Thursday, December 8, 2022


Spouses disagree on how to handle a nosy neighbor


Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
We live in our motorhome full time and have no home base. My husband likes to change the oil himself and always is very careful to catch it all and not to make a production out of it. Last week a national forest campsite neighbor saw him changing the oil and came over and pitched a fit. He said it was illegal to change oil in the campground and accused us of polluting. My husband was very embarrassed and put things away immediately.

I don’t think changing the oil in a campground is illegal. I also know my husband would never think of spilling a drop, and we have to do it somewhere. He has a very efficient system that collects the old oil and we carry it with us until the next town stop and dispose of it responsibly. I think he should have told the nosy neighbor to take a hike, but he doesn’t like to rock the boat. He is a little upset that I had a few words with the jerk.

We do not run into this type of individual that often, but they are out there waiting to pounce. Should I just turn the other cheek in the future, or bite back? —The oil sheiks of Wyoming

Dear DIY:
Sometimes people make up laws for what seems out of the ordinary to them. Some people have way too much time on their hands and need to supervise those around them, whether they know them or not.

I agree with your husband on a couple of counts. I consider oil changes the life-blood of my engine and do not care to hire it out to people I don’t know and can’t watch. I can see how someone might take offense at having repair or maintenance work being done in a campground while they are there to camp and relax. It is best to pick your time and place where you do not have an audience.

If maintenance is necessary, it must be done without spilling fluids on the ground or disposing of parts in campground receptacles. Perhaps in the past this neighbor had seen other, not so responsible RV owners leave a mess. Your husband made the right decision to clean up and shut things down and wait for a better time and place.

Your parting shots might have made you feel better, but did nothing but fuel the flames of discontent. It sounds like your bark is worse than your bite, but I would suggest you keep both in the holster. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his new e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.



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4 years ago

90 percent chance that changing the oil in a national forest campsite violates the rules and regulations. The other camper cut them a break by not just calling the National Forest Service law enforcers from the get go.

His “reward” for not reporting it to officials was being berated by the violator.

4 years ago
Reply to  Darrel

He earned his reward, which could have been more “generous” had he tried something that on the me of the 1980’s, just as an example. See a problem? Call the people you pay taxes to handle it and get on with your life, or discreetly film it for later submission to the people with the guns and badges. Wanna be a tough guy and confront a stranger? Eventually, you’ll draw aces and 8’s on that play.

4 years ago

It probably is illegal. He should have called the ranger not confronted unless he had a copy of the park rules with him. Every RV park we have worked at and/or stayed in have rules about no maintenance allowed including oil changes.

4 years ago

Dear “DIY’s”, I’d be happy to have you as neighbors anytime.

Dick HIme
4 years ago

As a firearms and self-defense instructor I ALWAYS emphasize the need to FIRST – avoid conflicts! Your advice to keep the “bark and the bite in the holster” was excellent. In my business, it can mean the difference between life and death (or jail!).

4 years ago

Minding ones own business has become as archaic in America as reruns of Lawrence Welk.Entire civilizations have disappeared so how many were caused by “nosy neighbors”

4 years ago

I don’t know about the National Forest, but on BLM (in AZ), it is clearly posted, that oil changing IS illegal.

4 years ago

Bad advice! Very bad! All that does is encourage the jerk to continue to be a pest. People being afraid to confront others who are doing wrong is what encourages them to continue to do wrong and is one reason our society is so full of casual lawbreakers and inconsiderate people. I would have just ignored the pest and kept on working. If he didn’t take the hint, or started to escalate the issue, calmly tell the clown you’ll call the police if he doesn’t back off and, if he doesn’t, call them and let them educate the guy.

Of course, you do need to make sure that something you are going to do isn’t against the law or rules before starting. If indeed you were breaking park rules or the law, the appropriate thing for the neighbor to have done would have been to politely mention it to you and if you didn’t comply, then to report you to park management or the police.

4 years ago
Reply to  Jeannie

I agree with Jeannie. I notice she didn’t say she would be rude which I agree with too. I’d look at him like he’s insane and keep going about my business. I just think of you start screaming and acting like a jerk too, you are now one of those neighbors too. Better to let the responding police officer or game warden see him show his true colors and how reasonable you are. I’d make sure the law was on my side.