car alarm keeps disrupting our office, coworker is blocking me from work, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. A car alarm is disrupting our office many times per hour

My office is small, one story, and located on a relatively busy street. There is a car that parks along the street directly in front our our building, and this car has a VERY sensitive car alarm. This has always been an issue since I started here, almost three years ago. The owner of said car previously used to have a car where the alarm system blared every single time a car would zip by. It didn’t matter if it was a smart car or a 4×4 lifted diesel truck, that alarm would go off. Every. Single. Time. Now, she has a different car, with an even more obnoxious car alarm. Sometimes it takes her 2-5 minutes to walk outside the building and turn it off, and it often happens nearly every 5-10 minutes. This is maddening. We are unable to hear clients on phone calls and unable to focus on work because her car alarm is blaring for what seems like hours, every 10 minutes. It is so bad, we have two clients that refuse to meet in our office, which is an issue because of the nature of our work.

The reason that we don’t know what to do is that this car does not belong to one of our employees. It belongs to someone in the next door office. I have suggested calling next door and requesting the employee park across the street in the communal lot, rather than right outside our front door, thinking that if it is located in the lot, it won’t be triggered by street noises. This was shut down because they don’t want to cause any hostile tensions between us and that company. They also believe this will come off as controlling. I have also suggested writing a friendly note and leaving it on her car, letting her know her car alarm is very disruptive to our business and the others on the street. This was also called too aggressive (which, who cares at this point). Aside from it being disruptive and giving me regular headaches, I am positive that this has to be annoying for the owner too. Having to get up from your desk to turn off your car alarm every 5-10 minutes has got to be disruptive and aggravating to her too, so I am really at a loss as to why she even wants to park there knowing she is gonna be pulled away from her desk to turn off the alarm. Do you or your readers have any suggestions?

P.S. I decided to track the alarm and how long it blasts each time it goes off. In the last 49 minutes, her car alarm has gone off seven times. Since it takes her so long to turn off the alarm, the alarm has been blasting for a combined 28 minutes. I am losing it.

Good lord, how is this woman okay with going outside leaving seven times in an hour to turn a car alarm? How is her employer okay with it? I do not understand this situation.

In any case, leave the note. You don’t need your employer’s permission to leave the note, as long as you don’t identify your company in it. Leave a note saying you work nearby, the alarm is giving you headaches and driving away clients, and beg her to disable the alarm (which clearly isn’t serving any function at this point) or try parking in the lot. That said, this is not someone who is governed by logic, so the note may make no difference.

Your other, and perhaps better, option is to report it to your local police. Many cities will cite car owners whose alarms go off too frequently.

2. My coworker is blocking me from work a senior manager asked me to help her with

I’m fairly new to my job doing administrative work at a large company. Recently, a senior-level manager (Sara) asked if I could help another admin (Mary) catch up on some of the work she was behind on for a C-suite executive. I responded that I was happy to help and reached out to the Mary to get the details and formulate a plan. Honestly, I was flattered and excited that I would be helping out an exec!

For a bit of context, I have a great working relationship and a budding friendship with Mary. Upon my initial outreach, Mary agreed to send along some materials that I could help with and did so, however I’m limited in how much I can help without more information. I did but I could, but told Mary I’d probably need more and she agreed, but expressed that it was really more work for her to share info with me. I offered to sit with her so that she’s not sending me info, but rather we can work together to speed up the process and be there together to field questions but she didn’t go for the idea. I feel like I’ve tried everything to be helpful, but Mary doesn’t want to put in the up-front work in order to share her load. I know she’s open to help and it’s not a matter of controlling the situation, it’s like she’s too unorganized to make this process easier.

Now, Sara is asking why we’re not getting the work done and what’s taking so long. For now, I’ve let Mary respond to these emails and say “we’re working on it” and “(my name) has been a great help,” even though I haven’t because she’s making it impossible for me to help! I don’t want this to reflect poorly on my work ethic and I don’t want to throw Mary under the bus. There’s a chance that nothing will come of this and I’ll never be asked directly about how involved I’ve been thus far, but as a new employee I want to impress senior leaders, not shy away from stepping up like this. Is there anything I can do here? Or do I just let this pass and hope I can impress her next time?

You need to let Sara know what’s going on. She specifically asked you to do some of this work and needs to know that it’s not happening — especially since it sounds like Mary is letting her go on thinking you’re doing work that you’re not doing. If the real situation comes out at some point, you’re going to look like you were complicit in Mary’s lie and that’s not good.

Reply to Sara and say, “I was able to do XYZ on this project, but after that Mary felt it would be more work for her to relay the information I’d need to assist her further — so since Tuesday, I’ve been sitting it out. But I’d be glad to keep helping if Mary wants to pull me back in!” This is not about throwing Mary under the bus; this is about updating Sara on work that she asked you to do and is now checking in on.

You can also say to Mary, “I need to let Sara know that I’m not working on this since it sounds like she thinks I am” so that she’s not blindsided when Sara asks her about it.

3. Can I ask if I’m going to be laid off?

Is it okay to ask if you might get laid off? My job is entering a slow period that’s projected to last for a year, so I’m terrified that I’ll get laid off, considering that I have very niche skills that make it so I can’t just be transferred to another role in the meantime. And if it is okay to proactively ask, how on earth do I go about doing that — just come out and as, “Hey, am I about to get laid off”?

The problem with asking is that if they say no, you can’t really believe that answer. Your manager may not think you’re going to get laid off, but then it happens anyway. Or they may know it could happen but aren’t allowed to say that. Some people have been told their jobs are safe hours before they get laid off. As a general rule, companies do not want to announce layoffs until they’re actually happening, for fear of causing rumors and panic and losing people they wanted to retain.

What would be more useful would be to talk to your manager about how you can be useful and productive during this slow period, and to come up with your own proposals of things you could work on. Or if it seems really clear to you that there just won’t be anything, then you can say something like, “Could you talk about the plans for my role during the next year while this project is slowing down?” (You might worry that’ll call your manager’s attention to the fact that you don’t have much to do, but it’s very unlikely she won’t notice that on her own, and meanwhile you’ll get the peace of mind of actually discussing it.)

4. Can I tell my references I turned down a job where they vouched for me?

I’ve been job hunting for a few months. I recently reached the final stages of two hiring processes, and gave my references a heads-up they might be contacted by two places. One organization moved quickly and gave me an offer. After a lot of soul searching, I turned them down. (It was objectively not a good fit for me, and I was really excited about the second place.) I’m still in the running for the second organization, but their timeline is a little slower and I probably won’t hear back from them for at least another week. I’m optimistic, but of course anything could happen. I don’t think they’ve contacted my references yet.

I know I need to follow up with my references. One of them emailed me asking how it all turned out. I hate not responding for 2+ weeks, or worse, not responding for a while, then following up to let them know another reference request might be coming from the second organization. That feels really transactional!

Is it okay to tell them I turned down the job? Does that seem entitled? I shouldn’t lie and say they turned me down, right? Or should I just wait until I have something definite to tell them about the second organization?

Tell them you turned down the job! It doesn’t seem in the least entitled. People get to turn down job offers for all sorts of reasons — they couldn’t come to an agreement about pay, or the health insurance was ridiculously overpriced or non-existent, or the job just wasn’t right for you, or so forth. Receiving an offer in no way obligates you to take it. And you haven’t wasted your references’ time when you turn down an offer; sometimes you don’t know whether or not you’ll take an offer until you actually get it and can consider the details.

So respond to that reference (do not leave her hanging!) and say, “I did end up receiving an offer from Company A. Ultimately I ended up turning it down; after a lot of soul searching and reflecting on what I learned in the hiring process, I realized it just wasn’t the right fit for me. But I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with them, and I’m hoping to find a stronger match soon.”

If you turn down a bunch of offers for not being the right fit (as opposed to not being able to come to terms on salary, or the job offered being different from the one you interviewed for, or something else you couldn’t have known until seeing the offer), your references could start wondering why you’re not being more thoughtful about these jobs before they get all the way to the offer stage. But that’s not going to happen with just one instance of it.

5. Does this email mean I’m going to get rejected?

So you have a phone screening for a job. Then you go in for an interview. You meet three people. You feel good about how you did. Then the following week you get an email saying, “Thanks for coming in, we’re going to make our decision at the end of this week.” Is this a formal brush off? Should I expect an email telling me I didn’t get the job?

It means “thanks for coming in and we’re hoping to make a decision by the end of the week.”

There is no code here. Those words mean what you’d assume they meant in any other context.

{ 565 comments… read them below }

  1. namelesscommentator*

    Shift the problem to the people responsible :

    1. The car owner for shutting off the alarm. I would, politely, walk over every time the alarm goes off asking her to handle it. Half an hour of this might help her realize this is a problem. Right now it’s unclear if anyone has told her this is inappropriate. (Not that you should have to be told, but if it’s been going on without comment for however many months … of course she thinks it’s fine).

    2. Your employers to provide you a functional workplace. Ask for sound-proofing, headphones, rented space elsewhere to meet with clients. Don’t ask them to turn off the alarm, but do ask them to provide a quiet workspace. They might become much more willing to mention the alarm to the other company when the other solution would be soundproofing.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      OP’s boss’s logic is maddening. Talking with the other office can’t cause hostile tension, because hostile tension is already there. This is definitely a case of return awkward to sender.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        Oh but this is a common problem. Oftentimes the people who are pointing out a problem are labeled as the problematic ones. It’s maddening.

          1. wendelenn*

            For the people all said, Sit down
            Sit down, you’re rockin’ the boat
            People all said, Sit down
            Sit down, you’re rockin’ the boat

            And the Devil will drag you under
            By the sharp lapel of your checkered coat
            Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down
            Sit down you’re rockin’ the boat

            1. City Planner*

              And as I laughed at those passengers to heaven
              A great big wave came and washed me overboard
              And as I sank, and I hollered “Someone save me!”
              That’s the moment I woke up, thank the Lord…

              (couldn’t resist)

        1. Magenta Sky*

          It’s also possible that management has prior experience with the other company that leads them to shy away from any conflict. Maybe the other company is run by crazy people.

      2. OP #1*

        I agree, there is absolutely some hostility.

        However some context that might’ve explained his reasoning. Our street is small and they push a “community” agenda, which keeps people from complaining. Recently however, a skate shop opened up next to our office (which is a whole letter in of itself), complete with 15-42 year old boys, yes they are that old, smoking weed and skateboarding all over our building and holding competitions in our shared alleys. The only thing worse than the car alarm is the constant slamming of a skateboard launching off a make shift ramp. My company, and the company that harbors the owner of the car alarm, have to team up to get the skateboarders taken care of and my boss is afraid if we lose their support on this the “community” will not want to make waves and take care of the skateboarders.

        *Note: I have no problem with the weed smoking, however the company next door is a creative learning center for student, some with disabilities, and having weed around them is a gigantic no-no*

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          I can see how both are super disturbing. The soundproofing is off the table for your firm?

          Personally, I far prefer skateboarders to car alarms. I live on a block that has had both in the past. The skateboard shop got priced out and the car alarms are much rarer these days due to “remote” alarm apps and just better made alarms. (Now we just have extremely loud packs of fratbros wandering after blowing money at places I can’t afford.) At least the skateboarders are getting exercise and not all of them are smoking MJ.

          A community solution to the skateboard ramps might be enlisting the store to agitate for a community sk8park or reuse of any local industrial buildings to make an indoor one?

          1. OP #1*

            The skateboarders, to me, are not as bad of an issue. It is a little jarring when they are launching off the pipeline they built or they zoom by on the cobblestone outside, because it sounds like a bomb has gone off or a jet plane is going down the runway, but they usually tire out within an hour. The reason that takes priority is the smoke and the children next door, which I do agree with. I dont think any kid should be subjected to any kind of smoke while playing outside.

            1. No Mas Pantalones*

              And thus far, I assume clients haven’t refused to come to the office due to the skateboarders, right? That fact alone should get your boss off his ass. I’m sorry for you, your ears, your stress level, and none for Gretchen Weiners.

            2. Friday*

              If the police are coming over to assess the weed smoking and disruption from the skateboarders, then they’ll definitely hear the car alarm nonsense too – be sure to push for police presence to manage the skateboarders and you might kill two birds with one well-timed patrol unit.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Community is a two-way street, even if the street is small. Car Alarm Lady and the Skateboard Gang are not holding up their end of the bargain.

            1. Else*

              Seriously! That often is what happens, though. Whoever actually objects to the bad behavior that others tolerate is viewed as the disruption.

        3. DCGirl*

          I once lived in an apartment building where a resident would park illegally half in/half out of the bus stop out front if he couldn’t find other street parking. The result was that the bus would have to idle next to his car to load and unload passengers, which would trigger his very sensitive car alarm, every 15 minutes, right on schedule. One day I saw him getting out of his car and told him that, if I ever saw anyone trying to steal his car, not only would I not call the police, I would also give the thief $20 for gas money so he could drive it as far away as possible. Just a thought.

          1. Magenta Sky*

            I had a neighbor once with a motorcycle with a hyper-sensitive alarm that tended to go off in the wee hours of the morning. One night, in a torrential downpour, it went off until the battery died. It finally ended when someone took a baseball bat to the motorcycle until the alarm stopped (the owner was apparently – and reasonably – afraid to intervene).

            The replacement motorcycle did not have an alarm.

            I would *not* recommend this approach, but it certainly was effective.

          2. Snuck*

            I think given these comments from the OP I would just get a bit … passive aggressive helpful and shove some print outs under the windscreen one day – either for alarm companies (that can presumably replace the alarm with a better solution) or with the local noise by laws.

            But I assume anyone pottering out every few minutes to turn their alarm off already has considered these options and doesn’t care to resolve the issue.

            So yeah… report it as a noise complaint every day, keep a diary, and let the local authorities deal with her. I’m assuming she feels unsafe in the area because why else would you have an alarm that sensitive? But… is it an unsafe area? Skateboarders lurking smoking weed aren’t exactly selling the space, and we don’t know the make/model of the car. Maybe employee parking needs to be more formal anyway?

        4. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          Hi OP! Does your community have a 311-type app? You could report the issues anonymously, and the city/town will send someone out to deal with it on their time.

          1. OP #1*

            Hmm, I’m not sure. We use this app called Neighbors for my home address, but I’m not sure if there is a way to report those issues to people who can actually do something. I’ll look into it though!! Thank you!

    2. Jasnah*

      I like #1 a lot. If you know where she works you could also call (“Hey the woman who works in your office, her car alarm is going off again, could you ask her to turn it off please”)–I don’t think that would reflect badly on you or your company. 7 times in 50 min is ridiculous, and basically half of the day her alarm is going off.

      1. Artemesia*

        I would think this would be violating legal ordinances and would escalate immediately to making police complaints. Anyone who allows this to go on this long without fixing it (this twit had had TWO cars like this) should be getting fined. If the police won’t deal with it then go to your local city council person or alderman. And your boss is ridiculous.

        1. Properlike*

          This could be violating the terms of your building lease, as well. Call your town’s licensing department. We’ve had to do that for a business letting parents idle in a no parking zone picking up their kids and blocking traffic. Don’t let the terrorists win!

        2. Trixie Belden*

          Virtually EVERYONE involved is being ridiculous. It sounds like a motif in some unfunnily “quirky” sitcom where viewers would start to roll their eyes and groan after a few episodes of the same thing. How any company within hearing distance manages to hold onto their employees is beyond me! Surely, some law is being broken; at the very least, a hostile workplace is being promoted.

    3. Wintermute*

      tagging onto your second point, it’s worth checking that it isn’t exceeding legally allowable noise limits, which are lower than one might think for constant exposure. This isn’t “using a vacuum cleaner 15 minutes a day” this is a constant exposure situation.

      Your employer may decide dealing with it may be less obnoxious than providing certified hearing protection to everyone and having it available for guests in the lobby. You expect a big tub of disposable ear plugs if you visit a factory, not a small urban office!

      1. teclatrans*

        I think this comment was also pointing to OSHA, which might light a fire under OP’s employer to stop ignoring the problem.

        1. AKchic*

          Not only with the city, but OSHA as well. You’ve been there for 3 years and it has been a constant issue to the point that phone conversations are difficult. You have headaches. Is this documented with your doctor? If so, perhaps it’s time to start discussing the idea of filing worker’s compensation and asking how you should be charging the company (or their company) for the lost wages, medication, pain and suffering, etc.
          Don’t be afraid to go all-in on it. Really hit home how much you’re slowing down in the office due to the constant interruptions, plus the headaches, then how others are probably slowing down too. They are losing work efficiency.

          1. OP #1*

            I have already thought of OSHA, however I work for my families company. So getting the boss in trouble would surely make birthdays and holidays more awkward. I have actually just brought it up with my boss/uncle again however, and let him know that the alarm is causing me a lot of headaches throughout the week, which I had never divulged. He apologized and said that he would speak to the owner of the next door building when hes back from his trip next week.

        2. Wintermute*

          The city is one thing but OSHA are the people that can force your work to give you hearing protection. Which just might light a fire under them.

          Right now your boss isn’t suffering any of the pain, and as a wise man once said “it’s very easy to ignore the pain of another person, but hard to ignore your own”.

      2. Horrified*

        Agree. In our city, we have the following by-law: Car alarms may not sound longer than one (1) minute or more than 3 times in a 24-hour period. If it does, the vehicle can be towed and all costs will be incurred by the registered owner

        Personally, I would familiarize myself with your local laws. Then I would try and catch the owner at her car and ask her politely to relocate or adjust her alarm. (honestly, why has no one tried this fairly straightforward first step?) If she gives attitude, I would then inform her of the bylaw and that if it continues, your company/building management, will have no choice but to start reporting her. This is really the responsibililty of the car owner to solve. After her comes your company or building ownership to take this on, but since they aren’t helping, sounds like you are going to have to wear the hero cape and get’er’done.

    4. Mystery Bookworm*

      I like option 1 in theory, but in practice I wonder about difficulties. Both pragmatic ones, such as getting access to the next door building, and also diplomatic ones, since it sounds like her company would prefer to not get involved, AND it might reflect poorly on OP if she is away from her desk so often.

      To be clear, I don’t think her company’s stance is reasonable. But it’s a bold move to essentially ignore what she’s been told (don’t get involved) so I think if she wants to take a non-anonymous route, it might make sense to alert her bosses first.

      Or maybe recruit some colleagues to join her? I am shocked that more people aren’t intolerant of this disruption.

      1. NerdyKris*

        It’s exceedingly unlikely that a random person is going to be allowed into an office they don’t work in to lecture an employee.

        1. Koala dreams*

          They can probably find the employee outside near the car. They shouldn’t have to wait more than 7 minutes for her to show up.

          1. Grapey*

            Most car alarms are able to be shut off remotely through a fob. Your idea would work if the employee doesn’t just shut it off through a window or something.

            1. RUKidding*

              Mine can yeah but I dont know if they all can now?

              I know tech keeps marching on…and I use it…usually whatever is bright and shiny and new.

              However, for some reason my thinking is still stuck in 1984 when I think about how to do A/B.

              Until that is someone points out that alarms can be shut off with a fob and I go “oh yeah, duh, I knew that.” :/

            2. Ego Chamber*

              Don’t you need to have line of sight to the vehicle for the fob to be able to shut it off? It sounds like OP is on the side of the building with the window access to the car and the woman who owns the car is on the other side of the building (or something), so she’s had to go down to the street to handle it.

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        A bold move?? So just ignore what’s essentially a disruption? If you’re the boss, and you put roadblocks in the way of my being able to get work done, or forbid me to try to resolve roadblocks, you’ve lost any moral authority you may have had.

