education, poor judgment, stupid people, true crime

I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record!

Good morning, y’all… It’s my third Wednesday as a pseudo single person. Bill is supposed to come home sometime between tomorrow night and Friday night. Originally, the plan was for him to come back Friday night, but he needs to get a new ID card or he can’t work. Our cards expire on the 23rd, even though we just updated them in September. Bill is now on a new contract and that means new cards. Come to think of it, before long, I’ll also need a new regular military ID– the one I’d use in the USA if we were there.

In any case, Bill tried to get a new card made at an installation somewhat close to where he is right now, but that office ran out of ID cards on the day he was going to go. The other ID office near his current location is closed until the 29th. So then Bill said maybe he’d come home on Thursday night and get new cards made in Wiesbaden. I assume he’d be taking me, too, since I also need a new card, not that I spend any time on the installation during the COVID-19 mess. But then last night, he said getting one in Wiesbaden is also not possible. So now he says he will try to get one in Hohenfels, which was his original plan. Maybe they have a restock of IDs by now. If he does that, he says maybe he’ll be home Friday morning. That would be good.

It occurs to me how lucky we are to like each other so much. Yes, we love each other, but we also LIKE each other a lot. And we miss each other when we aren’t together. Bill’s business trips are boring for both of us. Sometimes I go with him, but then I end up hanging out by myself all day in a hotel room or wandering aimlessly. I am actually glad I got to go with him to Poland in November 2019, though. That was a pretty interesting trip. It would have been even better if we could have driven ourselves there rather than flown.

Anyway… on to today’s topic. I cannot, for the life of me, understand the mentality of some people– mothers especially– who feel the need to commit crimes on behalf of their children. Especially crimes that are more about their egos than preserving life or limb. I mean, I can understand a woman going all “mama bear” on someone who literally threatens or hurts her child somehow. But what about the moms who feel like they need to engage in fraud, harassment, or computer crimes to make sure her little darling(s) is/are on top of the heap? We’ve spent the last two years hearing about Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin committing fraud and cheating to get their daughters into good schools. But more ordinary moms of more modest means also commit these crimes on behalf of their children.

I ran across two such stories yesterday involving meddlesome moms who are now in legal trouble because they couldn’t or wouldn’t let their daughters achieve things on their own. In one case, the mom and daughter were both involved and BOTH of them got arrested. I’m sure that will look good on the girl’s permanent record.

Case #1

Meet Raffaela Spone, a 50 year old mom from Chalfont, Pennsylvania. She is currently facing misdemeanor charges for producing “deep fake” nudes of her daughters’ rivals on her high school cheerleading team. Ms. Spone was arrested on March 5, having been charged with three counts of cyber harassment of a child and three counts of harassment. In her mug shot, she stares blank faced at the camera, her heavily lined eyes glaring, her thin, maroon lips pursed into a line. She wears a chartreuse colored top and a necklace, indicating that fashion and looking snappy is important to her.

Ms. Spone allegedly doctored photos of her daughters’ rivals on a Doylestown area cheerleading team, creating realistic looking images that make it look like the girls were photographed nude, vaping, or drinking beer in bikinis. She sent these fake photos to cheerleading coaches in an effort to get the girls kicked off their team. She also texted the photos to the girls themselves and suggested that at least one of them should kill herself. The three victimized girls were all on the same team as Spone’s daughter, but investigators don’t think she had anything to do with the harassment or was aware of what her mother was doing.

A case like this has all the trappings of a Lifetime movie. In fact, back in the 1993, HBO made a satirical movie about Wanda Holloway, a mother in Texas who actually hired a hitman to kill her daughter’s cheerleading rival. Fortunately, the would be hitman turned Wanda in and the plot failed. In that film rendition, The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, Holly Hunter played Wanda Holloway. In 1992, ABC also made a movie about Wanda Holloway, Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story, with Lesley Ann Warren playing Wanda. I haven’t seen either film. Maybe I’ll seek them out today.

I wonder if Raffaela Spone thinks someone might portray her on film someday. I’m sure Lifetime would be all over it. At least in this case, no one was physically hurt and murder was never on the table. If she is convicted, Raffaela Spone could spend six months to a year in prison. Mitigating matters is the fact that in one of the doctored photos that was supposed to appear to be a nude, Spone had digitally removed the bikini in the photo and overlaid flesh colored bars that gave the photo a “Barbie doll” effect, with no genitalia showing. Had anything private been showing, Spone would be facing much more serious charges.

