Legal Advice

Legal Advice

It’s good to know that if I find myself in legal trouble due to my rabble rousing recycling bin antics, I can count on my good friend Brady to round out the legal defense.

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March 12, 2013 · 7:21 pm

Shameless Publicity Photo

nawrocki family

Our Family

From left to right: Recycling Bin, Bryan, Ashley, Calvin “Muscles Glasses”

The Home Owner’s Association thinks they can redefine family.  I think it’s time we re-defined the Home Owner’s Association.
-Bryan N, Home Owner

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Bryan vs. the Homeowners Association

Our story so far: our hero, discovering a letter in the mail from the Homeowners Association instructing him to remove his recycling bin from the front porch, has decided that instead of being bullied by a bunch of nit picky power tripping demon monkeys that like to dicker over nothing important but pretend that it is to compensate for some childhood inadequacy, he will take matters into his own hands and take the fight to the HOA.  Our hero fully expects to lose, but if he’s going down, he’s at least going to enjoy himself.

The following is his 1900 word attempt at glory.

Dear Mr. (name omitted),

I recently received a letter in the mail from you informing me that I was in violation of Community Governing Documents, as I have been in the habit of storing my recycling bin on my front porch at (address omitted).  First off, please let me apologize for any trouble this may have caused, as I was unaware that I was doing anything truly wrong.  However, I was hoping we could use this opportunity to open up a dialogue about this very topic.

When I purchased my home two and a half years ago, the one problem I did not consider would be the issue of trash disposal.  I happen to own a home that is in the middle of my building, which means I have the longest distance to travel when it comes to lugging my trash from the back porch to the front curb.  This is further compounded by the fact that it tends to be wet out back, as there’s a drainage ditch right in my backyard that attracts all the run-off.  And then of course my trash can lacks a lid, so when there’s been a heavy amount of rain, I get quite the work out rolling that thing around the whole building.  I try to dump out as much water as possible without making a mess, but it’s harder than it sounds and I’m a bit of a klutz.  Luckily, I am young and strong (although I did just turn 30, and I hear it’s all downhill from there).

Now, I’m lucky in the fact that there are only two of us living in my home, and I don’t quite need to haul the trash can around every week.  I’d venture to say that I make this trek once every ten to fourteen days, give or take your extenuating factors that pop up.   However, I make this trek without complaint because trash is dirty and people would rather not look at it, so it’s fine at the back of the house.  You won’t catch me keeping my trash can anywhere else.

The recycling bin is an entirely different matter.  Whereas the trash can has wheels and can be rolled, the recycling bin must be picked up and carried.  You could argue that the recycling bin is small enough to be moved through the house, thus circumventing the large trip, but the standard issue recycling bins have holes in the bottom and I’m afraid some errant liquid will leak onto the carpet in my back dining area which is adjacent to my back door.  My back porch is not very well sheltered from the rain, so it can get quite wet back there.

The front porch is a much more preferable option.  There’s a nice overhang that keeps things dry, and the porch is wide enough to accommodate my recycling bin.  On the day the recycling truck comes, I can place my recyclables in the bin and then move it out to the curb, which is a nice, short little walk.  I also keep my recycling bin empty as much as possible as to not be unsightly.  I will admit that I have on some occasions placed recyclables in the bin earlier in the week due to overflow in the house, but I can take steps to avoid this in the future as to keep the neighborhood looking clean and fresh.

If anything, I think the rule in question is a little insensitive to the needs of certain homes in our neighborhood.  I’m a school teacher by trade, and one thing I learned early on is that all students are different, and it’s difficult to approach teaching with a “one size fits all” mentality in planning everything from daily lessons to long term curriculum.  When students have individual needs, we accommodate them, because that’s the right thing to do.  We do this with little fanfare or complaint because we don’t believe in punishing students with a disability or special learning need.  In the matter of recycling bin storage, I think I’m at a disadvantage that should similarly be addressed.

