Pay It Forward.
February 4, 2005 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Pay It Forward. Rather than sharing in a fun night of drink, dance and cursing with their teenage pals, two girls make cookies for their neighbors . A surprise gift of oven-fresh cookies and homemade hearts decorated with "Have a great day!". Priceless, you say? Try $900.
posted by nakedcodemonkey (119 comments total)
 
What a bitch.
posted by The Thnikkaman at 4:24 PM on February 4, 2005


Wow! That is one seriously fudged up woman to sue some kids for trying to be nice to her. Damn! Someone knocked on her door at 10:30, left cookies and it sent her to the hospital? That's just lame.

I'd highly doubt anyone does anything "nice" for her again anytime soon.
posted by fenriq at 4:25 PM on February 4, 2005


Cookie monster...
posted by alteredcarbon at 4:25 PM on February 4, 2005


I've been watching the Sopranos lately, and I'm getting a mental image of Tony's mom being the woman in this story... fits perfectly.
posted by The Thnikkaman at 4:27 PM on February 4, 2005


Karma's a bitch. I'd guess she's going to get hit by a truck within the next week or two.
posted by luriete at 4:28 PM on February 4, 2005


That'll teach those kids not to drink, dance, and curse like everyone else....
posted by spilon at 4:30 PM on February 4, 2005


More detailed account from the Denver Post
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:30 PM on February 4, 2005


She probably had a preexisting mental illness. I doubt she's really a "bitch". My guess is that she's paranoid, agoraphobic, and has social anxiety disorders.

And possibly bitchus nervosa.
posted by interrobang at 4:34 PM on February 4, 2005


The karmic beauty, of course, is that for $900 this lady will be known the world over for fifteen minutes of ignominy and a couple of decent girls will wind up on the talk show circuit or have some good material for college essays. There's nothing but dust and bile in the heart of someone that goes to court over this, but the jury also could have sent a message by not awarding the old fool a dime.
posted by docpops at 4:35 PM on February 4, 2005


No doubt. Still, it's unfortunate that the judge saw fit to make her anxiety disorder someone else financial responsbility.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:36 PM on February 4, 2005


Young said she believes that the girls should not have been running from door to door late at night.

"Something bad could have happened to them," she said.


Something like, say, being sued by a crazy neighbor?
posted by hades at 4:37 PM on February 4, 2005


This really pisses me off.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:45 PM on February 4, 2005


bitchus nervosa

hehehe That made me chuckle. That lady must go insane around halloween (if she isn't already)
posted by a3matrix at 4:45 PM on February 4, 2005


MetaFilter:nothing but dust and bile

hmmmm...
posted by HuronBob at 4:45 PM on February 4, 2005


Guess which house is going to get egged by every kid in the neighborhood on Halloween.
posted by homunculus at 4:46 PM on February 4, 2005


This is a great item for Drudge.

Horrible lawsuit abuse --> Bush will save us from the evil out of control future!
posted by five dollars worth of thank you cake at 4:47 PM on February 4, 2005


I predict that within a day there'll be a website to donate money to defray their costs, which'll make more than $900. But still...

Young said she believes that the girls should not have been running from door to door late at night.
"Something bad could have happened to them," she said.


So she's generally a paranoid, not just about herself. I use the noun form here to attempt to stress the fact that this is at the level of mental illness.

What's really missing from these articles, though, is the wording of the judgment. How can this be considered justice???

This episode in the American culture of fear reminded me most of the Japanese guy shot on Hallowe'en for knocking on the wrong door.

(on preview: speaking of Hallowe'en...)
posted by Aknaton at 4:48 PM on February 4, 2005


That is why all oven baked goodies I make for my neighbors are 3.5x2.25x8 and thrown into their house, preferably through a window for their convenience. That way there are no surprises.

It's good to make extra and keep them in your car. You never know when you might see them on the street and feel the need to brighten their day!
posted by somnambulist at 4:50 PM on February 4, 2005


I'll bet this is going to make the girl scouts in that neighborhood a little gun shy next year.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 4:51 PM on February 4, 2005


What's the basis for recovery here? The article doesn't say what tort was alleged. How is knocking on a door a wrongful (or even negligent) act? The woman is a nasty, paranoid whack-job, but the judge is also way out there.
posted by amber_dale at 4:54 PM on February 4, 2005


i'm seeing something else will be left on her doorstep soon. it will be in a paper bag, and it will be on fire.
posted by blendor at 4:55 PM on February 4, 2005


amber_dale, the money was to cover medical expenses but the judge did not award her pain and suffering damages.

