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Monday, September 18, 2006

Too Loud For Comfort

What do you do when you have an inconsiderate neighbor who refuses to respect others? It's a dilemma that unfortunately disrupts the harmony of living in close quarters. If not handled carefully it can lead to physical confrontations and emotional turmoil.

There are times we all crank up our favorite songs a little bit too loudly. We sing along, we dance, and when it's over we lower the volume to a respectable level. Not everyone loves the same music and your neighbors probably don't welcome your moment of self-indulgence. Being considerate you keep the self-indulgences to a minimum, and know there are times your neighbors will indulge too. If you're asked to lower the volume you do. It's neighborly. It keeps the peace.

In my neighborhood the inconsiderate neighbor is forty-something Roger. Short. Bald. Mean. He lives in the apartment building next to mine. He loves listening to the Carpenters, disco, and National Public Radio. I have nothing against any of these but I want to listen to them when I want to listen to them not when Roger's pretending he's a chanteuse, a disco diva, or intelligent. Truth be told he sings flat, he's certainly not a genuine diva, and I question if his IQ is more than double digits.

I, along with other neighbors, have spoken to Roger on numerous occasions about the volume. He responds by being nasty, cruel, and vulgar. He was so horrible to one elderly neighbor she moved to another part of the building, afraid of what he might do. Another neighbor he tormented so badly by spitting at her and calling her names that she filed a restraining order. He had the audacity to file one against her. She too moved and he celebrated with blaring disco.

It's been suggested he purchase earphones with a very long chord so he could move about doing whatever he does in his apartment and still listen to whatever he wishes. He refuses to entertain such a thought.

The numerous complaints to the landlord fall on deaf ears. The landlord says there's nothing he can do about it. We think the landlord's afraid of him. Should we grin and bear it? Should we let his unacceptable behavior continue? If Roger doesn't want to abide by neighborly considerations what is everybody supposed to do?

My good friend has a neighbor who refuses to close and lock the door to their complex. This woman also refuses to put her trash in the proper receptacle. She puts her household trash in the compost trash barrel whereupon the trash collectors refuse to empty it. What happens is someone in the building, usually my friend, has to go through the trash barrels and fix it. This twenty-something woman has no regard for anyone, and feels she's entitled to do whatever she pleases. She's too young to be so mean. I guess she feels immune to robbery, rapists, and rats. Though something tells me she'd change her behavior if something terrible happened. Hopefully it won't, but is that what it will take for her to change her behavior?

Living in close quarters there are bound to be things I do, you do, we all do that irritates our neighbors. Most times we are not doing it deliberately and if we know it bothers someone we do our best to remedy the situation. Compromise is key. There's nothing worse than warring neighbors especially when a simple act of consideration will bring resolve. Life's too short to live with constant tension and anger, and volumes at overbearing decibels.

Roger doesn't seem to understand his bad behavior is unnecessary. Like a defiant child he stomps his feet and rants and raves. After someone complains he likes to crank the volume louder just long enough to incite everyone to the breaking point. Maybe he never got enough attention as a child? That's something he and a therapist need to discuss. Hopefully he'll get into therapy soon.

Right now I can hear Roger and Karen Carpenter cooing "Close To You." Oh Karen, it’s nice to hear you singing, but not now. Maybe later I'll brush off my own Carpenters LPs and give you a spin. And Roger, please lower the volume and grow up. You’re too old to be acting like a child.

(c) 2006 MC528. All Rights Reserved.

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