Let’s consider the situations of other homeowners in the area.  Anyone with an end unit only has a short hike to haul their trash out front, as compared to the much further trip that I need to make.  Then there is the block of homes that takes up the better part of the 800s.  These homes have back porches that face the street, meaning they only need to haul their trash a short distance to Deer Run Court.  This is a nice little perk for them.  Now I could argue that when people turn into our development, the first thing they see is the trash cans these people leave out.  Is it unsightly?  Sure.  Do I think anything should be done about it?  Not really, because people generate trash and there’s no point in trying to make it hard for them to get rid of it.  Don’t you think I deserve that same right?

You should also consider the positioning of the house at (address omitted, but it should be noted this is the address of one of the people on the board of the Home Owners Association).  The side of this unit faces the street with an open back porch.  This means that anyone walking by can see their trash sitting on their back porch, as their back porch is the most visible in the whole neighborhood.  It’s right at the mouth of Doe Court!  In this case, the family has virtually no place to keep their trash without people being able to see it.  Are they punished for it?  No, nor should they be, because that would be silly and unfair.

In my case, I think you are punishing me for something that’s not my fault: I have a long distance to walk through a backyard that is frequently soaked and muddy.  The recycling bin has holes in it, making inside storage unattractive.  When full, it is heavy to carry and cannot be dragged.  Can you really blame me for this?

In addition, I think it storing my recycling bin on my front porch is harmless.  Please consider the following points:

–          The recycling bin is typically kept empty, and from here on out will always be kept empty (excepting the days of trash pick-up, of course).

–          The recycling bin is a green color that matches the outside décor of my home, and is not really noticeable.  Indeed, it helps to create a bucolic setting that is quite pleasing to the eye.  Perhaps I’ll photograph it.

–          During the summer months, the recycling bin is mostly concealed by a bush and can’t be viewed from the street.  Of course, the vegetation tends to die out during the winter months, but nobody likes to hang around outside anyway because it’s just too darn cold.

–          If you drive around other neighborhoods, especially ones where people have their own driveways such as parts of Fox Ridge next door, many people keep their trash and recycling out front.  That’s trash AND recycling, and you will see people putting trash into those cans regardless of the day of the week.  All I want to do is keep an empty bin out front on a porch where the bin blends in with the background and is can’t be seen in the warmer months thanks to the local plant life.

–          While walking my dog, I casually noticed that I’m not the only one that keeps his recycling bin out front, although perhaps other people have better methods of hiding it.  I also observed trash cans being kept up front, but these were cleverly hidden behind large bushes that stay green throughout the year.  Mind you, I only noticed these things because your letter aroused my curiosity.  Otherwise, it never would have crossed my mind to look.

–          The recycling bin poses no immediate danger to anyone.  The front porch is wide enough that it does not impede traffic through the front door, which would be a fire hazard.  The recycling bin does not attract wild animals or stray cats (unlike a certain neighbor who actively encourages stray cats to hang around by feeding them.  While I understand this is her business and not mine, part of me wishes she would knock it off).  I also fail to see any possible reason as to why my recycling bin could diminish local home values or dissuade potential buyers from purchasing a home in our development.

Furthermore, while I recognize that you have rules prohibiting me from keeping a recycling bin on my front porch, I don’t understand why there is a need for such a rule in the first place.  These are rules that were written well over a decade ago by people who probably aren’t in charge anymore (unless they are, in which case they have my utmost apologies).  I can’t say I blame them, either, because if I was on the panel that created the rules, I would have done the same thing.

“Keep recycling bins off the front porch.  Check.  Let’s talk about the ninety other things that we need to care about.”

Because really, who would spend more than a minute thinking about where people ought to keep their recycling bins?  The folks in question had more pressing concerns, and weren’t going to spend too much time on recycling bin management.  But is there really a point to this rule in the first place?  Is there anything worthwhile in digging our feet in the sand and clinging to this rule because someone wrote it down on paper many moons ago?  Are we going to live in fear of some slippery slope argument saying it can lead to chaos and rioting in the streets (of which we have three)?  Why bother?

