I live in a duplex. It's been my home for too long now, really. But, thanks to rent control, I pay so under-market that there's no point of packing up and moving any time soon. My landlord, who is this side of a slumlord and an all-around arse, hates me for that reason. I've been told not to expect any repairs that would cost much money and that, if I don't like it, I can leave. But, he also knows that I'm not afraid to call the City when push comes to shove, like when he illegally raised our rents a couple of years ago. It's a tentative tennant-landlord relationship, and we now enjoy a somewhat civil, professional loathing of each other. But he's not really what I'm here to talk about.
The duplex is a side-by-side dwelling rather than upstairs-downstairs design. I share a single wall; my living room with that bedroom. We reside on a busy boulevard in a touristy beach town, so quiet doesn't really happen all that much around here. I'm used to being serenaded by drunken homeless men in the wee hours of the morning. Treated to the stereophonic offerings of people waiting at the traffic light. The window-rattling exhausts of Harley gangs. I'm also lucky enough to live two blocks from the firehouse, so sirens are also a regular occurrence. I'm not really expecting it to be Quaker quiet around here, but I'm rather fed up with the slamming, banging and stomping round by my wallmate, Clompy.
Clompy is my fourth neighbor in the decade I've been here. The first was a wonderful lady who had lived in her half of the duplex for over twenty years. She was the perfect neighbor: hard of hearing, rarely home, happy for me to have a party. The only down side she brought was when she took up the hobby of feeding the pigeons. They ate at her place, and crapped all over mine. Sadly, after a series of strokes, she was put in a nursing home by her niece. Shortly thereafter, the pigeons left, and another nuissance arrived. Builders.
Being the tasteless braggart my landlord is, he decided to rennovate the apartment, devoiding it of all it's 1930's, Art Deco inspired charm. He filled the kitchen with manufactured faux oak cabinetry, took out the Deco tub and replaced the ceramic with marble tile and finished the shower with a glass door. He knocked down a wall, removing a hallway and rerouting the closet to create a huge bedroom with a now en suite bathroom. Personally, I'd rather keep my hallway so guests wouldn't have to saunter though my bedroom to "use the facilities", but that's just me. These rennovations took over a year. Hardly cost-effective by my math. And I got to enjoy the sounds of banging, slamming, loud Spanish, power outtages, water offages, dust, drills, more banging, more loud Spanish and several headaches.
Did I mention that I work from home? My "office" shares that common wall. That year was a lot of fun, let me tell you.
I took a look at the place when it was finished, and it was nothing special. It made me sad that all the quaintness my apartment has was gone. Never to return. Just like my favorite neighbor.
A new tennant moved it. A lady over a certain age with a yappy Pommeranian. She liked to have a quick chat whenever I was in a rush, was convinced people were using a key to get into her apartment and steal things, and mistook mating squirrels on our roof as a theif looking to break in through our massive skylights that take over the ceiling space of our bathrooms.
I soon found that the new design of the bedroom made me very aware of the closet, which was now directly across from my desk. Every time it opened or closed I heard it. I could hear clothes being hung or slid across their rod. Shoes being thrown in, but mostly the doors being slid hard to their end and a deadening thud.
My neighbor also had the habit of letting the yappy Pommeranian out in the front yard each day, where he would bark the entire time. He was an obnoxious dog with a rotten disposition. She would let him bark like that for an hour or more. Nonstop. And it was that panicked sounding bark of a small dog. It was beyond annoying. I finally had to let her know what a disruption that was, especially when I would be on a business call. After that, I would give him ten minutes of bark time before I would yell through the wall that it was enough already.
She moved out when her year lease was up. I did a happy dance.
The next neighbor was a strange man with many strange women, who kind of lived there, and kind of used it as an office, and always had a different car and a different girl, but the girls weren't really like girlfriends, more like Girl Fridays, and the girls always had different cars (and they were all really expensive, foreign cars, which made little sense since we all have street parking; the landlord rents the garages out separately to make a few more bucks). I could hear them talking and dropping things every now and then, but then there would be long bouts of silence when he would be away. He was a peculiar man, we (some of my other neighbors and I) all agreed. He, too, moved out after a year.
Each time the For Rent sign went up, I was filled with hope. Hope of a cool neighbor. One I could either have an occasional drink with, or one I would never see or hear at all. This time, the apartment stayed vacant for many months. The economy is not what it once was, and high rents have lost their prestige. Finally, the sign came down and Clompy moved in.
Clompy is a young girl, about 5'1. Her hair is long and black. Her arms are sleeved in tattoos. She probably weighs a buck o' five, if that, but she stomps around that apartment like she's a stormtrooper. She does not so much close a door as she slams it. Hard. Each and every time. There is the front door, the security screen door, and the gate enclosing her small front yard. She slams all of them on her way in or out, and often repeats the process when she's forgotten something on her way out, which is rather often.
She's a smoker. But not a smoker who smokes indoors; she's one who likes to do it from her back steps while talking on her cell phone. The smoke somehow floats all the way from her backstep to my kitchen window and through my window fan all the way into my living room, up my sinuses and into my brain giving me a nice headache. The back path is littered with her butts. The pot of a dead plant is her favorite ashtray, which has not been emptied in over a year. That's right. She is the only one to go past her lease.
Clompy now has a boyfriend. I'm very happy for her. Except when they chase each other around the apartment, clomping at a rapid pace, or have a fight and slam even more doors. I met him when I popped my head out my backdoor this weekend to ask them to please enjoy their cigarettes in the front yard, as their smoke infiltrates my home and makes me a tad sick. I said this with all sweetness and sincerity, repleat with "please" and "thank you". They both looked at me blankly (as if English might be a second language), didn't say a word (though I know for a fact they do indeed speak English), put out their cigaretts and went inside the house. I guess they are what you would call "Emo". Whatever. I just wasn't going to have a nightly cigarette with them this summer like I tolerated last.
I didn't have a chance to address the clomping and the slamming then. I thought it might be too much for them to handle. I'm trying to figure out the right way to bring it up. Getting out of bed after midnight to knock on her door and mention that I can hear them clomping and slamming about all the way back in my bedroom really isn't convenient for me. A letter left might not be the most personable offering either. So, I'm going to start with the power of positive thinking. I'm going to think positively that she will move. That she will find a great new job and a great new place near that job, and her broody, stompy boyfriend will go with her. All of us will be better off then. And it has to be her. She definitely has to be the one to go because, for what I pay in rent, I'm never leaving.
Stay tuned. I'll keep you posted on the power of positive thinking. And, if you don't mind helping, I would very much appreciate you putting your positive thoughts towards Clompy's success and smooth move. Cheers!