Etiquette Lessons for the Neighbors
My apartment is my private space. Just because you can see me, doesn’t mean you should talk to me. Some people don’t seem to understand this. About 2-3 times a week my serenity is disturbed by a neighborhood oaf that is keen to say hello or chat with somebody. I’m on the ground floor and often have the patio door open which apparently is an invitation for vapid conversation. “Hey Buddy, how’s your day going!?”….. Are you fucking kidding me dude? I am sitting in my living room on the couch and you’re out on the street. Sometimes I’m not even wearing pants. How gauche are your people skills that you think this is an appropriate setting for useless small talk? Why are you yelling into my apartment? I have an idea: How about I buy a super tall ladder from Home Depot and next time I see your window open on the third floor, I’ll climb the ladder and just start talking to you while you’re reading a book in bed. “Hey man, thanks for saying ‘hi’ earlier, what are you up to? How about this beautiful sunshine we’re having today?”… Idiots
Some of these characters will yell at me even when the patio door and windows are closed. They yell louder so that I can hear them through the glass. “HEY BUDDY!” Absurd. When I’m actually out on the patio trying to enjoy some fresh air, I’m particularly vulnerable. “I saw that your license plate is a D.C. license plate, many years ago I lived off of Western Avenue and…..” – I don’t give a scintilla of a shit. For starters, I’m sporting a big, badass Bluetooth circa 2011. Did you miss that and the fact that I may be on a work call or did you think it was a fashion accessory? Second, I’m actively pointing to said Bluetooth and my computer screen and you keep talking. STFU!
One element I do enjoy about living on the ground floor however and having a patio is that I can stick my high-anxiety, very barky dog on annoying people who loiter outside my apartment. Some young lady decided to yell at her boyfriend over the phone right in front of my patio. 10 minutes in to this I had a pep talk with the dog and quietly opened the screen door. “Go bark at that Karen over there, good girl”. The other day some young couple and their toddler were running around out front making a bunch of noise. Our dog burst into action; sprinting at the kid and furiously barking at him through the gate. Kid had a conniption, starting crying like crazy. Good dog!
I finally get it. When my old man bought his house about 10-15 years ago, he promptly spent 10 grand planting pine trees between the edge of his lawn and the neighbors. At the time I found that to be very odd and anti-social. I outright asked him: “Don’t you want to get to know the neighbors?”. His answer was unequivocal: “No.” In my last apartment building I met some really cool neighbors and made some friends. That experience was a lucky aberration. For the most part neighbors are somewhere in the spectrum of boring to outright irritating. Those pine trees were a masterful, strategic move. An effective physical barrier and symbol: “I am willing to spend a fortune to NOT get to know you.” Swift, decisive and uncompromising action.
I have failed to act swiftly which means that I must introduce an even more uncompromising, neighbor-deterrent. Perhaps I can raise a colony of Mud Daubers outside my patio that somehow recognize me as their master but are hostile towards everyone else. “How’s it going in there, buddy!?” …………………………………….. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………………. “Oh, good god!!!”