Before HARDBARNED! became a book in 2016, it was a blog I began in 2008. It still is, from time to time, and you have found its home. Scroll through it all here, or browse selected posts at Medium. In case you were wondering…none of this blog content appears in the book, which is its own separate thing and mostly about working for a living. The blog is usually about pop culture-type stuff. Cheers.

Neighbors III: Saturated With Karma

I posted previously about my adventures with sharing walls and floors or ceilings with loud neighbors, and my epic battles with one particularly worthless neighbor, but I’d like to continue the rant just a bit longer because he’s not the only one, and I’m only writing this for my own therapy anyway, right? Who cares about my stupid neighbors?

The guy I wrote about in that post has since disappeared mysteriously. He never paid us the $250 deductible he promised us after smashing my wife’s car and causing $1,200 in damages, which he only admitted to after I harassed him. Big surprise there. The cops were no help, despite my two witnesses. They are not interested in “domestic and civil issues” and wouldn’t even assign a detective after I handed them all the evidence they needed, including his license plate number. Then they talked me out of pursuing a court case, assuring me that I’d waste a lot more time and money if I did.

Before this kid vaporized, I heard from neighbors in his building (next to ours) that his drunken antics had recently spilled out into the apartment adjacent to his. Apparently he was hosting a party, wherein a fight had gotten ugly, and the brawlers were smashing into the door across the hall, where a young single woman and her child lived.

They were terrified, and when the apartment complex decided not to evict the little scumbag or do anything about his behavior, as the complaints about his bullshit piled up, along with the car break-ins, slashed tires, general riffraff and parking lot beer bottles that accompanied the little shit when he moved in, the woman and child elected to move out.

According to this young woman, several people in his building were leaving for the same reason, and the latest neighborhood scuttlebutt was that the kid had been apprehended for a psychiatric evaluation after either threatening or actually trying to kill himself.

This was more than two months ago. I haven’t seen him or his stupid glowing neon Transformers Jeep or his little gang of dazed and confused teenage pals since. All I can get from the office is that someone is still paying his rent. I thought that maybe I could write a letter to his parents and tell them about how he smashed my wife’s car, lied to me about doing it, finally admitted it when I cornered him, and failed to deliver on his promise to pay for at least our deductible portion of the $1200 damage he caused.

I knew that they’d never give me the kid’s parent’s address at the office, but I figured at least they could mail a letter to them for me. That way they wouldn’t be giving away any information, and at least his folks would know what had happened. But the office lady wouldn’t go for that either. “We try and stay out of these sorts of things,” she said.

I guess so, even though he's running out other tenants left and right. I wonder what he has to do to actually get kicked out at this point? Well, on the bright side, he’s gone. I can only hope to never see his as-if-it-were-a-mustache again. I guess he’s either in rehab or dead.

So, enough with the next building over. I’d like to reflect a bit on the building I currently share with seven other dwellings. Next door to us live a couple of dudes. One dude has a daughter who is probably 12 or so. He always wears a white ball cap sideways and those tight T-shirts from Target that look like someone tattooed them with a brand name logo.

According to his roommate, who approached me at the gym one day and told me all about it unsolicited, the dude with a daughter and a Target shirt is often beaten about the face and abdomen with drunken fists by his maniac girlfriend, who I have heard more than I’ve seen, either stomping up and down the stairs while yammering at shouting level into her cell phone after slamming the door and yelling at the dude inside, fucking him loudly against the wall on the other side of our kitchen, or screaming bloody murder at him outside our front door.

About a month ago the screaming reached a fever pitch and was silenced by an authoritative crash, so I called the cops. Sounded like murder. Wouldn’t you be surprised if you acted like that and your neighbors didn’t call the cops? Anyway, I guess nobody died, and they’ve chilled out recently, but we never know when their particular brand of tough love might flare up.

Which brings me to our last and most hated neighbor, the downstairs chick. The last tenant underneath us was also a young single woman living alone, but man, she was nice. We hardly heard a peep out of her besides the Thursday nights when she got ready to go out with her girlfriends and blasted Journey’s Greatest Hits, which we didn’t really mind much.

