Ah, apartment living in New York. In my neighborhood, people live practically on top of each other, making things like “personal space” and “privacy” cherished commodities. Because we New Yorkers live in such close quarters, it’s even more important that we consider how our actions impact others and try to be considerate of those with whom we share space. Apparently, not everyone who lives in same apartment building I do feels this way…
With almost 10 years of NYC apartment living under my belt, I’ve compiled a list of seven (super specific) signs that you might be a terrible neighbor:
1. If you routinely use all six washing machines and all four dryers in the laundry room at the same time for washing minuscule loads of laundry, you might be a terrible neighbor.
Just two socks per industrial sized dryer?!?!?! For FIFTY MINUTES?!?!?!?!!
2. If you routinely let your children play, screaming and squealing and UNATTENDED, in the courtyard of the building complex well past 11pm on a weeknight, you might be a terrible neighbor (and not the most responsible parent).
There are loads of families that live in the four wings that comprise our apartment building. Unfortunately, most of these parents ascribe to the “if I can hear them, then my children aren’t technically unattended” school of parenting, which entails letting their small children run all over the courtyard screaming at the top of their lungs at all hours of the day as if the courtyard were a jungle gym/soccer field. This bothers me on several levels.
- First, I’m a former first and second grade teacher. If your child is out running around and carrying on at 12:30am on a school night, that means they aren’t getting enough sleep…which means that they’re likely to nod off when I’m TEACHING THEM HOW TO READ. Your children need to be awake for that process to work. They sleep on your time, not mine.
- Many of the children down in the courtyard are 4-7 years old. 4-7 year old children are not known for making sound, responsible decisions. Usually, these late night courtyard play sessions end in a blood curdling scream and a plea for mommy…which, you know, is not at all disturbing at 1am when I’ve finally drifted off to sleep…
- This is a year round occurrence and weather doesn’t seem to be a factor. Children have been out playing during blizzards, downpours, thunderstorms, and most notably, during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. Super safe.
3. If you’re standing between the entrance to our apartment building and a dead cat on the sidewalk, and have been for several hours, and the cat has a collar on, and you haven’t done a damn thing, you might be a terrible neighbor.
True story. A couple of weeks ago, I’m coming home from work and notice a dead or dying cat lying on the sidewalk right outside the entrance to my apartment building. People are just walking by, taking no notice, and one of my neighbors happens to be leaning against the building wall. This was our exchange:
Me: “Oh my god.”
Me: “Poor cat! Is it dead or…”
Neighbor: “Don’t know. Been like that for a few hours. Crawled out from there (points to alley between my apartment building and the one next door) and just laid down. Hasn’t moved since.”
Me: “I think it’s dead.”
Me: “So did you call 311 to report it?”
Neighbor: “Not my cat.”
Me: “Well, it’s someone’s cat. It has a collar on…”
Me: “So let me get this straight: this cat, crawled out from that alley and laid down here and died several hours ago, all while you’ve stood here and people have just walked by?”
Neighbor: “Not my cat.”
Me: “Gotcha. What if that cat was sick? That’s probably a health risk…”
Neighbor: “Not to me. I’m not a cat.”
I called 311 and reported the cat carcass. My thoughts go out to the cat’s fur parents. I know how hard it is to lose a pet. I’m just sorry your cat ended up in proximity of my SHITTY, SOULLESS neighbors.
4. If you’re small-scale pot dealing habit has evolved and turned your apartment into a large-scale 24 hour narcotic distribution site, which necessitates all types of people attempting to buzz into our building 24/7/365, you might be a terrible neighbor.
A couple years ago, the apartment directly beneath mine started selling what I suspect was more than just weed, and the cast of characters that were their customers became increasingly sketchy. Strange, jittery, skeevy dudes would try to follow me into the building on the regular. My door would accidentally get buzzed at all hours of the day. Then one night, two clearly underage girls stumbled out of that apartment, had a loud confrontation in the courtyard, made their way back into the building, lost count of the flights of stairs, and proceeded to throw themselves against my door, demanding to be let in. This was, like, 3am on a Tuesday. When they stopped banging, I looked out the peephole and saw one girl, maybe 15, passed out and pretty unresponsive on the cold tile hall floor, and the other slumped against the wall, sweating profusely and crying. I called the police, just in case the girl unconscious girl was in some sort of medical distress…but by the time the cops arrived, the crying girl had roused her friend and they had disappeared. Rumor has it that the building company got wind of what was happening, and my downstairs neighbors were evicted. Unfortunately, they moved into a building right around the corner.
5. If your dog needs to do their business, and doesn’t quite make it all the way outside, and happens to pee/poo on the marble stairs in the common hallway of the apartment building, and your reaction is “Eh, the building manager will take care of that!”, you might be a terrible neighbor.
You know what’s fun on a Monday morning? Slipping in a puddle of dog pee and narrowly avoiding falling down a flight of stairs. Thanks to my cat-like reflexes, I escaped unscathed. But my tea did not. Neither did my cute ballet flats. Ew ew ew.
6. If, when you take out the trash, you routinely decide to leave it on the floor next to the trash shoot, without taking the extra five seconds to actually put the trash bag down the shoot itself, you might be a terrible neighbor.
7. If you get home from your night job as a bartender/waiter at 4am and decide that it’s the PERFECT TIME to practice that audition song you’ve been working on, at the top of your lungs, with your windows open, you might be a terrible neighbor.
This happens ALL THE TIME. I mean, I was a theatre major myself, and have all kinds of respect for the arts and the people who make that their life’s passion…but dear god, do you have to prepare for your one-woman cabaret at 5am on a Wednesday??
Have any bad neighbor horror stories? Let me know in the comments!