Meanwhile, I’m sure everyone in their town now knows who Spone’s daughter is, even though she wasn’t implicated in the case. In her quest to cheat for her daughter, Spone has made things much worse for her. Even though the daughter wasn’t involved, her permanent record now has a blight. Hopefully, the people of that community are empathetic. I can only imagine Spone is probably a nightmare when she’s behind closed doors, particularly if she’s willing to go to these lengths to cheat for her daughter.

Case #2

We now move south to Florida, where a 17 year old high school student and her mother, Laura Rose Carroll, who also happens to be an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School, have been arrested for hacking the school’s computer system. Ms. Carroll is alleged to have logged into the school’s computer system and casted 246 votes for her daughter, who was on the Homecoming Court. Ms. Carroll’s efforts, had they not been discovered, would have resulted in her daughter winning the contest under false pretenses.

The list of charges against Laura Rose Carroll and her daughter is long. According to The Hill, “the mother and daughter will be charged with offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, and electronic devices, unlawful use of a two-way communications device, criminal use of personally identifiable information and conspiracy to commit these offenses.” Arrest records also indicate that Ms. Carroll’s daughter also had improper access to her mother’s “FOCUS” account. I’m assuming that FOCUS is some kind of school computer system that has all of the permanent records of the students in the school system. Naturally, that would include personal information that should not be accessible to anyone who doesn’t specifically need access to such personal and confidential information. A witness claims that the daughter had access to the FOCUS account for a long time and use it frequently to get information about test scores and grades. The daughter also allegedly divulged private information about other students to her friends.

Given who Ms. Carroll is, it’s highly likely that everyone knows who her daughter is, despite her name not being printed in the media due to her age. Not knowing anything at all about this duo and not finding the news articles about them particularly illuminating, I wonder what the conditions were that led to this mother-daughter crime spree. Which one of them is the more toxically ambitious of the two? Is it mom who wants to see her daughter crowned in a means to stroke her own ego and, perhaps, vicariously live through her daughter’s achievements, even if they were ill gotten? Or is it the daughter who convinced her mother to help her cheat? It will be interesting to see if the media reveals any more details about this case.

I suspect Ms. Carroll is now unemployed. If she’s not unemployed yet, she probably will be very soon. Her bond was set at $8500, while her daughter was carted off to juvenile hall. I wonder if it was worth it to them.

These cases make me appreciate my mom more. I mean, hell, my mom won a beauty contest when she was 16 years old. I’m sure she would have loved it if I had been pretty and popular instead of outspoken and obnoxious. Fortunately, my mom is not ambitious for anyone but herself, and she pretty much stayed out of my life once I was at puberty. She stuck to paying the bills and encouraging me to get a job and GTFO on my own. She sure as hell wasn’t involved in my horse shows, which was what I was doing when I was a teen. She didn’t even look at my report cards. At the time, I thought that made her uncaring, but now I think she did me a solid. Anything I achieved, I did so legitimately and mostly on my own. At least neither of us were ever arrested for cheating or harassment or any other embarrassing misdeed that would have wound up on my permanent record. I have the satisfaction of knowing I can do things on my own… which I’ve been unhappily proving for almost three weeks now.

On another note… for some reason, as I type this, I am reminded of this classic song by Violent Femmes… the album this song comes from never ages, even though the lead singer can’t sing. What he has is vocal charisma. I’m sure it’s served him well over the years.

“I hope you know that this will go down on your PERMANENT RECORD!” Oh yeah?
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true crime, videos

What went down at Chipotle the other day…

Yesterday, I read about a white Michigan couple who were basically bullbaited in the parking lot at Chipotle Grill. By now, you’ve probably seen the scary pictures and video involving Jillian Wuestenberg, 32, and Eric Wuestenberg, 42, both of whom were arrested on Wednesday of this week because Ms. Wuestenberg aimed a handgun at a black woman and her daughters. When I saw the headlines, I inwardly sighed to myself, because it looked like yet another example of middle-aged white women behaving badly toward people of color.

