Dear Tell All: About a year ago, my neighbors cut down a tree on the borderline between our properties. Ever since then, I’ve had an unimpeded view from my second-floor office to their second-floor bedroom. Given that my computer is right by the window, it’s difficult to avoid seeing what’s happening in their bedroom, especially when it gets dark and their light is on. They usually leave the blinds up, and even when they’re down, they’re not closed very tightly. This has made me an accidental Peeping Tom.
Late in the evening, I often see the wife putting on pajamas or a nightgown. I’d love to say that I avert my eyes every time, but to be honest, I don’t. Up until now, I’ve let myself off the hook by thinking, “What am I supposed to do? They’re the ones who created this situation, not me.” But it’s beginning to nag at my conscience.
My question is: What are my options at this point? I feel like I can’t tell them about the window in a straightforward way — not after a year of semi-voyeurism. They’d wonder why I didn’t say something sooner.
I’d consider having my wife tell them, since it wouldn’t look as bad if she’d been the one who could see through their window. But, for one reason or another, I haven’t told her about this either — also something I’m not proud of.
How do I get out of this predicament?
Dear Wrongdoer: In most situations, I counsel taking the high road and doing the right thing. In this case, it’s way too late for that. As your conscience knows, you should have told your neighbors about the window a year ago. Failing that, you should have closed your own blinds, or at least moved your computer. You need to think long and hard about why you didn’t do that.
But you didn’t ask me how to repair your moral failings — you asked me how to handle this particular situation. And, dammit, you’ve forced me to be as sneaky as you are. Given that you want to preserve good relations with your neighbors, not to mention your wife, you can try writing an anonymous note about the window and putting it in their mailbox. Say that it’s “friendly advice from someone who noticed a private moment through the open blinds while walking down the street.”
I feel sleazy suggesting this course of action, but there aren’t many other options that will allow you to maintain your standing in polite society. After you drop off the anonymous note, I expect you to prove that you are worthy of polite society by never doing anything like this again.
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