The Goddess Speaks
Loving noisy neighbor by keeping quiet
I like to think I am a good neighbor to the other residents on my floor. Although I don't know much about them at all, I try to love them. Long ago I found that to get too friendly was to invite envy, gossip and jealousy.
Over the years I have endeavored to help other tenants in various ways. When I smell smoke or food burning, I am quick to check the source. Usually I find someone has forgotten something on the stove. Or when the apartment emergency bell rings, I always investigate. Sometimes it is a false alarm, and on occasion there is a real need for help.
One man who lived next door had many bar friends visit him. He let them drink his beer, watch his TV, yell their enjoyment over football (with his apartment door open) and bring their crying babies with them. To complain usually invites worse behavior, but the office told him they had had numerous complaints (some mine) and that he had to obey the building rules or he would be out.
At present there is a tenant in that apartment who doesn't speak any English. There is little communication other than a smile and nod when passing in the hallway. However, she has managed to annoy me with a blaring radio and slamming cupboards and doors. When I am concentrating on writing on the computer, which is in the kitchen, a sudden slam of a sliding cupboard door makes me jump. My concentration is broken.
When she waters her outside plants, the door is pulled shut with a hefty bang at least six times because there are six plants to be watered. The same with the laundry room door -- a determined slam.
I've come to the point where I have difficulty loving Mrs. Slam-Bang. (I don't know her real name.) One night I asked her to turn her radio down, using gestures of turning a knob and cupping my hands over my ears, and she complied. It's quieter now.
At the moment I'm in the bedroom writing and hear someone hammering. A tool drops on the floor. Maybe that's the tenant above. I'm glad I'm not trying to nap.
On the other side of me is a good quiet neighbor. I take him a home-baked treat now and then. During last year's earthquake, everything in my 15th-floor apartment was creaking, jiggling and swaying. After it stopped he came to the door. "Are you all right, Suzanne?" he asked through the door. "Yup, thank you," was all I could manage in answer to his neighborly concern, which I appreciated.
Loving a neighbor is a show of concern, caring and compassion in small matters like that, and live and let live the rest of the time.
Suzanne Teller is a Honolulu-based writer.
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