How Much Slack To Cut When Someone’s Fallen On Hard Times Financially?

Maybe a year ago Mr PoP and I were out for one of our evening walks when a VERY LARGE truck took a turn way too wide and we literally jumped out of the way for fear that he would hit us.  As the truck drove past, the driver, we’ll call him TG (for truck guy) gave us a nod as though nothing was amiss and he was just nodding hello.  Mr PoP and I were gobsmacked.  The guy looked and was acting drunk and was driving through our lovely suburban hood.  Not cool.  But we couldn’t really do anything about it, right?  We were a 10 minute walk from home (where our cell phones were) and by the time we would have been able to call the cops he would no doubt have been off the road and what could the police do.

Over the next few days on our walks, we looked at the cars in the driveways watching out for this truck.  We were pretty sure he lived in the neighborhood and just kindof wanted to know exactly where so we could be especially cautious around there if this was a habit that we had never noticed before.  We found the truck sitting in the driveway of a house and made a mental note of where it was.

A Reason For Inebriation?

Then a few weeks later an email popped up in my Inbox from ePropertyWatch.  It’s a free site I subscribe to that helps me keep an eye on which homes have sold in our neighborhood (which helps me more easily track our home value using market comps).  Well, ePropertyWatch also has alerts and notifications on foreclosures in the vicinity.  And wouldn’t you know, TG’s home had just been added to ePropertyWatch’s list as a pre-foreclosure.

Mr PoP and I reflected on this new news.  Given the month or so lapse between the time when documents are effective and when the public databases are updated and ePropertyWatch sends out its notifications, maybe we saw TG on the day that he found out.  Maybe the poop was hitting the fan in his life and he had made some bad decisions on that ONE day.  We hoped it would never happen again.

But It Did Happen Again… And Again…

It’s now been a few times since we’ve seen him drunkenly driving through the streets in our neighborhood.  In the morning and in the evening.  On streets that he doesn’t need to drive on to get home.  He’s even slow crawled his truck next to us as we walked talking to us drunkenly about my sunglasses.  (He was babbling about the pair of Maui Jims he has that need to be repaired.)  It made us pretty darned uncomfortable that time especially.

In the meantime his house has actually been foreclosed on.  Fannie Mae technically owns it these days according to the public record, but somehow he’s still living there…. and driving around in an inebriated state.

Are We Collectively Cutting Him Too Much Slack?

We’ve never had to deal with the loss of something huge due to foreclosure.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite since we’ve had some nice gains in value on the properties we own, all of which were purchased out of foreclosure.  So we really can’t imagine the emotions and stress that TG must be going through at the moment.  But that isn’t an excuse for endangering others the way he is through his habit of drunk driving*, right?

Given how drunk we’ve seen TG at all hours of the day it seems unlikely that we’re the only one who has noticed this.  Come on, we’re basically strangers that live within a couple of blocks of TG, though a google search of his name turns up a relatively normal professional persona.  We’ve never spoken with him, well except for that weird sunglasses conversation but he was so drunk I’d question whether he remembered it the next day.  Surely friends, family or coworkers are seeing the same behavior that we are, right?  Shouldn’t they be taking away his keys and not letting him drive this way?  Are they cutting TG slack because of his financial problems and letting him drink too much and get on the road when they know they shouldn’t?

I get it, kindof.  I wanted to cut TG some slack at first and crossed my fingers that it was a one-time thing. I blamed the first encounter with drunken TG on the pre-foreclosure we found out about a month later.  And maybe all the other drunken incidents that we’ve seen are all tied up in the same mess.  But I still want the behavior to stop because it makes the streets of our neighborhood (where we spend a fair amount of time running, biking, and walking) less safe.  I think my slack cutting is done for TG.

But What Do We Do?

Confronting TG (as strangers) and asking him to stop driving drunk doesn’t feel like a conversation that would end well.  Seriously, could you imagine it?  “Hey, you probably don’t remember that conversation we had about your poor Maui Jims… by the way, did you ever get them fixed?  But we were hoping you could stop getting trashed and driving around the neighborhood in your big-ass truck.  Please?  The retirees just aren’t as quick about jumping out of the way as we are and we’re worried you’re going to knock one into a ditch some day.  Mmmkay?  Thanks!  See ya round the ‘hood!”