My guess is she's just started her pain and suffering.
posted by fenriq at 5:00 PM on February 4, 2005


I also believe in kharma. This lady is *so* going to get it. Yes, it does sound like she has an underlying psychiatric disorder. But it's not the girls fault. They should not be liable for her medical bills.
posted by 6:1 at 5:02 PM on February 4, 2005


I knocked on over 3,000 doors one summer. Worst I ever had to pay forward was an almost dog bite. This is awfully messed over.
posted by sled at 5:02 PM on February 4, 2005


I emailed the Denver Post author to find out if there's been a fundraising drive. Judging from the automated reponse, I think there has been:
I actually am in the office, but due to a large volume of calls and emails
about the cookies story I am unable to personally respond to each message. I
typically like to answer each one personally and will do so eventually if
time allows. In the meantime, thanks for your interest. If you would like to
send a message or assistance to the girls, they can be reached at
[email deleted]. Please have some compassion, too, for Mrs. Young, who was
truly frightened by the door-knocking event.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:05 PM on February 4, 2005


I foresee much more anxiety in that woman's life. People will probably torment her for the remainder of her wretched existence....mysterious knockings, angry letters, harassing phone calls....what was she thinking?
posted by solipse at 5:12 PM on February 4, 2005


A lawyer friend of mine suggested that since the girls were technically trespassing when they dropped off the cookies, they opened themselves up to the lawsuit.

He also said he thought it was bullshit, but that legally the judge had to find in favor of the plaintiff.
posted by cali at 5:13 PM on February 4, 2005


Mudpuppie, out of curiosity, why did you decide to omit the email address? If te writer has chosen to make it available indiscriminately, I'm not noticing an obvious privacy issue.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:20 PM on February 4, 2005


It can't possibly be trespassing to knock on someone's door, can it?

I think that the finding of liability is more likely related to the fact that the girls wrote the plaintiff a letter of apology. The first rule of dealing with litigious fucks is "no communication except through my attorney."
posted by mr_roboto at 5:21 PM on February 4, 2005


sled: you didn't happen to take a job with the Southwestern company, did you? Knocked on thousands of doors for them, and have more then my share of stories as well.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 5:24 PM on February 4, 2005


Cali, is that really how trespassing works?? Everytime you walk up to someone's door, if they'd rather you hadn't knocked you're trespassing? One the one hand, yikes. On the other hand--okay all you damn door to door solicitors, come on line up and spell out each of your names in a nice clear voice. Mama's got a lawsuit with your name on it. Ka-ching!

Mr. Roboto, they probably didn't imagine at that point that litigation was a real possibility. The family offered to pay her medical bill upfront and the girls wrote a personal letter of apology, but she preferred to sue because the offer and apology were not submitted in person.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:28 PM on February 4, 2005


Jeeeez, she freaks out when people drop things off at her house, she freaks out when people mail her apologies. I'd mail one in too if the last time I went to someone's house resulted in a lawsuit.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:32 PM on February 4, 2005


Rather than going after the paranoid old bat, let's ignore her and just do some nice things for the young ladies. It is too late for the plaintiff to become a better human being (especially through additional abuse) but it isn't too late to tell a couple of young women that they shouldn't feel like doing a good deed is, in fact, the wrong thing to do...
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:33 PM on February 4, 2005


From the Denver Post article :
She said the families' apologies rang false and weren't delivered in person.

Wow. I'm a 6' / 90kg male who, just yesterday afternoon, intervened in an argument between a kid on a pushbike and a nutcase car driver threatening him with a tyre iron. And I wouldn't have delivered an apology to this woman in person...
posted by Pinback at 5:34 PM on February 4, 2005


" The Denver Post newspaper reported on Friday that the girls had decided to stay home and bake the cookies rather than go to a dance where there might be cursing and drinking."

They must not have had dates...:(
posted by Kifer85 at 5:40 PM on February 4, 2005


Mudpuppie, out of curiosity, why did you decide to omit the email address? If te writer has chosen to make it available indiscriminately, I'm not noticing an obvious privacy issue.

nakedcodemonkey: I debated, but thought it wasn't my place to publicize the girls' email address. The Denver Post reporter, yes, is distributing it. But she's probably assuming (or has empirical evidence) that people writing her about the story are writing to help, and would therefore not abuse the address. Personally, I didn't feel comfortable posting it on a site with as much traffic as this one has.

If you're interested in obtaining the girls' address, email the Denver Post writer (her email address is accessible from the DP link posted above) and you'll get it as part of her out-of-office response.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:45 PM on February 4, 2005


Just a couple of days ago, one of my neighbors, a sweet little old lady, dropped off some cupcakes for me.

In the moment, I said "thank you." Now I know what to do -- I'm gonna sue that bitch!
posted by adamrice at 5:48 PM on February 4, 2005


Mudpuppie: fair enough. Thanks for clarifying.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:49 PM on February 4, 2005


Judge Doug Walker is clearly a dick among dicks. If the girls appealed, they'd have to win (right? right? What fucking country am I living in anyways?), but the girls are probably too nice to bother.

On quick google IANAL legal search: It may very well depend on whether or not the old hag had a "No Trespassing" sign posted.
posted by Skwirl at 5:50 PM on February 4, 2005


the woman was right to call the police. 9/11 changed everything. it could have been a bomb.

don't you know that THERE'S A WAR GOING ON? why else would they search high-school girls so thoroughly at airport security?
posted by mrgrimm at 5:50 PM on February 4, 2005


From the Denver Post link:

She thought perhaps they were burglars or some neighbors she had tangled with in the past, she said.

I wonder what those incidents could have been about.
posted by DaShiv at 5:51 PM on February 4, 2005


>>I just hope the girls learned a lesson


Like what? Never be nice? Don't give cookies to insane people?

