Worried Walker

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I know virtually everyone in my neighborhood, at least to say hello to,

because I walk miles each day for my health. There’s a family that

moved in a few years ago with two school-aged children. I watched

them do various landscaping projects and developed a “nice

project/good work” two-minute hello with the mother, who handles the

housely chores (I’ve seen the husband only twice). I’d been off my

pattern for a while (knee surgery). When I passed their house today

the wife had just pulled in. She came over and embraced me, asked

about my health, told me about her projects, blather blather blather,

the whole time smelling, reeking, of alcohol. The children were not in

evidence but I am 100% sure that she was well in her cups as my

mother would have said, in no condition to be behind the wheel. Do I

say something? To her? To her husband? To the police? I’m concerned

for them and for me.

Worried Walker


Dear Worried:

One of my close friends always asks me, when I advise to people to

butt into where they might not be able to affect anything, “But where’s

the authority?” In this case my first instinct was to say, Write a note to

the family’s mailbox. Say you are concerned because you believe that

there’s drinking and driving going on in the household, a household

where children and neighbors might be at risk, as well as the driver

under the influence. There’s risks to this. The note might be

intercepted by the drinking mom. While it might shame her, and might

make her more cautious knowing someone is watching, it might not

impact her behavior. On the other hand, talking to a husband you

don’t know, and with whom you have little or no credibility is unlikely

to have any greater effect. Doing nothing will eat at you and change



Second instinct is to keep an eye out for here and saying something

directly to her. Say you’re very concerned, for her welfare, for her

children, and for your own safety. Tell her that if you ever witness her

driving drunk again you will notify the police. And be very careful when

you walk.