I have never made it a secret that I don’t like call out culture, nor do I think it’s right to ruin people’s lives over what they say and do in altercations on the street. I will grant that a lot of the time, the altercations that get filmed and disseminated do make the “almost always” middle-aged white women look bad. However, that’s just a sliver of a person’s life, and I don’t think it’s right for the public, 99.9% of whom were not there to see the incident themselves, to play judge, jury, and executioner for other people’s lives. They almost never have all of the necessary facts to make such a judgment, and it’s almost always colored by their own opinions.

The longer I live in Germany, the more I appreciate that over here, you have the right to be forgotten. In fact, here, the names and identities of criminals are largely protected. They don’t publish the full names of people in trouble with the law, and when they take photos, their faces are usually covered. Privacy is very important. While I can understand the satisfaction many people feel when people are “outed” for behaving badly, I also think people should have the right to redeem themselves. And I especially think that should happen in this case of egregious baiting that led to people getting fired and being arrested.

In the uncensored video, we hear a very upset black woman yelling at a white woman, Jillian Wuestenberg. Apparently, Ms. Wuestenberg bumped into Takelia Hill’s daughter and didn’t apologize. That part of the incident wasn’t recorded, so we have to take them at their word that’s what happened. Hill claims that Ms. Wuestenberg not only didn’t apologize, but she “cursed” out her teenaged daughter. If that happened, it shouldn’t have. Ms. Wuestenberg should have simply said “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me” and moved on with her day. That would have been the polite thing to do. However, people bump into people all the time, and they aren’t always polite. Most reasonable people simply go ahead with their day, even if there isn’t an apology when someone does something rude. That is clearly not what happened in this situation.

Evidently, because Ms. Wuestenberg didn’t apologize to Ms. Hill’s satisfaction, she deserved a hostile confrontation in a parking lot. We can see and hear Takelia Hill loudly and and aggressively confronting this couple over the slight. It’s plain to me in this video that this couple repeatedly tried to get out of the situation and deescalate it. At 1:12, I even heard Jillian Wuestenberg repeatedly say, “I care about you.” to Ms. Hill, and she also apologized that Hill had evidently experienced an incident that has made her feel “like that”. But Hill continues to verbally harass her, doesn’t lower her voice, back away, or calm down, so Jillian also says, “You can’t go around calling white people racist.” Why she didn’t just roll up her window at that point and drive away, I don’t know.

Jillian’s husband, Eric Wuestenberg, eventually tries to intervene. Hill then threatens Eric, saying she’ll “beat [his] white ass, too”. He responds by asking Hill who the fuck they think they are, which I can hardly fault him for doing, given the extremely hostile tone of everyone involved in this ridiculous incident. The confrontation continues to worsen, with both women yelling at each other. I’m reminded of animals who are attacked and harassed to the point of snapping. The couple tries to leave the parking lot, but Hill gets behind their vehicle and hits it with her hand.

And that’s when Jillian Wuestenberg took the unfortunate next step, which was to get out of her car, scream at Ms. Hill, advance toward her, pull out a handgun, and aim it at Hill, who doesn’t sound at all like she’s frightened. I hear Ms. Hill’s daughters screaming in fear, and I can see on Jillian Wuestenberg’s face that she’s scared and angry. She’s probably humiliated and furious, and it looks like she might also be pregnant, which could have affected her behavior. I do not at all condone Jillian Wuestenberg’s use of a handgun in this incident. She is clearly guilty of a crime. Watching it unfold as someone who is not involved, I can easily think of other things she could have done instead of pulling out a gun. I think it would have been much better if she’d simply rolled up her window and sat in the car to wait for the cops to arrive, since the parties called the police on each other.

However, I also don’t think Takelia Hill is at all innocent in this fiasco. She deliberately provoked the Wuestenbergs into reacting by screaming in their faces, threatening them, and striking their car. And while I understand that black people have historically and repeatedly been harassed and arrested and provoked, too, this is not the way to make that problem go away. Two wrongs don’t make a right. There’s no reason why this situation should have gotten to the point of people getting arrested and losing employment. I get that people are tense and angry right now, for a lot of reasons. But the jails don’t need more people in them. The court system doesn’t need more cases to try. And someone really could have gotten hurt or even killed over a mundane thing that happens to people every day. There’s no reason why this situation had to escalate to verbal abuse and threats with a firearm.