        1. Stormfeather*

          Unfortunately they haven’t lost the ACTUAL authority and can discipline or even fire you if you just blatantly go against their wishes.

        2. Zennish*

          Umm… don’t do stuff your boss says don’t do isn’t just based on “moral authority”, it’s also based on their ability to show you the door.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        And it’s really not OP’s responsibility to take care of what boils down to a “this is your business, you are the boss, *you* need to do something” issue. The noise disrupts employees who are told to tolerate it (I highly doubt OSHA would find this level of constant exposure acceptable) and is keeping clients away from the office. Unless TPTB don’t give a shit about the clients, then I just don’t understand why they aren’t doing anything. How in the world the
        other company allows an employee to have this happen regularly (every seven minutes?!) and have said employee physically leave to take care of it boggles the mind…unless of course the employee is “the boss.”

        1. fposte*

          OSHA isn’t going to cover a car alarm on a public street outside an office. There are plenty of offices next to fire stations, in fact, which are a lot louder.

          1. Magenta Sky*

            But not as constant. (I’m inclined to agree OSHA won’t intervene in this particular circumstance, though. It’s more a noise ordinance sort of thing, which means the code enforcement arm of the police. My local police department has a special division to deal with noise complaints.)

            1. trees*

              F poste is correct. They won’t do anything and the complainer is required to give their personal information for a report. This is not violating anything. The problem is people have extremely loud locking things on the car also. This route goes nowhere.

          2. Iron Chef Boyardee*

            “There are plenty of offices next to fire stations, in fact, which are a lot louder.”

            And, presumably, they knew what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to take those spaces.

            1. trees*

              Where won’t end up mattering at all. Its only reasonable this person already knows the car is bothersome. Does the owner live anywhere? The owner already knows but does NOT care.

    5. Ashley*

      If she is parking on the street, can you and all your co-workers team up to park on the street for a few days so the alarm isn’t as close?
      I would reach out to you police via the non emergency option to ask if there is anything they can do if it is considered disturbing the peace.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Excellent idea to adjust their parking so that the space is no longer available (assuming that it isn’t a significant change of working hours)

        1. Flash Bristow*

          Not a long term solution tho! And a little petty. I figure not only would the appeal wear off fairly fast, but it won’t fix this and would only transfer it to someone else’s door!

          Plus you might not be distracted by the sound, but I bet that it will cause some distraction anyway; looking out to check on your cars, see if anything has changed or the offender is visible, etc.

          (Or was this a joke and I’ve missed it? Alas always possible, apols if so.)

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            I think intentionally leaving your screwed-up alarm on and annoying the whole block is the petty action, but that’s me.

            In college, someone would regularly park outside our dorm with a too-sensitive car alarm, to the point where dorm residents knew what car it was and would intentionally set it off on a regular basis. The owner finally got the idea and fixed it.

            Ditto for a car owner at a train commuter parking lot whose car alarm would be set off… by the vibration of a passing train. We’re talking dozens of trains a day would go through there. How did the owner not hear the car going off at least while getting off the train in the evening? Again, they finally figured it out and fixed it – after about 3 months of this. (Or someone in a nearby business sabotaged it.)

      2. Adminx2*

        Too much work for me. On the third day I would have been calling the non emergency line and reporting noise violations.

        1. Ama*

          Just FYI, I did this once for a car alarm that was constantly going off near my old apartment — at least in my city, even if you are very sure that the alarm is just a nuisance they forward you to 911 because it is an alarm and they have to dispatch the police to check it.

          However, I did that once and the alarm became much less of a problem — not sure if they actually found the owner or just left a citation on the car but it went from blaring a good 15-30 minutes nearly every night to maybe one instance every couple months (and I wasn’t even sure it was the same car at that point).

        2. Matilda Jefferies*

          I can confirm that this works, at least in my city. Somebody once called the police because my mother’s car alarm was going off – they looked up the licence plate and ID’d her, but she was in church with her phone turned off, so they called my father at home.

          I can’t remember how this was ultimately resolved, as my father was several miles away from the church and without a car, but I do know the police got involved relatively quickly.

          1. trees*

            Were they cooperative though? The office worker would have to give their personal information for the complaint to be acted upon, and if the owner isn’t cooperative it goes nowhere.

            1. Matilda Jefferies*

              I don’t think cooperation is a factor (although certainly with my parents, it’s a different situation than what the OP is experiencing!)

              If somebody contacts police with the licence plate and location of the car, they will attempt to contact the car owner. If they can’t contact her, or if she refuses to turn the alarm off, then the police will ticket or tow or whatever they need to do to enforce the bylaws. Or at least, this is what I assume will happen! Probably worth a call to the non-emergency police number to find out, in any case.

        3. Salamander*

          This is what I would do. This has gone on for long enough, and if the owner doesn’t have enough awareness of other people to have fixed the problem on her own, then it’s time for the police to ticket or warn her.

          I don’t know about your jurisdiction, OP, but it may be possible to make an anonymous complaint. This person’s co-workers and everyone on the block are probably equally exasperated with her, so it’s unlikely that your boss will be able to decide that you’re the culprit.

      3. OP #1*

        We have tried, my lord have we tried. She just gets there so early most days. When I arrive to the office by 8am she is usually there. Even on the days where we do get there first, she parks illegally behind the 2 legal spots. It is truly a wild situation.

          1. OP #1*

            I have nudged our on site security to at least give her a ticket when she parks illegally,. But that’s playing with fire because a few people from our company do that when they are dropping off materials or picking something up.

            1. No Mas Pantalones*

              Dropping off and picking up isn’t a whole work day. They’d have time to move before the tow truck got there. But really, if they’re parking illegally, that’s a risk they take regardless of alarm or not. That falls under the category of Not Your Problem. (Unless you park there illegally, in which case, see previous, re: risk.) It’s not cheap to get your car back once it’s been towed. Pretty effective deterrent in most cases.

              I don’t know how it is in a business area, but a car has been repeatedly towed from my apt complex for an alarm that goes off in the middle of the night and never shuts off. It hasn’t happened in a while, so the dude either took care of the alarm or moved out.

            2. Creag an Tuire*

              Yeah, I’m also an evil-minded person would skip on-site security and call the cops when she does that. But then, I live in a city where being caught in an illegal parking spot means you have to pay $500 to get your car back from Definitely Not The Mafia Towing Company.

            3. Snuck*

              Ok scratch any earlier comment I’ve made. In light of the double parking, the fact that she chooses to park outside your building (does she not have parking outside her own?) and the duration of the issue… you are dealing with someone who Will Not Listen To Reason.

              Proceed at will. Report to noise complaints lines… and stay out of the fire. If she/others from her work try to track down ‘who reported it’ shrug and say ‘with so many members of the public around I guess one of them?” And smile. Don’t tell your colleagues what you are doing (so they don’t slip up either)… just quietly and efficiently get it done. And Never Speak of it Again.

              And… assume that this could get worse before it gets better. Because this is Crazy Land. She obviously is a manager or owner or a person with some (assumed or real) authority – because no one has time for 7 minute trips to the car to turn off an alarm… especially not if they aren’t management. And she clearly has tickets on herself. So give her a few more ;)

              As for the skate park… tricky that one… they should follow local ordinances too… and having the cops around for noise complaints a few times might sort the weed problem…

          2. Clisby Williams*

            If this is anything like my city, individuals can’t have people towed from public streets – only the police can order towing. Even if someone is blocking my driveway, I have to call the police, not the towing company.

        1. Salamander*

          Wow. Yeah, I truly would not get involved with confronting her face-to-face, since she clearly has no consideration for other people. Call the cops.

        2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Ohhh – That is the day to call the cops about a noise complaint on her. That way even if the car alarm is off whenever they show it it is already in an illegal space and they might be more inclined to take action, or stick around long enough for the alarm to go off again. No reason she ever has to know it was you that called. Heck – blame it on the skate shop if it comes up. Two birds with one stone!

          1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

            And if the police notice the smell of weed in the air they might investigate that! Three birds!

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Yes I know many people like weed, but it makes me depressed. I would *not* appreciate clouds of weed smoke around my workplace!
              I’d probably have called the cops the first day on that.

              1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

                For me it is the smell. I know people that smoke it don’t think it’s that bad – but it is so bad. It smells almost exactly like a skunk! A smell our society has pretty much deemed the worst smell ever! There are cartoon characters based on that! So why I don’t care at all if people want to consume weed wherever or however they can – I do super care if someone sets off what is basically a stink bomb in public.

                1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                  I agree- I live in a college town in a semi-rural area and legitimately cannot tell whether a smell is weed smoke or skunk in my neighborhood. They’re both pretty awful.

    6. NerdyKris*

      It doesn’t sound like walking over is going to help. If the person is going out 7 times in an hour, it doesn’t sound like they’re ignoring it. That’s 8 minutes between alarms. Giving a minute or two for a car to pass by, six minutes sounds like a normal amount of time to stop what you’re doing and walk all the way out of the building. They’d likely be out of the building by the time LW got to their desk, assuming LW can even get into the office area of a different company, which is extremely unlikely.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        OP could probably just park out there with a lawn chair – sounds like it wouldn’t be too long before the owner shows up anyway!

    7. Samwise*

      Do this, and then if it doesn’t change things (I would give the car owner exactly one day to get her act together), call the police. Every. Single. Time.
      Please, I know this is a minor situation and the police have better things to do. I trust that the police will do said better things if they need to. Otherwise, it’s a reasonable call to make. If they’re coming out too often, or getting called too often, they will cite the car owner. Multiple times, even. Nothing like a hit to the wallet to make people treat others with consideration.

      1. Artemesia*

        So this. I cannot imagine why people are putting up with this all day every day. I am pretty patient with the occasional problem but the second day of this and I would have called the police and then call every time after that (it is an alarm presumably someone is trying to steal the car after all — that is what alarms are for). Maybe some tickets will discourage the owner from inflicting this on the world.

        1. OP #1*

          I mentioned above that there was another more pressing issue on our street, and our 2 companies will have to work together to get that solved. So they do not want me to cause a rift while that is being handled. However I never thought about noise ordinances, so I plan on using that.

          1. married to amazement*

            It’s pretty hard to understanding the company’s perspective–that taking steps to create an environment more conducive to work will “cause a rift” and endanger their working relationship but such it is, wow! Wishing you the best with the noise ordinance route!

          2. Else*

            Does your company think the other company won’t care about the pot and skateboarders and has to be coaxed into dealing with it? Why does your company think it’s the only one that cares? And can the children’s school not also work to repulse the potheads – why do they need this car alarm group at all, if they actually would pout and refuse to work with your group?

          3. Autumnheart*

            It is totally not your job to manage the companies’ relationship with each other. They’re the one with an employee disrupting the work environment for all of you, they should fix it. If it isn’t enough of a problem to have an employee leaving the building literally 60 times a day to turn off their car alarm, then maybe it will be a problem when that employee gets the company a lecture from the police for being a public nuisance. Either way, the problem originates with them, not with you. You should not feel bad about the consequences that happen to them because of their own mismanagement of this problem.

          4. Snuck*

            I get the impression (early starts, frequent visits to her car, sheer audacity) that the owner of the car might be fairly senior in the other company…. so basically it’s not just about the skatepark, it’s about the fact that your company head has to negotiate probably with annoying car woman directly, and doesn’t want blood in the water while doing that. (Because the woman probably is Difficult with a capital D to start with.)

            Do it all as anonymously as you can. Ask for the person responding to the noise complaint to NOT come into your premises of work (even better don’t tell them where you are if you can avoid it)… And while you want to get rid of the skateboarders… they too can be brought to heel with their blocking of laneways etc… sounds like your boss is wanting to lodge complaints about those too.

    8. Flower*

      I had my car alarm go off for no reason for a few nights (couple months ago), always parked too far from my apartment to know. Found an angry note on my windshield threatening to damage my car if it happened again – which I kind of get.

      I pretty much left my own note on the dash with my number to call me if it happened again until I could bring it in to get checked out, and it turned out there was something wrong with a sensor in the vehicle that the dealership was able to fix. (Just in case, I left the note for another week or so before taking it away.) I can’t imagine she doesn’t realize this is abnormal if she’s dealing with it repeatedly every day – and how did she get two cars like this??? But hopefully nudging her that this isn’t how her car should be will help. (Not going to suggest threatening to damage her car; that I wasn’t thrilled about, since I would have fixed it without that threat – I just genuinely didn’t know.)

      1. boop the first*

        But this is the part I don’t understand! If you can’t hear it, and if the purpose of the alarm is to be ignored by the general (irritated) population, why do these cars have alarms at all? Is there really no option to not set it?

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          “…why do these cars have alarms at all?”

          1. For the owners to ignore them.
          2. To annoy everyone else.

          I remember when car alarms became A Thing. People actually paid attention to them, for about five minutes. Then this kind of crap started happening and the world has been ignoring them ever since.

          Someone should write an app that sends the alarm to your phone so that you can “hear” it but there doesn’t have to be loud obnoxious alarm going off bothering everyone else.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              My mind is blown by the fact that the car owner already had a car like that, the sensitive alarm was causing everyone issues, so she… bought another car with a sensitive alarm? What’s the logic behind this?

              1. Snuck*

                She likes sensitive alarms …

                I’d want to play games at guessing the make of car and the type of area… I’m thinking urban inner city style area, in a run down part of it (awaiting gentrification!) with a lot of social services… the car alarm is on an Audi/merc/something out of sync.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Car alarms with this feature are already on the market. But as far as I can tell, they’re not yet standard from the car manufacturers.

            1. SusanIvanova*

              Car alarms aren’t standard either – they’re yet another chance for the salesperson to upsell you. Anyone who’d fall for that pitch would definitely go for an app version because “smart device” is the latest buzzword.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                I guess I just demonstrated what happens when your family always buys cars coming off lease and calls them new. :)

              2. Formergr*

                They’ve been standard in the last couple of cars that I bought (new). I couldn’t have gotten the car without an alarm if I’d wanted to.

          2. Ms. Ann Thropy*

            I have been sayin this for years! Even before smart phones, the alarm should have triggered something in the key fob to alert the owner.

          3. KK*

            “…why do these cars have alarms at all?”
            So you can find your car in an airport/mall/store parking lot. LOL!

        2. Xantar*

          Presumably if someone was actually trying to break into the car, the noise would freak them out and chase them off even if all the neighbors react by shrugging and trying to ignore it. Personally, I’ve come around to the opinion that car alarms cried wolf several decades ago and should just be banned entirely. But that’s just me.

          1. Snuck*

            I have a new/current model mid range car (Volvo) and it’s come with an alarm… it’s nice to have because where I live cars are routinely broken into, and mine isnt’ being done over. I assume the snoopers can see the red Blinky light and are choosing to rob someone else. The alarm isn’t too loud, and goes for about 90 seconds before turning off…. just enough to scare people away I presume. It’s an unusual pitch and high frequency (rather than a shouting siren) so I know it’s mine, and has gone off when I left windows down once, but generally I can hear it but not the whole neighbourhood. I guess i”m trying to say “modern alarms don’t have to be obnoxious”.

        3. fposte*

          When they were first developed, they were marketed as an exciting new innovation that would make sure your car was safe from interference. It quickly became clear that they were mostly mild-wind and nearby-truck alarms but by then they were embedded in the national soundscape.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Re: national soundscape The mockingbirds by my old house all sang “car alarm” and “keyfob” more than they sang “songbird”.

        4. Baby Fishmouth*

          Most of these cars automatically have the alarms set – I honestly have no idea how I would disable mine.

          BUT they can be helpful – we have a lot of (minor) car break-ins in my neighbourhood, and there’s been a few times I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of a car alarm going off and looked out the window to see someone running away. They are a deterrent because, at least at night and in most quiet places, they attract a lot of attention (even if it’s just people getting annoyed at it).

          This woman in this letter has gone too far though, she needs to get that car checked out.

          1. Zennish*

            Yep, it doesn’t matter if most people ignore it, someone is going to look just to see if it’s theirs, or out of irritation, and what a thief doesn’t want is attention.

        5. Creag an Tuire*

          They come standard with most new cars, most of them don’t have an obvious way to be “disarmed” permanently (I just checked my owner’s manual and it has no solution), and evidently car insurance companies are the only people who haven’t figured out that they don’t work, because your rates will go up if you don’t have one.

          The only time mine went off was when I was cleaning out my car and it decided having the door open for so long without the engine starting meant A Crime Was In Progress.

          1. TootsNYC*

            when we bought a new-new car, we specifically said “no alarm,” but got an ignition cut-off, because the car insurance company would give us the same discount. We park on the street in NYC, usually blocks away from our apartment, and we’d never hear it. And nobody is going to stop a car thief in NYC–nobody wants to get punched out or shot. It’s just not worth it.

            The day we were supposed to pick it up, they called and said their tech had been on autopilot and installed an alarm, which was more expensive, but they wouldn’t charge us. Was that OK?

            No, I said–it wasn’t the money, it was the annoyance factor; take it back out and give us what we asked for. He argued, it was going to be so much work, they might not be able to get it done in time for our appointment to pick it up, and he asked for my husband’s number and pointed out that my husband’s name was on the paperwork.

            “I am the one whose salary is going to be paying that car payment; it will be MY checking account. You would have had plenty of time to take it back out if you’d moved to fix this mistake the moment you realized it. And besides, he and I are in agreement, and he’s unreachable. You take that back out, or we will refuse delivery on this car. It’s NOT about the money.”

            I’m very glad to never have had an alarm on my car.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Ugh, so you’ve had a boatload of unnecessary electrical work on an otherwise brand new car? I’d honestly be tempted to make them reorder one that hadn’t had wires cut and soldered.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Ikr. If I didn’t know what a monumental pita it is to get a car loan, I would advocate calling off the sale right then and getting the car elsewhere, as ordered, mostly because I wouldn’t trust them to actually reorder it and I don’t know how to double-check that.

      2. TootsNYC*

        in the note you leave on her windshield, mention the possibility of it being fixable. Sometimes people just think there isn’t anything they can do.

        The website It Still Runs .com has a page about how to adjust it yourself. You could print that out and tuck it in with the note.

        Sure, it’s extra effort, but it might be encouraging enough to get her to do something about it.

    9. RB*

      There was a car parked in front of my house recently whose alarm was going off every few minutes. Sometimes it would stay on for several minutes. After about the 20th time I called the non-emergency police number. They sent someone out to take a look at the car and they tried to look up the address of the owner (it was not a car I recognized as belonging to one of my neighbors). I can’t believe people are being so passive about this. Calling non-emergency is the least you could do.

    10. Nana*

      Many years ago, I remember reading of someone who got tired of a neighbor’s non-stop alarm…and threw a rock into the front window…figuring that at least the alarm was working for a reason (even though he’d confused cause and effect). It worked…the person didn’t park in that spot any longer.

    11. Nana*

      Put a nicely-worded note on the window…on the driver’s side…with rubber cement. No damage, but a bear to remove.

  2. Mike C.*

    Stop screwing around with the car and the owner and call the police. Start with the non-emergency line but in many municipalities 911 is perfectly acceptable for this sort of thing.

    I’ve had to do this before, it’s no big deal and you can likely get it towed. And no, you shouldn’t feel bad because it’s a public nuansance and normal adults would have already dealt with the issue.

    1. Isobel*

      Though it seems counter intuitive, when I dealt with an over-the-top noise situation in my neighborhood the police explained that I should call 911 when it happened again. I was very hesitant because it was not life or death. They showed me the law or city code (I don’t know what to call it) that stated this was appropriate. I don’t know whether this varies by city or state so don’t take my word for it; call your local precinct and ask.

