Monday, November 29, 2004

As long as he doesn't answer...

On Wednesday night, as I shoved boxes into some kind of logical order to make the apartment presentable for some houseguests, the man from downstairs with the sensitive hearing came up and rang my bell. He complained about noise again, and I apologized and promised to stop moving stuff around right now. Then he said I'd been moving furniture at 2:00 the previous morning, and I told him that actually I'd been in bed...but I did hear him yelling at around that time. He asked me if I'd received a copy of the House Rules when I moved in, because they clearly state that "you can't make noise after 6:00" and that I had to have "everything covered." I told him I did have the rules, that there was nothing in them about 6:00, and that in fact we had to have 80% of the floor area covered. We do not yet have that many rugs (and there's no way we're getting wall-to-wall), and I asked him to be patient with us while we settle in. I also pointed out that somewhere under the boxes I'd been moving was a rug, but I wouldn't be able to put it down now because he'd just asked me to stop moving things around!

I refused to turn this into an argument I calmly pointed out that the apartment had been empty for six months, and covered in shag before that, so he'd have to adjust to some new sounds. I pointed out that we could hear our upstairs neighbors, our next door neighbors, the subway, and occasionally even him yelling at his wife or kids (attractive!). He missed the point, and said "I don't care about your problems with upstairs, that's not my business!" Me, calmly, "No, the point is, that it's not actually a problem." (Though I have to say, the more time we spend in the apartment, the more aware I am of how loud the people upstairs are simply walking around.) I reminded him that he had accused us of making noise before we actually moved in, and that he had banged on the ceiling twice when we really weren't making any noise, so it was both hard to take him seriously, and to discern what behavior is problematic. I promised, again, to be more cautious about moving things at night, and asked him to cut us some slack in exchange, and understand the difference between moving a sofa and pulling out a chair. I told him I hardly ever wear shoes in the house, but that I may, on occasion, drop something, and that's life.

He brought his daughters with him, which was odd. Was it like, "Look at the poor children you're keeping awake?" If so, the tactic failed miserably. The older girl, maybe 11, was clearly mortified. Whenever I tried to get a word in and her dad wouldn't let me, she would tug on his sleeve and roll her eyes. When I said something sensible, she'd look at me and nod and quietly go, "Dad, listen!" She was clearly on my side. The younger girl, Ashley (an odd name for a Latina child!) was just embarrassed and didn't know what was going on, but she clearly didn't want to be there. Radish made a brief appearance and charmed them all. It was exactly the confrontation I'd wanted, actually, and in the end I think we understood each other. We'll see how the next few weeks go.

But later on something he said struck me: "Every night at around this time, you're moving things around and making noise." Well, I'm not, and Boy's not, but... Radish does get frisky around the same time every night. He's perfectly cable of being sneaky and quiet, but when he wants to play he tends to jump off of things very heavily, skid across the hardwood floors, and occasionally knock things over. Could it be that Mr. Crazy isn't quite so crazy after all and he's hearing the cat?

When we first got the kitten we did some reading about training cats out of their nocturnal instincts so he'd be more on our schedule. We should have done it then, but sleeping kittens are so damn cute... and anyway back then he slept like 20 hours a day, so it wasn't a problem.

The "expert" advice Boy found online is pretty simple: If you want your cat to sleep through the night, don't let him sleep during the day! Yeah, very simple if anyone's home to wake him up and play with him. Not simple at all when Boy and I are both working six days a week.

So I'm calling him. The cat. I am calling my own phone to wake the cat up every half hour. Of course, he doesn't answer, so we have no way of knowing if this tactic is working. The article said it could take two weeks for their internal clocks to reset (ie, no matter how sleepy Radish is, he will naturally want to play at one am), so we may not even see results at night to tell us if he's being awakened by the phone during the day. We need a nanny-cam or something.

Chances are the cat is sleeping right through it but we're annoying the hell out of the people downstairs.

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