Monday, April 5, 2010

Don't Be A Bad Neighbor

My husband and I bought a house about a year ago, after many years of living in dorms, apartments and giant houses with tons of roommates. We were psyched to stop sharing walls and floors and ceilings with strangers, and figured that moving out of downtown would solve all our problems. Sounds great, right? Well, reality ended up being a little different. And after living through yet another week of the same old crap, I am here to boss you around some more and to remind you please, Don't Be a Bad Neighbor.

Common sense, right? Don't have karaoke parties on a Wednesday night, and you're golden. Except it apparently takes a bit more than just straight common sense. For instance, in our last apartment, we had upstairs neighbors who didn't take their shoes off when they got home. I'm not one to judge someone's footwear choices (okay, yes I am), especially in their own home, but this particular choice meant that we had to listen to them clomp around for hours at a time. And they were night owls.

(That's leaving aside the night there was a threesome in the bedroom directly above ours. Lucky for them, we found it pretty humorous. Also lucky for them, it was relatively early on a weekend evening.)

These girls, who were directly out of college and enjoying being single girls in their twenties, also actually did some really nice things. I mean, they quieted down their Ugly Sweater Christmas Party when we asked them to. And they had an election night party that they invited everyone in the building to, which meant that we got to drink Jack Daniels with our 70something-year-old neighbor and hear all about his first marriage and his divorce anniversary. So that didn't suck, and made it easier - slightly - to overlook the constant 4-inch-heel parade over our heads.

And what about the neighbors in our first apartment together? Sure, Neighbor Tony, who was directly next door, was amazing and we're still friends with him. But what about the people who let their dogs pee (and worse) in the hallway instead of taking them all the way downstairs and outside? Or the ones who took my clothes out of the dryer and left them, damp, on top? I mean, it is not rocket science! If you're going to park someone in for the whole week, it's polite to leave an extra car key with your roommate or the landlord. If you're going to set your alarm, make sure you turn it off before leaving for the weekend. If you have a giant motorcycle, don't sit in your front yard and rev the engine for a full five minutes before you pull away (SERIOUSLY HE IS DOING THIS RIGHT NOW AND IT IS TEN PM WTF).

And if you live next door to someone with ears, PLEASE keep your four little yappy dogs fenced in, instead of letting them roam the neighborhood, barking at the heels of people just trying to mind their own business and causing bike crashes. Otherwise, you're going to turn Dog People like my husband into the kind of guy who buys the Dog Dazer II and wishes for fatal dog/car collisions.

As I mentioned, we've had one neighbor in particular who was wonderful. Neighbor Tony was everything you could want in an apartment neighbor - there to pick up your paper when you're on vacation, to get in touch with the landlord when you're locked out and don't have your phone, to trade books and talk movies with, but who doesn't expect an invite to every party you throw and isn't overly interested in the details of your life. The man could write a book about the ins and outs of being an awesome neighbor and, frankly, he probably should. (Hint: It does not involve leaving passive-aggressive notes.) Millions of apartment dwellers and homeowners would thank him. So the next time you think about turning the music up an extra few notches or busting out Dance Dance Revolution in your second floor apartment, just stop, think about the sanity of the people below you (or above you or on the other side of the wall), and don't.

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