Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I'll be the first to admit that sometimes diplomacy and going through the proper channels doesn't work. Sometimes you just have to take actions into your own hands. A while ago on my friend Mike's blog, he got to talking about noisy neighbors and it brought back memories of when I lived in an apartment.

I had lived in quiet peace for almost a year and a half when the new downstairs neighbor moved in. He evidently worked the nightshift somewhere and didn't get home until a little after midnight judging from the loud music that started playing every night and booming through the un-insulated floor between us. I confronted him a time or two asking him if he could please refrain from playing his music so loud in the middle of the night when most of the world was sleeping. He would always say that he could barely hear it in his apartment and suggest that I was just being overly sensitive.

So when that channel didn't work, I tried another channel, the apartment manager. I called them once but by the time they arrived he had gone to bed and they couldn't hear any music. I became the crank upstairs who was hearing things I'm sure. So the next time I let them listen to it over the phone. They confronted the guy and called it a night. That lasted for about a week before things began to go back to the way they were. It was getting to the point where I couldn't even hear my alarm clock radio over the sound of the music down below. I complained again. This time after confronting the downstairs guy, the manager came up and said that though they have gotten complaints from his other neighbor, there wasn't much they could do legally unless he was violating the noise ordinance. So the next time I called the police who came and talked to him and then me. Once again though he had reduced the volume before the law had arrived, (phone tap perhaps) and the law told me that his music wasn't really all that loud and certainly didn't violate the sound ordinance.

I was out of options and frustrated so I turned to the computer and signed up my neighbor for all sorts of junk mail lists and within a week, the postal carrier was starting to leave stacks of his mail alongside the mailbox for him to deal with when he got off work. I decided that was only punishing the mailman and was thinking of how I could deal with this when the light bulb went off in my head.

I headed off to the store and bought a 100 feet roll of speaker wire that I divided into two parts and drilling a little hole from my stereo into my bedroom, covertly installed it where the casual inspection wouldn't spot it. Then I hooked up my speakers and shoved them under my bed face down. Being an engineer, I built an insulating box of cardboard, styrofoam, rubber and airspace that helped contain the sound but not to my satisfaction as I found out during one test while he was still away at work. You see, I didn't want to disturb my neighbors because then I would be as bad as him. So, being an outdoorsman, I grabbed all my foam sleeping pads, thermal clothes and sleeping bags and stuffed them all around the speakers under my bed. The next test proved most satisfactory so I cleaned up my mess and hooked a smaller pair of speakers that I also had to my stereo, except to the B speaker jack so again, a casual inspection wouldn't turn up anything unusual. Now all I had to do was wait.

A couple days later, the moment arrived. At midnight, booming noises filled my apartment and woke me up from a very peaceful sleep. I tossed and turned until the music went off and then slept until my alarm went off at 5:30. Then casually on my way to the bathroom for the morning ritual, I cranked the volume on my stereo, switched to my A speakers buried underneath my bed in a soundless cocoon and hit the power button. The floor began to vibrate but hardly a whisper could be heard. Less than five minutes later as I was brushing my teeth, my downstairs neighbor was knocking on the door.

I opened the door and obviously saw that he had been in a deep sleep by his tousled hair, rumbled robe and puffy eyes. I had to force myself to not start laughing and listen for him to state his business as if I didn't know. Looking a little puzzled since he could barely hear any music coming from my stereo, he asked if I could turn my music down because he was trying to sleep. A wide grin now could no longer be suppressed as I said that I could barely hear the music as it was and that he must be overly sensitive. I went on to say that living in close proximity to your neighbors meant giving them respect. I said that if he continued to disrespect me, he had better start learning how to sleep with loud music drumming through the thin un-insulated recesses between our apartments.

In the six months that remained before I got another job and moved out of the apartment, I never heard another sound from his apartment. The mailman still brought his junk mail in by the sackfull and left it. I guess that prank was a gift that kept on giving.

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