My promise to you is that my recycling bin will be kept empty, which won’t be too much trouble because I try to keep it like that anyway.  In return, you spare me the trouble of having to haul that thing around my house once a week, as we seem to generate enough recyclables to merit that particular need (unlike the trash, which we can bring around less often).  If you are good with this, we can move on with our merry lives.

If things are not that simple, then I would be very interested to come in and meet with you folks about why my recycling bin needs to be kept somewhere other than my front porch.  I don’t intend to be hostile or rude.  Let’s keep things in perspective here: it’s just a recycling bin, right?  I think you’ll find me to be pleasant in person, and I certainly don’t want to quarrel with neighbors.  I make it a point to be nice to everyone in the area, even the lady who keeps feeding the stray cats.  The neighborhood kids love my dog, and as a result I know most of their names.  They’re all very nice kids, even the one with that’s always tooling around on that pink motorized scooter.  I wish she’d slow down.

All I really want out of a meeting is to know why it matters so much, and if there’s anything we can do to spare me from having to lug things around my home all the time.  Surely we can find a compromise that works for everyone.

Thank you for your time.

Best wishes,
Bryan (last name omitted)

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Letters of Complaint

The following letter somehow netted me a full refund for a bad dinner in a really fancy steakhouse.  They probably give refunds to everyone that complains, but I like to pretend that I’m actually persuasive and a master of my craft.

To Whom It May Concern,

Hello!  My name is Bryan, and I am writing to tell you about my experience dining at the Capital Grille’s King of Prussia location.  We were there to celebrate the 30th birthdays of myself and my close friend Christine (we were born a day apart!), and we had very high hopes for an excellent night of amazing food with great friends.

I must say that the service we received was excellent.  Our server, Regina Bromley, was very knowledgeable and attentive.  The guy operating the water jug was also quite the Johnny on the Spot with his abilities to keep my water glass full.  I don’t think I managed to get down to a half glass all evening.

The only problem with the evening was the quality of the food.  Now, I’m no expert on food.  I am an adequate cook at best (although I make a pretty good hot wing), and I’ve never had must interest in watching shows on the Food Network.  However, I know enough to know that there were some issues with the food last night.

I started with a crock of French onion soup.  As I was eating it, I kept noticing a strange taste to it.  I finally realized that the soup tasted like it was burnt.  Two of my dining companions also had a crock of the French onion soup, and when I asked them if they tasted the same thing, they both thought about it and said, “Yeah…you’re right.  It does taste that way.”  Now, I really don’t enjoy saying this, but I feel honesty is important here: I have had better French onion soup at your typical, run of the mill diner.  What I had last night simply was not enjoyable.  However, I decided to let the soup thing slide, as I felt the main course would be delicious.  This is a literary device known as foreshadowing.

For the main course, I selected the filet mignon.  I ordered it medium because I feel that’s the best way to enjoy meet.  It came out medium well (just a small sliver of pale pink on the inside), but I didn’t think that would be such a big deal.  However, the filet was rather tough and not juicy at all.  I found this perplexing, because as you well know, the filet is a very tender cut of meat.  This is why the 10 oz. filet is only a few dollars cheaper than your 24 oz. steak: it’s almost a guaranteed homerun every time you order it.  This is a huge failure on the part of your chef, because when it comes to cooking up a tender steak, it’s practically cheating to cook up a filet mignon because of the natural tenderness of the meat!  And this is from a restaurant that prides itself on its selection of steaks!  I ended up not finishing my filet because it just wasn’t very good.  Again,and I’m just being real here, I have had better steaks at Outback Steakhouse.  In fact, I have had better steaks off my own grill, and I am no expert at all when it comes to grilling.

