Not so Neighborly Neighbors

As you may remember, I moved to a new condo over the summer.  Adjusting to my last place was a bit of a challenge as there was never a moment of peace or quiet. Imagine if Grand Central Station and Hell had babies. Yes, plural. The paper-thin walls (practically curtains, really), and endless noise made me wish I could crawl into a soundproof box and go to sleep. I drew up plans for an underground soundproof bunker, but I couldn’t get the permit; apparently you have to actually own the property you want to enhance. So stupid.

After I moved, all was right with the world again, except for occasionally hearing my new neighbor’s ummm… boisterous… patio phone calls. If her conversations are any indication, both her ex and her vent buddy are on speed dial. In general, though, quiet reigned supreme.  We’re only a few months in, but I guess the gods that be thought I was just a little too snug in my surroundings and they wanted to shake things up a bit, as they are wont to do when things are going well.

You know the saying, “you never know what you have until it’s gone”? Yeah, well, what I had were two perfect elderly neighbors with a perfectly well-behaved labradoodle who was just as polite and laid back as his owners. Maybe you can see where this is going.

They moved. I know, right!?

When I saw their boxes being loaded in the moving truck, I didn’t realize at the time, but the boxes may as well have been labeled “Peace,” “Quiet,” and “Sanity” because when they left, they took all of those things with them.

Let me introduce you to my new neighbors.

There is a mom, a dad, two young hell spawn children, and a beloved family dog who weighs roughly 500 pounds.

They moved in right above me where the two perfect neighbors with their perfect dog once resided, and I believe their hobbies include:

Crying simultaneously, dropping bowling balls, marathon training in the living room, vacuuming after midnight, jumping from furniture, wailing “Old McDonald” at odd hours of the night, and so much more!

Also, I think they wear concrete blocks on their feet. Or else, they have a raging elephant infestation.

I’d blame it on the hell spawn, but it’s the whole family. The parents get it on the noise game too. On any given night, it sounds like they could be playing basketball, woodworking, amateur clogging, or quite possibly murdering someone.

And the dog doesn’t seem to like his crate, I’ll tell you that right now. It has apparently occurred to the Loud Family as well because they’ve taken to locking him in the bathroom. And while my heart truly goes out to this obviously lonely dog, the other night it sounded like he escaped — taking what I think was the bathroom door with him, and possibly ate someone, I couldn’t tell. The mind is groggy at 3 AM.

Oh, wait! I forgot the best part… the smallest hell spawn (just guessing from the loudness and intensity of the footfalls), runs from one end of the condo to the other at very weird times of the evening. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Chucky or the kid from Pet Semetary was up there running around when everyone’s asleep, it’s that freakin’ creepy.

I think about my perfect elderly neighbors and their perfect labradoodle often… and I have questions. Where did they go? Is it peaceful there? I wonder if I could join them. Do you think they would mind? I don’t take up much room and I’m quiet, oh so quiet.

It’s desperate thoughts like these that go through my mind at 1 AM, when I’m lying in bed listening to what sounds like yet another reenactment of a battle scene from the movie Braveheart. They may take our peace and quiet… but they won’t take our sanity!

 

 

‘Tis the Season to be Grumpy

I hate people. You guys know that. And as much as I hate people, one might also assume I am not a charitable person. I wouldn’t blame you for taking that leap. However, you would be wrong. Ha! Plot twist!  Didn’t see that coming, did you?  You probably thought I was related to Scrooge or something. Nope, nope, and nope.

While I don’t have much, I give back whenever and however I can. I donate my time to animal advocacy and other humanitarian causes, and every year I donate to Toys for Tots and the children’s mitten/hat tree at my local social services.  I do what I can when I can.

But, admittedly, for the most part all I want is to go about my day and be left alone. Like today, for instance. I had to go to the store for some last-minute Christmas odds and ends, and while there, decided to get a coffee. The Salvation Army bell-ringer, who I liken to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in so many ways, was there, as they have been since Thanksgiving.

The most I get from the nice, older woman who rings her holiday bell is Good Evening, Merry Christmas. And me, I say Thank You and Happy Holidays to you as well. Pleasantries exchanged, we go back to our respective business. It’s all very amiable if not standoffish.  I’m fine with that. Happy with that, in fact.

Today, there was a gentleman ringing the bell, and he stood inside the little vestibule where the carts are instead of on the sidewalk outside the door. As I was leaving the grocery store with my bags and latte in hand, I guess he felt the need to share his um… ardent … opinion on my egregious financial – and charitable – decisions.

To make a long rant short, apparently if I have money to buy a latte, I have money to give to the Salvation Army, and by doing otherwise, I should be ashamed of myself. Now, this last bit, if I’m honest, made me smile a little. I mean, I’ve had much better people than him lay a guilt-trip on me, so his repartee fell somewhat flat.

I will interject here to say that if you donate to the Salvation Army, great, good for you — truly. Personally, their beliefs, as an organization, are contrary to mine and because of that, I specifically will not donate to them. Even if I had cash in my pocket (which I never do – I’m a card-carrying consumer) I would rather drop it into the “save the animals” jar at the vet or the “buy coats for kids” bucket at the hardware store than give it to the Salvation Army. But again, that’s just me. To each their own with regards to charity.