Jillian Wuestenberg and her husband were legally permitted to carry the weapons they had, although they had to give them up after they were arrested and charged with felonious assault. Mr. Wuestenberg was fired from his job at Oakland University. All they wanted was some food from Chipotle! What a shame it is that they had to literally run into people who seem hellbent on creating a situation that grants them fifteen minutes of fame. This is yet another endorsement for staying the fuck at home!

What I found even more disturbing, though, besides the awful comments from people who clearly didn’t watch the whole, unedited video, was that the Wuestenbergs have already been doxed. Just a simple Google search turns up a Web site where their private information has been made public. In fact, they even include passwords for the couple’s email accounts. The reason given?

Reasoning : Aiming a gun at blacks for no fucking reason justice they shall serve

How in the hell is that LEGAL? That site should be taken down and the people running it should be sued! Watch the video. Was pulling out a gun an overreaction? Yes, it was. But it was a long time coming and certainly not without provocation. I wouldn’t say she pulled out the gun for “no fucking reason”. Jillian Wuestenberg probably did feel threatened and may have been on the verge of an anxiety attack at that point. I’m sure her fight or flight response was fully engaged.

We have a court system for a reason, folks. It’s not for the public to be the judge, jury, and executioner of everyday citizens who bump into each other and don’t apologize. I think the charges against this couple should either be reduced or dropped. I also think Takelia Hill should be brought up on charges for harassment. She’s at least as much to blame as the Wuestenbergs for the fact that this happened. And it’s not like the police don’t have better things to be doing with their time than breaking up these kinds of squabbles.

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Ex, musings

On not being “nice”…

This morning, I was reading a post that I put on my original blog back in 2017. It was basically a top ten list of things that annoy me. I wrote it at a time when I was experiencing a lot of personal angst, which I explained after my vent. At the time, we were contemplating a move to Italy. Bill was asked to take a government job in Vicenza, but taking the position would mean significant inconvenience and a large pay cut. However, we both love Italy and it was an excellent career opportunity for Bill. Also, it would mean he’d have the chance to be a leader again and assume real responsibility. I think not having the ability to make decisions is a challenge for Bill, although it seems like that’s less of a problem now than it was a few years ago.

I was upset about the potential disruption, and feeling totally out of control of my life, so little things were irritating me more than usual. I vented about them in a way that probably made me look like a foul-mouthed, irrational nutcase. That’s my way of blowing off steam, and I do it often. If I had a therapist or a bunch of local friends, I might have vented to them. I don’t have those things, so I vented in my blog. Maybe that post and others like it aren’t “nice”, but writing them keep me sane and probably make some people laugh.

Anyway, as I was reading my top ten list, it occurred to me that some people read my stuff and probably think I’m a massive bitch. And, you know what? They might even be right. I’m not always “nice”. I admit it.

My husband, Bill, on the other hand, is almost always “nice”. He’s a very even-tempered, kind-hearted guy who very rarely gets upset. He almost never raises his voice and I could probably count on both hands the number of times he’s been visibly annoyed with me in the course of almost 17 years of marriage. Bill is naturally a very pleasant person, but he also places a high value on being liked. Unfortunately, always wanting to be liked isn’t always a good thing.

Last year, I got a pissy comment from one reader who tried to advise me on what and how I should be writing. She complained that I wrote “inappropriate” and TMI things, and that I came off as bitter and petty. She’s probably right, although she doesn’t know me from Adam and hadn’t taken the time to understand the context of why I write what I do.

I suspect she felt attacked because of some comments I made about my husband’s ex wife. She is herself a first wife, and I think she assumed I’m “crazy”, because she feels mistreated by her ex husband and his wife. I have a feeling she was projecting her situation onto ours, and assuming that I’m just a mean, nasty person without considering that our situations and the people involved are completely different. I’m sure a lot of people have read my comments about my husband’s ex wife and think I’m the whole problem. I can understand that, even though those people are wrong.

Sometimes nice people aren’t so nice. I’d rather people be kind, instead.