Thats just fucked.

posted by login at 6:07 PM on February 4, 2005


It's interesting to me, in these modern IntarWeb-centered times, that given the two girls' unusual last names it wouldn't be very hard to come up with addresses and phone numbers and come up with a really funny prank.

If someone really wanted to, that is. I wouldn't, though, 'cause I'd like to keep my $900. I'm just speculating.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:07 PM on February 4, 2005


Skwirl: I too did some searching and could not find any cases where an action for trespass on a doorstep was maintained in which the defendant did not have some prior notice (a sign or a previous warning, injunction, or restraining order). Without an underlying tort, I can't see how this crazy *&^% could recover. People shouldn't be contacting the reporter, they should be writing to the judge.
posted by amber_dale at 6:11 PM on February 4, 2005


bitchus nervosa and I'll bet this is going to make the girl scouts in that neighborhood a little gun shy next year

Bingo we have a tie! Two winners - interrobang and Slack-a-gogo .
posted by ericb at 6:21 PM on February 4, 2005


Crash, it sounds like you're suggesting a prank on the girls. Which would suck.

Not that the lady (who at 49, is too young to have so thoroughly honed a Crotchety Old Lady routine) deserves it either.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:22 PM on February 4, 2005


IANAL, but my understanding is it's only trespassing if you've been told not to enter their property or there's a sign up or some such reasonable indication. So, if they tell you never to darken their door again, and you do, then you're trespassing; but if they haven't told you to keep off, it's perfectly legal to go on their property.

I'm guessing there's a ton of case law about whether / how much of a fence, wall, shark-filled moat, etc., counts as a sufficient indication of keep-out-itude, but that wouldn't apply to a normal front door.

But again, IANAL.

(On preview, what amber_dale said.)

Some googling fails to turn up any useful links for La Plata County Small Claims Court, where the article says the case was heard. I suppose a small claims court probably wouldnt be issuing any illuminating judicial opinions or anything anyway.
posted by hattifattener at 6:26 PM on February 4, 2005


'Crash, it sounds like you're suggesting a prank on the girls. Which would suck.'

No, no. "Young" is a fairly common last name. One would merely use the two odd last names of the girls and triangulate against the more common surname.

If one were considering such a thing, which I am not, and am not advocating. I'm just saying it would be easy to do.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:30 PM on February 4, 2005


Without an underlying tort, I can't see how this crazy *&^% could recover. People shouldn't be contacting the reporter, they should be writing to the judge.

None of the newspaper reports state the grounds the decision was made on. Tresspassing, or admission of guilt, are just speculation. Sure would be nice to know what the ruling actually said. Did he just award the lady some money to shut her, or what? The wires are having a field day with this story, so hopefully the Post reporter will do a followup explaining how on earth she'd owed more than the apology she's already gotten.

hattifattener, this seems to be about the extent of the court's online presence.

Crash, keep on resisting that temptation. This woman needs to get into therapy. A seige of crank calls will just make her paranoia feel more justified.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:56 PM on February 4, 2005


Has anybody set up a fund for these two girls? My guess is that the $900 could be raised pretty easily through the Internet.
posted by ed at 7:00 PM on February 4, 2005


I've emailed the girls. If there's any fund in place, I'll post it here.
posted by ed at 7:06 PM on February 4, 2005


man i wish teens would deliver cookies here...
posted by glenwood at 7:18 PM on February 4, 2005


Well, I think part of the reason the judge may have given the $900 reward was that the girls had already offered to pay the womans medical bills. Which basicaly means they admited it was their fault. If they'd hired a good lawyer, they may have been able to get out of it, but I doubt they did that either, honestly.

Basicaly, the girls only paid what they'd already agreed to pay.
posted by delmoi at 7:19 PM on February 4, 2005


They must not have had dates...:(

My first thought was that they were probably grounded or something (possibly for pulling pranks on their neighbors).

But you gotta admire the spin they (or someone) put on this: "We didn't want to go to the dance because there might be drinking and swearing." --- yeah, right.

I have the feeling that we are missing part of the story here, and I'd want to know that before chipping in.

Still, Wanita Young is obviously has severe mental problems, for which the girls shouldn't be held accountable.
posted by sour cream at 7:25 PM on February 4, 2005


My first thought was that they were probably grounded or something (possibly for pulling pranks on their neighbors).

Oh the cynicism. That's a pretty big leap you're making based on what--? Any fact at all, or just assuming that no teenager would ever voluntarily try to do a good thing without the parental units forcing it on them? The father says it was their idea to make cookies. Heck, my girlfriends and I used to love any excuse to throw together a bowlful of cookie dough. It's a thing girls do. Especially ones who live out in the sticks where entertainment options are scarce. You get flour and icing on every every conceivable surface, make way too many cookies, burn half of them, put mounds of fronting on the rest, eat 'til you're sick, then have fun giving away the rest. Good times, good times...
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 7:56 PM on February 4, 2005


The woman who lived next door to our new home passed away a while ago, and the family had a big fight over the house. Ultimately, the grandson who had lived there for years was kicked out, and they put the house up for rental.

