I sometimes think I should live on an island by myself as I find it harder and harder to share space with other people. Is it a sign of getting old or am I just too particular to try and get along with others? It doesn't help that I think I am so much smarter than everyone else and have little patience for the shortcomings of others. I don't understand why everyone can't be just like me. I get up, I go to work, I go home, watch television, shower, go to bed and start all over again in the morning. I love my job so no complaints there. My husband and I have been married almost 27 years so too late to change anything on that front, plus I love the big ole country boy. We managed to share a tiny motel room for three weeks in January without killing each other so it must be love.
We moved into the first place we could afford that was also convenient for our job requirements when we moved out of that motel. That is an apartment was of some concern but we figured that, without having kids, we could live anywhere and be fine. We aren't planning on being there forever, either.
The first sign of trouble came within days of moving in and I use the terms loosely because we hadn't even unpacked and had to clear a trail between boxes to get to the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. I came home and found a note on the door from the manager. It seemed the downstairs neighbor complained about "heavy walking and stomping." My husband and I laughed about it because we were lucky to even be able to crawl from room to room let alone walk heavy or stomp. Why would we? It was ridiculous and we let it go.
A month or so later, I took a few minutes one Sunday afternoon to hang some pictures. I went from room to room and hammered in about a dozen places. The next day, we had another note. This one complained about banging "all day" and more heavy walking and stomping.
I started thinking about this "neighbor" who lived under us. We only knew that she is a woman. We don't know her name, what she looks like, if she's married, has kids, where she works, nothing. How could she have taken such an immediate dislike to us? I learned later that she has lived in the apartment for several years and has had other upstairs neighbors before us people with children. However, she has never complained before we moved in. Why us? Why now? We didn't know and still don't.
I reacted to the note the only way I know how by writing a two-page response and dropping it off at the office on my way to work. I told the manager that I think the woman has an unrealistic expectation of apartment living, that we don't make any more noise than we have to to simply live our own lives. We have a stereo but it isn't even hooked up because we knew we were moving in over someone else and wanted to be respectful of her privacy. She apparently doesn't feel the same way about us.
I never heard anything from the manager about my response and I went about my business. Then my daughter with the three kids visited for several days. They are 2, 3 and 4. The two older ones were able to sit quietly and realize that someone lived under us but the baby persisted in running back and forth. I told my daughter that I knew the complaint was coming, that if the neighbor thought my husband and I made noise, she would surely gripe about the kids. I was right but I didn't expect her to call the police. She didn't even come upstairs, she never has, we have never met her.
I explained to the officer that I was doing the best I could to keep them quiet but the baby wouldn't settle down. He said he understood, that he has little kids. He left. An hour later, the manager came up and I told her the same thing. She offered to let us move into a downstairs apartment apparently to appease this nameless, faceless woman under us. I was outraged and told her when we moved out of the apartment, it would be to move out of the complex and, lease or not, I would start looking for something else if that is what they wanted. We have to move because my grandchildren are visiting and running around? No, I don't think so.
The manager left after I told her I would continue to do my best but I was already doing that and this woman was not happy. I guess I should mention that she has two large barking dogs she has left alone on more than one weekend and we never said anything because we know we are living over someone.
After my family returned home, I decided I was not going to tiptoe around my apartment anymore. I don't intentionally make noise but I don't go out of my way to be quiet anymore. She didn't realize how good she had it and she should have left well enough alone.
Like I said, I need to live on an island without neighbors.
Kathy Jefcoats covers public safety. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org