Apartment Living – It’s You Against Everyone Else

by blue midget

Let’s not beat around the bush, shall we? Apartment living sucks. And the only thing that sucks more than apartment living is the people who live above me. Uh, I mean “us.” Yeah. If you haven’t lived in an apartment for a while and don’t really remember what it’s like, allow me to refresh your memory:

It’s been a long week at work. You come home from another tiring day, and all you want is 45 minutes to sit back and relax and enjoy a little peace and quiet. Maybe some TV, maybe not. What you definitely need is a few minutes to settle down. So you do, on the couch or in your favorite chair. All is well when… STOMP STOMP STOMP CRASH! STOMP STOMP STOMP CRASH! The children upstairs start running from one end of the apartment to the other. The next thing you hear is unintelligible screaming. It might be in another language, or maybe it’s just in Childese. Either way, you don’t speak it and it’s really annoying. The people who live above you do not use their air conditioning either, so at all hours of the day, the screaming and stomping of the children upstairs can be heard in your apartment as if they were right next to you. Let’s escalate this and also throw in that they’ve been vacuuming at 7:00am every other morning, including Saturday. Also, if I haven’t mentioned this – the children do not sleep in the second bedroom, they sleep in the master bedroom above you and it’s fun waking up to the sounds of their playing and screaming at 6:30am on a Saturday. At least you’re awake for the vacuuming. And of course when you complain to them, they don’t get it because their children are awesomely wonderful and perfect in every way so how in the world could they be annoying?

This is my day, every day. I know I’m not alone – millions of apartment dwellers have to put up with the crap that goes on with the people upstairs. From the apartment dwelling community to you, I say:

YOUR CHILDREN SUCK, AND SO DO YOU. If only I could get that as a Hallmark card.

If you have small children and you live in an apartment, hearken to my words: YOU DO NOT BELONG IN AN UPSTAIRS APARTMENT. If you don’t want to listen to the noise of the people above you, can you imagine how annoying it is, listening to you and your screaming, whining, crying, stomping children day after day?

Here is another sensitive, non-PC issue that I’m just going to jump right into: Why is it that 90% of the people who live in apartments are immigrants with a million kids? Now, I have no problems with immigrants, and I have no prejudices about people from other countries. After all, humans have been around for so long, I refuse to believe that any race is “pure,” especially in America where we’re all mutts. We’re all brethren. But here’s the issue: Most of the people who live in apartments are immigrants, and they don’t understand the mores of the new nation that they’ve moved to. Indian and Mexican families with forty kids think it’s completely acceptable to adopt the outside hallway as a playroom for their kids. Hooray, now everyone in the building can listen to the playing and screaming and jumping of the children. I know that the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well this is America, and we don’t want to raise your stupid kids. That’s what my taxes go toward and I don’t want any further involvement. If I wanted to raise some kids, I’d have some of my own. Please do not leave your children out in the hallway where everyone can hear them or where they can follow other apartment-dwellers into the laundry room and stare at them while they do laundry (I hate that).

A few months ago, the noise upstairs really got out of hand. Being neighborly and not wanting to make a big stink out of things by calling the office, I decide to go upstairs and knock on the door. The screaming stops and I can hear the older child run to the back of the house and say something in Japanese, probably telling his mother that someone was at the door. But no one came. So I knock again and wait. Still no one came. The third time I knock – someone comes to the door and LOCKS IT. I was stunned! So the next day, when the apartment office is open, I go down there and speak with someone. She says to me, “Oh yes, it’s a Japanese family. We have found this in other communities as well, where Japanese wives do not answer the door. They even send the FedEx delivery men away, and tell them to return when their husbands are home.”

That is absolutely ridiculous. Of course I want to respect others and their ethnicity, but open the goddamn door when I knock. Look out your peephole and see that it’s me. It isn’t like I’m armed with a bazooka; I just want to ask you to be quiet. See, what happens now is, even though it’s been explained to me that it’s a cultural thing, I’m pissed. I’m an American and we’re in the United States, and we just don’t do that here. In America, if you’re upset with someone, you talk or scream or hold a press conference or sue them or blow them up. Tazer ‘em if you got ‘em! You don’t lock the door and run to the back of the house because now it’s war. And if there’s one thing we know in America, it’s war.

My first apartment experience should have warned me right off. I lived in a really nice two-bedroom, one-bath with my best friend (hereby referred to as “EB”) on the bottom floor. We loved it because of the patio that faced a private grassy area. After living there for a year, we decided not to sign a lease, and elected the month-to-month option. After the 13th month, a Middle Eastern family moved in above us. Now for my disclaimer: I’m not saying that what I am about to describe is a common trait of anyone who is Middle Eastern. These people were just plain insane, and you can get the crazies from any region of the world, including the U.S. – for instance, I’m from Seattle, and we specialize in crazies.