Interestingly enough, another dining companion found that her filet, also ordered medium, came out closer to rare.  The bright redness really shone out from the opposite side of the table, and she stated she could not eat whole sections of the steak because it was “too rare” for her tastes.  Again, this is from a restaurant that prides itself on its steak selection.

The problems were not limited to the steak.  My girlfriend went with the chicken confit, which we were told had a crispy outside and was very tender in the middle.  The chicken did indeed pull apart, but more so in the form of crumbling and not that more satisfying peeling apart of a really well cooked chicken.  Each bite was dry and devoid of flavor (I had a few bites to see for myself), and the fingerling potatoes on the side had a strange sweet flavor to them that didn’t quite go with the potato.  A lot of the meal sat unfinished, and my girlfriend went home hungry.  I know this because she complained the whole way home.  Thanks for that, by the way.

For dessert, I had the trio of handcrafted ice creams with the miniature cookies.  The ice creams were delicious.  The cookies met all expectations for what a cookie should be.  No complaints there!

At the end of the evening, we split the bill five ways, since there were five in our party.  Since I was paying for myself and my girlfriend, our share of the bill came out to roughly 137 dollars.  I added an additional 28 dollars for the tip, as I felt Regina did a great job and the quality of the food was certainly not her fault.  This is a lot of money, but I came into the restaurant knowing that I would be paying around that amount.  The trade off is you get an epic dining experience with high quality, breath taking food.  I did not get this last evening, and I see this as a failure on the part of the chefs in your restaurant.

Let’s recap the experience:

-French Onion soup- Tasted like it was burnt.  I’ve had better at diners.

-Filet Mignon- tough and overcooked.  No juiciness, no tenderness.  I’ve had better steaks comprised of cheaper cuts of meat at Outback Steakhouse.

-Chicken Confit- incredibly dry with no flavor.  No polite (or fitting) comparison comes to mind.

All in all, it was a low quality food evening with a very high price tag.  I really don’t think this as the quality you would expect from one of your chains.

It is here that I make this humble request: I would like a portion of my money returned.  I would certainly like Regina to keep her tip money, and I would subtract the money I paid for dessert and two beers (Stella is a favorite of mine!).  I think this would be about 23 or 24 dollars.  Oh, and my girlfriend had a coke, so whatever that cost is fine, too.  I know it’s the policy of some restaurant to offer gift cards or a discount on a future visit, but I really don’t plan on ever coming back.  I know that you should always give a second chance, but if a supposed high end restaurant fails this miserably on their first attempt, there’s really no point in returning.   Is it possible to simply re-credit my credit card?  I would find that most helpful.

If you have any questions about my visit to your restaurant, please feel free to contact me by either phone or email.  I look forward to hearing back from you.

Thank you,

Bryan

P.S. I must say…you folks sure do like your paintings of old people who are probably dead now, most notably the gentlemen across from the hostess stand who is depicted wearing a powdered wig.  If he is still alive, please pass on my best wishes for his continued excellent health.  May he outlive us all!

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The Worst Proposal Ever

The following is my attempt to not have to escort two grandmothers down the aisle at an upcoming wedding in which I am a groomsman.  The bride elected to not name a maid of honor, and her sister demanded that she get to walk down the aisle with the best man (that’s not me), since that would somehow technically give her the honorific of “fake maid of honor.”  However, the best man was to already be walking down the aisle with someone else, leaving me with the grandmothers.

I saw this as a tad unfair, but was told that if I could convince “maidofhonorwannabezilla” to walk down the aisle with me during the ceremony, I could be spared the indignity of old lady duty.

This is my attempt.  

Please note that names have been changed to protect the innocent.

 

Dear Lily’s Sister,

Hello!  My name is Bryan, and I am one of the groomsmen (or whatever the terminology is…you know how Lily is with “labels”) for the wedding between Lily (your sister) and Charlie Black (some guy I know).  I write you this letter with hat in hand, as I have been informed that where walking down the aisle at the wedding is concerned, it will be my job to escort some sort of grandmother type creature things during the ceremony, and you are the only one that can prevent this from happening.

