Monday, October 24, 2016

How To Be a Condo Owner, Part One: Noise

Living in a small condo, where one whole building is comprised of eight units, means that inevitably, some of your noise is going to leak out. Fortunately, we have thick walls here, so I often forget that there's a whole unit I don't even see backed up to my bedroom and bathroom. Even better, my next-door neighbors, whom I share a front balcony with, do not seem to share noise or get any of my own. The only noise I can hear, from my living area, is when they open and close their front door. Maybe some light footsteps as they walk down the stairs. I can handle this. Plus, I've met both (a retired Air Force father and his adult daughter) and they are both really nice, non-intrusive neighbors.

The traffic noise at night can be a bit obnoxious--every once in a while there's an asshole with a big engine and a small penis on Elverta Road and that can make me cringe. On weekends, hobbyists ride their motorbikes around the field next to my building, which is annoying but not enough to set me on edge.

I can hear the Antelope High School marching band practicing as I type this, but only because I have my sliding glass door open. I'm near enough the stadium to hear the Friday night games, but I love that noise--it's the noises of my own youth, and they're finished at a decent hour, anyway.

What I can't handle, however--what really, really grinds my gears and sets my anxiety off (I'm not being cute--I actually get anxious) is when the unit below mine has construction going bedtime.

As it happens, the unit below mine sold shortly after I took possession of the Rodent Lair. With their escrow and closing and all that fun stuff, I was finally moved in before any real signs of life came about down there, and so far, it's all been renovation.

Now, it took me almost five weeks to clean, paint, clean, put new floors in, clean some more, and move in, so I get it. But my work was largely quiet to my neighbors...and it was all done during daytime hours. The noisiest work I had done was having all the old floors taken out and new ones put in...and that took three days.

So I've been a little...pissy...that for weeks now, there's been hammering, crunching and--yes--power saws roaring, at night time.

I started practicing my tap dancing. I've never actually learned how to tap dance, mind you, but I figured leading with my heels was good and sure enough, it provides a nice thunk. But it didn't stop the noise below, and indeed, things came to a head last week when, at 9:00 (for the record, I get up at 5:30, so yes, I'm in bed at 9:00 most nights, at least reading, if not passing out after a day of teaching and a big workout) one night, I could hear a power saw going right under my bedroom.

Hell hath no fury like a Leo with anxiety trying to go to bed.

I tried stomping, dancing, the whole bit, but alas, the asshole below me kept screeching away with the saw. As my heart rate went up and my blood pressure started to rise, I reminded myself to take deep breaths--surely they'd be stopping soon.


Then it hit me.

I pay $215 a month in HOA fees, and there are noise ordinances in this community. Now, most of them stipulate 10:00 as the time to stop making noise, but the language is loose enough to interpret it all as "if it's 9:00 and someone is using a mother-effing power saw in your building, they are, indeed, an asshole, and you have a right to get a decent night's sleep."

Anyway, that $215 covers a lot of things--pool maintenance, gardening, building maintenance--but one thing I really love is that we have 24/7 security. I mean, a real, live human being roaming the complex, not sitting in his office eating donuts and watching porn on his computer. I've seen a couple of different guys out and about, greeting residents, vetting the door-to-door salesmen, and in general, keeping an eye out for all of us who pay $215 a month in fees to feel safe in our homes.

I get the feeling they know who belongs here, who doesn't, and they act accordingly.

So as I sat bolt-upright in my bed, fuming and trying not to explode into a fit of tears and loud cussing out the window, it occurred to me: call security.

I'm that person who saves the number for the security guys in her phone. It just seems smart to have easy access to help when I need it, like if some creeper was trying to bug me in the parking lot at night, or something. Or, you know, when there's a power saw at bedtime.

So at 9:15, I called.

"Hi. I'm in Whoville Village in Antelope...and I know the noise ordinances don't really start 'til 10:00 but I have to be up at 5:30 and I'm a teacher and I'm really tired and stressed and the unit below me is using a POWER SAW right now and I just really need it to stop so I can go to bed."

Whether it was my talent at run-on sentences, or that the guy on the other end just really agreed that using a power saw that late in the evening is just Wrong On Many Levels, he called our on-site dude and had him walk over to talk to the unit below.

From my darkened dining room, I hovered and listened as he knocked and told them, in perfectly friendly tones, that there had been a complaint about the power saw (he didn't even know which unit had called, so he couldn't tell them, either), and, you know, maybe they could call it a day?

Thankfully, they did. And since then, all noise has stopped at a reasonable hour, which leaves me wondering if they had absolutely no bloody clue that using loud equipment in a 900 square foot condo that shares walls with two other units and a ceiling/floor with another might not be kind of asshole-ish.

Do people even think anymore?

Because for real, I was concerned, through the whole process of turning the Rodent Lair in to Casa Meg, that every project had the capacity to annoy my neighbors. I didn't want to be that neighbor, making noise and being obnoxious. I'm told, by the retired Air Force guy next door, that they hardly noticed except for seeing someone going in and out with old and then new flooring.

I don't begrudge anyone their right to remodel their unit upon buying it...all I ask is they let existing tenants around them have some measure of peace and quiet after a certain point in the day.

Otherwise, I'm investing in some tap shoes.

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