I’m not always “nice”, but I don’t go out of my way to screw people over, nor do I typically lie about major things. I may express unpleasant or unpopular opinions, but that’s pretty much all I do. My husband’s ex wife, on the other hand, has actively tried to ruin his family relationships, not just with his children, but also with his parents. She also tried to ruin him financially. Of course I’m pissed about that, although she was unsuccessful. I’m much less angry with the ex now, by the way. Now that one of Bill’s daughters is finally talking to him again, I find that I care a whole lot less about the ex.

One of the reasons Bill and I get along so well is because we balance each other out. I’m not always “nice”, but I usually try to be kind. People who get to know me soon find out that I have a big heart and empathy for other people. However, I have a low tolerance for annoyance and bullshit, and I tend to deal with it by expressing myself in writing. For a long time, that was okay, as very few people paid attention to the things I wrote. Now that I’ve become somewhat better known, people read stuff and jump to erroneous conclusions about my character. I totally understand that. I think we all do that to some extent. Everybody judges, since exercising judgment is one way to stay out of trouble. On the other hand, sometimes being judgmental leads to problems, particularly when that judgment is coupled with a lack of empathy.

I recently shut down public access to a couple of my older blogs. One of the blogs I cut off free access to is the travel blog, which I know has been useful and entertaining for a lot of people. Many of my regular readers are folks in the government or military community who are either already in Europe or are considering moving here. However, I also have a whole lot of readers from Cruise Critic, because I wrote a couple of very well-received blog series about Hebridean Island Cruises, a niche luxury cruise line that is not often sailed by Americans. Bill and I will soon be taking our fifth cruise with them, so people seek my blogs to read about our experiences in Scotland on a very unusual luxury vessel. If I had left access to the travel blog open, some people would want to read about our experience buying our new car directly from the Volvo factory in Sweden.

Unfortunately, I’ve been experiencing harassment from people who are interested in causing trouble for me. I won’t go into the reasons why they are harassing me. I suspect they feel completely justified, because they don’t think I’m a “nice” person and, because of that, they don’t think I’m entitled to privacy or freedom of expression, nor should I feel free to assert my basic rights.

I also think some people have the erroneous idea that I write to be popular. That’s not true at all. I’ve been a writer my whole life and I mainly do it to stay sane. Bill says writing is my “vocation”. I suppose he’s right, although I think music is even more my vocation than writing is. I am not writing for money or fame, but because it’s simply what I do.

Some people think I’m a no talent hack… or that I’m spewing nothing but nonsense or hatred or whatever. They are usually folks who read a few posts and jump to a conclusion. I know for a fact that I have plenty of regular readers who have gotten to know me beyond a couple of irate, profane, venting posts. Some people are also folks who know me offline and have actually taken the time and made the effort to get to know me personally, rather than just judging me. I write mostly for myself, but I also write for those people. They get it.

A couple of days ago, I proposed deleting my Facebook page for this blog. I have a few reasons for making that proposal. I don’t actually use the page that much for anything more than posting links to blog posts. A lot of the people who officially follow the page are my friends anyway, so they can see the links on my personal page. I was getting “likes” from creepy spammer profiles and was having a hard time finding out how to ban them from my page (I did discover how yesterday). But the main issue is that the page is wide open and allows people to monitor me without making their presence known. As I mentioned before, I know there are people who want to cause trouble for me, so I don’t want to make it any easier for them.

I was gratified to see comments from people who like what I do. It’s good to know that some people enjoy my writing and aren’t “out to get me”. I appreciate those who care enough to comment and want to read my stuff, even if it means “joining the club”. I hope that will be a temporary thing, since I’m now considering moving the travel blog, just as I did my original blog. It’s time for a more professional and secure platform than Blogger, anyway.

Although some people don’t think writing is a good use of my time and think these blogs are stupid, they do give me something to do. I know I could probably find something more “socially acceptable” to do with my time, but the fact is, I LIKE writing, and I’m good at it. I know I have written a lot of good stuff, even if I’ve also vented a few times and used language that would make a sailor blush. Nobody’s perfect. Aside from that, how I spend my time is my business. It’s my life.