      I also used a decibel measuring app. This was helpful when speaking to the authorities and to the building owners in my case.

      Good luck.

      1. Busy*

        Some cities also have hotlines specifically for this and other “minor” nuisance issues they are trying to get under control.

        But seriously, how does this not drive the owner nuts?

          1. OP #1*

            She actually is a gigantic chain smoker. We regularly see her smoking in the communal lot across the street. Good call!

            1. HalloweenCat*

              You mean to tell me she won’t park in the communal lot but she’ll go over there to smoke? I hate this person.

              1. Barbara Lander*

                I completely agree. I hate this person too and I DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW SHE STILL HAS A JOB. As to the nature of an “emergency” or not, I live in New York City where we can call 311 rather than 911 if we don’t think it’s exactly an emergency. Once there was a drunken guy pounding on our apartment door because he thought he lived there and he wound up just collapsing in the hallway. My daughter called 311, the 311 operator called 911 and the police came and rousted him. New York City also takes excessive noise complaints very seriously. Furthermore, I am a lawyer and I wonder if there is a basis for a civil action for nuisance here. You could consider threatening a lawsuit that seeks actual and punitive damages. And, finally, your employers are total wimps and should be ashamed of themselves.

        1. Chatterby*

          Either the owner does not know how to shut it off (very possible) OR she enjoys the multiple, mini breaks she gets by walking out to shut the alarm off every few minutes.
          If possible, Google the procedure on how to disable the alarm for her specific vehicle. Print off the instructions and leave those on her car. This should be a strong enough hint, without going through the excruciating effort of trying to word a note in the just-right tone.
          If she does not follow the instructions and disable the alarm, then she is leaving it on because she enjoys the many breaks. Report the noise nuisance directly to the police (non-emergency number to start, of course, and some districts have online methods of submitting noise complaints) being very clear on the number of times an hour/day and how long it goes off each time. You’ll need to be able to tell them the make, model, color, and license plate number of the car, and address location of the vehicle.
          After a few fines, she’ll follow the instructions to disable the alarm.

      2. Flash Bristow*

        Police like you to call their emergency number for a “crime in progress” even if minor. Easy arrest, boosts their stats.

        Not being facetious; the local coppers have said as much.

      1. TechWorker*

        Interesting that police said calling 911 is appropriate here – in the U.K. calling 999 for a car alarm would be 100% not ok and considered a misuse of the number.

        1. Wintermute*

          It depends on the city, for sure, but some places it’s not so much “non-emergency” and “emergency” but “time sensitive” versus “non-time-sensitive”. The dispatchers decide what has priority within a severity coding system, so obviously a bank robbery across town is going to pre-empt your loud car issue, but noise complaints also aren’t a matter of “send an officer around sometime in the next few days to take a statement” either.

          This one may be an exception because it’s going to happen when the cop is there regardless.

          I would start with the non-emergency number but I wouldn’t be surprised if I was told to call dispatch.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            The police in the uk do not deal with noise compliants, it’s an issue for the local council to look into

            1. Lucy*

              Agreed – you’d likely only call them in this kind of case if you thought there was something criminal happening about the car (e.g. it was going off because someone was actively breaking into it). That said, I know police do get involved in noise cases where it is a situation causing immediate disturbance, such as loud parties late at night, where it strays past just noise and into antisocial behaviour.

              We also have a national non-emergency police number (101) so you don’t have to know the number of the local station to log something that isn’t an emergency. The emergency call handlers are quite stern and brisk with people clogging up the emergency lines inappropriately as that non-emergency line exists. 101 costs 15p per call regardless of length whereas 999 is free, so some people will still use the wrong number for that reason.

              Tangent: there is an additional non-emergency health advice line 111, so when I encountered a fire that I thought wasn’t an emergency (street litter bin smoking) I called a firefighter friend to ask if there was a non-emergency fire number to call. There was a pause, then the following conversation.

              FF: … Is there a fire?
              Me: Yes.
              FF: Is it meant to be there?
              Me: No.
              FF: Then it’s an emergency. Call 999. /click/

              A large fire truck arrived a few minutes later and a bunch of fully-suited firefighters ceremoniously extinguished the bin in under a minute. But I guess it could have escalated, and they certainly weren’t annoyed to be called out.

              1. MK*

                There is no such thing as a non-emergency fire, because by its nature it is dangerous and has the potential to spread. It would only take one highly inflammable item in the bin to go from “smoking bin” to “explosion”.

              2. blackcat*

                I had a similar response when I called the non-emergency fire number in my town for a down power line.
                Me: There’s a downed powerline, but it’s really out of the way and on private property.
                Person on the phone: That’s an emergency, we’ll send a truck right away.
                Me: But I don’t see what you can do….
                1 minute later: Tuck shows up.
                Firefighters walk around. Determine no fire risk. Can’t see how to disconnect at the pole without other equipment. Talk amongst themselves for 20 minutes. Put out caution tape and leave.

                1. Busy*

                  Yeah, I think this is why the US shied away from the multi-number system as the general public is kind of bad at assessing what they should “bother” emergency personnel for. We just stock the 911 line with enough people to handle the there is stray cats are actively breaking into my house (true story) along with the I just found a dead body call. This way, there is no possibility of penalization or blow back for calling 911. The only way that can happen is if you call repeatedly when you were told to stop.

                2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                  Fascinating…here you call the power company if you spot a down wire, not any emergency response. They are the only one with the ability to fix it and can shut the power off immediately to avoid fire or electrocution.

                3. LCL*

                  You can call the power company directly for a wire down call, or you can call 911. 911 then calls the power company. 911 won’t automatically send police/fire to a wire down unless you report it is blocking the road or otherwise dangerous, but they will always notify the power company. What Becky said is true for her friends who are aware enough to call the power company, but thousands of wire downs come through the 911 system. It’s all good.

                4. That Girl From Quinn's House*

                  They actually can do something. The local utility companies prioritize reports from emergency services.

                  Call the gas company to report a leak and they’ll turn up when they feel like it. Call the fire department and have them call the gas company, and the gas inspector will be there in half an hour.

              3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

                This is exactly how I imagine all British phone conversations to be.
                Not that I’ve found emergency phone operators I’ve spoken with in the US to be unhelpful or unprofessional, it’s just so much classier when you guys say it.

                1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                  It can be confusing though. I was woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of cans of garden chemicals exploding in a neighbour’s shed that had caught fire, and I was really taken aback when the dispatcher asked me if I wanted police, fire, or ambulance after I just told them that the shed was on fire! It was the first time I’d had to call 999 here and I was very confused.

              4. Akcipitrokulo*

                Yep! my uncle was a firefighter, and it was very, very much a case of “if there are flames or smoke where there isn’t meant to be flames or smoke, call 999. Now. We don’t care how small you think it is!”

                On another tangent… he was driving once when someone thought “fire engine behind me! Road rules say I MUST STOP!” – so they stopped. In the middle of the street.

                Fire engine went around and through 3 gardens to avoid the numpty… Uncle was swearing lots!

                1. TL -*

                  I watched a fire go from small flames in maybe a trash can to above my head flames on a bush in the time it took my passenger to call 911 while we were stopped at a red light. I think it was on the house by the time the fire trucks responded (which was in a matter of 3 minutes?)

              5. ISuckAtUserNames*

                It got hot enough here a couple summers ago that some newly-laid mulch on a neighboring property caught fire. It was a small patch, surrounded by concrete & asphalt, so not much a risk of spreading, but when the fire department arrived it was with the usual full fanfare (two trucks, firefighters in full gear, etc. etc.) and…they put it out with a fire extinguisher. Stirred it up a bit to make sure they got it all, and left.

                Very anticlimactic, but my boys always love seeing fire trucks and it’s nice when it’s something minor.

              6. sstabeler*

                probably because if the fire brigade needs to know in the first place it’s by definition an emergency.

              7. Erin*

                I called the fire department for a minor fire once (a pile of boxes behind a restaurant caught fire–possibly from a cigarette). I emphasized (several times!) that it wasn’t a big fire, but I didn’t trust the restaurant workers to put it out effectively (they’d already failed once). A couple minutes later, a fire engine rolled up and out came about three fire fighters. They were only wearing turnout pants–no jackets. They didn’t even use a fire hose, just a regular garden hose was handy, but they had a digging bar to stir the embers and make sure they were out. The whole dog park watched appreciatively while they put the fire out.

                All that is to say–trust the 911 dispatcher to be able to effectively communicate the urgency of the situation to first responders. That’s their job.

          2. Flower*

            Yeah I got stuck in an elevator once and none of the buttons, including the emergency call button worked, so I panicked and called 911 and then felt silly because like… It wasn’t like I was injured or the elevator would fall or anything – it wasn’t an emergency in the way I’d normally think of one – but the dispatcher was clear I’d done the right thing, put me in order as someone not sick or injured, and stayed on the line with me until firefighters came to pry open the doors and let me out, since it was urgent in that it was happening right then and nobody else could really help me (maintenance personnel probably weren’t there).

            (Aside: It was fun answering the question “which floor are you on” with “I honestly don’t know – I think I passed the fifth floor since it lit up and I was going to the sixth, but I might be between floors.” (The floor of the elevator was, as it turned out, about a foot shy of the floor of the sixth floor.))

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              Glad to know I’m not the only one this happened to, except I didn’t push the emergency call button and didn’t have my phone, so I just fretted and panicked for a while until I figured nothing was getting better and it was time to use the emergency call button and ask if it was an emergency. (Yes.)

          3. RUKiddingMe*

            And it’s an alarm. A warning system that a crime may be in progress. It’s not quite the same noise issue as the neighbor’s kid with a “band” rehearsing in the garage at 3 AM.

        2. acmx*

          At my old facility, racers would fill up our parking lot to race on the road in front of it. Once, when the police had chased them off, I asked him what I should do the next time (it happened almost weekly) and surprisingly, he said to call 911. My thoughts were, 1. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that, taking away dispatcher time (this was usually 1 am and I assume 911 is busier at that time?) and 2. why can’t y’all swing by for awhile? You already know this occurs!

          1. Yvette*

            I think 911 is appropriate in this instance because “racers would fill up our parking lot to race on the road in front of it” . If what you mean by that is street racing, in most places I know that is considered illegal and dangerous. By calling 911 when the lot fills up they can strike preemptively.

          2. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

            Power lines went down in front of our house – not sparking, just hanging way too low — during bad weather last winter. I called the non-emergency police line. They patched me through to 911. I’m like am I really supposed to call 911 for this? Dispatcher said yep.

            Happened 2x more times in weeks after (BAD WINTER), and I just called 911 as instructed.

            (FWIW, they were trained to ask specific questions like – is there sparking? etc., and assess what sort of resources were needed. What we needed was the fire dept to cut the wires and a police car to make sure drivers didn’t get caught up in the cable and make things worse. But it wasn’t an *emergency* emergency, super quiet suburban street, but still.)

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I agree with this use — that was an emergency averted.
              Power lines can be deadly, and if they start sagging that might be the first sign that they’re going to fail completely. And even if they just sag farther slowly, a tall vehicle could pull them down. Either situation is an electrocution hazard.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              Oh, no–that is definitely a 911 call. A tall vehicle could have run into them, or a tree could have fallen on them and created sparking lines.

          3. Slartibartfast*

            There might only be a handful of cars on duty at that hour, and they probably don’t have enough coverage to just hang around. Street racing can cause a deadly accident, calling 911 is appropriate. In the US, it’s also appropriate to call for downed power lines, broken water mains, or trees and other large debris in the road as these things are immediate safety issues that could cause serious injury or death.

            1. blackcat*

              Folks on my parents street delayed calling for a water main break when they first saw it.
              Two hours later, three cars fell into the resulting sink hole.
              Water main breaks are serious, folks!

            2. Matilda Jefferies*

              Some cities* also have 311 for issues like downed power lines, broken water mains, potholes and road debris, and so on. I’m sure they can route you to 911 if needed, but they’re a great resource for “nobody’s bleeding, but this should be fixed asap” kinds of situations.

              *Mostly in the US and Canada; list is on Wikipedia at 3-1-1.

          4. Antilles*

            I’m actually not at all surprised they wanted you to call 9-1-1. Street racing is seriously dangerous – you might be imagining Fast and the Furious and “just people speeding fast”, but in reality, the level of danger to the public is more akin to a drunk driver. In fact, in many states, street racing isn’t considered a traffic violation, but an actual misdemeanor crime, with fines and penalties to match.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              Yeah, I cannot tell you how many innocent people get killed in our city every year by yahoos street racing. It’s not harmless. And it never seems to be the racers who get hurt.

        3. Paperdill*

          Yes to this – in Australia you could get fined for using 000 inappropriately if you called because a car alarm went off. This advice sounds very strange to me.

          1. londonedit*

            I really wish people were fined in the UK for using 999 inappropriately. Every so often there will be a report on all the ridiculous reasons people have used to call the emergency services, and it makes me so angry.

            Here, 999 is for actual emergencies. So, a burglary that is currently in progress, an attack that’s just taken place where the attacker is still in the area, a serious car accident, someone bleeding profusely, a suspected heart attack or stroke, a fire, etc etc. We have a non-emergency police number, 101, which is for if you get home and find you’ve been burgled sometime during the day, or some other crime has taken place that you want the police to investigate but it’s not a time-sensitive emergency, or for if you have information about a past crime. Calling 999 because someone’s car alarm keeps going off would 100% not be an appropriate use of the emergency number.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Out of curiosity, how would someone know if the burglary happened a long time ago vs there’s someone still in the house?! If I get home and my door’s open or a ground-level window is shattered open, I’d err on the safe side and assume there could still be someone in there.

              1. Karen from Finance*

                I agree with you on the arriving home case.

                One time we woke up and our stuff (tv, PC’s) was gone. They burgled while we slept. I think this would be a non emergency burglary case. Police took like half a day to show up, but I’m not from the UK or the US.

              2. ElspethGC*

                Burglars in the UK tend to be extremely conflict-avoidant, so if they break into a house it tends to be though a back door or back window (or one left open/unlocked) rather than smashing the front window. In that case, you might not even know you’d been burgled until you saw that your TV was missing etc, or went out to the shed and saw that your bike had been nicked. That’s non-emergency number time. Equally, going outside and seeing your car missing or coming out of a shop and seeing your bike missing.

                Alternatively, the burglars that showed up in the middle of the night to a friend’s house? (And then promptly fled as soon as they heard her bedroom door open because the police had told her to fetch her daughter so they were all in one room. Like I said, conflict-avoidant.) Emergency number time, and the police were there in under two minutes, albeit not enough time to catch the burglars in the act.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Conflict-avoidant or not, I’d still want to avoid the chance of a stranger in my house.

                  The ground-level window burglary I was thinking of *was* a back window — but his car was in the back too, so saw a window had been forced open. This was before cell phones so now I’m wondering if he called from his house or a neighbor’s!

                2. Marthooh*

                  It’s always interesting to me to read on this site about regional and national differences in professional norms. “Burglars in the UK tend to be extremely conflict-avoidant” made my morning better, thank you.

                3. ElspethGC*

                  @Marthooh (run out of nesting!)

                  I know Alison said this is getting off topic, but I guess we could talk about it more in the open thread at the weekend? I’d be happy to.

                  Seriously though, I only know one person who was broken into when they were at home, in the middle of the night when her husband wasn’t home – the one mentioned in the comment above – and as soon as the burglars heard her moving around, they dropped everything and ran. Made off with about £50 out of her purse and had taken the TV down off the stand and left it in the middle of the floor, but hadn’t taken anything beyond that. They generally don’t go armed because it increases the penalty by so much if they’re caught.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I *wish* we had a national non-emergency police number. In the US it’s a full-length phone number that varies by city/town/village…and sometimes you can’t tell which town you’re in. And usually the line is picked up by an automated system that may or may not be well designed to give you the option you need.

                1. GalFriday*

                  The non-emergency number is also 311 in Chicago. For the car alarm situation, that’s where you would start and they would escalate as necessary.

                2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Nationwide without gaps would be much more useful. In my state, only the capital has 311 service.

              1. Bunny Girl*

                I do too. I used to work at a police station in a smaller town and we had three different numbers to call the police. THREE! I worked in the business office, so we had a full number and we couldn’t dispatch from the office, so we had our non-emergency line for that, and then we had 911. It was confusing and I knew people got frustrated. I would too!

            3. TootsNYC*

              Here, they teach the dispatchers to ask questions to determine whether it’s crucial for someone to show up right now in a hurry.

              Your calling 911 doesn’t mean you get to dictate who shows up and how fast.

              That said, yes, if you discover your car was sideswiped on the street or your tree was vandalized, it would probably be good to just call the local precinct. But if you call 911 because that’s the phone number you know, your dispatcher will tell the local precinct.

          1. Jack Be Nimble*

            Are you referring to the incident wherein a woman was taken in and questioned for harassing and misgendering a trans woman?

        4. Akcipitrokulo*

          Yeah – 999 for an alarm where there isn’t someone actively breaking into it would get at least a telling off – maybe prosecution if you keep doing it.

          101 will get them out though :)

    2. Wintermute*

      I would absolutely call the police for this one as well. You’re beyond the playing around stage to the point it’s causing a disruption. Clearly inconvenience and a sense of decency are not stopping this woman, maybe having to get her car out of an impound lot will make an impression.

      I would also repeat this process if she doesn’t fix the issue.

    3. StellaBella*

      I agree with Mike C here and with namelsscommentor above, too. I think going outside each time to meet her when she turns it off may also disrupt your office, so your boss could see how much disturbance this is causing. This, combined with calling the cops and the use of a decibel meter app would allow you proof again of time (7 times in 49 minutes), sound levels being high (over limits constant exposure), and disruption (so get it towed). I hope you can get some resolution to this, OP, and your headaches go away. Best of luck!

    4. Rebecca*

      I totally agree with this. Municipalities where I live have noise ordinances, and don’t look the other way when burglar alarms, fire alarms, etc. just keep going off for no reason. 3 strikes, and you’re out. And they issue fines. So in this case, this silly woman needs to either not set the alarm (just lock the doors and not set the alarm) or start paying fines. Either way, she’s inconsiderate at best.

      Call the police. Every single time it happens, 7 times an hour, whatever it takes to make it stop. It’s ridiculous.

      Also – her car may have an electrical problem. My late Dad’s truck had a problem with the alarm system that caused it to go off randomly, and several times even using the keyfob it wouldn’t turn off…so I disconnected the battery cables just to get some peace and quiet for the neighbors until I could get it to the dealership to be fixed.

          1. Allison*

            Right! In my city it’s not uncommon for a car parked on the street to have an issue with the alarm, and have the alarm go off for no reason in the middle of the night, but this usually only continues for a weekend, maybe five days tops, but they get it fixed, usually because people yell profanity out their windows at 3AM and leave nasty notes on the car once people figure out the culprit, I can’t believe no one has lost their cool with this person’s car in a similar fashion quite honestly. It’s just really not okay to have your car alarm be this sensitive, and cause this many problems for so many other people, for years. YEARS! I’d be fed up after three weeks.

            1. fposte*

              When I lived in a city, eggs were also a common response to persistent car alarming. OP’s neighborhood is clearly very forgiving.

          2. Cheesehead*

            How in the world does she keep her job if she’s away from her desk turning off her alarm that often?

        1. EPLawyer*

          Definitely. I can see the first one, well it came with it, blah blah blah. But the second one? Yeah this owner wants to be very sure her car is never stolen. Doesn’t care if she is never at work because she is always turning off the car alarm, her car will never be stolen.

