Monday, January 31, 2011

Love Thy Neighbor… (well, do the best you can)


Today at work, we were talking about tonight’s bad weather rolling in & I decided I’d better do some grocery shopping right after; but as I need the exercise more than the food, I laid the car keys down & walked to the market instead.  So I’m heading down Main Street when someone comes up alongside me and bumps me in the shoulder—“Welcome back, stranger!”

What the—oh it’s Doug Williams, an older gent who lives on the second floor of my apartment building.  “Hi Doug, what do you mean?”  I asked.  (It’s always weird greeting someone with your own name.)  He says “I haven’t seen you since, what, summer?  I see Bill all the time, but when we stopped having all those problems with the mail, I figured you moved out & bought a house or something.”   Y’see, there are 3 of us with similar names in my building—William Morris, Douglas Morris, Douglas Williams.  (Or as our former mailman probably called us, the “Trilogy of Terror”.)   Anyway, I told Doug it was nice seeing him again (yawn) & went on my way, a little surprised that he thought I’d moved out.  Technically we live under the same roof.

I love “apartment building” living—I really do.  And I’ll probably go right on for as long as I’m single.  But I’ve always found the “Rule” a bit odd when it comes to your neighbors; If we live on the same floor, do not look or talk to one another.  Why is that?  I’m friends with Jim & Theresa on the second floor, Bill on 1, and a couple years ago Janice (who lives right below me in #306) and I got acquainted when she knocked on my door, told me she didn’t want to hear my exercise machine past 8pm & I asked her if Mister Bo Jangles was a cat she was hiding from management.   Janice likes me just fine now.


My castle, that I share with around 25 other people; I’m on the top floor, towards the back of the building

However, rules are made to be broken—and in the dozen or so years I’ve been here…


Apt #401:  “I Hope You Like It Here”  Last summer I am doing my laundry (in the basement) when in walks George from 401.  A small, older man, I’ve been told he’s lived here since 1975.  I’ve passed him often enough--I usually nod hello, he frowns back.

GEORGE:  You done with this one? (pointing at a washer)

DOUG:  Er…yes George.

GEORGE:  How do you know my name?  

DOUG:  I’m Doug, in apartment 406?  Right down the hall from you.

GEORGE:  Meet you.  Whaddya do for a living?

DOUG:  Um, I’m a system analyst… computer programming.

GEORGE:  I used to do the same thing—well, before I retired.

DOUG:  Oh!  That’s interesting, when did you retire?

GEORGE:  1970.  

DOUG:  Ah. 

GEORGE:  Well, I think you’ll like it here.

DOUG:  But I—thanks.  (George, I’ve lived down the hall from you for 13 years!)

Apt #404:  “Did I get you at a bad time?”  One morning I’m taking a shower when I hear a loud buzzing sound; someone is buzzing me from the lobby downstairs.  Aw no, if it’s UPS, he’ll wait 10 seconds & take off—with my package!  I jump out, grab a towel, race down the hall, open the door & look down towards the lobby below.  “Hello?  UPS??”  It’s Thomas, my nerdy science teacher neighbor from 404, his finger on my button.  “Hi did I disturb you??  I came down to get my mail & forgot my keys.”  I motion him to come upstairs.  He stays where he’s at.  “I have a photo ID on my kitchen counter if you’d like credentials…”  I shake my head no, water is flying.  He comes up the stairs.  “Did I catch you at a bad time?  Were you sleeping?”  DUDE—I’M SOAKING WET AND WEARING A DAMN TOWEL, DOES IT LOOK LIKE I WAS SLEEPING??

 Apt #407:  “Say it ain’t so”  One Saturday last winter, I head outside to the parking lot to scrape the snow off my car.  I see Vanessa, the quiet woman across the hall from me busily doing the same.  Hmm!  She’s fairly attractive, reminds me of Carnie Wilson from her Wilson Phillips days.  I know she’s extremely shy, but she can’t be that bad—I hear “The Simpsons” on her tv everytime I’m in the hall.

I walk up to my car, smile & say hi, she says nothing.  Is she blushing?  I make some unremarkable comment about the weather; she looks at me quickly & ducks her head down.  The poor thing, she’s bashful.  I decide to lay down the charm.  “Hey I really like your car, do you enjoy driving a Saturn?”  She says “HELL NO IT’S A $%#@%#@*% PIECE OF #$%#@$&*^!!!”  Ulp!  i say “Well, um… thanks for sharing.”    She doesn’t answer.  That’s okay!

Well, I haven’t given up all hope just yet.   An attractive dark-skinned woman just moved in right down the hall from me, and okay, she has a ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign hanging from her doorknob (yes, really)  but sooner or later… we’ll talk!



  1. I will trade you one week of apartment living in exchange of life on green acres, that includes the following for the low, low, looowww price ofyour neighbors do not disturb sign:

    1. My Mother-in-law...and ALL that implies

    2. About a dozen or so barn cats, a few sheep, goats, one horse and a few chickens.

    3. A snarly fifteen year old boy who acts a little like your neighbor George.

    4. Scott-while a bit hairy and curmudgeon-like will keep you nice and toasty on a cold night.

    Come on down to Dutch Run, where the grass isn't always greener.

    Great post, as always, my friend.

  2. Haha--Becca, I think your way of life sounds great (that's how I grew up) but if you need a break from things, we don't have to trade! I'll go stay at my sisters house, the keys are under my mat! :) Thanks for the funny (and kind) feedback, my friend!


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