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Did the Extreme Heat Melt Some People's Brains?

Whether due to temperature or some other reason, some messages just don't seem to get through.

If it wasn't , it might have been funny.

Actually, it kind of is, in a sitcom sort of way. But only in retrospect.

I live in a building with seven apartments and a shop downstairs. I've got a great space, the landlord is attentive, the neighbors are friendly, and the building has that unique charm that comes with being 150 years old.

A new tenant just rented one of the efficiencies..

My new neighbor began moving in a week ago. The way I discovered this was the door between the hall and the alley to his apartment was left propped open, with no one in sight.

It wasn't a really big deal, but for security, we keep the doors shut and locked around here.

I made a mental note to mention it whenever I got to meet my new neighbor.

Welcome to the neighborhood?

A few days passed, bringing us to the record temperatures of the last few days.

The hall outside my apartment is usually a blissful oasis—cool in the summer, and toasty in the winter. 

But this morning, my usually comfortable apartment was sweltering, and when I ventured out, so was the hall. And again, the back door was propped open with the stick I use to hold the door when I'm watering the plants, when it's cooler outside than in.

There was no one in sight. So I shut the door and attended to the gardening.

About 20 minutes later, two women emerge from the new tenant's place. So I say 'hello'.

Nothing.

“Hello?”

Again, nada.

They're six feet away. Perhaps they're deaf?

One begins grousing the door is shut and locked and wants to know who did it and why, at which point I determine they are not deaf.

“The door is shut because it's 97 degrees outside, and leaving it open is baking the building, particularly my apartment,” I inform them. “The doors are supposed to be closed—we don't prop doors here unless there's a reason and there's someone right there to make sure no one wanders into the building. By the way, hello, and welcome to the neighborhood.”

“Well, we're moving,” the woman says, though neither are carrying anything other than their purses.

“I understand that, but please, it's really hot. I moved here last July, so I know it isn't fun. Prop the door a crack so you can just push it open when you're actually carrying things, but otherwise, the doors have to stay shut,” I told her. “You're baking my place, and I can't even imagine how hot it's making the third floor.”

Common sense vs. the absence thereof

I decided it would be good to ask the landlord to convey the message too, to emphasize that it's the house rule.

Later, a note appeared on the back door in his handwriting to that effect.

The next day, I run into the landlord and another tenant. My neighbor states he has taken the rope used to hold the front door while running groceries and such up the stairs, having found it wide open and unattended the night before.

The landlord says to me, “I thought that was you who took the rope.”

“Nope, but it did occur to me that if it they left the back door open again, I was going to take my stick back,” I said. “I didn't know they were leaving the front door open too.”

Ugh. That's worse—the heat from the pavement runs up the stairwell like a chimney, not to mention, we might as well invite all of Downtown into the building.

“By the way,” he says, “(the upstairs neighbor who is rarely seen because he works nights—and is from Haiti, incidentally) came down to say thanks for putting up the note. He said the open door made it really hot up there.”

“Wow, you heard from him over it? Well, hopefully, between notes and disappearing ropes, they'll finally get the message,” I say.

Late that evening, I run into yet another neighbor. He informs me that he has taken the stick.

“They left that <redacted> door open again,” he tells me.

You'd think that'd be the end of it, but Saturday another relative found some other way to prop the door.

My stick-seizing neighbor's significant other found it unattended, letting the searing heat in, and shut it.

The relative started an argument with her over it, the result of which is that he has been banned from the building (for a pre-existing legal reason that came to light, as much as harassing her).

The arrival of cooler temperatures...and karma

I woke up on Monday, and the heat seemed to have broken.

I decided to blame the whole thing on the extreme temperatures melting some people's brains, despite the fact experience suggests there's little hope of communicating successfully with people that don't do 'hello', whatever the weather.

Since on Sunday I'd donated the stick to my neighbor's air conditioner installation project, I'll have to find a new one.

Though perhaps not too soon, I thought to myself. I may be too tempted to use it for something else, if that <redacted> door doesn't stay shut when it's hot outside.

The new tenant got kicked out on Tuesday. My landlord apparently ripped up the lease in front of them, seized the keys and refunded the entire deposit and rent by money order.

I have no idea what the final straw was, but no one in the building was sorry to see the back of them. Perhaps the only regret was that none of us got to tell them to make sure the <redacted> door didn't hit them on the way out.

But on Wednesday, I did hear one last detail about their departure.
The money order came from the neighborhood corner store down the street. The proprietor could have cashed it on the spot when the now-non-tenant-&-family went back there later in the day, and he often does do that for customers, but he's not really obligated to. They were so annoying that he told them to go hit the check cashing place with the attendant fees instead (three percent, I think).

Rumor has it he was heard to utter something about not letting the (automatically closing) door hit them on their way out.

Mark Albright August 02, 2011 at 11:36 AM
Thanks, Christina! This is one of those richly satisfying 'instant karma' tales where you don't have to wait for years for the rude, obnoxious neighbors to get their comeuppance. It saddens me that so many among us have apparently forgotten - or never learned - how to live in harmony and community with the rest of us who are just trying to live quiet, drama-free lives. <sigh>
Mary Anne Looby August 06, 2011 at 11:41 PM
Good for your and your neighbors AND a reasonable landlord! No one should have to deal with rude, self centered neighbors.

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