          Clearly the owner is okay with going outside 7 times an hour to shut the thing off. Telling her to park in the common lot won’t get you anywhere. She wants convenience and security. She wants her car right there and knowledge her car will never be stolen so she wants to keep an eye on it. How her employer has never noticed she is not at her desk half the time I have no clue.

          1. Stormfeather*

            Maybe she’s the boss, or at least high up. Which come to think of it might explain a reason the OP’s office doesn’t want to complain and cause hostility, even if they’re pretty wrong.

        2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          I agree. She had the thing installed after market by either herself or a friend and was told “that’s how it works, you wanna be safe, doncha?”
          Because all her friends are extras in 1940s gangster movies, but you get my point.

          1. trees*

            This is it. The cars owner knows there’s a problem. They line somewhere, right? They don’t care how it inconveniences you.

        3. teclatrans*

          Yeah, it sounds like she is getting obnoxious after-market alarms that are both too loud and too sensitive.

    5. Frances*

      I strongly disagree. Given what we know about how police respond to non emergency situations in this country, calling them about a situation where no ones life or immediate well being is in danger should never be the first call. It actually creates a dangerous situation. Talk to her first.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        I don’t disagree that calling the police often results in unnecessarily escalated–and sometimes dangerous–situations. However, so does personally confronting a stranger alone. :(

          1. Busy*

            Haha no. Not in the places I have lived. People “watch” the block and know who does what. Parking was scarce where I lived, and our handicapped neighbor was able to obtain a handicapped spot. Great. Except she literally never used it!! It made no sense. And if you ever lived on a block where parking is scarce, people become very territorial about “their spots”. I guess the women with the handicapped plate just never drove and kept her car in the same spot. When she would have guests over, she would just give them the hanging sign to park in her spot – not to drive her places or pick her up. Just to visit. As you can imagine, this created hostility. One neighbor left her a note to please use her spot correctly, and yeah the police had to be called.

            Everyone has different experiences, and a blanket “police escalate situations so handle it yourself” statements are not helpful or anywhere near a solution.

            1. Dwight*

              That’s not right, to use a handicap spot as essentially a reserved spot. I don’t know the exact laws, but I’m sure that’s a form of fraud.

      2. Annette*

        Yes Frances. Why escalate unnecessarily. When you could try another effective solution first. 0 to 100 = a dangerous fool’s game.

          1. WakeUp!*

            But nobody has tried any of the obvious first steps like leaving a note or speaking to the owner first….it’s like when people say “my coworker won’t stop doing this thing I hate, can I get my manager to intervene” and the eye-rolling begins about “why won’t they UYFW.”

            1. Mike C.*

              Leaving a note doesn’t stop the car alarm from going off. You can’t “UYFW” against an inanimate object.

                1. Mike C.*

                  But the owner already knows the alarm goes off all the time, so why are you writing them a note informing them of the issue?

          2. trees*

            Right? Its one thing if the cars owner wasnt hurting or infringing on someone else. And how likely is it the person has no idea of the issues they are creating?

        1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

          I don’t think anyone is suggesting that she not try leaving a note before any other steps are taken. But this person is either insanely oblivious or insanely inconsiderate, and my money’s on the latter. So people are mostly anticipating what the next step would be if the note has no effect.

      3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        For something happening this frequently, the owner of the car should have enough common sense to know it’s a problem. Leaving a note isn’t going to do anything. If it doesn’t bother her to have to go out to her car and stop the alarm every 10 minutes, she isn’t going to be phased knowing that it’s bothering others. The fact that it happened 7 times in less than an hour is a major problem that needs to be handled by some type of authority. I would 100% call the police.

        1. 5 Leaf Clover*

          This was my first thought too, especially if the woman is not white. You never call the cops on someone unless there is real danger and all other options have been exhausted. That is the sad reality of our policing system.

          1. Mike C.*

            Well what other options do you see here? The car won’t stop making constant noise, the owner won’t fix it or otherwise make it stop, so what’s next?

              1. LCL*

                Our local municipality has instructions on what to do re noise complaints. Basically, call the non emergency police number, which is posted. The owner can be ticketed. A couple tickets might get her to find a better solution. No, I would never call the police for one instance, because that would be me being oversensitive. But for the situation as OP described I would.

          2. ChimericalOne*

            This does not sound like the kind of situation that might inadvertently escalate to violence. The police are not going to arrive on red alert or with guns drawn for a car-alarm noise violation. The woman in question is probably not deaf, mentally ill, or something else that might put her at particular risk for a dangerous miscommunication. Also, odds are best that the woman is white. 72% of our population is white; only about 12-13% of our population is black.

        2. darlingpants*

          I think that OP needs to seriously consider that as a potential outcome of calling 911. It’s unlikely, but calling the police introduces a person with a gun (whose level of training, disposition and mood are unknown) to an already tense situation. I might anyway in this case, especially if I think they’ll just tow the car, but it’s a possible outcome and I’d think about it long and hard before calling 911 on a non actively dangerous situation.

        3. Catleesi*

          To be honest this has been a concern of mine in reporting neighbors for noise violations. There were some guys living in the apartment below mine (I think they have since moved) that would play pounding music several times a week into the wee hours of the morning. I tried to deal with the apartment complex with little success. I had people advising me to call the police to file a noise complaint, but with the cases of policy brutality we’ve all seen I was really hesitant to call them on some young black men just because they were annoying me.

          It’s definitely a thing.

        4. Yorick*

          I wondered about that as well. It is not at all a likely outcome of calling the police about a noisy car alarm.

      4. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Oh good lord… can we stop perpetuating the myth that the police show up guns blazing for every call.

        It is fear mongering and blatantly not true.

        To the OP, next time you see the person outside turning off the alarm, approach them and let them know that there are ways to get that fixed so it doesn’t go off every time the wind blows. And that the noise is extremely distracting to others in the area. If that doesn’t solve the issue, then call the city where your office is located and ask them who the best entity would be to contact regarding the excessive car alarm. In the meantime, keep a log of the times, dates, and duration for the alarms.

        1. Sparky*

          This. “Don’t ever call the police because they will just shoot everybody” is hyperbole and y’all know it.

        2. Frances*

          Yes, not all police shoot unarmed civilians, but we know that some do. And you don’t know what kind you’ll get when you call them.

          1. ChimericalOne*

            It’s as good a reason to not call the police as the number of fatal plane crashes is to never fly.

            The data doesn’t back up the notion that the average person is at any significant risk of being shot by the police in any given interaction. Some useful statistics on fatal police shootings in 2015-16: those shot were overwhelmingly male (95.8%). While Whites comprise the largest group (51.5%), once you control for population size, Black citizens are 2x as likely to be fatally injured in a police encounter. Almost two-thirds of those shot (64.9%) were attacking the officer when killed. The overwhelming majority (92.3%) were armed when they were killed. (Weapons range from guns (most prevalent at 63.5%) to knives, vehicles, toy weapons, machetes, and swords. Less that 7% of cases involved other objects used as weapons.)

            Nothing in this case sounds particularly at risk for the (already very rare) case of an officer-involved shooting.

            Officers do not routinely shoot people who are unarmed, not attacking or threatening attack. It is a tragedy & an outrage when they do — and it is right that we dedicate significant resources to reducing this (and some places do have a serious policing problem — I know, I live in Baltimore) — but we should not base our daily behavior on shocking outliers when the data show that these cases are rare, anymore than we should avoid flights because of shocking crashes, fear leaving our children alone for 5 minutes due to “stranger danger,” etc.

            1. ChimericalOne*

              Sorry for not citing my source! See: Shane, J. M., Lawton, B., & Swenson, Z. (2017). The prevalence of fatal police shootings by U.S. police, 2015–2016: Patterns and answers from a new data set. Journal of Criminal Justice, 52, 101-111. doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2017.05.001

            2. some dude*

              I also think there can be a mafia-like code of silence in some communities where the “stop snitching” mentality allows people within that community who prey on their neighbors to not suffer repercussions.

      5. Samwise*

        No, in the US if 911 is incorrect, they will redirect you. Average Joe or Jane (that’s most of us!) cannot always tell what is a genuine emergency or needs immediate attention. Let the trained dispatcher figure it out. Unless you are nuisance calling (you’ve been told X situation is not 911 but the city inspections dept, for instance, and you keep calling 911) or you are absolutely sure that 911 is not the right number, call 911.

      6. OP #1*

        I agree. I will never call the police about this for 2 main reasons:

        1. I refuse to be that white person wasting emergency services on a non-life threatening situation. It takes necessary resources away from those who need it, and there is a lot of people in need in this area.
        2. There is not a good community vs police relationship where my office is located, and I refuse to be that person that caused anothers tragic death inadvertently. Some people have mentioned that this is not a situation where it could be escalated to that, but any one residing in America should know by now that we can not, with any certainty, assume a situation where a policeman confronts people in a community of minorities will go well. There are alot of homeless people on this street as well and policemen usually remove them, which I do not agree with. I will however be filling a noise complaint with the city.

        I do not want this to turn into a political debate, I am just explaining why that is not a viable option. I have the upmost respect for our policemen and women, however all it takes is one bad apple, and that is not a risk I am willing to take.

        1. Val Zephyr*

          This makes no sense. It’s the police department’s job to enforce laws. You are not wasting resources by asking them to enforce noise ordinances. Most police offices spend most of their time responding to these kind of non-emergency situations. And the recent increase media reports of police shootings is not a reason for white people to stop calling the police. I guarantee you that if you try filing a noise complaint with the city, they are just going to tell you to call the police the next time it happens.

        2. AKchic*

          Thank you for giving us this insight into your neighborhood. It helps shut down that avenue of conversation, as well as possible ideas because you yourself do not feel it is a viable avenue for you. I appreciate this context, and your situational awareness.

        3. TootsNYC*

          I suggest you walk in to the local precinct and talk to the community liaison officer to see if there’s some specific plan he or she can help you come up with to address this.
          Maybe you can get one officer assigned to this specific issue, so he or she can approach it with the right mindset.

          If you start the communication with the police in this manner, it greatly reduces the likelihood of a confrontation.

        4. Mike C.*

          I said to start with a non-emergency number, I don’t understand why everyone seems to be ignoring this.

          1. Belle8bete*

            Mike C.–people apparently stop reading the moment ”police” comes up, which is just–sigh. Yeah, this is a lot of melodrama.

            Also, the boss or manager who doesn’t want to cause an issue by addressing this is a total doofus.

        5. TL -*

          Maybe it’s just me, but I think if the police put a stop to a car alarm that’s going off every 10-20 minutes for 8 hours a day, it would probably improve community relations.

    6. AliceBD*

      I called the non emergency line about a car accident I was in where we were able to move the cars and drive them away, even though my car was later towed and I wound up in PT for weeks. I was scolded that a car wreck — even one where clearly everyone can move away and nothing is going to happen to the cars like explosions because the engines were not impacted — is always a 911 call. The nonemergency line put me through to 911. I think this is ridiculous because it is not an emergency, although it is time sensitive. The next time someone hit my car while driving I called 911 as instructed.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        The thing is, it’s not our (the public’s) call whether something is “bad enough” or not–I have to assume this is about the systems that the police or whoever have in place to deal with certain types of incidents. I got attacked by a loose dog. I got a nip on the ankle–I didn’t even need a band-aid. But when I called non-emergency to report it (I did want it on record that this dog had been loose and had not backed down even as I was moving slowly away from his yard), I was told to call 911, because 911 deals with dog attacks even if you’re OK. It was during Hurricane Harvey so it took them a long time to come (the dispatcher had told me they would and I assured her that was fine), but it was still considered a 911 call because of procedures.

        1. TootsNYC*

          My IT help desk wants everyone to bring them issues through the help-desk portal because it automatically opens a ticket, assigns a ticket number, and creates a tracking software.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Right. But that’s exactly why everyone on here saying “don’t call emergency for a car alarm” may in fact be wrong.

          1. TootsNYC*

            but I can’t imagine a municipality in which a single, “There’s a car alarm that keeps going off” wouldn’t be met with a “I’m going to ask you to call this non-emergency number.”

            If you’re not supposed to call 911 for that issue, they’re not going to arrest you–they’re just going to correct you.

            1. Sandman*

              It may depend on the size of the municipality. In my small town we have a non-emergency line, but it’s not really publicized and I’ve never been told to call it. I mean, I haven’t called about stray cats, but I suspect the call volume is such here that it’s not as much of an issue.

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        In the area I lived in CA, car accidents where you could drive away had to be reported via an online portal that auto-generated a police report. The cops wouldn’t even turn up unless someone was injured or the car was obstructing the roadway.

      3. AKchic*

        In my city, due to budgets, if the damages do not *appear* to be over a certain amount of money, and the parties do not need an ambulance, the parties involved are directed to file a report online and not tie up valuable officer manpower.

        We also end up waiting up to three days for an officer to take a statement if a woman was battered and there were no witnesses and she didn’t go to the hospital.

        1. Jack Russell Terrier*

          If you get into any accident in NJ immediately report it – no matter what. If you don’t, you could easily get a ‘failure to report’ – with a fine (no points). It’s a way for the local police to make money. The DC and MD police don’t want to know unless they need to – but the local town police in NJ make money off it. After it happened to me I found all sorts of stuff on the web about it.

      4. Totally Minnie*

        I have been scolded in the opposite direction. I called 911 for a car accident where no one needed medical assistance, and the officer yelled at me that I should have called the non-emergency line.

    7. Oryx*

      And call them every single time it happens, even if it’s every seven minutes. Depending on your city it may take calling that often to convince them out egregious this car alarm is.

    8. Marty*

      I’m sorry but I disagree that this could be a 911 issue. I am a former police dispatcher and 911 operator.

      This is, at first, a city/town issue (either bylaws or a specific city number for help, like 211 or 811, often designated in big cities). After hours, if not 24/7 service, it can be a non-emergency police issue – if they aren’t busy with other things (noise ordinances are taken over during non-bylaw staffing hours).

      911… no. 911 isn’t a “time sensitive”-only designation, the requirement is “immediate risk to life and/or property”.

      For those who don’t know, 911 in a major city might have only 4-6 operators at a time. Yep. That’s one major city I can confirm. If you aren’t sure, call 911 just in case, but this isn’t one of them :)

      1. Val Zephyr*

        As Mike C stated, this depends on the municipality. Just because it wouldn’t be appropriate to call 911 for a non-emergency in your city, doesn’t mean its not appropriate anywhere. There are some cities that want all police matters to be funneled through 911.

          1. Lurker*

            That’s laughable to me. I think the NYPD would legit laugh if I called 911 every time I heard a car alarm going off for more than a few minutes, especially considering the fact that most of the time I hear them when I’m in my apartment and have no idea which of the surrounding streets or cars it could be coming from.

            I’ve called 311 before and that’s useless because they have to send out an inspector, which is a process. Fat chance the alarm will still be going by the time that happens.

            I usually call the direct number to my local precinct. In NYC, 911 has bigger problems to deal with than an admittedly annoying car alarm. Back when car alarms were new I think they worked better to alert people of danger or a break-in. Now, I think the default response is “ugh, someone’s car alarm is going off” not “OMG a car alarm, someone must be trying to break in or steal the car!”

            1. Ophelia*

              I’ve never called about a car alarm, but I did call 311 once about an alarm going off on a building (because it was going off for AGES) and they routed me over to 911 (also NYC).

            2. CheeryO*

              But if you did have a weird, ongoing situation like OP’s where a specific car was causing noise issues, you have the backing to call 911 and get it routed and dealt with appropriately.

              1. Lurker*

                In that situation, I would probably go into the police precinct directly rather than use 911. In NYC, I feel like 911 should be for imminent danger or crime, not noise pollution (which is essentially what this is).

            3. Mike C.*

              It’s their own web page, what do you expect people to do when the organization they are trying to contact specifically says, “Contact us about these specific matters in this specific way”?

              1. Lurker*

                NYC.gov is not the same as the NYPD. If you call 911 you are getting emergency services (NYPD or FDNY). NYC.gov is the municipal government. Just because the .gov website says something doesn’t mean the local NYPD precinct is going to care. Trust me.

              2. Lurker*

                Also, in Amelia’s example link, if you click the hyperlink to report an alarm you are redirected to the 311 page so…yeah…nyc.gov is giving mixed messages.

          2. Samwise*

            When I lived in Chicago a million years ago, 911 was the number for car alarms going off. They did not always get there fast (plenty of other things that were more important), but they would get there, open the car, shut off the alarm, and cite the owner if the alarm had been going for too long.

            We had a car on our street that seemed set to go off in a breeze. Everyone on the street called the police. Once the owner was apparently on vacation. The police could not get there until late that night. By the time they got there, the windshield was covered with, um, unfriendly notes, and the battery had juuuust about worn down (the alarm was by then a pathetic beerp, beeeerp). The office waited until the battery died, then wrote a citation. Heheheheh, our favorite cop!

        1. Public Sector Princess*

          In my smallish city non-emergency police calls are also routed through 911 after business hours.

        2. trees*

          But the owner of the car is going and turning it off in a timely manner. That’s part of the reason nothing is going to be done no matter who they call.

      2. Mike C.*

        So when the 911 dispatcher assured me that this was an appropriate use of 911 and to continue doing so if the issue happened again, I should just ignore them because you said otherwise?

        Seriously?

    9. wittyrepartee*

      Do it for the dogs in nearby apartments, and mothers trying to get their kids to sleep. Do it for your maddened coworkers.

      1. Jaz*

        Do it for people with noise sensitivities! This situation would make me physically sick. I’m not surprised clients refuse to be there; for some people this is an ADA issue.

    10. Temperance*

      My local office doesn’t have a non-emergency line for minor issues. We are told to call 911 for every issue. I called because of an asshole neighbor’s 5:00 a.m. barking dog, and had no regrets.

    11. Bunny Girl*

      Yup. The second I read this I was thinking that they need to just call the police. This woman must know that other people can hear it, because she can hear it well enough to come outside, and she’s let it drag on for years. To me, it seems like this woman is really inconsiderate, or she would have dealt with it already. I don’t think a note telling her she is disruptive will do much good. So yes OP, call the police. If she gets her car towed, oh well!

      1. Lurker*

        Actually, I was thinking about this last night. Could she be deaf/hearing impaired? Maybe the key fob lights up on her end so she doesn’t realize how obnoxious the noise is? (This is a serious comment, not meant to be flip. Also, I don’t own a car so have no idea how car alarms work.)

        1. Dust Bunny*

          If she’s going out there seven times an hour, she knows its too much even if she can’t hear it. Somebody is telling her it’s going off and she’s still going out to address it. It’s not like she doesn’t know.

          Plus . . . this is the SECOND CAR with this problem.

        2. Samwise*

          If you are hearing impaired, you still have a responsibility to take care of this problem. And that doesn’t explain setting the alarm so that it goes off at a slight touch.

    12. nonymous*

      I would add that after the police report has been filed (try to include a record of time and volume, if possible) take a copy of the report with the case number to the Landlord. Likely the other office is in violation of the lease by creating a disturbance.

      This can be helpful even if local police do not respond to the issue. In my area, many cases are directed to self-reporting, which generates a case number for documentation purposes and adds to the body of information that law enforcement tracks for trends, but does not generate official action on an individual case.

    13. MommyMD*

      I would love to see it towed. This nitwit knows it’s happening. She might even like the interruptions from work to go tend to it.