And as much as we’re not fans of encouraging a nanny state, and largely believe in free will and doing what you want unless you’re hurting others**…  Do we call the cops and report TG?  After all, we do have his address and the plate number off his truck.  But anytime we call after seeing him out he’d be home by the time the police got there and what could they do?  Don’t they have to catch him “in the act”?  I mean, if they need to catch you in the act of running a stoplight – surely the same standard holds for the much greater offense of drunk driving…. right?  (I really have no idea and am guessing based on my viewing history of Law and Order, so may be completely off base.)

I don’t know.   I really don’t know.  Whenever I think about TG and his driving habits, all I end up with is a *sigh*.


Am I wrong in thinking we’re all collectively cutting TG too much slack because he’s having a tough time financially?  Is there anything we can do about TG’s drunken driving?


* There’s a bar less than a 10 minute walk from our house, probably a shorter one for TG.  Drink there and stumble home, TG.  Please.  There is NO excuse to drive drunk.

** To the best of our knowledge he’s never hurt anyone drunk driving.  We’ve never seen the truck looking as though it was in an accident, but he really did almost run us down once and we feel there’s a decent risk that TG *could* hurt someone driving drunk.

59 comments to How Much Slack To Cut When Someone’s Fallen On Hard Times Financially?

  • Can you call the non emergency police number to ask for advice?
    Nicoleandmaggie recently posted..My New MantraMy Profile

  • That’s an odd situation to be sure. I would probably call the police in the hopes that they would apprehend him while he’s driving. I tend to think that confronting him yourself probably wouldn’t yield any positive results, though who knows. Drunk driving is such a terrible and dangerous thing. Since it’s repeated behavior, maybe you could pass the info along to the police and they could make a point to generally monitor for his license plate.
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted..Great Trash Finds: The Thanksgiving EditionMy Profile

  • I realize he’s going through some big financial issues, but there is no reason to drunk drive – ever! I think cutting people slack is important when they are going through things, but drunk driving simply isn’t okay regardless of what they’re going through.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..“Solve Migraine Problems” and other takeaways from All In StartupMy Profile

  • I’ve called the police on drunk drivers before. I even followed one down the interstate to make sure the police showed up before I left. Greg’s brother was killed by a irresponsible drunk driver at 19 years old so I have no problems turning someone in if they are swerving or driving erratically.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Birkin Bags are Stupid. Period.My Profile

  • It’s better to report him then one day someone gets hurt or dies. Reporting him to the police would be the best thing for you to do.
    Petrish @ Debt Free Martini recently posted..Can Eating Fresh Save You Money?My Profile

  • I have zero sympathy for those who drive drunk. Sure, your money situation is sad, but that gives you no right to endanger the lives of others. I’d do what Nicole and Maggie suggested. I bet they at least show up and have a talk with him. And if they’re aware of the situation and you know his schedule, maybe they could even watch for it.

    • Thanks, Femme. I wish TG had a predictable schedule, but we’ve seen it at all times of the day. Literally the sunglass discussion episode was at 9am and he was totally drunk, but we’ve seen it in the evening too. And it’s not every time, but pretty often that we see him drifting or weaving as he drives down the street.

  • Debbie M

    Definitely cutting him too much slack by this point–he really is in danger of seriously messing up someone’s life forever.

    As for what to do next, I suck at knowing stuff like that. I like N&M’s advice. Do you know any neighbors who know him who could talk to him? It’s scary to confront him yourself because people can turn on you and ruin your life. But if it was a Christmas movie, then talking to him would show him someone cares and give him that outside boost he needs to finally admit to himself that he needs to move on and start dealing with his problems.

    • We don’t know any neighbors in common, though that feels like a nice idealized redemption story for the holidays, it’s not our reality sadly. We live a couple of blocks over and don’t know anyone that lives on that street. We also don’t want to ask around too much, “Hey do you know TG… you know the guy who drives around drunk?” =/

  • MomofTwoPreciousGirls

    PLEASE contact you local police department ASAP. If he’s driving in the neighborhood drunk he’s doing it elsewhere. Putting the lives of everyone at risk. Try the method above and call the non-emergency line to advise that you have witnessed this on several occasions and call 911 right away if you see him in action. They could go to his home and inspect whether the vehicle was driven recently and do something about it.
    I have been where he’s at financially, but that did not give me the right to endanger adults, children and animals.

    • Thanks Mom. We’re going to call the police and let them know what we’ve seen. I feel bad for TG, but hopefully this has a good resolution for him in the end.

  • Anne

    Absolutely contact the non-emergency police line and let them know. I would probably have let the one time go assuming it was one bad decision (plus like you said, 10 minutes from your phone what could you do?) but this is repeated behavior and he WILL hurt someone. The question is not if, but when.