A few months ago, an Armenian family moved into the house next door. The day they moved in, their teenage son walked over and introduced himself to me while I was washing my car. He was very polite.

Shortly after, they had their first barbeque to celebrate moving in. Before it began, the teenage son stopped by with the "first barbeque from the grille." He gave me a plate of various grilled meats, which I shared with my spouse and my dogs. It was delicious.

Not too long afterwards, my wife ran into the mother, who invited her in. She met most of the family, and they chatted for quite a while.

The neighbors on the other side of our house are lovely, too, although I could write an essay on why, so I'll spare you.

Now would it surprise you to know that we live in Los Angeles? Yeah, it surprises me too, every day. :)
posted by davejay at 8:07 PM on February 4, 2005


Maybe she's allergic to chocolate. Or teenagers.
posted by margarita at 8:20 PM on February 4, 2005


Oh the cynicism. That's a pretty big leap you're making based on what--? Any fact at all, or just assuming that no teenager would ever voluntarily try to do a good thing without the parental units forcing it on them?

That's not what I'm saying. I'm buying their story that they wanted to do the neighbor something good and baked them some cookies (also, I think you can be grounded and still be basically a good kid). What I'm not really buying is that line about not going to the dance because of the drinking and swearing going on there. That's just not normal. Everybody (their age) wants to go to the school dance. If you can't stand the drinking and cussing, then you can still hang out with those who don't drink and cuss. But 17-year-old girls saying they won't go because they object to the drinking/cursing going on there -- well, that would be almost as creepy as that Wanita Young woman.
But what do I know. Maybe Colorado school dances are different.
posted by sour cream at 8:23 PM on February 4, 2005


Or maybe they're just not very popular and didn't want to go because they don't have many friends and would feel awkward at a dance. But that's still a different reason.
posted by sour cream at 8:26 PM on February 4, 2005


I vote we get a posse together. Fifty, a hundred people. Hell, two hundred! Track down where this woman lives. And one night, we each leave a plate of cookies on her porch.
posted by kindall at 8:34 PM on February 4, 2005


Does anyone else think it is unusual that the judge owns a cookie-delivery service? To me, that makes me think that he was just ruling in his own self-interest. Shouldn't he abdicate in a case where he can be seen as having conflicting interests?
posted by cockeyed at 8:39 PM on February 4, 2005


I vote we get a posse together. Fifty, a hundred people. Hell, two hundred! Track down where this woman lives. And one night, we each leave a plate of cookies on her porch.
posted by kindall at 8:34 PM PST on February 4


Heh. I <heart> kindall.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 8:40 PM on February 4, 2005


"but she preferred to sue because the offer and apology were not submitted in person."

Whoopee! Two, two, two lawsuits in one!

"It's a thing girls do. Especially ones who live out in the sticks where entertainment options are scarce."

I can't cop to ever beeing a teen aged girl in the sticks but I have rolled many a cabbage roll, wrapped many a wonton and sipped much soup in sych communal cooking potlucks. All kinds of fun.
posted by mce at 8:48 PM on February 4, 2005


Are all Americans this paranoid?
posted by cmacleod at 9:41 PM on February 4, 2005


who wants to know?????????
posted by Hands of Manos at 10:03 PM on February 4, 2005


The judge said that he didn't think the girls acted maliciously but that it was pretty late at night for them to be out.

10:30 PM is fucking late for 17- and 18-year-olds to be out? When I was 17 I didn't get home before 4 most nights.

I'd like to state publicly: please, please, please kill me quickly if I ever end up in Durango, Colorado.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:10 PM on February 4, 2005


I'll second the view that the family's offer, pre-lawsuit, to pay the $900 makes the suit's outcome more plausible. And, at the same time, considering this made me less outraged at the suit... they had already agreed to pay, the poor paranoid (and vindictive?) woman just wanted to shame them publicly rather than privately.
posted by onshi at 10:43 PM on February 4, 2005


I'll third it. The family seems more than willing to compensate the woman for her expenses. From what I've heard, they offered to pay her med bills and wrote a letter of apology. Which she apparently turned down and then sued them. Bitch.
posted by graventy at 10:54 PM on February 4, 2005


A single visit to the hospital for a checkup resulted in $900 in medical costs? Is this typical in the US?
posted by Deepspace at 10:54 PM on February 4, 2005


A single visit to the hospital for a checkup resulted in $900 in medical costs? Is this typical in the US?

Hooo, yeah. $900 means she probably didn't have any x-rays, bloodwork, or expensive heart monitoring. My last ER visit: 2 minute BP and temp check by a nurse, 3 hours of waiting (it was just me and the crickets in there), 10 minutes of discussion with the doctor, 3 minutes of being felt up (in the medical sense) by the doc, and a take-home scribble on a prescription sheet. $750.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:22 PM on February 4, 2005


It depends on what tests one needs, what one's insurance will cover, that sort of thing. While it might not be common in my experience, I wouldn't be surprised. The woman who sued might also have demanded some more obscure and expensive tests than what's usually performed.
posted by truex at 11:24 PM on February 4, 2005


And, at the same time, considering this made me less outraged at the suit... they had already agreed to pay, the poor paranoid (and vindictive?) woman just wanted to shame them publicly rather than privately.