“Now wait a minute,” I asked.  “How come I don’t get to walk down the aisle with a bridesmaid?  Is there an uneven number of bridesmaids and grooms?”

“Umm…no…it is an equal number,” I was informed by parties that will remain unnamed but are secretly Lily.

“Well, how come I have to be on grandmother duty when someone else could manage just as easily?  Why not send Karl Bamf?  Nobody likes him, so it’s perfect,” I helpfully suggested.

“Well you see Bryan,” began the unnamed party, “by your own admission, nobody likes Karl Bamf.  Am I to trust our aging grandmothers in the hands of one so despised?”

A logic most foul!  But I don’t give up easily, and there were other angles to attempt.

“Well, you see, it would seem that nobody likes me either,” I lied, knowing full well that I was loved and adored the whole world over (this is based on a sampling pool that only includes my dog, who thinks I’m awesome).

“But I like you, Bryan,” Lily replied.

Never before have I felt disappointment from such a positive affirmation.  “Yeah, I know,” came my dejected response.  But then another thought occurred to me.

“If I’m not walking down with a bridesmaid, that means someone else is walking down with two of them.  Who gets two?”

“George.”

“Well then I’ll take one of his, and the grandmothers can walk themselves down the aisle without me.  After all, in this age of increased awareness of geriatric independence, the suggestion that they would require assistance just might offend their elderly sensitivities, and on such a day of otherwise joyous celebration, well golly!  We wouldn’t want THAT now, would we?”

And so it was agreed that if I could convince a bridesmaid, specifically one that also happened to be the sister of the bride, to agree to forsake George’s proffered arm on the day of the wedding, then I could have the pleasure of walking down the aisle with a bridesmaid.

Now in just a moment, I’m going to (spoiler alert) get around to asking you to kindly accompany me down the aisle at the upcoming wedding.  But before I do, I just wanted to give you a short list of reasons why you should prefer to walk down the aisle with me over walking down with Greg.

The Reasons Why Lily’s Sister Should Walk Down the Aisle with Bryan Instead of George:

  1. I don’t think that Lily thinks that you would say yes to my request in a million years.  If you were to agree to my request, you would get to stick it to Lily and wipe that smug “I’m right about everything” look right off her face.
  2. If you walked down the aisle with George, you would have to share him with another lady.  While some may argue that “sharing means caring,” there are no friends when it comes to hogging the spotlight at a wedding.  Sharing a groomsman with another bridesmaid is an insult to your position in the pantheon of Lily’s Friends, Family, and Assorted Acquaintances (the LFFAA, in which I am a member in good standing)!  It is far better to walk tall next to me (although I’m just over six feet tall, so you might not look all that tall) than to slink after him and some floozy.
  3. I am pleasant company and am well versed in the proper ways of treating feminine company with the utmost care and respect.  George smells funny and eats off the floor.
  4. I am here fighting for the honor of escorting you on the day of your only sister’s wedding.  Do you see a competing letter from George?  Of course not.  George sucks.  To George, you are an entitlement and nothing more.  To me, you are a rare spot of sunshine in an otherwise dismal world.
  5. If you are interested, I can provide a resume and a list of references that includes both former and current employers as well as friends, family, and perhaps a D list celebrity or two (assuming Pauly Shore returns my phone calls). 

 

With that, I offer this most humble request:

 

Dana, would you do me the honor of walking down the aisle with me at Charlie and Lily’s wedding?  It would mean the world to me, and I promise to be on my best behavior, or at least until the reception.

 

You may kindly respond through Lily or directly to me at (redacted).

Thank you,

Bryan

P.S. If you elect to walk down the aisle with George and that other lady bridesmaid, be sure to be on his left side.  George is left-handed, so being on his left arm would imply that you’re either slightly more important or that you require more effort and concentration to maintain than the weak willed ditz on his right.  Leave it to the individual audience member to guess which it is.

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