  3. Free At Last*

    OP3, our department head discussed some layoffs around the organization one day in a staff meeting then added, “Your jobs are all safe, you have my word on that.” I knew right then and there that our days were numbered and that he absolutely knew about it. At least it gave me time to clean out my office, delete some files, and take 2 weeks of PTO before the “surprise” announcement came for most of us about a month later.

    1. Lucy*

      Well done for seeing it coming.

      There’s a running joke that when in UK politics anyone says anything like “Fergus has my full support and there’s no question that he’s the best person for the job” then Fergus will be gone within a week.

      1. londonedit*

        Also in UK football management. You know the manager’s on his way out when the chairman of the club says he has the ‘full support of the board’ :D

        1. Antilles*

          Same thing for sports here in the states – it’s called the “vote of confidence” (or the “dreaded” vote of confidence) and it’s basically a kiss of death.
          After all, the only reason the owner would *need* to publicly declare his support is when the team isn’t doing well; if they were winning, the questions about firing the coach never even arise.

      2. Mookie*

        Yep. Micro-dosing the well of Fergus’s reputation so that when you poison it for good nobody is surprised nor will anyone blame you because clearly Fergus did something both egregious and unmentionable, it’s almost a betrayal on his part after you stood up for him in public, this hurts you more than it does him, &c.

    2. LJay*

      Ugh my company was purchased by another one recently and I was told to reassure my employees that nothing was changing and that their jobs were safe.

      I ultimately did so, but I disliked doing it because I knew it wasn’t going to reassure anyone.

      It’s what you say when it’s true and everyone’s job will be fine. It’s also what you say when it’s absolutely not true and everyone will be on the streets in a week.

      Add in that I’m not high enough to be involved in any sort of strategic planning, or to have heard about the buyout at any point before when it was announced to everyone, and I’m pretty sure those phone calls were the complete opposite of reassuring for everyone.

    3. Artemesia*

      When people came in and put little stickers on the furniture and equipment for ‘inventory’ I should have known, but the place had been around for 200 years it never occurred to me it was going down. I agree that when you see a sign like ‘your jobs are safe’ it is time to at least start building a strategy, securing documents, updating the resume and scanning for possible job options. If nothing happens you are still fine and if something does you can hit the ground running and not have that initial misery and shock because you ‘saw it coming’ and are prepared. And there is advantage to getting out first if there will be many people laid off. There may be a few opportunities for a whole lot of people and those searching before it comes down may scoop up those options.

    4. Creag an Tuire*

      Ms. Tuire interviewed and accepted another job after her company laid off a bunch of people while publicly reassuring everyone else that “The rest of you are safe, because we have a plan to become stronger than ever”.

      She was just beginning to doubt her decision and wonder if she’d overreacted when the Head of Sales abruptly put in two weeks notice.
      For a job starting in two months.

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Absolutely. My first job out of college was at a large commercial printing company that had just been bought by a larger printing company. To give an idea of the size of this place, 12 presses running 24 hours (3 shifts) 6 days a week. To have a press sitting idle was a BIG DEAL — SomeoneHasScrewedUp! One day the plant manager shut everything down and called everyone into a plant-wide meeting to tell us that the rumors of being shut down were categorically untrue and our plant was safe. For other reasons I quit about a month later, but the plant was closed about 2 months after that.

    6. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      All of the stories here are funny, because my experience was the exact opposite. I worked at a rec facility that was being shutdown for renovations for 18 months. In August, they started transferring their core team members who were full time at a part time designation into full-time titles. By October, they announced the approval of the construction project. In January, they put everyone on 60 day warnings that they’d be closing for construction. Every 60 days, we’d get a new update that the deadline was pushed back another 60 days.

      Staff were told not to discuss it amongst themselves and told that the company would “look out for your jobs but don’t discuss it.” Many of the staff left, including all of the ones converted to full-time with the intent of saving their jobs, because they felt their jobs were in danger, and they struggled to hire because the construction project was in the news.

      18 months after they first announced the closure, the building closed…and of course, the jobs that they’d tried to preserve were still there. But they were so not-transparent, everyone disappeared to protect themselves.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’d known I was on the layoff list from other reliable sources. I asked my boss if I was going to be laid off and he said “I can’t answer that.” I told him, “Ok, I’m going to take that as a yes, and I’ll get everything documented and checked in, so that things are in good shape.” They were a day later than I expected, but everything was left in good shape.

    8. SusanIvanova*

      Best Manager Ever called us in and said “I was told not to tell you this: they want to cancel this project and reassign you all to software maintenance. I’ll help with your resumes.” (Maintenance people are awesome. It’s just that they have a completely non-overlapping mindset from development.)

      But at that point anyone with eyes knew the company was doomed. It was a tech boom and they were losing top people to attrition and clueless management; the headhunters were circling us like sharks.

    9. SavannahMiranda*

      Yep! You pretty much have to assume you are included in any layoffs until proven otherwise. And even then! Second rounds happen all the time, after everyone has relaxed.

      Never assume you are not going to be in any round of layoffs taking place.

      1. Phrunicus*

        Small mercies – the one time I was laid off*, it was in the first round. Still a shock to me, as it was my first job out of college, and I’d naively believed in the big group meeting the month before the message that “everything is still fine” (no, no it wasn’t), but at least it was over and done with.

        *Technically, I was a contractor in a place that had been doing a lot of contract-to-hire folks, so I guess they were just ending my contract early, but I call it a layoff for simplicity. Also I heard that they eventually went through like 7 rounds of ‘downsizing’, total.

    10. Lucida Console*

      I still don’t know why companies announce “your jobs are safe!” As said above, a veritable kiss of death.
      I worked at a place where the new CEO came in, assured everyone our jobs were safe, yadda, yadda…I knew right then to get out and get another job.
      About 6 months later, all the plants were shuttered and moved.
      Some sweet schadenfreude though; CEO ended up arrested and convicted in a very public way shortly thereafter.

  4. dragonsnap*

    Number one is SUCH an intriguing mystery to me. I know we will probably never have a window into the car owner’s logic / reasoning / evil plan, but I’m dying for an explanation. Why might she want an excuse to walk outside every few minutes?

    Of course, none of that matters to the OP’s suffering. Leave the note and if it doesn’t work, try calling the police. Or if your company wouldn’t object, maybe also try the building management.

      1. ISuckAtUserNames*

        And the fact that her employer hasn’t twigged onto it and made her stop makes me think I wouldn’t blame her if that were the case.

        But it’s still ridiculous and needs addressing, for the good of everyone else.

    1. last_codon*

      Maybe she’s part of an alien empire that uses car alarms as a communication signal. They’re discussing how best to colonize Earth, and at the same time testing if we understand their secret language.

      1. QueenB*

        They’re also experimenting on ways to break down our resistance, testing noise pollutants as such a method.

    2. Kal*

      The most non-weird answer I can come up with is that the car was set up to be annoyingly sensitive, and fixing that would cost a ton of money that the employee doesn’t have, they’ve tried parking in parking lots away from the road before but the alarm was still annoying such that it went off and then it just took longer to get out to it to shut it off. This is just pure speculation, of course.

      I had a car that was stupidly sensitive – the alarm installers set it up stupid, but I had bought it used with the alarm already in for years so no way to get the installers to change the settings. Getting someone else to fix it was outside what I could afford. I couldn’t lock the car without the alarm being active, so I was just stuck being on anxious alert anytime a car alarm went off, listening to it to determine if it was mine or not.

      1. snowglobe*

        But the weird thing is that this is the 2nd car that she’s owned that has had a sensitive alarm. That sounds like she’s set it up like that on purpose.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Just as likely that she went back to the same cheap place for her new alarm. If no one told her it was annoying them, too, why would she do anything different?

          Personally I’d be trying to get everyone in the office who drives to work to park their cars in front of the building to prevent NoisyCar from being parked there.

          I wonder if it’s right in front of the door, because if it is maybe they could get it declared a no-parking loading zone area.

          1. Antilles*

            Even that explanation seem weird to me, because this is just such an inconvenience to the owner that I can’t imagine someone going “oh, this seems fine”.
            Besides, if the purpose of your alarm is (presumably) for security, it’s completely nonsensical for it to go off every 10 minutes, because that’s the old “boy cried wolf” story and makes it useless anyways. At this point, with the alarm going off every few minutes for years on end, a potential thief could probably strip the car down to the frame without even causing a single glance out the window.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              Exactly. With the two cars I can think of (one I lived near, one parked at my commuter train station) I would have practically welcomed those cars getting stripped down.

      2. pentamom*

        Disabling the alarm entirely would only cost $100 at most, I would think, having had experience with buying a used car that locked us out of the secure start system entirely when we moved it away from the previous owner’s home, and considering that the alarm is of absolutely no value now because she can’t leave her car unattended for more than 10 minutes at a time (what does she do at NIGHT?) it’s hard to fathom why she continues to put up with this.

    3. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      Quick and frequent smoke/toilet brakes? If they’re closely monitored it could be a overcomplicated way to get them.

      1. Antilles*

        Possibly, but I have to imagine that a company which was super focused on break time wouldn’t be particularly forgiving for this sort of thing. It’s been going on for *three* years; if the company really did care about break time, there’s no way they’d let it go on this long without a Very Serious Chat about “We are not paying you to jog down the street ten times a day; get a mechanic and fix this”.

        1. LJay*

          Yeah. I do not monitor my employees’ break time at all. And even I find this ridiculous.

          I can’t imagine somewhere like a call center where they monitor bathroom breaks being like, “well, you’ve gotta go turn that alarm off, so the extra breaks are fine,”.

    4. Let's Bagel*

      I agree–and my first thought was, how does she do anything else?? What if she’s in a meeting, or in the bathroom? How can she get literally anything done at all if she has to be available to stop what she is doing on average every 7 minutes? I am baffled.

        1. Jaz*

          I assume she must have a garage at home that prevents movement around her car; I can’t imagine this going on so long if she didn’t.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      She’s an arrogant PITA who thinks her cars are that desirable.

      This isn’t a car issue. Car alarms can be turned off or changed out. And hardly anyone I knew even uses them any more because we all know nobody has paid attention to a car alarm since 1991.

  5. The Bimmer Guy*

    OP1. That’s strange. Most car alarms aren’t that sensitive. Could it be that she’s inadvertently hitting the panic button on her key fob, rather than the car’s alarm being set off due to detected danger?

    Either way, it’s annoying and needs to stop.

    1. Scott*

      There was a Jeep that parked in a lot I used that had an alarm so sensitive that I found it could be set off with a sharp hand-clap near it. No joke.

      1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        What is even the point of designing an alarm that sensitive? Is there a method of car theft I don’t know about that involves standing several feet away and making noise?

        To be fair, I’ve never understood car alarms. If I hear a car alarm go off, my reaction will never be “maybe a car is being stolen!”

        1. Jaz*

          I set my car alarm when I’m parked in the garage, because if anybody’s messing around with it then, I’d like to know about it. But we live in a rural area with no neighbors for half a mile in either direction and unexpected visitors are thoroughly unwelcome.

    2. Alexis Rose*

      One of my coworkers fiddles with his key fob when he is focusing and pretty regularly hits the panic button, his truck is parked right outside the windows of our office (one story building). Yelling “Hey ! Put your keys down!” is acceptable in my office so we do that.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      On a car I used to have, if I clicked the lock-door button, it would set off the alarm on another car in the lot if that one was within 15 feet.

    4. SignalLost*

      Welcome to my high school, located under a flight path. Multiple times a day, an airplane passing overhead would set off multiple cars’ alarms. Whether “most” alarms are that sensitive isn’t really a useful starting point. This one is.

    5. Frea*

      I had an after-market car alarm installed (Dad was worried because freelance job took me to a lot of unfamiliar neighborhoods and he wanted me to have an alarm to trigger) that was so sensitive it could be set off by loud trucks nearby.

      Coworkers at my overnight job used to take extreme joy setting it off with their trucks on lunch breaks (I couldn’t hear it from inside the big box store where I worked). I eventually got so tired of them doing it that when management refused to get involved, I talked to the police.

    6. OP #1*

      No, it is for sure her car alarm. Once it is set off by a large noise it will ‘chirp’ every time anything comes close to it. So it is either chirping constantly (a welcome change) or blasting off.

    7. MoopySwarpet*

      The settings should be able to be modified. She really should take the car to wherever the alarm was installed and have that dialed down about 6 notches. They can also be set where a small bump or movement doesn’t set them off at all, but a door opening does. It could also be where the sensor is placed. My partner installed alarms on our cars after we had a smash and grab of the door controls and it took a while to find a suitable place to mount the motion sensor (even set at the least sensitivity) so that the car could withstand a small to mid “hip check,” but would actually go off if it was actually messed with.

      I also had a friend with an aftermarket alarm that would go off randomly while driving if the radio was too loud or you bumped the side panel with your foot.

      1. valentine*

        That’s a lot, when she won’t even park in the lot across the street, even preferring to park illegally.

  6. Bilateralrope*

    # 1. If it’s causing you frequent headaches, maybe put in a health and safety complaint with your company. Document the solutions you’ve suggested that your company blocked.

  7. Kat A.*

    Your city might have a nuisance ordinance that would apply here. So I suggest you look into that.

    I wouldn’t leave a note though. Your company already said no to that, and it’s far too easy to know who’s employees it came from.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. Since the company managers are acting like jerks about this, go straight to a police complaint. They don’t share who made the complaint.

  8. Stella70*

    The car alarm situation happened to me as well (although in my case, the car belonged to a neighbor who thought it was amusing and often, wasn’t home when the alarm went off). Many (all?) of these alarms have sensitivity settings so this type of situation doesn’t occur. Contact your police dept and give them all the pertinent info (license plate, make/model of car, where it parks) and describe the situation (it would be great to be able to say, on day such-and-such, the alarm was triggered 18 times, for example). They can shedule an officer to drive by the next day to validate the situation and can cite the owner for disturbing the peace (often, there are warnings given first). Since this can be done anonymously and outside work hours, your employer needn’t know it was you (if you can though, have others join you or report it as well in the same manner). By the way, I later worked as a 911 dispatcher and have also taken these types of reports of nuisance alarms (please don’t call the emergency line, start with the police’s public info line and ask to speak to an officer).

  9. This Daydreamer*

    OP1 How many more days can you handle hearing the car alarm every few minutes until you end up leaving a note written in spray paint or with a key? Or a subtle hint delivered with a sledge hammer? Or a cement mixer? Manure spreader?

    It would probably be a good idea to leave a note while you’re still at the ink-on-paper stage. And when you can leave out the curse words.

    1. Lisa from the block*

      Yeah, when I lived in Brooklyn, a car like this wouldn’t have lasted the day without severe physical damage to its paint and windows.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        And, to be honest- when you’re inconveniencing that many people that’s kind of your just desserts. I live in Park Slope. It’d probably get towed in this neighborhood because they’re bougie, probably…

      2. Sally*

        Also NYC, but UWS when it wasn’t fancy: A former roommate was woken up in the middle of the night by a car alarm going off right under his window. He waited to see if it would shut off, but it didn’t (this was back when alarms went on and on and on…). He was finally so frustrated, tired, and angry, he opened the window and threw a bottle of beer out the window at the car (from the 6th floor). The bottle broke when it hit the car, and beer went everywhere (I don’t think the car was damaged, though), and mercifully – and strangely – the alarm stopped.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I’m honestly impressed they are still in the ink and paper mindset! I would get to the sledgehammer point a lot faster. This may be the most baffling letter I’ve ever read here just because I don’t understand how there are so many people suffering through this and not one of them has ever called the police. How is *her* employer okay with her causing this regular disturbance and leaving the office so frequently??? How can her coworkers deal with this and not say anything???

  10. Scott*

    Car alarms on recent-model vehicles can’t be permanently disabled. The engine won’t start if the alarm isn’t functional. Police (assuming they’ll deal with a problem on private property), talking with the other company, talking with building management or getting the driver to park elsewhere are the options.

    1. This Daydreamer*

      I would be furious if I didn’t have the option of getting a car without an alarm! Is this all new cars now?

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        I mean, my partner and I recently purchased a new car and as far as I can tell, it has no alarm of any kind.

        So I definitely don’t think it’s normal.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Want to hear something even more crazy? I stumbled across a warning in my Jetta manual that it can drain the battery if you don’t lock the car for a few days. Pure luck I saw that — the new house has a garage. I wouldn’t have thought to lock the car INSIDE the garage.

        1. Moo*

          Not sure if your Jetta has this, but my Mazda has a feature where you can set it to lock automatically when you walk away with the keys. There’s like a 10- or 15-second setting, I think. Maybe yours has that option too?

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            ODL I hope not – it would regularly auto-lock my daughter in the car. (She sometimes likes to read or do homework in the car after we get home. Sunny, warm, quiet, no chores …maybe I should just join her!)

          2. SpaceySteph*

            My new car has this feature too, which I liked until…
            I was trying to get gas one day and the gas door would not open. The car has no pull handle to pop the gas door, you push in on it and it pops open. Only this day it would not open no matter how hard I pushed. Luckily I wasn’t that out of gas so I headed home to troubleshoot. There I googled a little and learned that while seeming like a simple mechanism, the gas door locks when the car is locked. Go figure.

            Cars today are both way smarter and way dumber than they need be.

      3. GigglyPuff*

        I wish I could disable my alarm, I have a 2001 Nissan. For years the alarm likes to go off at random times at night if it’s locked, did it for years before I finally had to stop locking it at night. Some nights, just once, or wouldn’t do it for weeks, some nights, I think the record was six times. Asked multiple mechanics including the dealership, who said the only thing they could do to disable it was disable the horn (which I laughed in their face because I lived in Atlanta at the time, that wasn’t going to happen). I’m really starting to think that can’t be the only option and am going to ask my new mechanic.
        It started doing it randomly during the day few months ago too, any time I even brushed the key fob, alarm would go off. Luckily that got solved with a new fob, but still the anxiety my car alarm causes, is ridiculous. I feel the OPs pain. I’d go with the note on the car and trying to take the parking spot for a few days.

      4. Working Mom Having It All*

        My newish car has an alarm, sure.

        I live on a busy street in a major city, and I park my car on that street in front of my house. My car alarm has never gone off. Based on the one time I accidentally triggered the alarm in a different but similar car, my guess is that nowadays the standard installed car alarms are set to go off only in certain very specific situations. None of which involve nearby loud noises.

        So no, this isn’t an “all new cars are like this” issue. My guess is that this is an aftermarket alarm poorly installed.

    2. Jasnah*

      Where is this the case? I live outside the US and haven’t heard a car alarm in ages. I just googled the issue and read an article about how modern car alarms are not triggered by motion detection, but by unlocking the car from the inside (ie the car is broken into and then unlocked).

      1. Violet Rose*

        Huh, I’ve triggered my own car alarm (model year 2012) by unlocking it with the key, which baffled me slightly. Never tried unlocking it from within for obvious reasons :P

        1. snowglobe*

          My husband’s truck is the same way! I can never understand why the alarm goes off when using the key vs. the fob.

          1. Emily*

            I don’t know the why of it, but my understanding is that if you lock it with the key, unlocking it with the remote (and the vice versa situation) will set many alarms off! So bizarre.

            1. Roja*

              Oh, that explains it. My remote didn’t work temporarily the other day so I used the key to unlock instead, and it set off the alarm. Now I know why (even if it doesn’t make sense!).

        2. Peter the Bubblehead*

          I have a 2013 Jeep Wrangler. During the summer I prefer to leave the doors off.
          The first time I tried starting the vehicle without “unlocking the doors” (shutting off the alarm/disabling system) I was very surprised when the alarm started blaring the engine refused to start.
          Learned then that – even with doors and top off – the doors have to be “locked” when i leave it and “unlocked” when I return.