A court cases--even small claims--involves times, hassle and expense. More than dignity was lost (on both sides) by going to court. And Mrs. Y wasn't just going for shame. She was asking for damages on top of costs. She was only awarded the costs.

Oh, and don't forget that other fun detail: she hasn't indemnified the families against (ta-da!) "future" expenses. What do you want to bet that all the media people and IntarWeb users making fun of her sends her off into more panic attacks? Perhaps the fundraising should be directed at keeping her well water spiked with Prozac.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:36 PM on February 4, 2005


Are all Americans this paranoid?

Now that's a little uncalled for. It wouldn't be alright for me to wander into a board dominated by Britons, discussing some idiocy committed by a fellow Briton, and attribute that idiocy to the country as a whole. Nor here, whatever our national vices may in fact be.
posted by rustcellar at 12:14 AM on February 5, 2005


Now, if the question was "are all Americans this litigious?" then I'd probably just sigh, nod, and shrug. :)
posted by rustcellar at 12:16 AM on February 5, 2005


I'm a little disturbed that people keep theorizing that this woman must be mentally ill or something in order to have acted so vindictively. Sadly, I know plenty of people who would've done the same thing. When we're wronged, our first and last instinct is to exact as much revenge as possible rather than to seek any reconciliation. We're in denial about how petty, greedy and down right fucking mean-spirited we often are. And the more that we deny that we're like that, the more we're destined to carry on being so.
posted by randomstriker at 12:21 AM on February 5, 2005


I'm a little disturbed that people keep theorizing that this woman must be mentally ill or something in order to have acted so vindictively.

No, mental illness is suggested by the panic attack, expectation that other neighbors want to harm her, inability to distinguish kindness from malice even in retrospect, distorted reasoning such as that someone knocking at the door is likely to be a burgler or rationalizing that the lawsuit was required to teach the girls about the dangers lurking in the dark, trivial reason for refusing apology and reparation, etc. It reeks of anxiety disorder, paranoia, maybe agoraphobia.

Seeing boogeymen around every corner is not a happy way to live.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:02 AM on February 5, 2005


That's very nice of you girls, but I really don't think teenage girls should be knocking on people's doors and running away without answering in a rural community at 10:30pm at night.

A girlfriend once baked me a surprise cake which contained some very expensive wine I had been cellaring for the last six years and was given to me at my graduation. The cake was delicious and the thought was very sweet but she also destroyed a lifetime souvenir in the process. I was mad at her for weeks for not checking with me first. It's inconsiderate not to think of the consequences of your actions.

And for the women out there who now think I am ungrateful scum, I should add that after relations had eventually thawed, I took her out to the finest restaurant in town.
posted by DirtyCreature at 1:26 AM on February 5, 2005


It's inconsiderate not to think of the consequences of your actions.

Amen. Still, there's a distance to go before "inconsiderate" reaches "financial culpability". Was the gesture merely flawed, or did it cross a line that they or the parents should have forseen?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:26 AM on February 5, 2005


An aside: The other day someone who posted a link from cnn was reamed out by one of the sad gits on here who appears to have nothing better to do but look for ways to criticise people or point out that the same link was posted 3 years ago, etc. etc.

So how come a Yahoo news link is ok? This is a serious question, I'm not trying to be facetious.

I was glad to see the cnn link on the Taster's coffee story, it sparked a lot of interesting debate.

Are there really people whose lives are enhanced by pointing out the shortcomings of others in their adherance to community weblog etiquette?

BTW, I agree the old bat in the cookie story will attract bad karma by the bucketload.
posted by essexjan at 2:57 AM on February 5, 2005


Baking cookies [x]
Paranoia [x]
$900 medical bill [x]
Lawsuit [x]
Media circus [x]

Is this the ultimate "only in America" story or what?
posted by fullerine at 3:06 AM on February 5, 2005


So I guess, shortly after moving into my new neighborhood, when the non-English-speaking lady from next door knocked on my door late in the evening my first night here and kept shoving a plate of tamales at me while saying something I didn't understand, I should have sued ... or maybe called the cops and charged her with "assault by tamale".

And for the record, some teens do stay home with friends and make goodies and share the spoils with neighbors rather than go to a party where people are going to be drinking and behaving badly. My friends and our boyfriends did this all the time. We didn't not go to the parties because we weren't invited or didn't have dates. We didn't go because we didn't want to get busted for drinking or any of the other shenanigans that usually accompanied teenagers imbibing in booze ... like egging cars or toilet papering houses.

Also, 10:30pm isn't all that late to be out in your OWN neighborhood. I mean, I am sure they weren't walking miles to deliver these cookies.

This is just nuts.
posted by Orb at 3:10 AM on February 5, 2005


Nobody here can maybe just a little bit identify with a woman living alone in a rural area (cue diminshed fifth) who experiences this:

Wanita Renea Young, 49, said she was at her rural home south of Durango around 10:30 p.m. when she said saw "shadowy figures" outside the house banging repeatedly on her door. She yelled, "Who's there?" but no one answered, and the figures ran away.