I try to maintain perspective as much as possible, but I’ve found that being too “nice” and eager to please other people doesn’t always lead to fair treatment or equity. The fact is, a lot of people take advantage of “nice” people, especially when there’s money at stake. My husband is extremely nice, so I’m less so. It’s self-preservation. And… again, being nice is not the same as being kind or decent. A nice person isn’t always kind or genuine. Plenty of people have been taken advantage of by people who seem really nice… at least at first. I’ve learned that the hard way. You might not think I’m “nice”, but I promise you, I’m capable of being fair and seeing multiple perspectives, particularly if I am approached with basic respect. I’m also genuine. In fact, that’s one thing people who have gotten to know me have said they like best about me. You’ll always know where you stand with me.

Sometimes, people take advantage of Bill’s desire to please other people. It’s happened to him repeatedly, and I can’t bear to see it happen again. Rolling over may seem to be the easy thing to do in the face of confrontation, but it always comes back to haunt him. I think recurrent problems are karma’s way of showing you that you have to deal with an issue. Bill has turned the other cheek so many times and it never gets him where he should be. In fact, it only encourages more abuse. Sometimes, you just have to take a stand.

I mostly don’t write for money and consider my blogs my “home”. If I’m in my home and notice people casing the neighborhood, of course I’m going to take precautions to make my home more secure. So, for now, making some of my blogs private is one way to increase security and discourage harassment, abuse, and stalking behavior. But I do hate to do it… I won’t lie. It’s a pain in the ass to lock things down and, frankly, I don’t feel like I should have to, because I truly haven’t done anything wrong or unprovoked. And I’d rather not delete the Facebook page if people truly like it, even if a closed group would allow for more privacy. I’m not sure what else to do, to be honest.

I will keep writing, though, even if it means I go totally underground. So if you’re reading this thinking you’ve stopped me, think again. I’m going to keep doing what I do, even if I change the way I do things.

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Neighbors, psychology

The neighbor from HELL!

Yesterday, I was on Toytown Germany, an English speaking forum for expats. I used to read it all the time when we lived in Germany the first time. Those were the days before Facebook, and I found it had a wealth of information for English speaking non-Germans. I still like reading it sometimes, because a lot of the people who use that forum are from Europe and aren’t affiliated with the U.S. military. They offer interesting perspectives and insights that my countrymen can’t deliver.

A little mood music for this post…

So anyway, I came across an interesting thread from 2011. A woman calling herself Gutgenug was living in Hesse, in a town called Heppenheim. Her husband was in the Army and she worked for the Army herself, at an installation that has since closed. Gutgenug’s story was an amazing one… and she had a few skeptics in her midst. I must say, having lived in Germany for awhile, I believe what she writes. I especially believe that she works for the Army because she has mastered the Army writing style.

Back in November 2011, Gutgenug wrote that her next door neighbor was suing her because she used incense in her house. This man, who, along with his wife, was a chain smoker, claimed that the incense was “offensive” to him. He also didn’t like that she was using candles in her house. He called the police on her several times a week. The police would come over and talk to her. When she later called the police on him, they would hang up on her. She got so freaked out that she had anxiety attacks and didn’t even want to leave her house.

Now… this would be bad enough, but over the weeks of her very long thread, she described increasingly bizarre harassment from this man. She claimed he set up an industrial sized fan, which he aimed at her house and ran for hours. She even shared a picture of the fan, the kind of equipment one uses to quickly dry paint or carpeting. She wrote that he climbed their fence and took down her windchimes. According to Gutgenug, he would purposely block them in their driveway and surveil them as they went about their daily business.

I started thinking about all of the neighbors we’ve had over the years. Some of them were annoying. I’m sure we’ve annoyed people, too. I have never encountered anyone quite as psycho as this lady’s neighbor was. I kind of hope some of what she wrote is made up… because just reading about some of his tactics was raising my blood pressure. It’s hard to believe that the local police would do nothing to help her, either. According to her, she actually had to call someone at the Army installation in a position of high authority. That person had connections with the German police and they had to go jerk a knot in the people running her local police department.

As the matter continued to escalate, the neighbor brought criminal charges against Gutgenug for filming him. She was actually filming the fan he kept aiming at her house, but he was apparently in the film and evidently, that’s against the law. He allegedly told her she and her husband should go back to America, since Germans didn’t want us here. And he supposedly is “better” at using the law to harass people, so she should just give up and leave.

