember? If she still covets the big-ticket merch, encourage her to budget for it and save up her allowance over time—a crucial life skill best learned young.


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Dear Urban Diplomat: My wife keeps stealing berries from our neighbour's tree
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Dear Urban Diplomat: My wife keeps stealing berries from our neighbour’s tree

Dear Urban Diplomat, Every Canada Day, my extended family visits our uncle’s cottage on Lake Simcoe for a blowout. He’s always been an oddball, but he recently retired and now spends too much time on social media, consuming all kinds of loony-tunes disinformation. The entry-level stuff, like doubting the moon landing, was manageable. But, last month, he ruined my sister’s housewarming when he spotted a cellphone tower nearby and started freaking out about the brainwashing power of 5G waves. She now thinks he’s certifiable and refuses to go to his cottage. I don’t want our family tradition to die. Any advice? —Conspiring Minds, Martin Grove

Conspiracy theories tend to proliferate among people who feel isolated or uncertain about the future. Since your uncle recently left the workforce, he may be experiencing both. Appeal to your sister’s sense of family duty and explain that the last thing your uncle needs is estranged relatives. And in case he goes full QAnon, psychologists have published guides on how help relatives with fringe beliefs—I suggest you forward a few reputable ones your sister’s way.


Dear Urban Diplomat, My mother recently gave my 17-year-old daughter a family heirloom: a vintage 32-piece Royal Doulton dinnerware set. It was a nice thought, but my kid says they’re hideous old-lady plates that she will never use. Some internet sleuthing revealed that they’re worth more than $1,000, and now she wants to sell them without telling grandma. My husband says that would be unethical. I have the deciding vote. What should I do? —Heir Rights, Yorkdale

The set belongs to your daughter, which means the choice is hers, not yours. But ask her to think it through one more time. What will she tell your mom if it comes up in conversation? What if grandma asks her to pull the dishes out of storage the next time you host a big family meal? Your daughter is still young: she can decide to ditch the dishes when she moves out. For now, encourage patience. If that doesn’t go over well, remind her that the longer she holds on to the set, the more it’ll be worth if and when she does sell.

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