      2. Emily K*

        As a child I set off the alarm in my mom’s car that way once. I think I’d been picked up from school because I was sick, and my mom had stopped at the pharmacy to pick up medicine for me on the way home, and since I was feeling so poorly she let me stay in the car while she ran into the store. I was about 10 so she locked me in for safety, and when I saw her coming back to the car later I thought I was being helpful by unlocking the doors from the inside so she wouldn’t have to dig out her keys!

        1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

          I haaaaate car alarms for this reason. This scenario has happened many times: In car, friend/family driving. Stop for gas. Friend/family goes inside to pay. Car automatically locks with me inside. I realize I want something inside. I unlock door to get out of the car. Cue alarm.
          The addition of cars that automatically lock after 5-10 seconds makes this so much worse

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        1989 Loma Prieta earthquake …. a friend was on his bicycle on a rough road and he thought it was really bad pavement until all the car alarms went off around him.

        1. Emily*

          Ha, I’m from an area that doesn’t normally get earthquakes, so when I was driving and we got one a few years back I thought the same thing! Literally looked around to see where the hell this huge pothole was!!

        2. Dust Bunny*

          My mom had a 1970s Volkswagen and we put glasspacks on it for Mother’s Day. My dad would occasionally drive it the long way through the parking garage at work and set off all the car alarms.

          However, it wasn’t daily, it was only twice a day, and the garage wasn’t immediately next to the offices.

      4. Coder von Frankenstein*

        I live in the US. I have a 2013 Corolla and it does not have a car alarm. (It does have a panic button, which was irritating for a while, until I got enough practice with the keyfob–this is my first car with a fob instead of a plain old key–that I no longer push it by accident when trying to open the doors/trunk.)

      5. Working Mom Having It All*

        I once tried to unlock a car from inside (I’d left it parked and still running, with the windows down) mostly just out of laziness/what-could-possibly-go-wrong. Bad idea. Never did that again.

        That’s literally the only way I’ve ever triggered a car alarm. I don’t think most cars here in the US are set to alarm with motion detectors anymore, though I’m guessing you can still have aftermarket ones installed that work this way.

    3. TechWorker*

      I mean really…? I can imagine that a car alarm can’t be disabled completely for security reasons but a car that has an alarm so sensitive it goes off every few minutes whilst said alarm is impossible to disable sounds like a car that wouldn’t (shouldn’t?!) sell.

    4. pleaset*

      “Car alarms on recent-model vehicles can’t be permanently disabled.”

      I have a 2014 Nissan, and this is not true for that car.

    5. Thrown into the fire new manager*

      I have a 2018 minivan with almost all options. There is technically an alarm but it only goes off if someone messes with the car without the key. I dont think these are the same type of alarms as the car in the letter.

  11. AnonAnon*

    I’m consistently amazed at how many of the questions on this site boil down to problems with communicating. It seems like half of the posts on here are some variation of people asking, “Am I allowed to ask about X?” or “Can I tell my employees Y?” or “Is it right that our bosses won’t talk about Z?”

    And the answers are almost always: “Yes, just tell people what you want. Ask questions you want to ask. It’s weird if you don’t share important information.” It’s so weird. It’s like somehow people’s perceptions of what’s right and appropriate are getting in the way of them having basic conversations and just talking like normal people.

    1. Jasnah*

      Well yes and no. One reason people write to advice columns is not just “Can I have permission to ask for what I want” but “how should I ask for what I want?”

      It’s like when you go to the doctor for a cold, and she says “yep you’ve got a cold” but she might still check you for something worse like the flu, and she gives you better methods to deal with it (stronger meds). So some people diagnose themselves and deal with it on their own, some people need an authority to tell them it’s OK to rest, and some people need the stronger meds or their situation is unusual so they want to check that everything is OK.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        This is a great comment! And for sure I think a lot of the times people writing in to an advice column sort of already know what they need to do but need an objective third party to confirm. I don’t see anything wrong with that!

        1. OhNo*

          Agreed. In fact, I like the LWs here who state outright that they’re biased on a topic and want a neutral third-party opinion (or several). At least they’re self-aware enough to recognize their limits and ask!

    2. pleaset*

      I agree, and I have to open my perspective to see that so many people have been socialized to be afraid of conflict and submissive in general.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        Some of it is they’ve been burned in the past. Like for example, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say, “Hey could you please do something about your car alarm. It’s giving me headaches. Thank you so much!”

        And then I would have gotten yelled at by my boss, who said something like, “I can’t believe you are so out of line that you SPOKE to that woman without my permission! That’s absolutely insubordinate! How could you jeopardize the community relations of our company by doing such an aggressive thing. Now we don’t have the standing in our community to get the skaters addressed. You’ve really done it this time! I’m going to have to write you up for this.”

        So now, I do not do anything without asking.

    3. Spencer Hastings*

      Even if something is “allowable”, there are still things that it’s good to ask yourself…or someone else, if you want a reality check:

      Am I ethically justified in doing X?

      Will X cause difficulties for someone else that are out of proportion to the benefit it gives me?

      etc.

      I don’t know which letter prompted this, so the above is general discussion.

      1. Works in IT*

        Or seeking affirmation that manipulative parents who are making them think they are crazy because they disagree with their parents about work related things are in fact crazy. It’s hard to argue with successful parent who is insisting You Must Do This Thing To Be Successful without a third party confirming that, for example, showing up to an office with parents in tow to demand an internship is a really bad idea.

    4. Emily*

      I know I’m being defensive here, but I don’t think it’s “weird” to say, “hey person with more work experience then me, if I ask or say this thing, will there be consequences I’m not thinking of? Is it a faux pas I’m not aware of?”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yup. Whether it’s asking for a way to communicate without experiencing the easily foreseen consequences, or keeping quiet because you foreseeing consequences that aren’t likely to happen.

      2. Washi*

        Right, and sometimes it would create weirdness to ask! I can’t think of a specific letter, but there have been times when Alison has advised the OP not to bring it up. Plus in a lot of these letters, the OP has been given bad advice by their coworkers (like the folks in #1 who think that leaving a note on the car would be “hostile”) and further confused the OP.

      3. pleaset*

        It’s fine to ask yourselves those questions, but if that viewpoint frequently prevents you from speaking up about things that are already causing bad consequences, you should practice or learn to speak up more. Really. In the long-run, that’s an important skill.

        Sure it can blow up sometimes, but it’s a skill if you want to get ahead in life.

      4. Queen of the File*

        I agree, and in fact many times just saying what I thought was “normal” did in fact get me into some professional hot water. I’m glad there’s a place to ask for advice on communicating at work!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          A recurring theme here is the importance of culture, which can vary between offices. And across fields, and based on geographic location. That the obvious thing to do is not obvious to a bunch of other people.

    5. Zona the Great*

      Communication is one of the most stressful and difficult parts of many peoples’ day. So many rules.

    6. CheeseNurse*

      I agree with you, but there’s a reason people are so anxious about it. Many adults are treated like children at work, have no autonomy, and are punished for small transgressions . Look at #1’s letter, she’s not allowed to talk to the car owner because it’s “aggressive” and could cause tension.

    7. Adminx2*

      Oh I assure you in many places I have worked it was absolutely NOT ok to just ask or share independently.

    8. Tinker*

      It seems like it’s obvious, and it probably mostly is, but then there are scenarios like those interns from a while back who had a bunch of demands about the dress code or something, and it was pretty universally agreed that they had asked for a very wrong thing in a very wrong way. But if it had been obvious to them at the time that this was one of the “don’t do it” cases, presumably they would not have done it.

      That sort of thing is the outcome that people are trying to avoid, by consulting with other people who may see a different set of obvious errors than the ones they are aware of.

    9. Tammy*

      It’s definitely useful to have a sounding board for potentially difficult issues, even when you’re pretty sure of what you want to do. Someone without the emotional investment in the situation can often give you options/things to think about that you haven’t considered.

      A recent example: I had a situation happen with one of the people I manage, and I reached out to a trusted colleague to talk through it. I described the situation and said “I feel like I want to tell my team member X and Y about this, but I’m not sure if that’s the right way to address it?” She listened, and responded with “Honestly, addressing X and Y with your team member sound like attacking the symptom. The real problem here is the way this other person handled A and B, and I’d recommend addressing that instead.”

      She was right, and I had the conversation with the other person about A and B, and it solved the problem much more effectively than addressing X and Y with my team member ever would have. But I wouldn’t have thought of that while I was still focused on X and Y.

    10. smoke tree*

      Well, if the question was always literally just “do I have permission to talk to someone directly about a problem?” then the answer would always be yes. But the reason letter writers provide more detail is that the nuance of the situation will inform who to talk to, how to approach it, or whether it might be a better strategy to just let it go.

      There have been plenty of letter writers who underestimated the severity of an issue, or thought it was their fault, when in fact it was serious enough that they needed to speak to their boss or HR rather than confront the person directly. It’s hard to have that kind of perspective when a situation is new to you.

  12. MommyMD*

    Can employees get there a few minutes earlier and park so obnoxious car alarm can’t? Also it’s not bothering her too much because she’s turning it off every ten minutes. If this were my company listening to this, I’d have put a stop to it long ago.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I wondered about this as well. Maybe f you and several colleagues were to do so so that there were no spaces available, for a week or so, she would form the habit of parking elsewhere.

      I would also second Alison’s advice to leave a note (you are *personally* affected, so leave it in your personal capacity, not as spokesperson for your business)

      Then contact the police ans ask them for advice.

    1. MommyMD*

      I wish a few colleagues could park in front of THEIR office and set their car alarm off every five minutes. One after the other.

      1. Ginger*

        She’s OK with dealing with her own alarm every 5 min, I wouldn’t bet hearing other alarms would send the message.

    2. Ginger*

      I know right. I don’t understand the boss. “Oh, it’s OK to drive away clients. We don’t want an awkward conversation with a neighbor”. Whaaaaat??

  13. AJ*

    Someone I knew had a similar problem. Now I’m not suggesting the OP do this – just sharing. He put a ton of bread crumbs on the roof on and off for several weeks. Pigeons are particularly greedy and would be ready and waiting for him to put the bread out. The owner parked it elsewhere… after having to clean all the bird poop off more than once.

    1. pleaset*

      This is funny. But it’s also nasty if they had’t actually told/asked the person to stop with the alarm first.

      The first step is basic: tell the other party what you want. That’s fundamental. Only then escalate.

      1. Artemesia*

        I think that is true in normal situations but frankly anyone who is letting this happen a couple of dozen times a day has forfeited the right to be informed. They know. Keying is dangerous because of the legal jeopardy to the keyer, thus breadcrumbs. This car owner deserves zero consideration or courtesy at this point. If the car can be towed, have it towed. If the police will ticket, have it ticketed. If there are pigeons about, breadcrumbs.

        1. fposte*

          No, that still would make you a deliberate vandal of other people’s property, even if the vandalism seems entertaining. Leave a note, report to the police, deal as an adult.

    2. Garok*

      Best response I’ve ever seen to a similar car-related issue – the offending driver had been asked multiple times to stop doing something where they clearly didn’t have the right to do what they were doing.

      Someone lost patience, and this someone also happened to be a car dealer. One day, the offending driver returned to discover that there was a giant (blank) sign glued to the entire windshield, which had to be removed before they could see to drive away. This didn’t damage the car at all – it was the kind of glue used by car dealers on cars! – but it took some time, and they never misbehaved again….

  14. Wintermute*

    Does this site have a ‘report post’ button or the like? or do we just e-mail? Predictably several people have already suggested (with or without a ‘wink and nod’ “now I would never doooo this hehehe”) LW #1 commit illegal acts, and that’s a terrible, terrible idea.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If you want to flag specific comments for Alison to review, the best way is to reply to them, but include a link so it goes into moderation. Include a note explaining that you are flagging it for her review.

    2. Annette*

      The manager of this site does not = law enforcement. Do you want her to arrest the people making “illegal” suggestions. Adults can make their own decisions and ignore had advice.

    3. ElspethGC*

      Where are these several comments recommending illegal acts that have an earlier timestamp than yours? I see one saying that someone else solved the problem with pigeons (not illegal) and another mentioning illegal acts tongue-in-cheek but closing out with “Just leave the note, it’s not as bad or as illegal as the options above.”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m not seeing them either. But also, I don’t moderate for bad suggestions. Readers are adults who will use their own judgement, and if something is a truly bad suggestion, other commenters will point it out.

    4. WakeUp!*

      It seems like you’re being a little oversensitive and are missing the humor/sarcasm clues in whatever comments you’re referring to (I actually don’t see anyone earnestly suggesting doing anything illegal). Not everything needs to be taken so seriously.

  15. ProcheinAmy*

    Many cities have noise ordinances with a documented process for dealing with the issue. I would look at your city’s website for guidance.

  16. pleaset*

    Good reminder. And also I don’t have cancer, so whenever I am annoyed by a loud car alarm I remind myself of that so I shut up and don’t complain.

    GREAT POINT.

  17. The Doctor*

    OP#2:

    You were asked/assigned to help Mary, and now Mary is throwing YOU under the bus by sabotaging your efforts. Don’t worry about hurting her feelings, just tell the boss what is happening.

    1. JessaB*

      This, because when Mary gets called for not getting the work done, OP is going to end up under the bus. Not even on purpose, but Mary’s behaviour is going to be an issue when the boss asks how much work OP has done on it, if Mary is honest.

    2. WellRed*

      Yes. Also, Mary is not “open” to receiving help. I can’t tell if Mary is a control freak or if she really sucks at her job, but don’t get dragged down with her.

      1. Emily K*

        I strongly suspect Mary has been slacking off for a long time while successfully convincing everyone around her that she’s just “buried” in crazy amounts of difficult, complicated, time-consuming work. She won’t give LW the information needed to assist on her projects because it would bring her house of cards down and expose the situation for what it really is.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          Or she’s embarrassed about not knowing ____, and is trying to cover for it by digging herself a hole.

        2. Statler von Waldorf*

          I agree with Emily K 1000%. I’ve seen this situation play out exactly like this before, and it ended up with the quiet admin person getting fired. Workplace politics can be brutal sometimes.

          LW#2, you say you have a “budding friendship” with Mary. Do your actual friends set you up to get fired? How do you know that she is open to help and not controlling the situation? I don’t have answers to those questions, but I do advise you at least consider the answers and question if Mary is really your friend here.

        3. Working Mom Having It All*

          My take is that she’s afraid that OP is out for her job. This could be rational (I would also find it odd if my boss went and found someone else at the company to task with admin work that normally comes through me), or it could be irrational (maybe Mary is anxious about being replaced by someone younger, fresher, with more/different skills). But yeah, my read is that Mary is trying to ice OP out and potentially throw her under the bus.

          It’s possible that Mary doesn’t mean anything personal by trying to set it up so that OP doesn’t succeed in doing this task, but someone is going to come off looking bad here. And Mary doesn’t care if that person is OP.

    3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I once had a supervisor with this problem. She really really needed help, so they sent me out to another office to support her – the other office was in a different state and added an hour and a half to my commute both ways. Then after my super long drive each day she was drowning in so much work she didn’t have time to teach me how to help her. So I did the same duties I did in the other office, and tried to remind her to teach me things as often as I could without being annoying. She wanted me to know these things, and was a super nice person, but so terrible at delegating and just not at all organized.

      After three months nothing had changed, and I finally got vocal enough with my displeasure that they sent me back to the main office – where I got scolded by someone who had never even vaguely been my supervisor for not telling him that I was unhappy. So yes – 100% explain to your boss exactly what is happening, in the same way you would update them on the progress of any other project they expressed interest in. Don’t let it sit around and fester. Maybe someone will apply more pressure to Mary to give you this stuff, maybe they will think of something else, but don’t let it become this big thing – because at this point nothing is going to change and it’s not going to get better.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Many years ago I was in a similar situation – my “Mary” was so overwhelmed by workload that she hadn’t filed anything in a very long time — and her “to be filed” piles were interspersed with “to be completed” piles.
      And then my “Mary” went out on medical leave. It took a very long time to figure out what needed to be done in her backlog because no two piles were at the same status or in the same project. When she came back, she was upset that we’d “mixed up her organization”. She left for another company several months later.

      So I’m all for pushing now. It may be as simple as your mutual manager needs to directly tell her to hand you paperwork to file from all released, archived projects. When filing is caught up, she hands you the paperwork for projects to archive & file. Then you release&archive&file….stepping backwards until you & Mary meet in the middle.
      Do check the status of each project you’re given to make sure the previous step(s) were followed, because if “your Mary” like “my Mary” is being pulled in 15 directions and interrupted frequently, it’s darned near impossible to lose track once in a while.

    5. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      OP, to further understand this, please look at the comments under the letter yesterday about the person who was hired to do a specific job but cannot because the boss is inundating her with fires of her own to put out.
      Everyone agrees that OP needs to speak up to someone who is high up and make it clear that she is unable to do her work. Whether this will improve the situation or not is unknown, but it must be done. Today.
      Send Mary an email requesting a specific list of items she expects you to help with.
      If she has none, go to Sara from there.
      If she sends you items, clarify what you can do and when you can expect to start.
      And then take that to Sara.
      I expect you will receive some combination of “Oh, there are just so many things going on right now, let me get one to a good place and I can pass it off to you.”
      or she won’t put anything in an email at all, in which case you REALLY need to talk to Sara.

      1. Artemesia*

        I can’t understand why the OP has not done this. She is being set up to be blamed for Mary’s failure. She needs to be clear that ‘I worked on the TPS report last month, but since that time Mary has not been willing to pass any work along to me. I am happy to help, but right now I am not being allowed to do that.’ If she doesn’t then she will be viewed as the problem.

        1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          This idea that she’s throwing Mary under the bus, OP look around you. I bet you see tires and no sign of Mary. This woman is not a criminal mastermind, but she is a woman who is incapable or unwilling to do her work, yet has kept her job while not doing it. And she has her boss looking to other people to help her. You need to speak up.
          Imagine the worst thing that could happen:
          IF: Sara doesn’t believe you? Then what? You look incompetent?
          Well, only to those two in their bubble of delusion, because every else has Mary’s number. Trust me, new employee, you didn’t win first prize with this mess.
          IF: Sara does believe you and Sara tells Mary that you said she hasn’t given you any work to complete. Then what?
          Mary tells everyone in the office that you lied/set her up?
          Mary treats you like crap? Sara tells everyone you’re incompetent?
          Say these things out loud. Realize the truth will fall somewhere in the middle and SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF.
          This is the workplace. You were assigned work. If you can’t do it, you have to tell someone.

    6. Ama*

      I agree. I have been in Mary’s shoes as the person with a ton of work who realized upon being given an extra person to help out that training someone really does take a lot more time and effort up front, so I understand the initial impulse to just do things herself (particularly if she’s never had to train anyone on a task before, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to begin). However, she really needs to understand that after OP gets enough training to help out at full capacity, things will be so much better. That’s a conversation for Sara to have with Mary, though, and the only way she can do that is if OP tells Sara what’s going on.

      1. Peggy*

        Agree that this may be the case. If Mary is sufficiently overwhelmed with her current tasks, the thought of taking time away to train OP and feeling like she gets further behind in the meantime may feel too daunting. Someone with authority needs to talk to Mary (and who knows, maybe Mary has good reason to believe that training LW is not worth the time, but she needs to communicate that to the higher ups, not just leave LW hanging in the wind). I really don’t think all these nefarious explanations about
        Mary trying to throw OP under the bus are warranted.

