There is a good chance that television and movies have spoiled me with regards to how I expect neighbors in an apartment building to behave. I understand that not every neighbor is going to be aware of the rules for urban dwelling and certainly isn’t going to make cups of sugar available for loan, but some things that our neighbors do just defy the imagination.

One of the walls of our living room is right next to what I assume is the living room of one of our neighbors. The noises that come from that wall are often so loud that no matter how we turn up our television, we still hear what is going on. It used to be that when they would be watching a movie, we could easily figure out what movie was being watched and even follow along, scene by scene.

To make matters worse, they are sensitive to the most normal things which are commonplace in an apartment. I once hung up a few framed pictures on the wall in the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday. I started hammering in a nail into the wall and they started hitting the wall in anger.

Similarly, our cat once lightly scratched against the wall — again, it was the early afternoon. THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! If you are wondering why the cat was scratching the wall, I am just as perplexed as you. Apparently cats just love to do that after using their litter box. I’ve looked at her paws pre-scratching and they are just as clean as they are post scratching.

More recently, there was an incident with another one of our neighbors on our floor. I woke up at five in the morning as is normal for me — I exercise every morning from about five to five forty five. I heard a strange beeping sound coming from the hallway and I noticed that our roommate was awake — strange, considering how early it was. He said that he couldn’t sleep because of the loud beeping sound.

I unlocked the door to the apartment and went out to investigate. It seemed to be coming from the stairwell. I went up the stairs towards the roof access door and noticed that someone had put their smoke detector on the window sill near the roof access door. It was so supremely loud that I’m sure that every single person on our floor could hear it clearly from their apartment. I tried hitting the reset button but it did nothing. I therefore did the next logical thing which was to remove the battery from the smoke detector.

You may be wondering why I know that it was someone on my floor that did this to everyone on the floor. As I left my apartment, I noticed that one person on the floor had left the keys to her apartment in the lock itself, with the door shut. I imagine that the person was being driven mad by their smoke detector, went outside to put the detector on the sill one flight up, and then went back into her apartment without taking back her keys. I was thinking about knocking on her door to let her know that I had disabled her smoke detector but I could just imagine the accusations that would start flying.

“How dare you assume that it’s my smoke detector? What makes you think it’s mine just because the keys are in my door? I’m just an old lady and I forgot the keys in my door. So what, who cares?”

Instead, I left the smoke detector, battery removed, and went back to my apartment to start working out. It turns out that it had been keeping my wife awake as well but she didn’t want to wake me up to tell me. I can’t help but wonder how many deep sighs of relief there were at five in the morning when a mysterious vigilante silenced the loud nemesis that was shrieking on the sixth floor. That’s just how I operate — I’d rather leave people happy for a job well done without necessarily knowing that I was the one that helped them.


  1. Oh, how I love this article, Gordon!

    It is certainly difficult living with others in an urban core and, as one friend told me many years ago, you can pick where you live, but you can’t pick your neighbors. How very true!

    Having the wrong people living next to you can create so much unnecessary trouble in your life. They complain and make you miserable and even if you aren’t making any noise, they can still find a way to try to punish you with their own repressed, but expressed, anger.

    1. Thanks, David! There is no easy way of finding out, prior to moving in somewhere, exactly what kind of neighbors you’re going to get. Nobody will up and say “Oh the neighbors are horrible” as they would never sell that way.

      1. Exactly! That’s what’s so dangerous. It also seems the good neighbors always move and they’re replaced by ill-mannered buffoons who will stay a lifetime!

  2. We have neighbors who like to blare their TV loud so you can follow the action too. My computer sub woofer and speakers are against the same wall and sometimes I think about reciprocating. But then I’d be as bad as they are.

    1. Oh, I’d put my sub woofer against the shared wall. I wouldn’t be obnoxious about turning it up, but I’d certainly use it to drown out their din. If they complain, I’d invite them in to listen to what their TV sounds like on my side.

      1. In an ideal world I’d have some kind of a wall cover that would reflect and amplify the sound back so the louder they got, the louder it would be given back. I imagine that would probably cost more than my apartment, though! 🙂

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