I must preface, that I have lived in NYC for 12 years and I understand noise and apartment living; it is a fact of life with box-attached-to-box urban dwelling and I happen to love it.
A few months ago, we received a new neighbor upstairs. I can only assume it’s one woman and her child (of whom I immediately empathized with single motherhood) living in the same square footage of our larger than average Harlem three-bedroom.
Several mornings passed, every other day in recent weeks (probably a Christmas gift), where I’ve been kept up from noise starting at 5:45am until about 11am. So instead of writing a passive aggressive letter or banging on the walls, I decided to do what I believed an adult should- wait until a decent hour, knock on their door, introduce myself, and have a sensible conversation about how we can help each other co-habitate. No plan, no agenda, no advice, no “shut the eff up”s- but a conversation.
Attempt #1: I rang the doorbell and I heard the child clawing for the door and calling out “mama!” No one opened the door after two attempts at ringing the door bell. Even though she spied through the peephole a few time and pried her child from the door, I assumed she wasn’t ready to take in a visitor. I, too, sometimes have troubles finding my best dressing robe to take on early morning visitors. Still I was not leaving her a note- I’m no longer in college. We are both of child bearing age….oy.
Attempt #2: At a more reasonable 6pm hour the next day- SHE WAS NOT HAVING ME! As if the three knocks on her door and a doorbell ring had eliminated dozens of hours of sleep from HER life. I have never seen her face, as she never opened the door, and chose to say, “it’s must be my 2 year old. He’s playing.” I bit my tongue and my “duh” and asked if we could talk about just that. She declined. That’s where I left it. I decided it was time to call the landlord and asked if carpeting would be an option or at least a mediated conversation.
I thought to myself, “Kelvin, a mediated conversation? Facilitated by our landlord? I have a better chance at winning the lottery.” I promptly made that phone call and went to buy a scratch off ticket. I won that dollar back but I doubt the same for the ten minutes on the phone with the landlord’s secretary.
Now, here’s HER letter she taped to OUR door the next day:
Please refrain from coming to 2A with complaints! Thank you 2A”
A. Whose Colin, Ms. 2A? Did you hear my name wrong or are you the one hoarding my roommate’s subscription of New York Magazine? That’s my job!
B. All of my issues? I don’t think they want to know about my recent battle with gout and minor seasonal depression. I don’t think they want to hear about my lack of ability to finish anything due to adult ADHD and fear of commitment and sobriety. I don’t think they want to hear about my hot pink comfort item, a Hot Topic tutu. So, maybe I’ll just address the one issue- this ONE sound that comes her apartment.
I would like to report an environmental complaint. I hesitate to call it a noise complaint because I have not been sensitive to noise while living in this apartment for the past four years. The reality is when I accepted the lease to this apartment in Harlem, on the first floor, I agreed to a social contract with the denizens of 10026. I can accept the midnight brawls and breakups outside my window, siren and dumpster trucks, the usage of my air conditioner as a convenient coaster for Four Loco and the teeniest bottles of Barcadi. I can accept watching the TV mounted to our wall as you pass my window on the street and cheering along to American Idol with me on the couch.
Prepared I was to deal with the first three years of my upstairs neighbors having a French bull dog who used the hallway as his own personal dog run. I welcome the idea that my new neighbor has laid a similar track for her 2 year-old Olympic sprinter in training. Go Team USA!!!
I have no complaints of parenting. I’m not going to complain about parenting a two year old; not the crying, not the running, not the yelling after a child- this is a fact of life and uncontrollable. Again this is “noise” and I accept her child’s wails as they have graciously accepted my wails a.k.a. my personal weekly Youtube Broadway Karaoke Hour.
No, this complaint is environmental. No set of earplugs or sleep machine is a solution for the physical vibration that happens repeatedly over a 4 by 7 patch of space that exists 10 feet above the headboard of my bed. Pulling my bed away from the wall has not dampened the early morning rolling thunder that has prevented my sleep.
I understand not coming to the door, as I am a stranger, but we have connected before in the building as we have checked our mailboxes located next to each other while exchanging pleasantries. I have reached out twice, with no avail, to my neighbor to inquire what this new contraption is. She has asked me to contact you and I do so with a certain amount of trepidation and suspicion as she refuses to speak with me eye to eye. I speculate that she either:
a. Installed a Bowling Alley for Babies. As this issue has only arisen for the past 56 days, I can assume it was an unwise Christmas gift. There, I can fault a distant relative who is a glutton for other people’s misery. I’ll gladly supply the $100 gift card to Toy R’ Us for a replacement anything.
b. Has a case of OCD and owns a Dyson’s Super Ultra Megatron Vacuum cleaner that she uses to maintain this aforementioned four by seven foot of space. Three words: Replaceable Carpet Squares. I’ve seen them on Love it or List it!
c. Inherited Gutenberg’s Printing Press. And hopefully she is foiling local thieves and resolving the building’s ongoing Sunday Times burglaries by making copies free for all one thousand tenants. Awesomesauce! You’re Printin’ Hood. Get it?!
d. Installed an exercise rower for herself. But by the frequency of this activity and the unchanging weight of her own footsteps, this seems like the least probable answer. But if so, good on you, gurl! But I have an extra order of Pad Thai, Seamless on speed dial, and an extra spot on the couch to watch The Biggest Loser- let it go....enjoy some mommy, binge eating and vino with the new neighbor time. On me!
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I know this may not be anywhere near the top of your priority list but I feel as if there have been enough suicide attempts off the Brooklyn Bridge in 2014. I’m not the splashy type. Hah!
I apologize for the drama. You don’t know me, but alas, I would never go to Brooklyn. My next serious course of action is to file for joint custody with Ms. 2A.
Mme. 1A, Mr. 1A, & Miss 1A.
(Kelvin, Colin & Enrico respectively)
PS- Since unspecified, I have forwarded this letter to both the management of our building and the management of life in NYC, the NYPD (via 311, of course). I was confused to which “management” she was talking about; or is it because- nope nope, it’s because I’m a dick and I want my life back.
PSS- I have also attached a thank you note for imposing hours and hours of catching up with my writing. Even if it has been at the heinous hour of before-noon-o’clock.
PSSS- Seriously, we have filed a formal complaint to the landlords and next will be the police.