    • Thanks Anne. These comments are really reinforcing what we were slowly coming around to on our own and making it feel like calling is absolutely the right decision.

  • Call your local police department (preferably the station nearest you). You can report it as an ongoing concern and they can help you stop it. In our area, we’re asked to call 911 when we see a drunk driver, so check with your local station on their preferred protocol.
    There is *never* a good reason to drink and drive.
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  • Drunk driving is a sore subject for me. I lost my 19 year old stepbrother to that, so I’d definitely call the cops. The best thing for that guy might be losing his license.
    Done by Forty recently posted..Power of the BaselineMy Profile

  • Another vote for contacting the police non-emergency number. There is no excuse for drunk driving. If it’s enough that you notice they’re drunk, call.
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  • I’m another vote for reporting the drunk driving. For me that is clear line that people shouldn’t cross. Sometimes when I see something happen, and I’m not sure what I should do – I just think about how I would feel if that person did the same action later and did hurt someone. I don’t care what people do behind closed doors, but if they are putting innocent people in harms way, it just ain’t cool.
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  • Scary! I hate when people drive when they shouldn’t (after drinking). It makes me mad! I’d def call the cops.
    Kayla @ Everything Finance recently posted..Is Black Friday Shopping Worth the Savings?My Profile

  • I can understand sympathizing with someone due to a foreclosure, but I’d draw the line with drunk driving. That really is unacceptable. It is highly dangerous…especially with a truck…and an accident waiting to happen. There’s no excuse for it and you’d be doing your neighborhood and TG a favor for reporting it.
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  • It’s not safe. You should do something. I agree it’s a very awkward thing to have to discuss with a growup who should know better.
    Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom recently posted..Wait, Why Don’t You Have a Will?My Profile

  • I can see being conflicted with this if I was in your shoes. You don’t want the solution to be him getting hauled off to jail. Addiction is a problem people need help with. Even considering all that, there isn’t much worse than an innocent person being harmed by someone’s poor decisions. Good luck finding a resolution to this bad situation.
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    • “You don’t want the solution to be him getting hauled off to jail. Addiction is a problem people need help with.”

      Exactly. I don’t want reporting him to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back (since in my mind his life has to be pretty darned bad to be drinking this much), but I also know it’s not safe for others… and after these responses I think it’s safety that’s going to have to take precedence.

      • CincyCat

        Yes, but you are not the one who handed him the drink & his keys. Don’t feel guilty because the consequences of his poor choice to get drunk then get behind the wheel are likely to be negative. There are plenty of times that the court orders rehab, too, so it is just as likely that calling the cops will force him to get help when he is clearly not inclined to do so voluntarily.

  • Sue

    Safety first! I would call the police asap. He’s an accident waiting to happen. Just because he’s going through a tough time doesn’t mean he can injure/kill someone. He thinks he had problems now….

  • I would have called the police. It’s not cool to have an accident waiting to happen and you could have potentially prevented it.
    Tawcan recently posted..Being appreciative by looking from a different angleMy Profile

  • At this point, who’s to say that it’s not his drinking as the reason his home is being foreclosed on? So maybe the drinking was the problem first, not the foreclosure.

    This is one of those tough situations where there really isn’t anything you can do. You can call the cops but if he’s already home by the time they get there, there just isn’t any way around this. I would still report him though because if heaven forbid something does happen, there should be a file on record that cops responded already and told him the dangers of drunk driving.
    Newlyweds on a Budget recently posted..Why I Started Giving Money to the HomelessMy Profile

    • “At this point, who’s to say that it’s not his drinking as the reason his home is being foreclosed on? So maybe the drinking was the problem first, not the foreclosure.”

      Chicken and egg, I suppose.

  • Scott W

    Others have already covered the DWI aspect so I will just add that it drives me crazy how long people are allowed to live in a house they are not paying for. In some states it takes 2 years or more to get people out of homes when they are not paying to be there. It’s ridiculous!

    I have been broke and I know its not fun but that doesn’t give you the right to live in a nice home for free for years.

    • Yeah, it’s kindof crazy, but technically he’s still responsible for all the costs since FL isn’t a no-recourse state. So the mortgage owner could go after him for the full amount… whether or not they do is more of a political issue I think since Fannie and Freddie have been getting some blowback for going after folks who lost their homes.