Frightened, she spent the night at her sister's home, then went to the hospital the next morning because she was still shaking and had an upset stomach.


I certainly think that taking this to court was a major overreaction, but diagnosing this as mental illness seems a tad bit harsh to me. Perhaps Paxil is more appropriate than Thorazine in this instance?
posted by modofo at 4:21 AM on February 5, 2005


Reading this story elevated my blood pressure and may cause me to suffer a heart attack. Ms. Young will be hearing from my lawyer shortly.
posted by ubernostrum at 4:35 AM on February 5, 2005


Still, there's a distance to go before "inconsiderate" reaches "financial culpability".

You're working on maintaining commercial aircraft every day. You follow your rigorous task list carefully. Everything gets done perfectly. Except you forget to remove a tiny inch-long piece of masking tape off the base of the aircraft. Fairly tame oversight in the consideration stakes you'd have to say. But enough to bring down a plane and kill a few hundred people.

Culpability is not measured by intent.
posted by DirtyCreature at 4:39 AM on February 5, 2005


DirtyCreature, I have to say that I find your comments irrelevant to what these girls did.

The difference between what your girlfriend and these girls did is that your girlfriend destroyed something of yours without asking. These girls just baked something. These girls didn't take or destroy anything in the process, so I don't see how the comparison makes any sense.

As for your second comment, I don't know if I'd say the situation has anything to do with consideration. And it has nothing to do with these girls -- it's a clear error causing real, terrible harm made by someone who's paid and trained not to make the error.

But even if it did relate to this situation, you're confusing the analysis by claiming that it's a tame oversight. Tape on a screw is insignificant to us in day to day life, but because it can bring down a plane, it's NOT insignificant to an aircraft maintenance worker. His job is to follow proper procedures exactly. If he doesn't, even by accident, he's been grossly negligent.
posted by defending chump at 4:54 AM on February 5, 2005


I don't know if I'd say the situation has anything to do with consideration

Their mission was to make someone in their neighborhood happy. They gave no consideration to the fact that an older lady staying with her daughter could have been very frightened by late night knocking on the door with no answer in her rural community. I'd have to say that I wouldn't be too eager about eating those cookies either under those circumstances. Would you?

Nobody is arguing the girls aren't enormously sweet-hearted and kind. But analyzing consequences of any thing you do so as not to be misinterpretted and cause people unwanted grief is a major part of daily life.
posted by DirtyCreature at 5:09 AM on February 5, 2005


"I stick my neck out for nobody" - Rick Blaine

What's irritating is the girls accepted responsibility by offering to pay for the medical bills, etc.

At some point, no matter how nice your trying to be you have to realize that some folks are just scorpions (as in the frog & scorpion fable) and can't be helped.

Any reasonable person would have said "Oh it was just kids trying to be nice, boy did I overreact." and take the hit.
Perhaps the lady can't afford to pay for the doctors, etc., but that could have been settled out of court.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:48 AM on February 5, 2005


Are all Americans this paranoid?

Their government's foreign/domestic security policy certainly is. Lead by example.

Just in case you thought it would be difficult to blame the Bush regime for this ; )
posted by asok at 5:59 AM on February 5, 2005


I certainly think that taking this to court was a major overreaction, but diagnosing this as mental illness seems a tad bit harsh to me. Perhaps Paxil is more appropriate than Thorazine in this instance?

Now, you do realize that Paxil is for mental illness, don't you? Not all mental illness is of the sever variety (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression). Panic/anxiety disorder is a mental illness. If she gets these kinds of attacks over minor incidences often, then she would do well to seek treatment.
posted by Bort at 6:44 AM on February 5, 2005


Everybody (their age) wants to go to the school dance.

Not really. I know I didn't. Fellow misanthropes will understand.

Are all Americans this paranoid?

Of course not. That's why this made the papers.

Likewise, the people you see on Jerry Springer are not typical of our citizenry.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:34 AM on February 5, 2005


Are all Americans this paranoid?

Paranoid, no, but relatively fearful. Americans have less of a safety net than the citizens of most other western nations. And in a country with a universal health care system, she wouldn't have had a $900 bill to sue over.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:56 AM on February 5, 2005


The issues is not the old woman—there have always been cranks and nutcases. The issue is that the court validated her and penalized someone for knocking on a door with friendly and non-commercial intent.
posted by rushmc at 9:01 AM on February 5, 2005


A local radio show is soliciting donations for the girls. From the link:
If you want to send a donation (check or money order) to the girls to help pay off the judgement, or a letter of support, you can send it to Taylor Ostergaard, 415 County Road 307, Durango, Colorado 81303. Notes to Lindsey Jo Zeletti can be sent to the same address.
posted by amber_dale at 9:31 AM on February 5, 2005


I agree with randomstriker that this woman is not necessarily mentally ill. I have also met many supposedly normal people just as mean spirited, vindictive, and irrational as this woman. Maybe a significant part of the population should be classified as mentally ill? I think that the judge should be on medication though, if they have one for that kind of stupidity.
posted by blue shadows at 10:04 AM on February 5, 2005


I imagine this woman would go off the deep end if she ever found out there are satellite images showing her house. Break out the tinfoil...
posted by five fresh fish at 11:35 AM on February 5, 2005


Though I'm currently in the UK and out of the realm of US courts, I have to wonder if there is something to be said for suing her in response.

