I’ve found I’m the most self-confident after planning how possible scenarios might happen. If X happens, and I’ve planned some counter-offenses, I’m more comfortable than just jumping in. Sometimes, you just need to jump first, then plan mid-jump. If quick-wits aren’t required, build a compelling case using neutral evidence so you’re more likely to win, because if the battle is fought on a hill you’re willing to die on, at least give yourself survival options.
During a 2-week period, I recorded a neighbor’s car alarm going off 7 times:
- 3:09 AM
- 5:43 PM
- 7:00 AM
- 2:51 PM
- 7 minutes after midnight
- 5:11 AM
- 7:00 PM
I informed the city after the fourth time. Two other neighbors watched the car alarm, and I had clearer video evidence placing the car alarm at that specific neighbor’s property. Their response was purely bureaucratic:
I knew the best-case scenario was not throwing any tantrums.
While researching the situation, I collected as much evidence as possible, planning optimal scenarios while disregarding scenarios, and asking people for advice. Some ideas were more creative than practical. The problem was I couldn’t initially pinpoint the alarm’s exact location. Even with video/sound recording, the evidence was subjective.
I caught everything I needed on the 7th video.
Within 30 seconds, I captured clear evidence validating where the sound was coming from, along with the specific make and model of the offending vehicle. Oh, what a rush of potential justice! That feeling of adrenaline is also the worst time to act. You won’t be thinking with a level-head. Instead, calm down first, before you act on your plan.
First, I took a photo of the offending vehicle’s license plate from the street.
Next, I knocked on the neighbor’s door to talk with them. Obviously, they didn’t care about their sleep being interrupted at 3AM or midnight, or they would have fixed the alarm sooner. Instead, I interrupted what they did value: family time. I tried to remain calm, just level-headedly asking that they work on it, and offering to assist if needed.
They said they’d work on the next day, and, I haven’t heard the alarm since!
This was, of course, an easy example with a clear resolution. What if the neighbors weren’t as polite? What if the alarm hadn’t stopped? The nice thing about ‘living in the future’ is that it’s easy to collect empirical evidence in the form of audio/video with timestamps. Photos work well. Even notes outlining what just happened is acceptable.
If I went in with guns ablazin’, it’d just be my word against theirs.
Neatly organized evidence goes a long way to remove the emotion from the argument. Instead of me throwing a tantrum over being woken up from my beauty sleep, it is a problem affecting the quality of life within the neighborhood, which once the bureaucratic machine finally boots up, is actually a legitimate problem they can tackle.
The solution helped reinforce my self-confidence.
Quotes:  Email with bureaucrat’s name redacted.
Inspirations: Recent events