Dear Urban Diplomat: My neighbours have been swimming naked in their backyard pool

Dear Urban Diplomat: My neighbours have been swimming naked in their backyard pool

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My new next-door neighbours have been letting my family use their backyard pool when they go out of town. My three kids absolutely love it. The problem is that when the neighbours are home, they’ve got a proclivity for skinny-dipping—sometimes during daylight hours. Even worse: my kids, ever curious to see whether the pool is occupied, have witnessed some things that might stick with them for life (my son says these people prefer the backstroke). How can I get the neighbours to stop without compromising our leisurely dips?
—Open Swim, Forest Hill

First, consider how much you value those swimming privileges. If you confront the neighbours, at best, they’ll be embarrassed, at worst, they’ll take offence. Either way, offers to use the pool will inevitably dry up. If you feel you must act, consider approaching the people who live on the other side of your nudist neighbours and ask whether they’ve witnessed any R-rated aquatic acts. Maybe they’re willing to co-author a gently worded note, requesting daytime decorum. If that doesn’t work, you might just have to spring for a higher fence.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
I’m a cashier at a downtown grocery store and I ride the streetcar across town every morning to get there. For some reason, people seem physically incapable of social distancing on public transit, sidling up to me even when there are plenty of other open spots. The city added signs on some seats, hoping to space people out, but riders mostly ignore them. Any advice?
—Boundary Hunter, Little Italy

In a perfect world, there would be a TTC worker on each streetcar dedicated to enforcing the six-foot rule. But since you’re left to fend for yourself, I would suggest slipping into one of those four-person booths and marking your territory. Splay yourself across a couple of seats, give your bag its own spot—whatever it takes to make it clear that people should stay away. It might seem rude, but pre-pandemic TTC etiquette no longer applies.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
Recently, a couple of neighbourhood kids opened a lemonade stand across the street from my house. It’s an extremely charming setup, with a small table, hand-drawn signs, a yellow piggy bank and a few jugs of lemonade. But the prepubescent proprietors are oblivious when it comes to Covid precautions. The kids are coughing, sneezing and licking their fingers, all while greeting customers and handling coins. Should I intervene?
—Sour Puss,
North York

Normally, I’d say that if a kid offers you lemonade, you take it. But this situation seems to require a different approach. Do you know these kids and their parents, and are they Covid deniers? If the answer is yes and no, I think it’s reasonable to suggest a virtual lemonade stand (it’s a thing, Google it) until the pandemic is over. If the answer is yes and yes, you could, theoretically, call public health, but you’ll go down in history as the local crank who ratted out two pint-sized pandemic-time entrepreneurs.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
At the start of spring, I splurged a bit and bought a $2,000 bike. I purchased a heavy-duty lock and left it on a well-lit bike rack in the courtyard of my apartment complex. Sure enough, it got stolen. I’m beyond outraged. But here’s the thing: I think I know who took it. There’s a really sketchy guy who lives in my complex, and a recent peek at his balcony revealed way too many bikes for one person. Do I confront him?
—Hot Wheels,
Dufferin Grove

Accusing your neighbour of theft without any real evidence is a terrible idea, so banish that thought. There are plenty of potential explanations for a big stash of two-wheelers. Your neighbour could be an avid bike collector (the legal kind) or a bike repair person who’s working from home. If you’ve got the serial number, file a report for theft under $5,000 with the police, who can add your bike to the Canadian Police Information Database. The bad news: in Toronto, only about one per cent of stolen bikes ever get recovered, according to Canadian Cycling Magazine.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
My parents own a dental clinic, and back in March, they were offered an opportunity to vaccinate everyone on their staff. They went ahead and added me and my sisters to the employee list, to which I immediately objected. I told them vaccine line-jumping was morally reprehensible. They insisted, saying they might need help on the front desk should any full-time employees get sick. And they got pretty offended by my take on the whole thing. How can I smooth things over without compromising my stand?
—Needle Point, Cabbagetown

It’s nice (and not entirely surprising) that your parents wanted to protect everyone in the family, but they were taking advantage of a health care loophole. Tell them you couldn’t bring yourself to cut in front of more vulnerable would-be vaccine recipients. And in the unlikely event that they need your help before your number’s up, promise them you’ll PPE yourself silly: face mask, goggles, scrubs, sanitizer, the works.