Say I am also in Colorado and this whole incident makes me so angry that I punch a wall and shatter my fist. Would my own failures (high temper, hitting a stud) being triggered by her actions leave her culpable? I know this is unfeasible, but I want to know why. What is the distinction between my fabricated situation and that of this woman?
posted by herting at 12:39 PM on February 5, 2005


DirtyCreature: Culpability is not measured by intent.

Culpability is not always measured by intent, but it is always measured by some mental state, be it intent, knowledge, or mere negligence (legally speaking, essentially "unreasonable carelessness"). Civil liability isn't always assigned according to mental culpability however, as in the case of plane maintenance you mention. However, there's a big difference between the consequences of a bad airplane mechanic and a "bad" girl delivering cookies -- about 200 dead.

herting: actually the standards for your situation are probably almost the same here as they are in the UK; we share a great deal of common law in the civil liability context. I imagine that your suit would be barred by the fact that you acted last -- though the defendant (arguably) "caused" you to punch a wall, it was still a voluntary act on your part that immediately led to the harm.

Unless you want to maintain that it wasn't voluntary, that you have some kind of mental condition that makes you automatically punch walls when you hear stories that piss you off. Even in that case though I'm pretty sure any court would find that the effect on you was not a foreseeable outcome of her action, and still no recovery.
posted by rkent at 1:13 PM on February 5, 2005


So is this the end of the T&L Club?
posted by samuelad at 1:23 PM on February 5, 2005


Yes, this was a gross overreaction, and yes, it was over the top, but am I the only person around here to think that 10:30pm is too late to be knocking on a neighbor's door unless it's someone you know really well and know will be up that late? My partner has to get up at 6am for work; he's usually getting ready for bed at 10:30 and is asleep by 11.

As they'd say on "Curb Your Enthusiasm", it's past the cutoff.
posted by chuq at 1:34 PM on February 5, 2005


Hmmm.... So you are saying I should have waited longer before opting to repeatedly slam my fist into the wall?
posted by herting at 1:51 PM on February 5, 2005


chuq, they only knocked on the doors of houses where lights were on. Their deranged wombat of a neighbor (home with her adult daughter and mother, by the way) had her kitchen light on, which was visible from the street.
posted by amber_dale at 1:59 PM on February 5, 2005


Now would it surprise you to know that we live in Los Angeles? Yeah, it surprises me too, every day. :)

Not a bit, and I lived in L.A. for five years. I don't even know what you think you're implying. That it's a big surprise when neighbors of different races in Los Angeles get along with each other?
posted by bingo at 2:16 PM on February 5, 2005


Update: the Post says that thousands of dollars have been pledged to the girls, and that they are on their way to NYC to do "Good Morning America".
posted by Shoeburyness at 2:25 PM on February 5, 2005


I read it as more surprise that neighbours in LA can be friends at all. From my perspective, it seems to me that LA would pretty much be a place where everyone tries to ignore everyone else. Race doesn't begin to enter the picture, other than as a bit of extra interesting detail in the story.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:56 PM on February 5, 2005


I wonder if the batty woman will now be suing the girls for a cut of their earnings. After all, she enabled them to make these profits!
posted by five fresh fish at 2:56 PM on February 5, 2005


The nutball lady might leave her kitchen light on to discourage burglars. who knows. No doubt, she's indeed a deranged wombat to sue them, and I think the judge should have dismissed the case. It was really sweet of the girls to do that for their neighbors, but I think they used questionable judgment in doing it at 10:30 at night.

Doesn't anybody have to get up early for work anymore?

I don't know what kinda homes y'all were raised in, but in my house 10:30 is too late to be calling at a neighbor's unless you know you're welcome ... and we still wouldn't be knocking at our best friends' door at that hour unless it was important, or we were expected.

People shouldn't make any assumptions about knocking on strangers' doors late at night. A lot of people get up early, and consider 10:30pm to be late.

I live in Los Angeles too, and our neighbors brought us food beginning the day we moved in, and some of them are coming over for a King Cake party tonight. We like them, they like us. I still wouldn't pound on their doors at 10:30 unless I was certain it wasn't an intrusion. Sheesh.

So, thanks for the cookies, but if it's after 10, leave them in the mailbox with a note, and we'll come by the next day to thank you personally and probably bring something for you as well.

herting -- Slam away. Fortunately we now live in a detached, single-family home, and no longer have to share a wall with the likes of you. :-)
posted by chuq at 3:33 PM on February 5, 2005


am I the only person around here to think that 10:30pm is too late to be knocking on a neighbor's door unless it's someone you know really well and know will be up that late?

It's definitely too late, but you grumble at them and tell them to never do it again, you don't sue them.

The parents should be ashamed for not setting better parameters for them, though.
posted by rushmc at 3:46 PM on February 5, 2005


good god.

