Dear Urban Diplomat: My neighbour’s drone won’t leave me alone

Dear Urban Diplomat: My neighbour’s drone won’t leave me alone

He’s been flying it around my property day and night. Is it ethical to sabotage his toy in the name of privacy?

An illustration of a man shovelling his driveway with an angry look on his face

Dear Urban Diplomat,
One of my neighbours just bought a drone, and he’s been flying it around our street day and night. I’ve read stories of these contraptions spying on people, and it gives me the creeps. I want this thing to buzz off, but I’m afraid of confrontation—especially with neighbours. I hear there are devices you can buy that jam signals and send drones out of control. Is it ethical to torpedo his tech toy in the name of privacy?
—Flight Risk, Eringate

Your neighbour sounds like a twit, but unmanned combat is not a proportional response. Even if it were warranted, drone jammers are illegal because interfering with flying objects is dangerous. Operating a drone without a permit is also illegal if you live within 5.6 kilometres of an airport—and Eringate is shouting distance from Pearson. My advice: grow a spine and ask your neighbour to keep his drone away from your property. If he ignores you, remind him that the police aren’t as afraid of confrontation as you are.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
In a few weeks, my high school buddy is getting married. Recently, he invited a bunch of us over—his fiancée wasn’t there, but his side-piece girlfriend was. It turns out that he and his betrothed have an open relationship. Some of the others knew, but I was totally blindsided. He knows I take monogamy seriously. I’m angry that he didn’t tell me privately, and I’m thinking of ditching the wedding because I may not be able to hold my peace when the officiant asks if anyone knows of any reason the couple should not be married. Thoughts?
—Triple Threat, Yonge-Doris

Consenting adults can arrange their relationships however they want. The way your friend revealed his semi-secret girlfriend was unfortunate, but pulling out of the wedding or, worse, objecting during the ceremony are nuclear options. If you can’t abide their choice—and it is their choice—talk to him before the ­wedding and see where that leads. But you’ll have to learn to live with his decision or forfeit the friendship.

More Urban Diplomat

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I live in a house with three other students. With costs going up, I’ve cut back on luxuries to balance my budget. One of my roommates, though, has adapted in a different way: by shoplifting. She heard about the recent explosion in retail theft and, instead of seeing it as a cautionary tale, took it as her cue to join in. It started with little things like makeup and toiletries, but lately fancy clothes, booze and even a smart watch—things I know she can’t afford—have turned up. I’m terrified of being implicated. What to do?
—Guilty by Association, The Annex

First, talk to your roommate to confirm your suspicions. If she fesses up, stress that you’re looking out for her because, sooner or later, she will get caught, and it’ll ruin her job prospects for years. This may require rounding up your other roommates, along with her family, to stage an intervention. If she doesn’t stop, it may be time to find law-abiding roomies.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
In the spring, I loaned my daughter-in-law $2,500 to fix her car. She and my son have a rocky relationship and argue constantly about money, so she persuaded me to keep it a secret. She assured me that I’d have my money next payday, but I have yet to see a penny. Whenever I ask, she lies to my face and says the money is on its way. I’ve lost all patience. Should I tell my son about her behaviour? It would cause a mighty row just before Christmas, but I didn’t raise him to be a fool.
—The Mother of All Evil, Rosedale

You seem to think your daughter-in-law is being feckless. Perhaps she is actually struggling. It’s not cool for her to lie about your money. However, it would be reckless—heartless, even—to set off another tremor under your son’s already teetering marriage by dropping this bomb. Have a frank conversation with her over lunch and see if she opens up. Don’t forget that your son still loves her, and that makes her family too.