      2. ... cats and dogs*

        This is how I read it also. OP could thank Mary for saying nice things about you to Sara but explain to Mary that you still need to account for your time to Sara so will give more details so Sara can decide how to manage the OP.

  18. Spellcheck Optional*

    Op2 – My mentor at work once gave me great advice I’m passing onto you. “It’s business, it’s not personal.” If you want, give Mary 1 more shot fine, but put a deadline on it, but then go to your manager. It isn’t your problem or your fight that she isn’t/can’t let you help. But, without disclosing what’s going on, your making this your problem. Business is business, and it isn’t telling on her. Talk to

    1. Artemesia*

      And if you explain the situation AFTER it hits the fan it will just seem like excuse making and defensive. You have to pre-empt with ‘I want to help but Mary has not given me any tasks to do to assist’ BEFORE things fall apart. You were told to help. You are not helping. That needs to be made clear to the boss now.

      1. uranus wars*

        YES! This is an important piece of the puzzle/timeline. I was going to comment similar. OP has got to be proactive here or it not only puts a black mark on her work ethic but it may also put a black mark on her attitude/response to a difficult conversation if she then comes across as an excuse-maker or defensive, even if that’s not the reality of the circumstance.

    2. Close Bracket*

      “It’s business, it’s not personal.”

      Are words that are used by somebody as they screw over somebody else.

  19. The Doctor*

    OP#3…
    “As a general rule, companies do not want to announce layoffs until they’re actually happening, for fear of causing rumors and panic and losing people they wanted to retain.”

    More often than not, it’s the LACK of information that leads to rumors and low morale. It’s probably safe to assume that (1) the “office death panel” has already met and (2) if you’re not on that panel, your job is vulnerable. Best of luck with the job search.

    1. Colette*

      That’s not my experience.

      I’ve lived through many layoffs on both sides. Most times we knew things weren’t great but the actual lay-off was a surprise. In one case, we knew layoffs were coming. The time we knew in advance was far, far worse. Everyone was stressed and speculating out loud, and everyone’s individual stress fed off of everyone else’s.

      The thing is, no one can tell you if you’re going to be laid off until they’re ready to do it. Often they’re going through the budget to try to find money to keep people on, and evaluating what roles are most important, and looking at individual performance. It’s not until all of that is sorted out that they know, and they don’t tend to sit around after that without actually doing the lay-off.

      I understand why the OP wants to know, but asking isn’t going to get her that answer. She should take Alison’s advice, while also looking at her finances. Is there anything she can cut? How much can she save to carry her through if she loses her job?

      1. Bilateralrope*

        Though the company doing well doesn’t rule out layoffs. If you’re paying attention to video games, you probably would have seen the news about Activision-Blizzard making record revenue last year. But still laying off 8% (approx 800 people) or their staff.

        From what I can tell, shareholders weren’t happy that growth was slowing.

        1. Iain C*

          That, and they had recently parted ways with Bungie, so had a lot of accountants and marketing people sitting around with not enough to do.

          You are not an evil Corp for not eating money.

          Sucks for those involved, of course!

    2. Artemesia*

      And those on the office death panel are often in a position to manipulate things for themselves. I know people who managed to get people who trained them and outranked(and were better than them) laid off to preserve their own job. One guy managed to get people in three different positions laid off in hopes that he could have one of those jobs to protect himself and it worked for him. Others of his department and status all were laid off. If you aren’t doing the layoffs, you can assume you will be laid off. And if you are one of the valued employees they don’t want to lose all the better; get out and get a new job that improves your position before the market is glutted.

    3. Samwise*

      I once worked for a very large company where they laid off a lot of people over one week; by the end of the next week of lay offs, many more additional people had jumped ship (got out before they got laid off). So many, in fact, that a fair number of laid off folks got hired back pretty quick. (I was laid off for three weeks because of that–I was already interviewing elsewhere by then, but took the job back.)

    4. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I don’t think companies hold off announcements because of lack of information – more like too much CHANGING information. Lists of targeted employees change up to, and including, the day of layoffs. I’ve had to literally run to a director’s office to stop him/her from notifying an employee of job loss because a last-minute decision changed the layoff plan.

      Even so, when layoffs are pending, I don’t think anyone should get complacent about their employment status. Even if you’re 99.999% sure you’re safe, plan for a termination anyway.

  20. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

    So ,#2.

    Eh, this is so common. It just needs a bit of sorting. I’ve been both the boss and the task hoarder and I get where everybody is coming from. Just needs to be sorted.

    Boss sees work blockage. Boss says “aha, I will fix work blockage by assigning more resources!” Boss may have engaged Mary in the solution and she didn’t speak up to say “um, not what I need, Boss” OR Boss may not have engaged Mary at all and just said “ta da!”

    The problem may be Mary hoarding, the problem may be that the OP helping isn’t the best choice, the problem may be that the Boss isn’t communicating well enough with the people involved to actually solve the problem, idk. The OP has a chance to be the clear communicating hero here by telling the boss specifically what is (and isn’t) going on. I think Mary is caught on a hamster wheel of work and the Boss needs to tell her to STOP, take half a day to train the OP, and proceed from there, but until people start talking nothing next is going to change.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      That’s an interesting point — I could see a case where Mary’s constantly behind schedule because Wakeen & Fergus aren’t supplying required data. If Mary’s not explaining that up to her boss, it would mean OP has little to do. Boss really needs to know to talk to Wakeen & Fergus, or the people they report to.

      1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

        Right and even if Mary does have everything, IME the most difficult people to pry work away from are hard working, conscientious employees.

        Maybe because I’m like that, or maybe because it is a trait that runs strong at Wakeen’s, I always take some time to plan through the “how” with the Mary of the moment. Maybe Mary has never delegated work before, idk, but I wouldn’t judge her harshly on the fail here, or recommend the OP take it personally.

        1. Bibliovore*

          Or, Mary isn’t doing the work, is so far behind and is anxious, and is buried and has no idea how or what to delegate and fears being found out. I walked into a situation like this as a manager and the employee kept telling me she had too much work. I didn’t communicate clearly enough and say walk me through your day or week, or what are the elements or time you need to clear the desk or catch up, or say let’s take F off your plate. I gave her someone to help. It took another few months before I realized I had to take the task off of her plate entirely. That was I found the unde lying situation.
          OP needs to tell the manager that she offered to help and the employee has not responded to her requests for information.

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          This is a great point. Delegating is hard, and when you’re in crunch time it’s sometimes even harder to figure out how someone else can be genuinely useful.

          My spouse is a lawyer and Other Lawyer was super busy and asked my spouse to write a quick memo for one of Other Lawyer’s cases. My spouse has written such memos in her own cases many times so it seemed like an easy task. The amount of back-and-forth it took to get right was insane, because my spouse didn’t have any of the particulars of the case, didn’t know about special circumstance X, etc. It would have been faster for the Other Lawyer to do it herself, in the end.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I completely agree with this.
      Mary is backlogged
      OP has time
      Therefore OP can help with Mary’s work.
      Maybe it’s not as simple as that. Ten minutes for boss to make a list of priorities and 10 minutes for Mary to make a status list. 20 minutes to delegate work.
      Let’s do this thing!

    3. Plain Jane*

      You know, this could be a real possibility. I’ve worked as an admin supporting people who don’t understand the behind the scenes stuff.

    4. OP2*

      Small update here: Luckily, this resolved on its own and Mary actually ended up getting all of the work done herself. She really is a good admin and a hard worker, I think Sara just didn’t understand that it would take work on Mary’s part in order to get me involved. In hindsight, I definitely should have spoken up and told Sara that I was limited in how much I could help, just in case Mary never did get the work done. A learning lesson I suppose…

      1. Adminx2*

        I feel validated in my comment below. Hope communication between everyone is improved and yes definitely speak up! It could easily have been the other way with Mary genuinely needing help and if you are given responsibilities you have to cover them!

      2. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

        Well primarily this on Boss, for not thinking through the “how” and Mary for not speaking up. Next time you could be more assertive with Mary, sleeves rolled up, tell me what is it I can do if anything, and if nothing, let’s loop Boss in on this not being a good choice after all.

        The only trap for you here was that Boss was assuming you were doing work you never got the chance to do. For a period of time. And that could bite you.

    5. MoopySwarpet*

      I know that I am frequently over-busy, but my task list isn’t just “enter and sort all this data.” It’s much more often an eclectic mix of random tasks that happen a few times a year (at the most) and if the person offering to help doesn’t already know how to do it (or can figure t out), it ends up being me standing over the person pointing to what they need to do for 10 minutes when I could have just done it in 2. The person helping didn’t really learn how to do it, and I could have done 5 random tasks in the time it took me to teach one.

      It might be helpful for Mary to come up with written procedures for some of the things so that help could be done in the future. But, really, when I am in the moment over-busy, taking the time to teach someone else what I’m doing is counter-productive in the short term even though it may be beneficial in the long term. When you’re up against deadlines, the short term matters more than the long term.

      Maybe now that the project is done and the pressure is off, you could ask to be cross trained on some of those things if they might come up in the future.

    6. Tiny Soprano*

      This is a good point. We don’t know if the boss phrased it in a way that lead Mary to think using LW’s help was optional. Or Mary may have perceived it as just a kindness rather than an indicator that she’s actually performing poorly and needs to pull her socks up.

      Either way, I agree with Allison. Give the manager a matter-of-fact update so that none of this comes back to reflect poorly on you, LW.

  21. Gretchen*

    OP 1: what about googling “disable car alarm on [make, model]” and leaving the instructions for her? Then call the police. That is insane.

    1. londonedit*

      Where I live this would absolutely not be a matter for the police. You could contact your local council about the noise disturbance, but even then you’d be expected to take reasonable steps to contact the owner of the car first and give them a chance to stop the noise themselves before the council would be prepared to get involved.

      1. Wintermute*

        I looked over and over and the LW never indicated they lived in the UK. We don’t have a council, the police do that through what’s called “ordinance enforcement”, I understand that’s not how it works by you but their use of language implies they’re in the US where that is appropriate.

        1. londonedit*

          Sure, I wasn’t saying I thought OP was in the UK. Just that this comment section is useful for other people apart from the UK, and I’ve been surprised by the number of commenters whose first reaction was ‘call the police’. I simply wanted to point out that in other areas of the world, ‘call the police’ isn’t an appropriate response to this situation.

            1. wittyrepartee*

              In NYC this would likely be a 311 call at first. Although, sometimes you get a faster response from the police, so you might call them at the non-emergency number anyway. Cops and firepeople get called for all sorts of weird reasons, when people need to solve a problem. Some of my favorite youtube videos involve police being called because of unruly wild turkeys.

              1. DAMitsDevon*

                I actually Googled it, because there was a car alarm going off outside my apartment like every 2-5 minutes a few nights in a row, and the city website says to call 911. You just specify that you’re calling for the police when your call is answered. I did feel weird calling an emergency number for a car alarm, but it’s what you’re supposed to do, apparently.

                1. D'Arcy*

                  Some cities (mine included) have a non-emergency number that goes to police/fire dispatch but tags your call in advance as not an emergency. Noise complaints like this would fall into that category, but in places that have one, 911 would be appropriate. It is, however, a good idea to specify that you’re requesting non-emergency police response right at the start of your call.

          1. Annette*

            Equally as many comments from UK and Australia saying – this would not happen in our country. As though everything is the same except this one detail. Many differences by country always.

          2. Guacamole Bob*

            This has been fascinating to me – I’ve never given much thought to how this sort of thing would vary by country. There’s a lot of activism around reducing the role of police in communities in the United States, and it’s been hard for me to wrap my head around some of the issues because I’m so used to how things are. Like, if you couldn’t call the police for minor stuff like this, then who would you call? There’s no one else set up to respond to something like a noise complaint.

            When you call your local council in the UK, who would they send out to address this kind of issue? Some sort of civilian enforcement authority? We’d call our equivalent of a local council for some things – the public works department will come fix a pothole or a fallen tree blocking the road, animal control will come deal with a problematic wild animal, the utility will come investigate a gas leak – but the police generally deal with anything that’s related to humans breaking rules.

            1. ElspethGC*

              From my local council’s website (you can find the page if you search for “East Riding of Yorkshire council noise pollution”), which is probably the same for everywhere:

              What legal powers does the council have to resolve a noise problem?

              If we investigate a noise complaint and are satisfied it is anti-social or a statutory nuisance, we can issue a formal notice on the person or business responsible, to get them to stop the nuisance or behaviour within a given amount of time. It is an offence if a person does not comply with a notice, and anyone found guilty can be served with a fixed penalty or prosecuted and fined.

              Any costs incurred by us where a notice has not been complied with, will be recharged to the person who was issued with the notice. This may include silencing a misfiring intruder alarm which is causing a nuisance, where a key-holder cannot be found.

              Additionally, we have powers to obtain a warrant and seize noise making equipment, such as sound systems and TV’s.

              How does the council investigate a noise complaint?

              If you make a complaint to us about noise, you can expect a response within 10 working days for a non-urgent issue, although we will usually contact you sooner.

              Firstly, the person alleged to be causing the noise will be notified that a complaint has been made about them. The complainant’s detail will be kept confidential. However, they may be required to provide a statement of witness or attend court should there be a prosecution, and their details may become public at that stage.

              The complainant will be required to complete a diary to provide more information about the noise and when it occurs. This is important to allow us to target our resources effectively and prioritise cases, and to decide whether or not to use noise recording equipment. Failure to return a completed diary can therefore jeopardise the investigation of a case.

              1. Indie*

                Honestly I would loooooooooove to have the American system where you could call the police for noise. I once covered a story where the council took six months to get court approval to seize the stereo of a noisy neighbour. The lady simply went out the next day and bought a new one! Perfectly legal apparently.
                When my co-writer on that story got a noisy neighbour of her own she was by this time well connected with council and police. Didn’t help. She ended up reporting it to his landlord and luckily he agreed to evict him.

                1. jolene*

                  I’m in the UK and if a car or bike alarm keeps going off outside our house, I call the local council, they send someone round within an hour, verify it, check the licence plate, contact the owner and tell them to come and sort it out ASAP. It’s a very smooth process.

  22. BRR*

    My neighbor had a car alarm go off all night and I had to leave a note because I wasn’t sure who the owner was and I took the tone of letting them know it was happening and of course they wouldn’t want to be a nuisance to the neighborhood. It’s obviously a lie in this situation but I think it’s a gentler approach since anonymous notes can feel hostile. The next time it happened I did report it and left another note saying it happened again and asked them to please have it repaired. I reported it the second time and included in the note that I had reported it to the police to give them more incentive to fix it.

  23. Bookworm*

    #5: Unless you have other information, take them at their word. Sometimes it really doesn’t mean this week, sometimes it’ll be Monday (or Tuesday if it’s not a holiday weekend). Sometimes something pops up, sometimes they don’t hear back from their ideal candidate until late in the day, etc.

    I get it. I hate the waiting and I also try to glean more but it’s out of your hands. Will say that if they DO NOT keep to this (like, they never respond ever again or only like a month from now with no explanation) then you can take it as a learning experience in knowing this isn’t a company that keeps their word.

  24. Amelia*

    Maybe it’s just being a New Yorker, but I’d never assume I’d need my boss’s permission to address the car alarm issue. First a note, then the police (non emergency line) In many locations, there will also be a report you can file with the license plate.

    But that’s the correct way to handle it – I’m surprised this owner hasn’t gotten his car keyed already.

    1. JessaB*

      Yeh, I’m surprised someone with a friend with a lift truck hasn’t moved the car somewhere bizarre at this point. Not really, but people would be dreaming about it. My car had a time when it did that, and luckily it’s parked right in front of my window of my apartment. I could point the key fob at the window and turn it off, and since we have pretty good security at my complex, I stopped locking it til we got it fixed – which I hate to say was me being in an accident where the car was hit – I was fine, but still. It does not do that. But beep more than once when it did go off? No.

    2. wittyrepartee*

      Yup! But New Yorkers also have a tacit agreement to care deeply about these things. There’s the occasional jerk, but if someone’s car goes off every 7 minutes most people in NYC would be like “the shame, THE SHAME!”. It’s all about the social contract here. To the right on the escalator if you’re standing, to the left if you’re walking, & don’t let your car alarm go off.

      1. JessaB*

        Born on Long Island raised in Canarsie, Levittown and Queens. Been, done, the New York bit. Not just escalators, trash bins, alternate side parking, walking in Manhattan, shovel your walk. The works.

    3. Name Required*

      Small-town Georgian here — I also would never assume that I’d need my boss’s permission. I would have gone down to talk to her in person (“Hey there, I work in an nearby office — what can we do about this car alarm?”) and then called the police if it kept happening. OP#1, go for it.

    4. Working Mom Having It All*

      I think this might be a “New Yorker” difference, but not in the direction you imagine.

      The politics of this might be really different in a small town, or even a big city where most people work in smallish low-rise office buildings with limited nearby parking. A lot of “New Yorker” culture can be easily explained when you realize there’s an assumption of anonymity. The person coming out to find their car keyed has no feasible way to figure out who did the keying. Meanwhile, even in the major city where I live (Los Angeles), if it’s a small building or a workplace in a sprawly mixed use residential/commercial area, it could be immediately obvious that someone from Teakettles Inc keyed your car.

      I work in a huge office tower with an attached multi-story parking structure, and even I recognize the same cars from day to day and sometimes have a sense of what company the driver of that car works for (the Fiat with the Fallout decal probably has some connection to the video game developer on the 9th floor, etc). Make it a lot with only 20 spots, or street parking in a low density area, and things could get even more complicated.

      1. Doreen*

        I don’t know if there’s a “New Yorker” difference or not – but I will say that not every New Yorker lives or works in high-rise. And that assumption of anomymity doesn’t apply if you live/work in the neighborhoods I have , where although I might not know someone’s name , I very possibly know where they live/work/ what car they drive just by seeing them go to and from the car/house/office regularly.
        Although I’m not at all sure what anomynity has to do with needing your employer’s permission – it would never have occured to me to approach my employer with this issue to begin with.Possibly if I wasn’t able to resolve it, but probably not even then.

  25. WellRed*

    OP 1, please deal with the car alarm however you see fit. Also, consider whether your company is this ridiculously ineffective in other ways. A company that chooses to tolerate a situation that Drives Away Clients is not a viable model in the long run.

  26. Foreign Octopus*

    This is such a mean-spirited comment.

    Just because other people have different problems in one part of the world doesn’t mean that the OP’s issue is any less relevant to her. OP has written in looking for help, not condemnation because other people have it worse than her.

    Perhaps you should adhere to the old adage: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

  27. Linzava*

    OP #1,
    Since you have a communal parking lot, does your company have a lease? If so, contact the property manager. They want to know keep everyone happy, so they’ll take care of it.

    1. Commercial Property Manager*

      Yes, this is one of our responsibilities: “professional middleman”. The landlord would want to know about nuisances around that building that the tenant might bring up when it’s time to renew the lease.

  28. Flash Bristow*

    OP1 – argh, sympathies! Maybe she parks right outside her work (and yours…) exactly so she *will* hear the alarm, and not have to go far to turn it off.

    Definitely leave the note, and sure don’t ID your company, but do leave your own details. Anonymous notes come over badly, and you also want to give her the chance to get in touch and discuss it.

    Alternatively, could you happen to be popping out for coffee next time it goes off, and have a friendly word? It must be driving you crackers, but the more commiseratory and empathetic you are, the more likely that you’ll get a positive response.

