DEAR AMY: My partner and I live in a very nice condominium building where we've lived for almost 20 years.
We've always had friendly relationships with the other people who live in the building, exchanging cordial greetings in the elevator and in the building's gym.
We have always been treated with the utmost respect and friendliness, with never a hint of prejudice or discomfort toward us as a gay couple.
For the first time, we had a very different experience with a neighbor with whom we are not acquainted.
On our way home one evening, we arrived at the elevator in our lobby at the same time as this neighbor.
He abruptly turned and walked away toward the service elevator and said, loudly enough for us to hear, "I'm not riding on the elevator with two gays." Actually, he didn't say "gays" he used a different, offensive word.
We were too shocked to say anything at the time, but we've been very disturbed about it ever since, feeling that we were verbally bashed and disrespected right in our own home.
We aren't sure how to handle this when we see him again in the building — do we confront him and let him know his behavior was offensive?
We don't want to escalate the situation, but doing nothing and accepting the insult doesn't feel right either.
— Bashed Neighbor
DEAR BASHED: You own your living space in the building, and are also a part owner of the common areas of the lobby of the building. Your neighbor was bashing you on your own property.
You should take this to the building manager and inform him or her that this person has made a bigoted and offensive remark to you in the common area.
The building manager might write a letter to the resident, informing him that he was heard to utter a slur and that this is intolerable in the community of your building. The rules governing your condo might have a provision covering offensive speech or behavior.
Reacting to this won't necessarily make the situation escalate; not reacting tells this bully that he can sling slurs and get away with it.
In the future, you should hold your head up, go about your business and assume that this neighbor will continue to use the service elevator, which in my condo building is what they use to transport the trash.
DEAR AMY: I am retired after working in construction for 50-plus years and have acquired a great selection of tools.
If I need a tool that I think I will use frequently, I will simply go buy that tool and have it when I need it again. I do not borrow tools from anyone.
All of my neighbors and friends seem to think these tools are here for their use and are constantly borrowing them. They usually come back either broken, dirty or not returned until I ask for them back.
I've spent hundreds of dollars repairing or replacing lost and damaged equipment.
My wife is at her wits' end because I loan stuff out, and now I've had it too. I don't want to do this anymore.
How can I make it clear to these people that I don't want to loan out my tools anymore without feeling like a creep or causing hard feelings?
— Taken Advantage Of
DEAR TAKEN: This issue is as old as the cross-cut saw.
You simply have to say to neighbors a version of, "Unfortunately, the tools I've lent out over the years have been damaged or lost, so I've decided not to lend them out anymore. And if I do, my wife will kill me."
That last part is gratuitous, but it will probably do the trick.
DEAR AMY: What's the big deal about addressing an older woman as "young lady"?
I don't agree with your assessment that the salutation is patronizing.
I'm 78 years old, and I address any female who looks younger than me as a "young lady."
I find 99.9 percent of the ladies consider it a compliment.
— Dick in Illinois
DEAR DICK: The patronizing part is when you address a woman older than you as "young lady."