Later, it came out that her landlord used to be friends with the neighbor. They are both handymen and now compete for business. Some people speculated that perhaps the neighbor was getting back at the landlord by driving out his tenants. By the end of the thread, it was revealed that the guy had driven several other families out using the same tactics and the local police reportedly didn’t care.

As interesting as the story was, I was even more intrigued by the solutions people came up with, a lot of which included their own stories about Nachbarkrieg (neighbor wars). One lady wrote about how one of her neighbors had committed Ausländer Unfreundlichkeit by calling her “Ausländer Schwein” (foreign pig). It’s against the law to insult people in Germany. The neighbor also called the police on her for having people over on a Sunday. When she opened the door to the police, she wrote that she almost fainted, because she was afraid something had happened to her kids. Actually, it was just the neighbor harassing her for having company that was too “loud” on Sunday. When the woman’s German husband went to mediation, the insult was brought up and the neighbor was quickly shamed for resorting to personal attacks. In the end, everything was settled amicably, and the troublesome neighbor moved away.

ZZ Top also does a version… it’s a bit different. Bill went to the same high school Billy Gibbons did, though not at the same time.

Another person suggested screaming at the guy in English. As tempting as that sounds, it also sounds like the kind of tactic that only works if the other person is in their right mind. It sounded to me like this woman’s neighbor, if he was the way she described, was not quite sane. He seemed to have a lot of time on his hands, as well as the imagination on how to creatively drive someone up a wall. And one guy suggested finding a large person to beat the living fuck out of the guy. Of course, he also mentioned that taking that approach might make the legal issues even worse.

Complicating matters for Gutgenug is that she was raised in an abusive environment. Having been brought up by an abuser, she has issues with anxiety and is passive. I got the sense, having read her post, that she may have served in the military herself. I would imagine that if she was, in fact, a veteran, she probably had some trouble with the job. I don’t know this from personal experience, but I think it would be difficult for a woman to climb the ranks if assertiveness is an issue. Also, I was a little surprised that if she had all of these anxiety issues, the Army let her come to Germany in the first place. Before people in the military are assigned overseas and allowed to bring their families, they usually have to go through EFMP screening. EFMP stands for the Exceptional Family Member Program, and it’s intended to identify people with special healthcare or educational needs so that they don’t get sent someplace where their needs can’t be met.

I had to undergo that screening myself the first time we moved to Germany and, because I had been treated for depression and asthma, was forced to join the program. Fortunately, my husband’s command didn’t have a problem with it and it was a non-issue for us, but I know other people have had assignments cancelled over EFMP issues. It sounds to me like Gutgenug’s problems, if known to the Army, would definitely warrant being put in the EFMP. I ranted about my own experience with EFMP. But anyway… I have also learned that in the military, when it comes to things like EFMP, a lot comes down to who you know, who you are, and who can “unfuck” things for you.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about German passive aggressiveness. That post is mostly about a couple of recent legal cases within Germany that involved two different men who were covertly trying to kill people. One man was a handyman who had issues with his neighbor and booby trapped her firewood. Another was a guy who just wanted to see what would happen if he poisoned his co-worker’s lunch. Although there are not nearly as many weapons here as there are in the United States (where the harassing neighbor guy might have been shot for his shenanigans), it’s easy to see that pissing someone off in Germany can lead to repercussions that may be just as sinister as being blown away.

In any case, it looks like Gutgenug eventually went back to the States. Her landlord was placed on the “no-referral” blacklist, and the housing office was no longer allowed to refer Americans to his home. It made me kind of sad to read Gutgenug’s story. I really enjoy living in Germany, for the most part. Yes, I’ve run into some true assholes here, but none any worse than people I’ve met in my homeland. And among the assholes are many wonderful people who are helpful and kind. It’s hard to be so far from home and, I’m sure, being in a foreign country where you can’t speak the language fluently and the natives are doing their best to mess with you, is extremely stressful. Life is short and no one has the time for that. If it had been me, I probably would have just moved out, but if Gutgenug’s story is for real, then it does at least sound like the situation was dealt with at last. Kudos to her for that. Not everyone has the courage or ability to fight back in these situations.

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