Thursday, July 30, 2009

How Much Can They Hear, Anyway?

As I write this, I'm researching Craigslist for a new place to live, despite the fact that I really like the interior set up and size of my apartment very much. The aesthetics of the exterior don't bother me too much, as I don't have to look at it as much as the inside...but out there, unfortunately, are my neighbors.

When we looked at this apartment, I was 8 months pregnant, and very desperate to find a place without mold and water leakage that a baby could grow healthily in. The landlord didn't seem as smarmy (over the phone) as others that we'd met, and really sold us (again, over the phone) on the friendliness, "condo style remodeling", and quality of tenants. Due to our good credit, he said we could have our pick of the beautifully redone apartments. We viewed it, liked it, and committed to paying $125 more a month to go from a HOUSE in Hammond to an APARTMENT in Highland. That was on a Monday, we signed the lease by Thursday, and moved in on Saturday, thanks to some really great friends.

While it was still colder outside, all was well and good. No one lived above us or to the side of us, and we existed blissfully with our newborn baby and the windows closed. Flash forward to this summer.

I think it started when some friends were visiting the baby in the early evening and there were ambulance lights in the parking lot. Three times in one week. Turned out there's an elderly gentleman who always thinks he's dying and calls 911, but now 911 wont come out anymore. Ok. I can deal with this. It's not very intrusive in my life, and obviously, I can show compassion for someone who is ailing. Done.

Another friend who lives in a similar set up assures me that nicknaming the other residents is a normal pasttime in apartment living. The "smokers" stand outside the front doors of buildings and talk until the wee hours of the morning. Inconsiderate, yes, but unbearable, no. Until the smell of cigarettes wafts into my windows and I start worrying about secondhand smoke. Close my windows, you say? I like the breeze! I'm trying to save on energy costs! It's not that hot out! Ok. I can deal with this. I can close the windows if it gets too bad. Done.

Then someone moved in upstairs. Honeymoon over. Putting together their funny accent and name on the downstairs mailbox, I've ascertained that they are German. If they, and their obese child, continue to stomp around up there, I've got a few words to share with them, and one of them is "goosesteppers." Ok. I can deal with this. It's like dorm life all over again. Just shut it out, Sally. Even if her hopping around shakes our ceiling fixtures and rouses Raffi from his naps?

The final straw however is the cursing, obscenities, and general domestic disputes that occur, sadly, frequently. You can say that Lou and I haven't been married that long, or that we know better than to argue with the windows open, but I can honestly say that I would NEVER use the language I've heard (and learned) living in this apartment complex. We really love each other, double yes, and have no interest in our life becoming one of those episodes from COPS. I shouldn't joke, but "scary guy" has now had 3 COPS show worthy episodes in our complex.

June 12th: I am nursing the baby at 4a.m. and hear a man calling a woman all kinds of names- let's just say, names a trashy person would use to call someone who they think is cheating on them. The woman is screaming, crying- so I wake up Louie. He goes to call the real cops, but in his hesitation, a car pulls up, a guy in boxer shorts and no shoes gets out, and into his cell phone says, "I'm here, where are you?" Woman gets into car and the man escorts her away. Thank God for her safety, yes, but then "scary guy" comes out in the COPS episode uniform: no shirt, no shoes, camoflauge shorts, lots of tatoos, beer belly...SCREAMING in the dead of night- more obscenities. We tried to brush it off; spoke to the building manager who assured us that "scary guy" was drunk and "that's not the way we like to do business around here". He promised us that any more similar offenses would equal the eviction of said "scary guy". I didn't like it. I wanted him to be evicted right away. This is the same guy who HAS SMALL KIDS that I've heard him yell "shut your a** up" to, but I don't think they live with him. I'm worried for this families safety, and my own. Imagine, if this is the way he treats people he 'loves', imagine how he treats those he does not? Lots of lights were on in our complex that night. It wasn't just us that were pissed.

I assure you that I'm not a nosy neighbor. Small apartment building + windows open + home daily with a baby= I hear everything. But even if my windows were closed, I'd experience a lot of this.

So, flash forward, last week. Monday night/Tuesday a.m. I'm awoken by "scary guy" on his phone outside the building. I cannot, and will not, repeat the words he yelled at a woman- which woman, I do not know, but they involved vile slang for the female genitalia. I kept thinking, why doesn't she hang up? Eventually, she must have. He went inside cussing, and one of "the smokers" shook his head. I didn't wake Louie, but figured this would be "scary guy's" final strike.

In the morning, as Louie left for work, I told him about what I heard. Apparently, when I finally did get back to sleep I was in it pretty deeply, because Louie woke at 4 a.m. ("scary guy's" favorite time, I guess) to the same man/woman screaming at each other. This time, Louie called 911. Someone else had called as well. Louie said three cops came by, they took the woman home, and had "scary guy" close his windows. I was a little nervous this guy would find out it was us who called. Louie talked to both the landlord and the building manager. At first, they assured us that this was going to be handled properly, but within the week they had changed their story to "just drunk talk" that would be handled if anything "happened again".

How many warnings do these people need? It doesn't appear to be physical yet, but what happens when it is? What will it take? I can't deal with this. I'm D-O-N-E with dealing.

But then, as I rose to feed my erratic sleep scheduled son at 3:30 a.m., I tried to change his diaper and quiet his tears quickly. I realized, if I can hear all this outside stuff all night, what can they hear from inside our apartment? A baby crying is not as serious or life-threatening as these other encounters, but perhaps they're blogging, just the same, about ME.


  1. Let me just add an addendum. I understand that less than optimal tenants are everywhere...we had our garbage can stolen and cars egged in Hammond. However, no one was in grave personal danger, as I fear for "scary guy's" girlfriend. I also believe that in a neighborhood setting, this would not be as common. It certainly wasn't our home experience in Hammond.

  2. Oh dear! Unfortunately, I had a very similar situation in my last apartment before we bought our house. The girl upstairs (18 years old with a two year old baby) and her boyfriend had loud drinking/pot smoking parties all night and often got violent with each other. I called 911 THREE TIMES when he was knocking her around and screaming at the baby at 4 in the morning (What IS it with that time?) They knew it was me, because I told her. She was thankful, at first, but she quickly got angry about it and threatened to "beat my ass"... DCFS ended up taking her kid away after a few of these police visits in the middle of the night. Anyway, it was a very disturbing situation, and I was SO glad when they got evicted. However, the day after they moved out, my car got keyed. ;)

  3. This is Sara Carter, by the way. ;)