Heat and Hot Water Included — Earplugs Optional
I have absolutely no luck with apartments. No, that's not exactly true. The apartment in which I live is lovely, and I like it a lot. The problem rests with the apartment building itself. OK, let's narrow that down further. I have no complaint with the actual combination of concrete, bricks and mortar that makes up the apartment building. If I am completely honest, I must say that I have no luck with neighbours.
I seem to be cursed with noisy neighbours. They are perfectly nice people, but seem to have a different concept of noise pollution than I do. I can divide these noisy neighbours into three main categories: the Music Lovers, the Decorators, and the Building Inspectors. Although very different, they are bound together by a common goal — to drive me slowly but surely insane.
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Let us examine the first category of noisy neighbours, the Music Lover. These are the people who love music so much that they feel compelled to share it with the rest of the world. One may even think of them as musical evangelists, spreading the good word of their favourite composers to the unenlightened masses...at a decibel level only slightly less than that of a taxiing jet plane. Music Lovers come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. Their tastes range from hiphop to jazz, rock to opera, classics to folk. It is a mistake to stereotype a Music Lover as a young person blasting Pearl Jam at midnight. A Music Lover could just as easily be a sweet little old lady blasting Puccini at noon. In my present apartment, I am sandwiched between two varieties of the species: beside me, a guitar-strumming, folk-playing, middle-aged man, and above me, a hard rock-playing, dancing-in-high-heels-till-dawn young woman. Sigh.
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Moving along to the next example of the species, let us look at the Decorator. Now, this is a creative character. Decorators are frequently seized by sudden, overwhelming desires to improve their surroundings. This is an admirable quality. Unfortunately, these overwhelming desires usually do not hit before 11 p.m. Long after the sun has set, and most of the building's tenants are in their beds, attempting to sleep, the Decorator will get out the vacuum cleaner. This is especially effective on hardwood floors, creating a lovely echoing effect in the apartment below. Decorators also enjoy rearranging their furniture at least once a week, also late at night. And, by the sound of the thunderous crashing and banging that often occurs, sometimes the furniture fights back.
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Finally, we come to the last category of noisy neighbour, the Building Inspector. These people have a mission in life. Their mission is to continuously test the structural integrity of the apartment building. This is the only explanation I can come up with for their daily assaults on doors, stairs, and cupboards. The doors especially seem to suffer. Despite the presence of hinges which will guarantee that the doors will close on their own, the Building Inspectors do not trust the hinges, and must feel they were put upon this earth to push the doors to their breaking points. A well-slammed door will cause the dishes in my kitchen cupboards to rattle, or pictures to shift on the wall. The same effect may be felt when a Building Inspector hurtles down the stairs at breakneck speed, either driven to set a new land record for taking out the garbage, or pursued by a herd of rabid wildebeests. Odd though this may seem, I prefer these explanations to the alternative — out-of-control, furious neighbours taking out their aggressions on the apartment fittings. While I feel sorry for the doors, better them than me.
I have lived in several apartment buildings, in several cities. I am convinced that these three general categories of noisy neighbours are universal. They exist everywhere. At least I hope they do. The only other explanation for my bad luck with apartments is that when I move, my noisy neighbours pack up their belongings and follow me!