Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bang and Blame

Wrapping up the events of last Friday that I alluded to over the weekend....

I returned home from the eye badness and the Apple goodness to find the latest, wholly unexpected salvo in the war against our downstairs neighbors under the door. A brief-ish recap: We didn't learn until after purchasing and moving into our apartment that the ceilings/floors are appallingly thin. Or hollow. Or whatever, they let a lot of sound through (but seem to be quite structurally sound). Our original upstairs neighbors had two small children who apparently enjoyed running back and forth in the living room wearing combat boots. When they moved out, we learned that we'd had it easy, because children go to bed early. The new tenant likes to have many friends over, stay up even later than we do, and apparently has subwoofers lining the floor of every room, so that our apartment vibrates when they watch or listen to anything.

But this isn't about our problems with them. The point is, we know our downstairs neighbors can hear us when we move around up here. The woman who lived here before us was quite old, and had very thick (and very ugly) wall-to-wall carpet, so we realize that two 200-pound men who appreciate hardwood floors and an occasionally rambunctious kitten moving in was a bit of an adjustment for the people below us. But the thing is, they're crazy. I first met them when I was in the building one day when we were doing some work on the apartment but hadn't actually moved in yet. I was on my way out when they approached me in the lobby, confirmed who I was, and started going on and on about how I had to stop moving furniture around at one and two in the morning. Boy and I had never set foot in the apartment after dark. Since then, they've continued to harass us, often banging on the ceiling when we're essentially motionless and silent. They talk to us about "moving furniture," which in their book seems to include things like pulling out chairs to sit in them. Obviously we'd never move a sofa at night. Communicating with them can be challenging, as their English is bad and our Spanish is worse.

In spite of the fact that these are people who should obviously living in a house in the country, and not in an apartment building, we've generally tried to be cooperative and considerate, within reason, and I haven't heard from them, directly or through the super, in months. I thought we'd achieved peace. Then I read this letter from the management company:

Please be advised it has come to management office attention, receiving several noise complaints concerning your unit. We ask that you please take into consideration the people that live around and under you, in regards to the noise level coming from your apartment.

We ask that you follow the 80% carpeting rule in reference to your unit. Please understand that an inspection with the building manager it's necessary. You must call the management office to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to avoid further complaints and notices as this.

Your cooperation in regards to this matter is greatly appreciated.

I love when people who don't speak English very well try too hard to write overly formally. I bet if they'd written a simpler letter it would have made more sense. Anyway, we faxed them back instead of calling, because I want a written record of all communication from this point out. I have to say, it's one of the best letters I've ever written:

We have received your letter and would be happy to schedule an inspection of our apartment. We would appreciate it if this could be done during the evening or on a weekend, so that we do not have to miss work. Please call Adam875 to arrange this.

Is it possible for you to tell us when these noise complaints were made, and at what times? We have had several conversations with the occupants of unit XX – though none in the past several months – and have done everything we can to be considerate neighbors. If they have specific complaints, we would like to know so that we can try to address them. Maybe there is something we're not aware of.

We do want to note (and the super can attest to this) that the occupants of XX once stopped me in the hall to complain about noise "late at night" before we had even moved in to the apartment. As you may recall, the previous owner had granted us limited access to apartment YY, and we were around occasionally during the day painting, etc. During this time we had never set foot in the unit between the hours of 8 pm and 8 am, yet our downstairs neighbors accused us of "moving furniture around" during those hours. We do not wish to dismiss their complaints, as we know first hand how disruptive a noisy neighbor can be, but we feel it is important we receive specific examples so that we can try to correct the problem and continue to live in peace.

Boy approved the letter, to which I signed both our names, but we actually disagree somewhat on how to handle this. I want to do everything I can to comply within reason, and make us look like the most perfect, cooperative neighbors ever, save for the fact that we're unable to levitate. I believe that this will only make them look crazier. If we need to get inspected, or take any other action, I'd like to do it soon, especially since I leave town in less than two weeks. Boy essentially says "fuck 'em." He doesn't want to do anything to help these people, or to give their complaints any possible credence. It's odd when you consider that he majored in international relations and I majored in drama.

Our letter went out on Sunday night, and we still haven't heard anything. I'm tempted to make a follow-up phone call, before I go away, but on the other hand we did our part and replied in a very timely fashion, so the ball's in their court. But the whole thing makes me crazy and I want it dealt with. I basically want management to come in here and talk to us and see our various area rugs and tell the crazy people to fuck off. Until that happens, I'm going to brace for a broomstick on the ceiling every time I roll my desk chair two inches. I want to be a good neighbor, but (forgive the dramatic phrase here) I don't want to live like that.

Anyone know a good hit man? You'd have an inside track on a fabulous apartment if you did!

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