Anyway, these people had no furniture except sleeping mats, televisions (three or four of them from what we could tell), and a dining table with chairs. It was a husband and wife with two children. At first, they seemed very, very sweet. But then after the first couple of days, they started having dinner guests on the weeknights. Now, we were living about an hour south of Seattle, and I was working in North Seattle. To get to work every morning I was getting up pretty early, like between 4:00 and 4:30am. So of course I wanted to get to bed right at 10:00pm the night before, and preferred quiet on the weeknights. I didn’t complain about weekend noise. At first the dinners were pretty tame, and I could ignore the noise enough to sleep. But then they started inviting people with children over. The children lived above my bedroom (I’m seeing a pattern) and they had a television in there. The kids would turn the TV volume up almost all the way – it was so loud that the people living in the opposite side of the building started complaining about the people above them, mistaking the origin of the noise. But no, it was the crazies above me. The children would also get rowdy and start jumping up and down on the floor, screaming at the top of their lungs to compete with the TV, I guess, around 1:00am. At first, EB and I would go upstairs and ask them to be quiet, and the mother would come to the door, seeming so concerned about our lack of sleep, but nothing changed.

After a couple of episodes per week of this happening and not being able to get them to shut up, we started calling apartment Security to come down and shut them up. The first Security guy gets lost, so EB and I walk out to meet him. As we’re walking toward our building, at about two and a half building lengths away, the Security guy looks up at our building, at the window where the children were jumping up and down on their sleeping mattress and says, “What in the hell?!” He can hear them screaming – no words, just “AAAAAAAAAH!” As we got one and a half buildings away, he could hear the kids’ television. Have I mentioned that the window was closed and we could still hear them? We complained with the office and wrote many a letter, but it takes a very long time to evict anyone. Nothing got resolved, the manager and her assistant were giving us some crap about how they understood what we were going through but it takes time to evict people, so we moved to Seattle a month later.

Two years later this story continues, and you aren’t going to believe this. EB and I are living in a house – see, we moved to an apartment on the top, corner floor because we had learned something from our last situation, but the Japanese exchange students had such loud, fancy car stereos that we could hear them all the way up on the 15th floor. Actually, it wasn’t that we could hear them. The bass from their completely awesome car stereos were vibrating the entire side of the building. I didn’t mind it because it was better than the previous situation, but I didn’t want to make a fuss. EB wants to move, so we rent an inexpensive house where it’s gross, but it’s quiet. During that time, I also get a new job working for ExecuStay by Marriott, which is the corporate housing division of Marriott hotels. They rent out and completely furnish actual apartments for people who need a stay for 30+ days and want something more than just a hotel. So now I’m working for ExecuStay by Marriott, and because of what I do, I need to go visit some hotels in downtown Seattle and do some “networking” with the apartment managers so they will give us good deals on rent.

Back when I worked for the company (it’s been a long time) we really only dealt with two major apartment companies. One of those companies happened to be the managers of the apartment I lived in, one hour south of Seattle, where I had lived beneath the Middle Eastern crazy people. Already, you can see where I’m going with this.

While I am chatting with this senior manager and his assistant, I offhandedly mention that I used to live in one of the apartment communities that his company manages. I wasn’t going to go into the ordeal, because it just wasn’t good for business. But they ask me which one so I tell them. At once, both of them start laughing like there’s some inside joke that I’m not in on, when they lean in close like they’re going to let me in on the secret.

“A couple of years ago this family moved from some Middle Eastern country into one of the apartments at that place,” the senior manager tells me, and right away I’m stunned silent. I knew it was my crazy family so I let him continue. He says, “There were a ton of complaints about them, but the apartment manager was new and was really frazzled about the whole situation. She (the manager) would call the guy in there to tell him that there had been complaints, and if he couldn’t comply she would have to evict him. But the guy said that he was a prophet from God, and if she tried to raise her hand against him, he would call down disaster from heaven to smite her.” They’re both laughing their asses off, but I’m staring at the guy like he just read my lotto numbers. And then he says, “And the guy would actually start shouting in her office, calling down lighting from heaven and all other sorts of crap, really freaking her out. It took her about three months to evict them.”

I know what you’re saying, and it’s something like, “I live on a top floor apartment, but we’re so quiet! We’re nothing like what you’ve described!” My response is this: No one thinks it’s them. We always think that it’s someone else. Well I have news for you, upstairs apartment-dweller. You’re loud as hell, your children suck, you aren’t a prophet from God, your car stereo is awesome but no one wants to hear your stupid music, and we certainly don’t want to have a part in raising your kids other than the taxes we are already paying to educate them. It is you, it really is. When that Hallmark card is published, I’ll send you one.