Thursday, May 20, 2004

Good lord, I feel like shit. I'm giving myself permission to lie in bed until I'm confident I can get up without falling down. The other day my doctor suggested that I might need a cane, and I said no. I'm starting to think she was right. Sigh.

We're having problems with our upstairs neighbors. Actually, we're having problems with their kid, which makes it all the more complicated. We don't really know the upstairs neighbors: they're not very social. Ok, they're a little weird, although both my roommate and I are having trouble identifying exactly what makes them seem so odd. And when we discussed our problems with very nice neighbors whom we do know, the nice neighbors described Mr. Weird Neighbor as "volatile." Apparently someone complained about their dog in the past, and there was unpleasantness. We are, therefore, unsure about how to proceed with our problem.

The upstairs neighbors have a daughter who appears to be 7 or 8. From what we've seen of her, she seems like a great kid: smart and precocious and curious and cool. And loud. Very, very loud.

The kid upstairs is homeschooled, which means that she's around all day long. Also, she keeps odd hours: she gets up at 8:30 or so and goes to bed at around midnight. And between 8:30 AM and midnight, she engages in her favorite activity, which appears to be jumping off of her bed onto the floor directly above my roommate's desk. Frequently, she yells when she does this. The ceiling shakes. All the light-fixtures in the apartment rattle. Her dog howls.

My roommate and I both work from home pretty often. And while we've been fleeing to the library during the day, neither of us really wants to do that at night. We come home in time for dinner, and after that we'd like to be able to study in our rooms and then go to bed at a reasonable hour. And we can't, because the kid upstairs is practicing to be an Olympic pole vaulter.

So here are the problems. First of all, if we complain, it's going to sound like we're passing judgment on the way the neighbors are raising their kid, especially since the way they're raising their kid appears to be pretty unconventional. That's not our intention at all. We just want to get our work done and get to bed at a reasonable hour. And this is compounded by the fact that the people upstairs are professional education experts, and that presumably they have very strong ideas about the way they're raising their kid.

Secondly, there's a huge power differential here. We live in a co-op building, in which all the other residents are shareholders. We're the only renters. Our rent is due to go up at the end of the year, and all the shareholders will get together and decide by how much. There are a number of other things, having to do with approving subletters and scheduling termite spraying and replacing appliances, that shareholders could fool around with if they felt like punishing us. Actually, it wouldn't be terribly difficult to orchestrate things so that we had to leave, and that would be a massive nightmare. We really aren't in a position to make enemies of our neighbors.

And finally, there's the issue of Mr. Weird Neighbor's "volatility." Usually, I wouldn't think this situation would be a huge deal. We'd say "hey, would it be possible for you to keep it down after, say, 8:00 PM," and they'd say "sure," and we'd all be reasonable. But when we raised this with the nice neighbors, who are also the current heads of the co-op board, they advised us against saying anything. They said they'd try to come up with a way to address it. Since then, the kid has, if anything, been louder. My roommate thinks she's heard the father egging her on, telling her to jump off her bed. I can't decide if this is a coincidence, or if the nice neighbors said something and that was Mr. Volatile's response.

I'm pretty annoyed with the entire situation. For one thing, I don't want to approach the weird neighbors against the nice neighbors' advice, but I also feel like I can't really blame the weird neighbors for not fixing a situation that they may not realize is a problem. On the other hand, if you live in an upstairs apartment, it just doesn't seem like rocket science to consider that the people downstairs may not appreciate it if you make lots of noise late at night.

And look at that, I'm actually feeling better! I think I may rouse myself and try to take a shower.


Comments:
I once lived directly underneath a woman who liked a) jumping rope in her bedroom and b) playing "You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings" at top volume at least ten times a day. I tried to be tolerant for a while, but one day, incredibly frustrated and trying to write my master's thesis, I threw D.J.Grout's History of Western Music at the ceiling and howled "SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!!" I heard an embarrassed squawk, and she never did it again.

I think a note might be seen as offensive, but if you were to go over with a gift, a loaf of bread or some fruit, maybe, and mention in passing that you'd heard some funny noises, they might take that as a polite hint to keep the noise down.
 
If the nice neighbours are also shareholders, wouldn't they be able to counter any nastiness?
Nella, ungrounded optimist.
 
I think the nice neighbors might be able to offset any nastiness, in that they're the heads of the board and they seem to get along with everyone, but they seemed pretty adament that we shouldn't deal with it ourselves. They never really got into what happened with the dog, but I got the sense that they were pretty sure that Mr. Volatile wasn't going to take it well. And the co-op board seems to be full of all sorts of complicated, quasi-political intrigue, so I'm not sure what it would mean to get on the bad side of a member of one faction.

I'm thinking next time I make banana bread or something, I'll go up there and take them some, though. I think sometimes they forget there are people down here, since we don't go to board meetings and are a little cut off from the community. Maybe it'll help just to remind them we exist.

My roommate claims that the best thing about this apartment is that she's learned that she never wants to buy shares in a co-op. Although this is clearly a particularly nutty co-op.
 
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