    I wonder why it’s so sensitive! Perhaps she can’t *quite* shut the door properly, or the boot doesn’t quite catch right, so it is triggered by any passing breeze? Perhaps you could suggest she takes it to the dealership (i.e. brand specialist, not just a generalist garage) for investigation?

    Good luck, this sounds utterly infuriating.

    1. ElspethGC*

      Our car alarm went off three times in one night (we felt so damn guilty) and it turns out there was a moth trapped in the car and fluttering about in front of the sensors and triggering the alarm. I’ve heard of sensor alarms being triggered by spiders crawling over them, as well.

      1. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

        Spiders and scorpions set off our doorbell camera and motion sensors all the time. They’ll even call our cell phones! It’s annoying as all get out, but makes for great mid-day video. (The sensitivety used to be higher, so a car driving past, 30 feet from the door, would set it off. We turned it down.)

    2. Indie*

      I had the same thought about a “friendly word” because I would be just so curious what this woman is thinking! Something like “Gosh your car alarm situation must be just as annoying for you as for the rest of us! What is the status on getting it fixed?” There’s a slim chance she will either take the hint or grab the chance to reassure the OP that she is working a solution. If she is truly clueless then I would just have to see it for my own morbid curiosity.

  29. Crivens!*

    And here you are, complaining about something you don’t like on a website you aren’t forced to read…

  30. NeonFireworks*

    This reminds me of how young women forcibly married off to abusive men are reportedly sometimes told, “You’re one of the lucky ones! He hasn’t thrown acid in your face, right?”

    We can’t pretend that only one person in the world has the right to speak up about an unpleasant situation, which is where that ‘relative hardship’ argument inevitably goes. If you are keenly uninterested in watching anyone but that one person ask for help/advice, I strongly recommend that you be careful to avoid any and all advice columns for the rest of your life. Problem solved!

  31. Falling Diphthong*

    I’ve actually lived in those countries. People have normal problems with their relatives and coworkers like everyone else.

    I’ve noticed that people like you invariably study those places from afar, through a special no-personal-inconvenience filter.

  32. mark132*

    If this has been going on for three years, I wonder if she is related to someone on the police department in the city.

  33. Flash Bristow*

    OP3, you might be interested in this: I was in a company which didn’t get a contract and long story short, had to lay nearly all of us off; from 45 to about 7 staff in one go. (It was heartbreaking, I adored that workplace, but I digress). I asked what they wanted me to finish up but they told me the same as everyone else: your job is redundant, so we have nothing left for you to do. Go home, take the month’s notice to job hunt and regroup.

    One girl decided to rally against this. She stayed the month. She created new business for the company, which more than made the case to keep her role, and she was rehired. Although I hadn’t personally gelled with her, I was full of admiration for what she’d achieved.

    So – is your role something in which you could do similar? Pre-emptively seeking ways to bring business into your company, something you could continue and highlight if you are laid off? If it’s a slow period, what can you do as an extra project – not just reorganizing the folders that have been a mess for months, but something new?

    The only thing I will add though is that if there are layoffs, the character of the place will be depleted? diminished? changed for sure, and you might not want to remain there anyway, sad as that can be.

    Finally, Alison is right in that they won’t and can’t tell you that redundancies are en route. Now I reflect, there were some clues (we were housebuying, which obviously depended on me having a job in order to secure a mortgage) and my manager encouraged me to press on with it, and to take all the time I needed for those phonecalls, on the grounds that he wanted me to be happy…

    Good luck, however it pans out.

    1. ElspethGC*

      A reply to a comment that’s now been deleted, apparently, which is probably why my comment jumped to the main thread. Alison, feel free to delete this since it’s responding to a now non-existent comment.

  34. Jennifer*

    #1 You might want to add to the note that you will call the police if the problem persists. If she realizes she’s going to get ticketed or maybe towed, that might light a fire under her.

  35. AvonLady Barksdale*

    OP #5: In job search mode, every little piece of communication feels so fraught with meaning, so I understand. However, it’s really important to try to take things at face value and work hard not to speculate. The email, as Alison pointed out, means exactly what it says, and now you have to take that and try to simply wait. Which is SO hard.

    This is a big part of my life right now as my partner is job searching and it’s intense. He got an email yesterday that he tried so hard to decipher/interpret that it actually made him angry at the company, and we spent way too long discussing it. It was a perfectly normal email to send to a candidate, it just wasn’t the “we love you and want to make you an offer” email he wanted.

    The main thing is that while this is a Big Giant Deal for you, and rightly so, the company has a lot of other things going on. Including getting together to talk about you! So try to simply accept what they say, distract yourself, and keep moving forward.

  36. Angelinha*

    I have coworkers who don’t put their cell phones on silent, and their ringtones going off 5-10 times a day drive me insane. I can’t imagine how I would handle a car alarm at that frequency. I really want to hear from the car owner about her logic and rationale for letting this continue to be a problem.

  37. Adminx2*

    I feel bad for Mary- maybe what she needs is more specific training or guidance and instead gets the new person shoved into her stuff. Or who knows, maybe this is Sara’s way of seeing if Mary can rise to the challenge and manage delegation. Either way, OP2 needs to follow the advice given and make sure their butt is covered.

  38. Van Wilder*

    #1 – I would have your company talk to the landlord. Maybe she knows (or is) the other building’s owner. This is problematic enough that I would be looking for new office space and the building’s owner should know, even if there’s nothing she can ultimately do about it.

    1. Jennifer*

      Good point. If the landlord realizes they are about to lose tenants that may be a big motivation to resolve this. I know that in my complex if an alarm went off that often the owner would be in violation of their lease and might be asked to move out if they didn’t fix the problem. I don’t know if there is a similar clause in their lease.

  39. Car Alarm Culprit*

    Op 1: My car did this (for about a month…!) The reason it kept going off is because one of the doors wouldn’t shut correctly, so my car constantly thought it was getting broken in to. Please, leave a kind note first. A neighbor of mine wrote an incredibly kind note, leaving it on the windshield, indicating how frequently it was happening, and tips for how to stop it temporarily (take out the corresponding small plug under the dash – the owner’s manual can tell you which one.) I am still floored by both the kindness and helpfulness.

    1. Samwise*

      It’s the second car belonging to the same owner that’s done this, and it’s been going on for years. While I agree that something like your door situation could be happening, it’s at the point where the owner needs to take responsibility for fixing it.

  40. Cat Fan*

    It sounds to me like Mary is in trouble for not getting her work done and that’s why her boss is seeking someone to help her. That’s what this is really all about. You need to let the boss know that Mary is not letting you help her, but eventually it’s probably all going to come out anyway since the work really is not getting done. This is really about Mary, not you.

    1. Artemesia*

      How it falls out is important. The OP doesn’t want it to come out as ‘We asked you to assist Mary, you didn’t and the work didn’t get done. Why didn’t you do what we asked you to do?’ That is not the moment to then explain it is all Mary’s fault. That has to be done yesterday.

  41. An annoying noise for an annoying noise*

    #1 we had this issue when I worked at a small office (11 in the company) and the offending large offices worker would not do anything about it, and police would not either. We started with a nicer approach and several of us came in earlier and parked in front of our building so the noise would be more muted from further away but that didn’t work for long and we could still hear it it just wasn’t as loud.

    Sadly what worked was when we were at our nerves end we went savage mode and got ear plugs and air horns and when his alarm would go off 3 of us would put our ear plugs in and run across the street to the offending office and blow the fog horn until the offender stopped the car alarm. They called the police but the police only asked that we not stand in front of their door and do that like they asked them not to set off the alarm. Eventually the Boss of the other company called our boss back and demanded that we stop and he negotiated that our boss would stop us if they stopped the car alarm going off.

    1. Darrow*

      This is absolutely hysterical. I love the fact that you and your coworkers were willing to do what it took to get this fixed without resorting to anything illegal or harmful. A very clever solution.

      1. Hodie-Hi*

        Worked in a 200 person office surrounded by a parking lot. A co-worker’s car alarm went off frequently enough to be distracting, under certain conditions. We started making jokes and remarks about the blue honker, even in the appropriate IRC channel. The teams around us joined in the fun, and after a few weeks we learned whose car it was.

        The teasing and jokes continued directly at the car owner who tolerated it sheepishly until he was able to fix it.

  42. Darling Wendy*

    OP2 – So frustrating! I was “Mary”. *shame* I’m not that person today but I can relate to the idea of it taking as much work to loop someone in as it was to do the work, which may look and feel valid as well as be factual. Yet, the intent behind was to create the idea that I was invaluable. “I’m the only one who can do this”. This may not be true here but it is a highly likely scenario.

    I liked what others have said, maybe Mary is not getting information/data she needs from her boss/others and is hesitant/fearful of saying anything. If that’s the case, I can’t imagine she is able to see how ineffectual this is making her look at her own job.

    I definitely recommend looping your own boss “Sara” in to let her know, without any emotion or inference about what you think about it, just what it is and let her decide how to move forward. Sadly, CYA, because no one else will.

    1. MommyMD*

      Yes because Mary will throw her under the bus if challenged. I’ve known deceitful people like this. Appearance of being invaluable but in truth the biggest time wasters.

  43. Mujj*

    Just a cultural tidbit about #4… I studied Japanese in college and one of my professors told us that she had recommended a student for a job with a Japanese company in the US. I believe she originally put him in contact and acted as a reference. He ended up turning it down because it wasn’t a good fit, but this was extremely embarrassing for her. She told us she no longer likes to recommend students because of the face loss with that incident, after she had vouched for him. Totally agree with Allison’s advice here, but interesting to think about!

    1. MoopySwarpet*

      That is an interesting “other side” perspective. I get the impression that these references are more of the generic final stage references, not personal connection to the hiring company types of references.

      I do think if you are recommended for a job and then turn it down, it’s a little trickier. I think in that case I would ask to think about the offer and then discuss with the reference that got me in the door to talk about my concerns. This should give them the opportunity to suggest ways I could turn it down and they could save face.

  44. AdAgencyChick*

    #1 is the kind of letter that makes me glad I’m not an advice columnist. I’d be advising things like “smash the windshield,” “buy three dozen eggs and egg the car,” and the like. (What? That’s not a proportionate response?)

    In seriousness, OP, since your company’s management is being so crappy (why on earth wouldn’t it be okay to go to that company, since you know whose car it is, explain that the car alarm is making it impossible to do business, and ask that the offender park her car elsewhere or disable her alarm?!), perhaps it’s time for you and your coworkers to make pests of yourselves and make it harder for management to ignore the problem. Every time the alarm goes off, go to your boss and say “I’m afraid I can’t concentrate while that thing is going off, so the TPS reports might be a little late today.” If all of you do this, perhaps management will realize that it would be far less inconvenient to deal with the other business than to ignore their employees’ completely valid beef.

    1. Anonistank*

      You can get skunk scent from Walmart and inject it into the weather stripping on the car.

      Ok, don’t do that. But dream about it. Dream big.

  45. CBH*

    OP#1 – regardless of the reason for the alarm going off, I can’t believe the offender thinks nothing is wrong; going out a dozen times a day is not acceptable. Regardless of what’s right, if the offender isn’t going to fix their car, then I think OP has to go to a more extreme solution (calling the police, leaving notes).

    Also on a long stretch in my thinking… if things escalated, could the OPs company take legal action for alienation of customers or harassment? I’d definitely look into OP’s company’s lease and local noise regulations.

  46. Rhoda*

    “Sometimes it takes her 2-5 minutes to walk outside the building and turn it off…”
    Can’t she just press the alarm button on her electronic door key? That should shut it off, unless she’s installed some kind of after-market alarm.

    1. ArtK*

      Those fobs don’t have a great range. It’s possible that the car owner works in the back of the building where she can hear the alarm but the fob can’t turn it off unless she gets closer. She also may be going out to check on the car — after all, she put in the obnoxious alarm because she’s afraid something will happen to it. If you’re just going to ignore an alarm, then why have it installed in the first place?

    2. OP #1*

      Her building is one story – but very long. So I assume she either can’t hear the alarm and has to be told by someone that it is ringing because she is on the opposite side. This is absolutely an after market alarm though, normal alarms are not like this.

    3. Flash Bristow*

      Mine works within sight of the car, so I can stand in my front room and point it thru the window, but I have to go to the window to do it. Im guessing others are similar.

      (As an aside, as a kid I discovered that in the same way I could point a universal remote at neighbours’ front rooms and change channels on their tellies… Made after school dog walks so much less of a chore…)

      Back on topic, I don’t think you can just get the remote to work unless it’s in sight of the car. So the offender will have to get up anyway.

    4. Working Mom Having It All*

      This almost has to be an after-market alarm. The ones that come standard in cars don’t do this.

      1. D'Arcy*

        More to the point, it’s a *crappy* after-market alarm. The good ones alert your phone and can be shut off via your phone, with no close range limitation.

  47. ArtK*

    LW#3, please don’t put your manager on the spot like that. I’ve been in the situation where I knew layoffs were coming and who was going to be laid off, but couldn’t talk about it until the day of. I hate being in that situation and having someone ask me and then having to lie to them hurts. It’s hard enough to maintain the illusion of normalcy that adding a direct lie feels awful.

  48. ArtK*

    LW#2, I’ve been in Mary’s position, where I was given some help, but it would have doubled my workload to lead the helper. In that situation, though, I’ve told folks that while I appreciated the offer of assistance, it was actually going to extend the time. This, of course, assumes that Mary is telling you the truth and not using it as an excuse to hoard work.

    I absolutely agree with the advice to go to Sara. If Mary gets into trouble because of that, it’s due to her lying to Sara, not due to you pointing out the problem.

  49. Spek*

    A pity OP did not mention what kind of car it is. It never seems to be the Panamera or the Tesla with the constant alarm – it’s usually the 2005 Neon.

    1. OP #1*

      You are close, but not right on the money. The first car she had was a basic Ford Mustang, older. And the second was a basic Camaro. While I love American Muscle cars, neither one of these warrants the alarm system she put on.

      One of our clients that refuses to come to our office drive a new Rolls Royce, and he says even his car doesn’t warrant the amount of noise her cars supply.

      1. Flash Bristow*

        Well that’s understandable; newer cars are far harder to steal. The police in my area give out free steering locks to the most commonly taken cars – old fiestas, tatty astras… A new roller would be harder to break into, and also attract more attention.

    2. bookartist*

      Hey now, it may not be a pricey vehicle, but it is someone’s transportation! This classism isn’t warranted.

        1. Autumnheart*

          I drive a ratty car, and that’s its best protection. I definitely wouldn’t put a PITA alarm system on it that grabs the attention of everyone within a half-mile radius multiple times a day. That seems like the opposite of security.

  50. Tessa Ryan*

    OP #1, I feel for you. Repetitive noises are my biggest pet peeve. We had a day at my office where they were testing the security and there was a beeping noise every 15 seconds for almost 3 hours. I nearly lost my temper after that amount of time, I can’t even imagine -YEARS- of a car alarm going off while trying to get work done.

    I would leave a note anonymously, and if that doesn’t resolve the problem and you are an American, send either a non-emergency email to the local police or call them. Writing a log of how much the alarm is going off would be very helpful, and if you can get other people to join in on reporting it. I cannot understand how someone has not reported this yet! In the meantime- can you get a headset for taking phone calls so you can hear clients?

    I’d love to hear an update on this!

  51. Wing Leader*

    Oooohhh boooyy, the car alarm is so obnoxious. In my college dorm, there was a girl who lived near me that had a very loud, scheduled alarm that went off every morning. That was fine during the week but, when the weekend came and she went home to her parent’s house, she always forgot to turn the alarm off. So it would go off, loud enough to wake everyone on the entire floor, for hours until someone could call the maintenance guy who had a master key to come in and shut it off. It happened every. single. weekend.

    I really don’t understand the owner of the car. How is this not driving her totally batty by now? She should have disabled the thing long ago.

    1. Anonforthis*

      OMG I knew someone who did this in college, too. Thankfully we all use our phones now as alarm clocks, so this is no longer A Thing.

  52. Rose Tyler*

    Re: #1 – I wonder if the car belongs to a VIP and the person going out to shut off the alarm is some poor support person at the bottom of the food chain. That would explain why in the world she’s putting up with having to go out there so often – it’s not her car and she doesn’t have a choice, and the actual car’s owner isn’t bearing any of the pain of such a sensitive alarm.

      1. Wing Leader*

        Yeah, that’s nutsy.

        I vote for A) leaving her an anonymous (friendly but firm) note, and B) calling (non-emergency) the police station and seeing what they recommend, if any ordinances are being violated, etc.

    1. Captain Jack Harkness*

      It IS her car, which leads me to believe that she deliberately set the alarm to activate constantly so she has an excuse to do no work.

      1. Indie*

        So OPs bosses are OK with losing clients rather than offend a company who is OK with employing someone who does no work; unless you count all day chain smoking and noise vandalism as work.
        Bonkers.

  53. TootsNYC*

    If I give a reference for someone, it generally means I care about them and want good things for them. And a job that turns out to not be a good fit is not a “good thing for them.”

    Those of us who give references also generally have significant experience in the working world, and we know there are lots of things that can make a job less appealing AFTER the references are called.

    And we’ve probably also heard (and maybe even given) the advice that you generally don’t turn down a job until you have an offer. OK, if the job is really off, you should pull out before that stage, but a job you’re still pondering? That you might take? You wait to decide until you have all the facts–salary, negotiations about work-from-home, more info on the workplace, a chance to finally connect with someone who works there…

    Let me know!

    If you can, be somewhat specific (“won’t be able to provide much mentoring or direction” instead of “bad fit”) since that will make it seem more thoughtful. But it’s not really necessary.

    Also: I expect to give several references for people when they’re on a job hunt. Keep me apprised, so I’m not caught unaware, and give me info on the job so I can make you look good. But, as I said: I want good things for you. And I’m willing to go out of my way (in appropriate ways, which giving multiple references is) to make that possible for you.

    (Look, people have done it for me when I was job hunting, and they do it for me when I’m hiring.)

    1. AudreyParker*

      Thank you for sharing your insight here! I am so nervous about using my references that I have avoided situations that might “waste” them, and have been afraid of making them talk to more than one or two people during my (seemingly eternal) search. It really helps to hear the perspective of a reference giver, since this is not a position I’ve ever been in, myself.

  54. Mrs_helm*

    #3 you can ask what the rules are around layoffs. This might give you insight into your risk. Especially if your company employs any unionized workers.

    I once worked somewhere that had a mix of union and non-union. The Union required that layoffs be equally distributed, percentage-wise, across departments and specifically by letting go the most recent hires. When the economy tanked, we lost a lot of business. Since the union employees were the labor force, that meant that across 2 layoffs we lost 2 out of 5 IT staff who each had specialized skills we couldn’t duplicate. But we still had to keep those IT services running – even though we lost the people who knew how. It crippled our department, and I left when the next layoff was rumored.

  55. Anonforthis*

    Car alarm – I can’t imagine how this person gets their work done, if they’re going out multiple times an hour (!!!) to turn off their car alarm! I’m impressed that the LW has had enough restraint not to take a tire iron to the car (which I probably would have done long ago).

    By all means leave a note. And call the police. And whatever else you can think of short of setting the car on fire.

  56. Sun Tzu*

    About #3… You are NEVER, EVER, EVER going to be told in advance when/if you’re going to be laid off. Even if you ask, they will say “no”.
    When you’re fired, you’ll know it at the exact moment they’re handing you your termination letter.
    It is naïve to assume otherwise.

  57. Lcsa99*

    It’s late, so I am not sure anyone will see this. But while I agree that a note is probably her best bet, I see a slight problem with that idea. She can’t leave the note without setting off the silly alarm!

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