  • Jay W

    Call the police, give them his address, truck make, model, color, and license plate number, and let them know you’ve seen him driving drunk several times at various hours. They’ll probably tell you they’ll increase patrolling in your neighborhood for a while – if they don’t tell you, ask them. It will increase the odds of the police catching him, or of them being close by of you (or a neighbor) see him again and call 911.

  • I would definitely contact the police to report it before he ends up hurting himself or others. If this is habitual then he is frequently risking injury to so many people. This is no reason to give him any slack when safety is involved.

  • Mama Pop

    I believe that people don’t become heavy drinkers overnight or only when financial difficulties hit. I think that there is a strong possibility that TG’s alcohol use has led to his financial problems, but that is beside the point now. If someone is drunk at 9 AM, they belong in jail or rehab. If someone is driving while drunk, they belong in jail or rehab. Period.

    Calling the police is the best plan for him and for others. Parenthetically, there are diseases that can cause people to appear to be drunk and there are other illegal drugs that could be involved – it’s not necessarily alcohol that is causing the erratic/dangerous driving. But dangerous driving must be reported.

  • I’m sure everyone has said this but there is absolutely no excuse ever to drink and drive. Have a bad day, snap at someone, be a little negative or have a pity party? Sure, cut them some slack, but never drunk driving.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted..Health & Wealth Challenge-Week TwoMy Profile

  • Another vote here for contacting the police and figuring out what they can do. Honestly, it’s easier for you as a neighbor/stranger to report this kind of behavior than it would be for a relative/friend. I can assure you that no one in TG’s life wants him driving drunk, but they might feel unable to reach out because of loyalty to him. If the consequences of reporting TG cause him to confront his addition/poor decision making, that’s going to be better for him as well as others.
    Emily @ evolvingPF recently posted..You Must Try with Your Finances. What’s the Alternative?My Profile

  • You guys have given him plenty of slack since the first incident. Drinking and driving is super uncool. He might not have killed anyone yet but the more he goes around driving a vehicle while in an drunken state, the chances go higher. At some point, he needs to act like an adult and not put lives at risk. If that means going to jail, so be it.
    Steve recently posted..How I Paid Off $54,000 in Student Loans in 2 Years and X MonthsMy Profile

  • That’s crazy but to be honest I wouldn’t have thought twice about calling the police. He’s not only endangering himself but everyone else. Knowing someone close to us who was charged with drinking and driving is happy because it stopped her from something bad happening.

    Sometimes people have to crash hard to learn from their mistakes and drinking and driving whatever their situation is a big problem that needs taken care of. Who knows he might come back and say thanks for saving my life and anyone else whom he may have put at risk.
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  • My guess would be his drinking problem came before the foreclosure problem. Alcohol is an expensive habit! People I know who’ve managed to quit have remarked on how amazed they were at how much money they had left at the end of the month, once they stopped buying liquor.

    This guy is a menace to navigation. Whatever his problem, he has no right to inflict new problems on other people — in the form of destroyed vehicles, hospitalization, disabling injuries, or even death — by driving around plotzed. Report the guy before he harms someone.
    Funny about Money recently posted..Neighborhood Patrol? Really?My Profile

  • You’ll have to tell us how things turn out, as I agree with you…if you called the police, they probably couldn’t do anything, as he’d be home by the time they got there. (And a confrontation from you is a super bad idea).

    That being said, this post is a little funny to me, because I don’t see what the foreclosure has to do with the drunk driving. They certainly may be related (as in, he could be foreclosed upon due to loss of income because of problems with drinking, or he could be drinking because he’s upset about his finances). But no matter what his circumstances are, there is simply no excuse for drunk driving.
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  • I’d actually give him no slack – it kind of makes you wonder chicken or egg style, what came first, the foreclosure or the drinking, you know? Maybe you can call the local police station and just report the time he almost harmed you, and just voice your concern since there are a lot of people less spry in the neighborhood? Perhaps then, there could be more police lookouts that normal. I just don’t think there’s any excuse for drunk driving.
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  • I would call the police, it could affect lives. How terrible would you feel if you read something on him hurting himself or others.
    Even Steven recently posted..Winter Days Slow Me DownMy Profile

  • Yikes.

    Since the cops are going to have a hard time catching him, what about an anonymous note? I doubt it would be of any help, but may put a little scare into him.

    “You’re our neighbor and we’ve noticed…”

    I’d try to sympathize with him too. If you do the note, include some phone numbers or websites where he could get help.

    There is no excuse for endangering lives of others. Stay home and drink or take a bike. Better yet, get help.

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