We have a bit of a situation with one of our upstairs neighbors, something we haven't encountered before. We put out the trash and recycling on Sunday nights. The trash bin is stored under our back porch where everyone can access it to deposit their stuff. The recycling bin is in the garage; it's larger than the trash bin and I only put it out when it gets full.
On Sunday night, after I'd put the trash at the curb, one of the upstairs people put out a couple of large items: a tall cardboard box maybe five feet high by two feet square, with a big wad of plastic sheeting inside; and a chair mat, like you put under a rolling office chair. The problem was that he put them next to the trash bin, and the city will not pick up any trash that is not in a bin.
I didn't have a direct email or phone contact for him, so I emailed another upstairs resident and asked her to pass along that these items would not be picked up. It was late Sunday night when I saw them, but there was time for him to deal with them on Monday morning. She told me that she had forwarded the message. He also used to live just a couple of blocks from here, so I believed he was already familiar with the city's rules.
He left at some point on Monday morning, and the items were still next to the trash bin. Of course the truck did not take them, and it was very windy that day, so the chair mat got blown into the street fairly soon afterward, where it was run over by a number of vehicles and broke into many pieces. The box was also blown around by the wind, but stayed in the general vicinity of the sidewalk in front of our house. I pushed the plastic pieces out of the middle of the street with a broom, and stacked the remaining larger pieces at the edge of the sidewalk.
The neighbor didn't come home until late Monday night but was around this morning; after he had left I checked and everything was still as it had been left. He was in and back out this afternoon, still no change. I have no intention of cleaning up these items, so I finally decided to leave a note.
I tried out several snarkier versions in my head, such as "Is there a reason why you haven't picked up your trash?" or "You're an adult and I feel like I shouldn't have to be leaving you a not about this..." or "I thought you would have dealt with this by now..." but ultimately I decided it was best to be direct and nonjudgmental: "Will you please pick up your trash from outside?" I suggested he might want to recycle the box, and if so he could put it in the garage. I signed it with "thank you."
Obviously I can't make him pick up the stuff, and I don't like being in a position where I feel I have to guilt someone, however gently, into taking responsibility for their belongings. This is obviously not a crisis, but it's unsightly, and I don't like having to live with careless people. I also feel that I have to tread carefully because I don't want to cause any sort of larger conflict, since we all have to coexist in this dwelling.