The Enemy Lurks at Our Door
My neighbors are nothing but trouble. Oh sure, the fellow who lives on the opposite side of the staircase seems nice enough. We know each other’s names. We say “Hi” when we happen to be coming or going at the same time. However, he is a borderline pyromaniac. How else can one describe his insatiable love for setting off the smoke detector?
In many living arrangements, a smoke detector would not be a cause of great concern. Like sirens whooshing down a busy street, one accepts it as part of city living. Yet In our complex, all the smoke detectors are hooked up to one big alarm system. So, in an attempt to keep us all from catching fire, if one smoke detector goes off for too long, the entire building’s alarm activates. We all evacuate, all grumble, and all look at each other, wondering who messed up as we wait for the fire department.
You could claim that he merely has more than his fair share of cooking “incidents”. I do not know if he is trying to barbecue or stir fry or what. But at least six times his smoke detector has gone off, he props his front door open, and a billow of smoke comes out. He has to see it coming, right? Surely his cooking sensibilities must kick in at some point?
You may claim that he has different dietary tastes than I and is willing to suffer for his culinary arts. He may want to share the experience of fine dining with me, but since he only made enough food for one, he offers up the smell of smoke for me to savor in the comfort of my own apartment. I maintain: Pyro. A pyro who slams his door every flippin’ time he comes or goes. Harumph.
Then there is the upstairs neighbor. Dear word. The cellular phone that has its alarm set for 3:15 a.m. (No please, hit the snooze so I hear it again in twenty minutes. Sounds delightful.) Recently the sound of violin practice has kicked in. (You’re a grown man. Play better! At least attempt something more complicated.) I can tell you exactly what nights his female acquaintance comes in, what times they have felt most amorous, and who is having the most enjoyment at certain times. (There is no way that bed’s warrantee covers some of those activities.)
That is apartment life. It comes with not having to replace washing machines, roofs, or water heaters. Good and bad. However, at no point in my lease negotiation did I see anything about neighbors stomping on your ceiling.
It sounds like he is sprinting. RunrunrunTHUMP. THUMP THUMP. RunrunTHUMPRunrun. I did the “bang on the ceiling” bit once to subtly suggest that he knock it off. However I like to think that we can tolerate each other’s obnoxious times. Perhaps my 5 a.m. movie watching annoys them? How am I to know unless they complain?
So I sucked it up. It could be the guy is trying to stay in shape. (I have seen him once. His shirt was very snug against his healthy physique. See above about fun with female acquaintance.) As near as I could tell, he was sprinting, hefting a weight, throwing it down, and sprinting back. I argue that this sort of activity could take place in a gym. Or he could prove his manliness by setting down the weight softly and slowly. Regardless, I tried to go to my happy place. If I did not mind, then it did not matter.
That technique was not working. Every time the RunrunrunTHUMP took place I could feel myself getting more irritated. I do not like to initiate confrontation. But come now. Enough is enough.
I went upstairs. I knocked on the door. (Not, “Brute Squad” loud. “Audible”.) There was no response. No sounds were made from people scurrying towards me. I was deciding whether to let it go or knock again when I heard something. A small, eager little voice called out from the next room, “You can’t get me.”
Well, crap. There’s a kid.
When the gal comes over she sometimes has her kid in tow. That explains that simplistic violin playing. (I hope.) That explains why I sometimes hear three sets of toilet flushing within an hour. (I was wondering about that guy’s diet.) And it explains the running back and forth. In an attempt to be an active father-figure, he is entertaining the small child.
Now I cannot complain anymore. (About the kid that is; that bedroom is a whole other situation.) Kids are supposed to be young and energetic. They are supposed to chase and be chased. And they are supposed to be lousy at playing instruments that they are forced to practice with by artistic-minded parents so they can sound less-lousy in the future. Now that I understand the situation, my annoyance has decreased greatly.
I have found this to be true of many interactions with my life. I have often heard it said that, “A person is smart; people are stupid.” Rather harsh, unsympathetic, but it is often how we see people. I had some media telling me that people from other regions were out to steal my job. Then I met a perfectly nice woman from that group and she could not be a more pleasant, charming sweetheart.
Folks that have no homes do not have the greatest reputation. They can be seen as a drain on resources, lazy, dangerous, or a nuisance. Yet everyone in my store has a soft spot for a certain individual who has no formal residence. His demeanor, his quiet nature, and his respectful tone have made him someone that we all look out for.
The list goes on and on. People of different skin color. Folks that have been in sororities or fraternities. Geeks. Jocks. This or that political party. Trekkies vs. Star Wars. We form opinions based on the groups or categories that these people belong to. We could even perceive that they belong to a certain group without it actually being true.
As I am reminded, it is easier to care about a person once we know a little bit more about them. Humanize the person, if you will. When we were told to “Love thy neighbor”, I was the target audience on that one. Know the person; then their quirks are a little less vexing.
We can probably work it out. However, if the wannabe Wok-Wonder burns our whole place to the ground? Then I might actually have to say something to him about our little situation.