Like many things in life, charitable giving is a very personal choice.

However, to be perfectly frank, even if it were an organization I do support, I’d be hard put to dig into my pockets after being confronted in such a manner.

I know the bell ringers are paid, I’ve seen the want-ads. Whether or not they work partly on commission, I have no idea. Maybe that’s what prompted this gentleman to approach me the way he did. Maybe he needed a caffeine boost of his own. Maybe he was just feeling snarky. Who knows. I do wonder, though, if he approached any men in the same way he did me. Would he have had that same desire to belittle and shame a man?

I suppose I could have been a tad more altruistic in my response. Truth be told, I’m just a little tired of greeting rudeness with complacency and a smile. My kids weren’t with me (they never let me do anything), which left my tongue free to wag and wag it did.

Hopefully the conversation went the way of the one I had with the Jehovah’s Witnesses who visited my home way-too-early Christmas morning last year. If so, I’ll either be on their list to never approach again or I will be on their prayer cards until the end of time. I guess either one is fine with me. Though I do fervently hope it is the former.

Bah, humbug.

Dueling Radios on the Road

We all do goofy things with our car radios while we drive.  You’re lying if you tell me you’ve never inched up at a traffic light to get better reception during your favorite song.  I might have to call you out again if you claim you don’t turn the radio down while you look for an address.  And I know I’m not the only one who hears a song I love, then immediately searches all the other channels to find it again.

Don’t tell me that if your window is open and you are listening to an embarrassing song, say A-Ha’s Take on Me, while playing the air keyboard on your dashboard, that you don’t punch the button to change the station as soon as you hit a red light.  We all know the stations we can tune to for music while other stations are on commercial breaks, and we have at least one station programmed that we never even listen to, wonder why it’s saved, and still refuse to reprogram it.

We get embarrassed when we sing the wrong words to songs, even when we are alone, and play the “Who sings this, it’s right on the tip of my tongue, dang it” game to the point we may even Google it at the next stop light.

But there is a certain type of person who takes car music to a whole different level.

You are at the stoplight, waiting for it to turn green.  You feel it before you hear it.  Your teeth rattle and your car shakes as he pulls up beside you.  It’s Mr. Bass Man.  That’s bass, like the music, not bass like the fish; he is another post altogether, now, isn’t he?

He is wearing something darker, you think, you can’t really tell because his windows are tinted.  You peer through the tint and see a reflection of sunglasses, which makes no sense because it’s eleven at night. His music is so loud that birds are falling from their nests, dogs are howling in protest, house windows are shattering, and the lady in front of you just ran the stoplight to escape.

Not to be outdone – more importantly, to keep the lyrical insult to music Mr. Bass Man is playing at bay, you crank up your John Denver, but Country Roads is no competition for Mr. Bass Man.  Your head is swimming as you are trying to hear about those roads that will take John home, but John Denver has given up.  You crank your windows up; the bass still winds around you like a boa constrictor and won’t let go.

Mr. Bass Man appears to somehow be talking on a cell phone, his voice raised over his musical offerings.  Far be it from Mr. Bass Man to turn down his radio to have his conversation, he is kind enough that he doesn’t want to deprive you of this real music experience.

Thank you, Mr. Bass Man, for showing me that my tastes in music sucks. Thank you for sharing your obviously superior music with the world.  I appreciate the valuable life lesson I have learned here today.  If I had a clue what the hell you were actually listening to, I might even look it up online and continue this valuable education.

Off he goes, his bass fading into the velvety night.  You sit at the light for a moment more, letting your hearing correct itself, and watch him blow the next stoplight.  Mr. Bass Man has important places to go, and won’t let a pesky thing like traffic laws slow him down.

Thank you, again, Mr. Bass Man, for allowing your musical choices to wash over me, and the six city blocks surrounding us.  I feel all the better for having, if only for a brief moment, a glimpse into your life.

And I feel even better knowing that you are somewhere teaching others the error of their musical choices, and spreading the love.  Because at least you’re not next to me anymore.

Character Realizations

You know, there is really nothing like a trip to the grocery store — with all that entails, including the ill-mannered, deliberately slow-moving people in the aisles and the rude people at the check-out and the downright annoying people in the parking lot hell-bent on their suicidal mission game of chicken — to make you truly understand that you still have a long way to go in realizing your goal of being a “good person.”

Ah, well. Tomorrow is another day.

Existential Moments in the Pasta Aisle

Going through the stores today on a much-hated “errands run,” I was finally forced to face my darker side. As it turns out, I hate people. Okay, well, yeah,  perhaps that was no big secret. Hey! Don’t roll your eyes at me!

However, at one point in my journey, one question loomed first and foremost in my mind…an existential moment if you will. Right in the middle of the pasta aisle of all places. I mean, if you’re going to have a moment, there could be worse places. As for the answers I was seeking, none were forthcoming. But apparently, now, don’t be shocked, but apparently…I failed this particular test. So I thought I would throw it out here, to all of you — perhaps you can help me out. You know, in case this same issue ever raises its ugly head in the future (cause, let’s face it, we all know it will).

Just how many times do I have to say excuse me to someone before get the fu…hell out of the way becomes acceptable?