A Feud Begins

I live in a quiet building, on a quiet street.

I’ve lived here for over five years. I don’t make trouble, and I don’t know many of my neighbors. LA, go figure.

This is a rent control building, so people generally stay here a while since the rent is pretty stable. There’s the usual assortment of hipsters, hott chix, and cranks.

And we all just sort of exist. No one has ever had a complaint about me until last night.

Last night I became the noisy neighbor.

I was watching the epic movie, the sound mixer’s dream — Annie Hall. That’s right. The movie with no shouting, no musical score, no gun fights.

At 1:30AM I get a pretty agressive knock on my door. I wasn’t expecting company so I asked through the door who was there.

It was my neighbor from downstairs. He asked me to turn down the TV. Which I did. But I was only sitting a few feet away from the set. I wasn’t cranking the volume to get full effect, I mean it’s Annie Hall, neurosis doesn’t get any better if it’s louder.

But that knock made me recontextualize my entire non-existant relationship with my downstairs neighbor.

How long has this feud been building up in his mind? I mean I feel for the guy. I’m a big lumbering fellow. I must sound like a rhino fight going on up here when I walk around.

Was Annie Hall the last straw in a long line of seeming minor noise violations?

Now I’m totally second guessing every decision regarding sound. I always try to keep it low, do I now have to keep it even lower?

How does everyone else deal with these sorts of situations?

…photo by aka Kath, used and modified under Creative Commons

11 thoughts on “A Feud Begins”

  1. Yeah… I’m a “downstairner” like your complaining neighbor and I can describe my upstairs neighbors as the Herman the Munster family! But I’ve learned to live with it… it literally comes with the territory. There is a reasonable expectation of some kind of noise in any apartment situation – yet the level of such noise varies by one preferences.

    My gripe, however, is with my next door neighbors. They LOVE slamming their door hard enough to the point where my walls shake. I noticed this right when I moved in in November.
    Step 1: I wrote a polite post-it note and left it on their door asking them to be careful about slamming the door. Result: the slamming gets worse. Step 2: I tell the onsite manager. Result: The manager asks my neighbor (2 USC girls) about it and they deny any wrong doing. MY RESPONSE: They are in breach of the lease – noise clause… hello! And if you can’t get them to stop you must then let me out of my lease! Step 3: The manager installs some extra padding of some sort to reduce the sound when they slam – because until this very day the are slamming the door.

    So when I leave I slam my door. When my guests leave I tell them “hey… make sure you slam that door before you walk out!” Immature… I know. But maybe that’s what its going to take to make it stop.

  2. If you’re not making an unreasonable level of noise, be sure to mention this to your apartment manager in the form of a note. Your neighbor has to expect some level of noise – he lives in an apartment building, after all. If he continues to complain, tell him he needs to bring it up with the manager. You shouldn’t need to walk on eggshells.

    That said, if you have speakers, make sure they’re not sitting on wood floors if people live below you – put a towel or rug under them.

  3. Wow…good thing it wasn’t a terminator moving blasting imagine the ire of the downer if that were to happen.
    I agree that you have to expect a certain level of noise and accidental intrusion from neighbors in an apartment, but jeez…Annie Hall?

    Thank gawd back in the day I was an “upper” the “downer” below was a little old lady who as deaf and could sleep through anything. Came in handy when our youngest was in a walker and loved to get a running start on the carpet and lift her feet to freewheel on the linoleum and crash into the wall. Yikes, she was so nice and we quickly put a stop to that one. Point is being considerate sometimes takes a bit more effort.

    kidding aside, I used to use headphones to watch my movies very late at night, especially when it was nice out and I had all the windows open.

  4. Katherine: I can totally sympathize. We lived upstairs from some door slammers once. Out of frustration one night, we counted the number of times they slammed the doors in their apartment. In just one hour they slammed the doors over 100 times – and these were SLAMS! I wasn’t being hyper sensitive or anything. Worse, they got up at 4:30 in the morning for work, so that’s when the slamming started. One morning, I crept down as they were leaving and tried to politely ask if they couldn’t be quieter in the early morning. The woman bitched right back that we weren’t exactly quiet ourselves. (Maybe true, but we aren’t usually awake before 7:00, so this should bother no one)

    Later, I overheard her relating this story to her husband (oh yeah, they routinely spoke so loud to each other we could easily hear just about any conversation they held) and he was just utterly incredulous. Apparently he couldn’t believe that these same complaints follow them wherever they go. His solution was that people like us shouldn’t live in apartments because we’re so misanthropic.

    I felt slightly vindicated after hearing this, because I realized it wasn’t just me, it was anyone who had the misfortune of living near them.

    PS, all four of them smoked the most foul cigarettes ever rolled by man or machine, which, in spite of the noise was what ultimately drove us out of our place. It stunk up the place so bad we had to trash our curtains when we moved.

  5. I say you should start doing jumping jacks every morning at 3am, while listening to the Germs at full volume. The next screening of Annie Hall will probably go much smoother.

  6. I too would recommend using headphones if you’re watching something late at night. It’s just courtesy. Our upstairs neighbor is INSANE and will occasionally BLAST samba music at 3 or 4 AM. Finally, we had to go up there and complain and he got extremely angry and defensive, saying, “I can’t sleep! What do you expect me to do?” We said, “use headphones!” It’s been pretty quiet since then, thank god.

  7. my former neighbor was deaf in one ear, which meant that every fight he’d have with his girlfriend was 50% louder so he could hear it.

  8. Do you have a subwoofer? I imagine the scenes of Alvie living under the roller coaster could be an issue even at low volumes in that case.

    I feel for your plight, though. Like you, I’m a lumbering hulk, but like some others here, I, too was fortunate in my last apartment. My downstairs neighbor was a garage, and my shared-wall neigbor was hard of hearing. And, yes, I happily took full advantage.

    Good luck with your irate neighbor.

  9. I was once in a similar situation–even a rent-controlled older building oon the west side with same mix of people–except the guy below me was the one making the noise. It’s funny, because I remember going through a process where I questioned whether his noise (thumping bass) was actually too loud or if I was just hyper-sensitive to it. I gave it some time, but it was still very distracting (and rather late–11 PM on weekday nights), so I finally decided it was fair to ask him to turn it down. When he opened his door that evening, I felt even more convinced: that stereo was cranked to a level I reserve for weekends, if it all. He was cool, I was cool, and it happened only once more. I took that as a sign we had reached an equilibrium.

    So in short: no need to walk on eggshells (or do anything differently), especially since this was the first time. If it happens again, then pay attention to what you were doing differently (if anything) when the person complained, and go from there. Good luck!

  10. No matter what you do, you’re always going to sound like you’re dribbling bowling balls.

    Sure, you could probably make things worse, but I doubt there’s anything you could do to make them better. Annie Hall – not Road Warrior – how much quieter could you get???

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