August 2012


Defining how to be a good neighbor.

Make no mistake about it, I love living in the city – I’m 20 minutes from work, 8 minutes from the gym, 10 minutes from more grocery stores than I can shake a fist at, plus movie theaters, museums, and all the other cultural amenities that make urban living great.

Problematic are the neighbors.

In that sense, I’ve been fairly lucky since moving into my apartment building – my neighbors are, generally speaking, quiet.

Except for the neighbors one floor down and across the courtyard.

They moved in last summer and, from what I can tell looking through their windows, they appear to be young, up-n-coming couple that thinks that the height of sophistication, now that they are adults, is to stay up late talking. In their kitchen. With the window open.

Given that it’s a courtyard situation, this means that the sounds echo off of the walls and into everybody’s apartment, including mine. Recently that included a guest (I believe) who had a voice that really, really carried – and she was facing out the window. I couldn’t hear the hostess, just the guest… and I wanted to sleep.

I might note that this is the same apartment that put up these incredibly childish handwritten faux-friendly signs warning us when they were going to have a loud party late on a Friday night, complete with a cell phone number to call if we had any questions or concerns. Unfortunately for them, I had to get up early Saturday morning. Fortunately for them, it was in another city, far away, in a hotel room. I didn’t actually complain.

Then, earlier this summer, one of them had their bicycle stolen – again went up an incredibly childish, handwritten faux friendly sign asking if anybody had witnessed the dastardly crime.

I hadn’t – and another neighbor later asked me my opinion about it. I confessed that once I realized whose bicycle was stolen, I was convinced that it was probably left unlocked in the courtyard, if not actually on the street. Understand that my building is, generally speaking, incredibly civilized and there are bicycles in the bike lock-up area that have been there longer than I have live here. (I know this because somebody put fliers advertising something on every single bicycle in the courtyard a year ago, and some of the bicycles still had fliers attached two months later.) I came away from the conversation with the neighbor with the distinct impression that she too thought that the bicycle must have been left out unlocked and in a visible spot.

All of this has made me wonder what makes for a good neighbor.

For me I do my absolute best to be invisible and silent. If my neighbors aren’t certain if I am home or not, then I am being the best kind of neighbor. I avoid putting glass bottles in the recycle bins at all hours other than the middle of the day. When I have guests over, I remind them to be as quiet as possible in the stairwell.

It’d be nice if all my neighbors behave that way.

4 comments to Defining how to be a good neighbor.

  • behave like being invisible? Hm.

    Sounds like improper behavior.

  • MT

    I miss the quiet prostitute that lived across the street. Now we have these thug-like morons who like to scream MotherF*cker in the middle of the day because they are too lazy to walk across the street to say MotherF*cker on their friend’s porch. Sigh.

    And then there was the moment this summer when the stupid moron pulled up in front of his building — and because he was too lazy to walk up the stairs — peed in his backyard.

    There was also the time when he was running down the street with his pants halfway down his ass while walking his dog — and his pants fell down. That time, I’ll admit that I laughed my butt off.

    I think it might be time for a little neighborhood action again.

  • I found that making a lot of noise when the person who is keeping you awake at night is wanting to sleep is usually quite effective. Especially when said neighbor is homophobic and you play every gay icon song you can think of at a loud volume against their floor right underneath their bedroom when you leave for work. I put it on a loop.

    That was followed by a very loud knock on my door when I arrived home that evening, getting hit with some very aggressive, loud, profanity when I opened the door, followed by my saying, “Now do you know why I’m upset when you vacuum the floors at 3 in the morning?”

    Problem solved.

    I only resorted to this after I had asked nicely for them to vacuum at another time, complained to the building manager, and asked again. They just were not seeing the problem until a similar one popped up for them.

    Yes, it cost me quite a bit of sleep the day I did it, but it was worth it.

  • PseudoWifey

    In Turkey a good neighbor would bring you food which I found that said neighbors could also come by at any time unannounced and you would have to then reciprocate with coffee and dessert which made me rethink the situation. Initially I had all of these great intentions to leave Ankara this summer and become a great, loving neighbor back in the US but immediately I just went back to only speaking to my neighbors when we happened to be in the carport area at the same time. Frankly, I like this set up.