DEAR STEEL ADVICE: You know those bright orange cones used to keep someone from walking on a freshly mopped floor in a store? Everyone knows they mean "caution," "temporarily out of order" or even "keep out." What can be done about a paranoid neighbor who puts them at the front of her driveway every day for no reason? I mean, they have been there for two years or more. This is a lovely neighborhood where everyone maintains their lawns and homes. These orange cones stand out for miles. When asked why she continues to place them on the curb of her drive day after day, the owner said she did not want anyone going on her driveway. (No one ever does.) The township does not have any kind of ordinance prohibiting this. What can the neighborhood do?
-- HAD ENOUGH OF THE CONES
DEAR HAD ENOUGH: The lady loves her cones! She does not need your approval to protect her turf. Don't allow her lack of taste to frustrate you to a point where it festers and gives you a migraine. A neighborhood feud over plastic cones seems petty. Acknowledge the humor in her efforts and be relieved her barricade is not an old kitchen chair laid sideways. If you think of the cones as contemporary yard ornaments they may brighten your day instead of ruining it.
DEAR STEEL ADVICE: If I am invited to a wedding or a birthday or graduation party, etc., and I do not plan on attending, am I expected to give a gift? I always thought if you get an invitation, you give a gift. What is the protocol?
-- TO GIVE OR NOT TO GIVE GIFTS
DEAR TO GIVE OR NOT TO GIVE: If you plan on attending a wedding, you should give a gift. If you are not attending the wedding of a casual acquaintance it is perfectly acceptable to send a card with a small gift. Unfortunately, some brides and grooms view a large guest list as a way to increase the wedding haul so it exceeds the cost of the reception hall.
Graduation announcements seem to have "send me a check" printed in invisible ink at the bottom of the announcement. A note with a gift card is a very nice gesture if you are not attending the graduation party.
Birthday parties for adults are often an excuse to have a party and you are not expected to give a gift if you don't attend the party. If it is a surprise party and you happen to talk to the guest of honor before the event, make sure you remember not to let the cat out of the bag.
Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: email@example.com or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice. First Published August 13, 2013 4:00 AM