The Noisy Neighbor Blues

For three days, as the slogan goes, life was good at Covenant Woods. Last night, it returned to normal. Sunday evening, after making a couple laps around the building, I stopped in the lobby to talk to Tony, who is a resident here, and Bev, who was working at the desk. The conversation soon turned to the subject of my next-door neighbor and her son.

I had been living at Covenant Woods for four years when the woman moved in next door. Both Corrine and Leila, the previous occupants of that apartment, were quiet neighbors. Richie, who lives next door on the other side, had quieted down, too. The nearly constant, always loud, drunken revelries he and William so enjoyed, and which always took place in Richie's apartment, seemed to have become a thing of the past. Oh, they still had an occasional pre-party before heading to Covenant Woods' Friday afternoon Happy Hour, but they were seldom rowdy after the sun went down. And Richie must have moved his TV away from the wall we share. It wasn't a bad neighborhood.

With the new neighbor came what must be a recording, or a slew of CDs on which some guy drones on and on about something, I'm not sure what. And I got to listen to them through the wall nearly every night.

I did my best to be patient. My view is, in a place such as Covenant Woods, we residents have to put up with each other, within reason, of course, from 8 a.m.until 10 or 10:30 p.m., certainly no later than 11 p.m. From 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. we need to think of each other. Not everyone is in bed by 11, but many folks are. We need to keep that in mind and be willing to adjust if our late-night activities make it difficult for a neighbor to sleep.

My new neighbor never turned the recordings off or even reduced the volume by 11, and seldom by midnight. A week or two after she moved in, I saw her in the hall and asked her to please turn it down. "You'll have to talk to my son. He's the one who listens to that stuff." I told her that wasn't my responsibility. She shot me a not-my-problem look and walked away.

 With that in mind, I turned to the night security man. On nights when the noise from next door kept me from sleeping, I'd call the desk and ask the security guy to ask the neighbor to quiet down. Some nights the response came within a few minutes, other nights there was no response at all. At the time, I thought a no-response meant that a more urgent matter had arisen - a medical emergency, perhaps.

At the time, the neighbor's son drove a Kia that had obviously been in an accident. The left side was bashed in, and the windows on the left side had been replaced with sheets of plastic. It was an ugly piece of junk, and its absence greatly improved the appearance of the parking lot. Its absence also improved my mood: if the car wasn't here, neither was the son. There were occasions when he was gone for two or three days. And every time it was gone for more than a day, I hoped he had found more a suitable residence for himself. But he always came back.

In December or January, I talked to Kerri, who is the business manager, about my neighbor and her son. Kerri talked to my neighbor, and the problem seemed to be solved. The following week, the neighbor apologized for bothering me. A week later, the son was back and unrepentant.

Since then, the neighbor has been told several times that her son is not allowed in the building at night. The son has been escorted to the door and told to leave a number of times. Two days later, heeeeee's back.

The son was here over the weekend, and he was his usual ignorant, inconsiderate self Friday and Saturday nights. Calling the security guy is often an exercise in futility. I found out along the way that when the security guy doesn't knock on the neighbor's door and tell the son to get out of the building, it's not because a more important situation requires his attention. It means he walked by the neighbor's apartment and maybe even stopped in the hallway for a minute to listen but didn't hear anything. If he doesn't hear anything, he can't do anything.

This was the gist of my conversation with Tony and Bev on Sunday. I told them I thought the son was in his mother's apartment, or had been when I went to take a ride. Bev looked ino the situation and told the neighbor her the son had to get out of the building. Five minutes after I got back to my apartment, a car stoppped in the parking lot and the neighbor's kid got in and left.

Three nights of blissful slumber followed. That does not mean the inconsiderate jerk stayed out of the building all three nights. I woke up at four Tuesday, not unusual for me, and could hear the familiar garbage on the tape playing softly in the neighbor's apartment. The same was true Wednesday morning when I got up at 5:30. On the other hand, nary a sound came from the neighbor's apartment those nights. I got into bed, relaxed, fell asleep quickly, and awoke feeling so very good, physically and emotionally.

It was back to abnormal last night. I could hear the tapes most of the evening, but they weren't loud enough to be heard in the hall. No use calling. They seemed louder to my ears when I got into bed at eleven. The reasons for that are the location of my bed - it's next to the wall between my apartment and the neighbor's - and my TV or the music I was listening to now being off.

I didn't bother calling security. It is unlikely the guy would hear the tapes as he stood in the hall. So I started yelling, "Turn it off!" He didn't. I yelled some more. And on and on we went. He turned it down a few times, and I yelled, "Turn it all the way off!" My experience with the son is, no matter how low he turns the volume, it will soon go back up. This went on until 12:15, when I yelled, "Turn the god-damned thing off, you asshole!" For whatever reason, he immediately turned it off. Maybe he just wanted me to talk dirty to him.

Three consecutive nights without hearing the tapes reminded me how nice it is to fall asleep without having to put up with that garbage playing on the other side of the wall. When I get upset and start yelling, my already stiff legs get noticeably stiffer and are usually still stiffer than usual in the morning. I go to sleep not feeling good about myself. I don't like having to yell; I worry that I'll wake up others. And I wake up feeling lousy: the legs are still a little stiff, and getting myself dressed is a bigger than normal challenge. And I don't feel good about myself and the way I behaved trying to get that guy to turn off his tapes.

All this because of a man who is not supposed to be in the building between 7 p.m. and 10 a.m.

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