Ask Athena: Don’t Go There

Even when you’re 100% right, it’s never good to be a dick about it. 

Skidoo Street, East Falls (2016)


Dear Athena,
If I see someone throwing dog poop into a trashcan on my property, can I make a Citizen’s Arrest? How does that work?  — Fed Up in the Falls

Ah the perennial poop problem. Dogs bring such joy but keep on delivering those messy deposits. Your poop-tosser is halfway there in compliance, let’s try to bring them home.

Get in their mindset: is there any clear indication that you don’t want poop in your trashcan? Many people don’t realize trashcans aren’t public property, especially when they are conveniently out on the sidewalk or driveway. Seems the dog owner on your street is picking up after their pet, but then where to put the pungent package? A nearby garbage pail seems a logical solution.

But it also leaves you with the stink. I get it, that’s not ideal but there’s no reason to call out the Long Arm of the Law. Maybe try leaving a sign on your trashcan first? Something lighthearted is probably in order, or perhaps keep it neutral by slapping a “Security Camera in Use” sticker on it? People tend to be better citizens when they know they’re being watched.

You know what doesn’t work to change behavior? Nagging, scolding, and threatening. A Citizen’s Arrest would definitely fall under this umbrella. So wrong on so many counts, not least of all that Pennsylvania doesn’t even have a Citizen’s Arrest law.

Confronting someone to illegally charge them with criminal action is no way to settle a community dispute. Restraining someone is illegal and you have no power to give someone a ticket.  And, anyway, do you really want to arrest someone who is cleaning up after their dog?  Come on.

So try a friendly note, a gentle reminder. If that doesn’t work, come up with a plan to protect yourself. Maybe pull the trashcan out of the way, or secure the lid so it can’t be easily lifted. Amazon, for instance, sells a ton of lid-locks and storage screens that might make your waste bin less attractive to owners looking to unload a doggie deposit.

Let go of that anger! Too many dog owners leave a mess on the sidewalk.  This one at least is taking some care. An arrest is not the solution.  Some neighborly problem-solving is.


Dear Athena,
My ex is getting married soon, and the girl’s got no idea what a lying cheater he is. I want to go to the church and stand up when they say that part about speaking now or forever holding your peace. Tell everyone who he really is! My friends say that would be more humiliating for me than him but I’m not so sure. What do you think?  — June Boom

Me thinks thou doth protest too much. Sounds like someone’s not over their ex…

The mere fact that you feel this is a good idea is tremendously sad. If you were truly over him, you wouldn’t care. Your “concern” for his fiancée is breathtakingly transparent. You are not fooling anyone.

Your friends are right; there is no way this can go well for you. Fortunately, it’s unlikely you’ll even have the opportunity – very few weddings these days include a call for objections.

This old custom dates back to the Medieval Ages, when the marriage vows were literally binding families together legally on the spot. Today, couples get all their paperwork in line before the Big Day. It’s unlikely there’d be any valid legal objections to make.

Because that’s the thing: this “speak now” clause has never been about declaring your love or outing an ex for being an awful person. It’s a legal thing, so you’d need to have a legal objection – like, if you knew that one of them was already married. Even then, though, I don’t think it’s your place.

It’s time to take a good look in the mirror, and resolve to invest in whatever you need to become whole again after what I can only assume was a very painful relationship. It’s OK, though, you can heal! Your first task is to identify those still-unresolved issues, so you can start working through them.

Whether you turn to friends, family, clergy, a therapist… do talk to someone about the feelings you have toward your ex and his fiancée. Your urge to make a scene at their wedding is a big red flag, and hopefully it’ll be the “ah-ha” moment you need to close the chapter on this chump forever.

Go make your own happiness – that’s the best revenge anyway, after all.

Agree or Disagree? Please comment below.
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Read last month’s Ask Athena here.

About Athena 44 Articles
When she’s not advising mortals, Athena spends her time on earth in NW Philly with her husband, two sons and a day job where she’s paid to tell important people what to do (naturally). Send your questions to


  1. Well, that first one was very Karen-ish. I can’t for the life of me understand why one earth putting dog poop in their trash was such a big deal? It was in the little doggy poop bag right? Freaking weird, to make such a stink over something so petty.

    • Agree! But at least once a month someone posts this kind of complaint on our neighborhood’s Facebook page and it’s always interesting to see all the Karens come out of the woodwork lol

  2. In our neighborhood we just wish people wouldn’t dump their trash. We’d be thrilled if people actually put trash/poop in the trash. Oh, Karen problems! Ugh!

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