The Other, Kate P

I'm going to beg your indulgence, because (1) I'm going to rant a little, (2) I've got one good mojito into me at the time I started this, and (3) the mojito was partly to take the edge off the near-constant percussive noise from my neighbors upstairs.

It's taken a lot of effort and tolerance for me to put up with the noisy neighbors upstairs. I know there are two boys, one about first grade age and one teen, so I let some of the tantrums and occasional horsing around or stomping around drama go. I did complain about the Rock Band drum set that appeared after Christmas, and as it turned out, the teen was playing it in the living room against his mother's instructions, anyway.

Then about six months ago, they got a dog. One of those ankle-nipping yap dogs. I've put up with some early-morning barking and some scurrying around. I have yet to complain when they put the dog out on the balcony for whatever reason (vacuuming or some other thing that isn't safe for him, I guess) where I am subjected to even more hysterical yapping.

Lately, though, it has turned into full-on steady playing fetch and/or running back and forth across the entire apartment--both dog and little boy (who is getting less little and more heavy-footed by the day). Barking and pounding, over and over, all above my head. The Cat is rattled. I can't hear the TV or stereo, or even my own thoughts sometimes. The pictures on my walls end up askew.

Thought #1 is that I have to get out of here. Not a possibility right now, between my lease obligations and the logistics and finances of a move. Where would I go, anyway? To another place where I won't know if I'll have the same amount of noise, and I'll be stuck again? Which leads me to. . .

Thought #2. Many people just don't seem to give a thought to the idea that maybe, just maybe, what they do affects anyone else. I've called management more than once to ask the people upstairs to keep the noise down, and while that has some short-term success, it always slides right back to the same old problem, prompting me to call management again. This recent backslide actually has reached a new low. I guess it's that because it's summer, the kids are up later and thus are noisier further into the evening. It also occurs to me that they don't seem to understand their dog's needs and that they ought to, I don't know, take him outside for some exercise on occasion, train him or treat him better so he doesn't have to go crazy constantly, that sort of thing. It's not as if there aren't courtyards and parks right outside our building.

Recently, our ranting friend Ricki talked about people who do thoughtless things--that thoughtlessness, like the s-word, happens. The article I mentioned in a previous post about anti-bullying programs and lessons for students had a line that stood out to me, and it pretty much is the whole idea of the most recent and most successful approaches: "[W]e have to teach children how to be good to one another, how to cooperate, how to defend someone who is being picked on and how to stand up for what is right."

Essentially, teaching respect for and (if necessary) defending others. . . which means cultivating children's ability to think about the other person. Empathy. Awareness of the other.

I just get the sense that we've really lost that sense of "the other" a few years back. Maybe more than a few years back. When people started saying, "I've got to find myself," en masse, perhaps--and we decided to accept that. I mean, I understand it's human nature to be most concerned with one's own best interests. I just finished a YA book from the library, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern, in which a 10th grader finds herself exploring friendship with classmates perceived as "dorks" after her supposed BFF betrays their friendship with an extremely selfish act. (Whereupon the main character looks back on the friendship and realizes how most of the time she just got manipulated for the other girl's benefit, and finds out the "dorks" are just nice kids.)

Sometimes, I vow to myself that I'll just start behaving like the inconsiderate people and do whatever I want. That phase doesn't last long, partly because it's habitual or characteristic of me to be considerate, and also partly because it doesn't feel good. I don't want to do to other people what inconsiderate people have done to me. I don't want to give anyone the idea that it's O.K. to do that. And, honestly, can thoughtless people even taste their own medicine?

The thing is, I don't know what other options I have to cope with this. I mean, if others aren't going to change, doesn't it follow that I need to change, at least in some way? I don't think I can make myself be less considerate, and I'm not really sure I want to scale back my expectations for what constitutes peaceful enjoyment in a place that I pay quite a bit of money to rent.

Just, for a change, though, why can't someone else think about "the other"?

And why can't I be that "other," every once in a little while?


ccr in MA said…
Oh, that sucks. I wish I had good advice, but I don't know what to tell you. Lots of sympathy, though.
Kate P said…
Thanks, CCR. I'm almost hoping they get some sort of subsidy and buy a house somewhere far, far away from me. It could happen.
Lindsay said…
I completely understand!!! Maybe it's because I'm from the midwest, and the values and the culture is different, but people here are so selfish and rude. That's not to say that people back home aren't, but people here are so much worse. My upstairs neighbors had a party on Friday night that was louder than anything they've ever thrown before. I'm friends with one of them and texted him 4 different times to turn it down, and every single time the music ended up getting turned back up again. The walls were shaking & vibrating. 3 glasses in our wine cabinet actually fell over! I told him that he needed to control it or I'd call the landlord. My roommate & I are going to call our landlord today anyway, but the response I got was something along the lines of, "Well, that'd be your decision to make. All I can do is respectfully request that you don't so I can keep living there, but you have no obligation to honor the request by any means." (He just moved in with the other 2.) He knew what he was getting into moving in there. That was his choice, not mine, but he makes it sound like if our landlord talks to them or if there are any repercussions, it's MY fault rather than theirs. It's ridiculous, and it makes me so angry. I hope they DO get in trouble. I couldn't sleep at all. I tried earphones in my ears, and I could still hear it. Ugh. :o(

Sorry for the rant. Just wanted you to know you are not alone!
Kate P said…
He kind of had the nerve to use the word "respectfully," considering he doesn't seem to respect his neighbors/friends very much. This is the thing--sometimes circumstances force you to live in a place where you can't do whatever you want because you're affecting many other people. So live by the rules or go someplace else.

I have more to rant about that, but you get the idea. . . oh, and forget calling the landlord. You call the police. That's what takes care of it.

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