We barely noticed when her friend was wasted and set a potted plant on fire with cigarette butts, and we found out when she moved that she was intending to attend seminary to become a religious minister of some sort. Enter contrast:

Anyway, new chick moves in underneath our apartment. Slams the utter living fucking shit out of the door every time she arrives and departs, so much that walls shudder and we hear multiple tones resonating from the vibrating glasses and dishes in our cabinets, despite their rubber mats. We adjust our pictures on the wall. She continues to slam all three of the doors inside her apartment as a matter of course.

She turns on the television at a volume that must be deafening in her apartment—because it is utterly overwhelming in ours—within 10 seconds of the first door slam as she enters, multiple times, every day of the week. It’s either Fox News or Mario Kart, not that I can tell the difference, but it’s literally on every fucking second she is home. All The Time.

I go downstairs and put a friendly note on the door politely requesting that she consider not slamming the door, signed “your friendly neighbors.” Nothing changes. Of course I am certainly nothing like this guy, but I go downstairs and ask her if she’d mind not slamming the doors all the time because it really is jarring to feel as if a civil war cannon has been fired into the wall of your home when you are reading a book or actually working on a project.

How the hell does she study? I wonder, noticing the university parking pass on her car’s rear-view mirror. “Uh, yeah, uh-huh” is all she can manage in reply. Nothing changes. She wakes us up in the middle on the night on a Wednesday with loud music and loud people and more slamming doors. If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s being woken up in the middle of the night when we both have to get up early for work. I put on jeans and a shirt and go downstairs and pound on her door.

“Look, I’ve been pretty nice to you about the slamming door thing, but do you think you could not have a party with loud music and loud people in the middle of the night on a weeknight?”

“I can’t help the door. It just works that way.”

“No it doesn’t. It’s very simple. You hold the knob. You turn it. You shut the door. Get it?”

--I demonstrate how the knob turns easily with a twist of the wrist, she doesn’t get it—

“Just hold it down, okay?”

“Uh, yeah, uh huh.”

She doesn’t hold it down, keeps us up another two hours, and offers a special little fuck you at 3am as she leaves with her boyfriend, this time slamming the door at a world-class competitive door slamming championship volume level. Furious, I jump from the bed and look outside just in time to see her boyfriend’s last look up toward our apartment as he jumps in her car and they speed away.

I decided that the gloves were off now and that the cops would be regular visitors to her apartment from that moment on. I had a very hard time not pounding on her bedroom window to wake her up when leaving for work the next morning at 7:30AM and noticing that her car was back.

So I don’t know if I believe in karma, but she sure had it coming.

A few days later, amid a frustrating rise of the machines, our washing machine “shit the bed” as a buddy of mine would say, and most of our apartment was flooded. Guess where most of that water ended up going after soaking our carpets?

Yep. As I was hauling a carpet cleaning machine up the stairs, she had the audacity to approach me and ask “Do you live upstairs?” as if she really didn’t know who I was. I refrained from a variety of sarcastic responses that immediately occurred to me and said “Yes, I do.”

“Water is coming through the ceiling onto my bed, running down the walls and flooding my apartment!” She said.

I resisted the temptation to dance and said “I’m sorry, we’re flooded too. Our washing machine exploded. You can borrow this carpet machine when I’m through though, if you like.”

I think I detected microscopic evidence of empathy when she said “Oh, okay,” and walked away. I never interacted with her again. She left that night and didn’t come back until the next morning, when she arrived with her dad and boyfriend and a truck and moved away.

So our apartment is now a mold farm, submerged under a few inches of water. There is an electrical grounding issue that shocks us whenever we touch doorknobs from the standing water in the carpet. Our furniture is in piles in various corners. We are sleeping on the couch and loveseat. I continue to rotate hot lights and fans in my ongoing efforts to dry the place out. We’ve been camping out in the living room for a week.

But she’s gone.

Oh, the sweet silence.

Post-script: read more about our ongoing neighbor adventures in Neighbors Part IV: A Class Act.