They are giddy, silly, giggling 17 year old girls who, excited at the idea of leaving mysterious gifts on people's doorsteps, doing a great and truly random-seeming act of kindness on their neighbours, spreading the sheer love of being alive. They've spent the day being silly as hell in the kitchen, talking about boys, talking about other girls, sharing the gossip, making plans for their post-secondary future, making a mess, eating raw batter, screwing up the first batch by accident because someone ("and I'm not naming names, here, Lindsey, but it was you!") put in 1T of salt, not 1t! And now the baking is done and they have to cool down and then its supper and then a movie and then oh no! we forgot the cookies and we'll run around and do it now and we won't tell them who it's from and won't it be so fun!

Some of you should be ashamed for not understanding it was a childish mistake made with the best of intentions.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:17 PM on February 5, 2005


rushmc: the parents were probably just happy they wern't getting drunk or knocked up at a party/dance.
posted by Iax at 4:31 PM on February 5, 2005


they are on their way to NYC to do "Good Morning America".

Are they bringing cookies?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:20 PM on February 5, 2005


This is a rather rural area, out by the airport. The parcels are
probably around 40 acres apiece. A knock on the door at
10:30 pm on a Saturday night is much more threatening than
if you live in the suburbs, ten houses to an acre.

Two of my rural neighbors have had encounters with people
who meant them harm. One elderly woman lost an eye in a
hammer attack, and probably would have been killed if she
hadn't dialed 911 as soon as she saw the interloper. The
other neighbor was home alone when a man was trying to
get into the house. Sheriff's response takes 30 minutes,
minimum (it's rural), and until they arrived, she was very
afraid.

That being said, I think an apology should have been enough.
posted by the Real Dan at 5:22 PM on February 5, 2005


Please have some compassion, too, for Mrs. Young, who was truly frightened by the door-knocking event.

That, my friends, is one classy reporter.

Well, the sentence is classy, anyway.
posted by mediareport at 5:47 PM on February 5, 2005


For the record, a 49 year old woman is not an old lady. Heck, she is not even an older lady. She's just a lady, or, in a pinch, a middle aged lady. In fact, she had a daughter about the same age as the girls from the story. One wonders if that daughter and the two girls knew each other.

There are tons of details that are not in this story. This is what I said earlier, and say again, going after the litigant is unfair. Telling the young ladies that they should continue doing good deeds even if people act like this is, IMO, a better idea.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:38 PM on February 5, 2005


OMG, five fresh fish was there with them!
posted by sour cream at 7:00 PM on February 5, 2005


A knock on the door at 10:30 pm on a Saturday night is much more threatening than if you live in the suburbs, ten houses to an acre.

I dunno. I have to disagree. When I lived in the country, a late knock on the door was always from a neighbor or from someone needing help. In fact, the one time I remember best was when a kid who lived a mile or so away lost his 4-H hog and wondered if I'd seen it.

Personally, I'm more likely to answer a late-night country knock than a late-night city knock.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:15 PM on February 5, 2005


Does anyone have this womans contact information? I need someone who I can call and scream obscenities at whenever I'm having a bad day.
posted by Parannoyed at 9:35 PM on February 5, 2005


the real dan: Do you live on the mesa or are you speaking about rural areas in general?

Reason I ask is that I spent part of my youth in Durango and I know the mesa area rather well. A knock at 10:30 PM meant that a neighbor needed help and wasn't a particularly upsetting thing to have happen.

Also, if this is the same Ostergaard family, they are LDS (Mormon) which might be a reason the girls didn't want to attend that kind of a party.
posted by Plunge at 10:16 PM on February 5, 2005


MP, my neighbors would always call me if they wanted to knock on my door at 10:30 at night. Anyone who knocks on my door at night is not my neighbor.

P, no, and no. My current rural area, particularly. I would feel safer with a midnight knock out on the mesa than I would here.

I omitted a detail that makes a more sense of my previous comment: in both of the instances I mentioned, the malefactor knocked on the door first.
posted by the Real Dan at 11:16 PM on February 5, 2005


Here's a message I just received from the parents:

Dear Folks: Feb 8, 2005


In regard to the outpouring of sympathy and support for Lindsey and Taylor, we want the express to you a heartfelt thanks and sincere appreciation that you, and so much of America and Canada, have shown them. This alone more than makes up for the stress and worry they have experienced the past six months as well as the big disappointment of the trial ruling.

For any letters or anything else that you wish them to receive we have set up a post office box for them. Proceeds over court costs will be used for the girls' college savings and donated to charities such as Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, UT, and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Both are top medical facilities for children.

The address:

Taylor Ostergaard
Lindsey Zellitti
P.O. BOX 2528
Durango, CO 81302

If there is a final lesson or message to be learned in all of this, it would be to always show kindness and thoughtfulness to others regardless of the outcome. We would desire that every one would treat the Young family with gentleness and hope that no further stress or pain comes to them.

Be sure and include your address and e-mail as they hope to return a thank you . We so appreciate the extended gesture of friendship to each of you and truly hope that this finds you health. May your smiles be many and come
easily.

If your ever in Durango, give us a holler: Again, thank you so very much.

Sincerely Yours
Richard F. and Jill Ostergaard / Barry and Martha Zellitti
PO BOX 2528
Durango, CO 81302
posted by ed at 11:55 AM on February 8, 2005


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