Peace and Quiet

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We live in a two-unit townhouse, and we absolutely love our house. Three bedroom, two bath, two stories, single car garage, huge fenced backyard, the works…

Around March this year, we said goodbye to our neighbors in the other unit and hoped that we’d get some wonderful new friends. Then, we met them,.. They were great! Nice couple, two daughters – one just barely younger than Doodle, the other school-age. We thought it’d be great, they’ve got kids, we’ll hear rustling around, maybe some fussiness around night night, and a few cries in the middle of the night, but nothing we weren’t probably already reciprocating with our Doodle. But we firmly expected that they, having kids, would not be obnoxiously loud. I’m talking loud bassy music all day and all night, yelling, stomping, movies so loud I could quote them from across my living room, screaming children still awake at 11, 11:30ish, dogs barking nonstop from the moment they left for as long as they’d be gone… And that’s exactly what we got. So, we gave them a few weeks for the kids to get accustomed to the new house, for them to finish putting up pictures and arranging their furniture perfectly. I get it, moves are difficult, there’s an adjustment period, you want everything to be homey as soon as it can be, and sometimes there’s a lot of stress that you just want to drown out with your favorite movie or song. I get it.

Somewhere around the beginning of May it happened. Their incessant noise woke up my Doodle. Mama bear was released around 12:30 at night. I marched over there, knocked on their door, and started to let them have it… but he was so kind about it. “Oh, I’m so sorry. We never hear you guys over there so I just figured the walls really kept noise out.” So I let him know how much we have been hearing and how we really like quiet. He gave another heartfelt apology, promised they’d be quieter, and told me to let them know if it happened again. Problem solved.

Only it wasn’t. Day in, day out, incredible noise. I’ll deal with it just being an annoyance, but I’m not letting it affect Doodle. Two more times in just a few weeks they woke him up. Two more times mama bear deployed, and two more times they had no idea we could hear them, were so sorry, and would be quieter. The very next day after trip #3, we woke up to it. I was done. It’s been over a month! I called our landlords and let them know that every attempt we’ve made has been fruitless, that we couldn’t take it anymore. They apologized, let us know that we’ve always been great tenants, and said they’d take care of it. Problem solved.

A few days later, we’re sitting in the backyard, Doodle’s playing with his toys, and all is well. Out comes our neighbor-lady and the rest of her clan… (You should know are this point that I really hate confrontation.)

“Are we too loud for you?!” Uh, yes, you kind of are. “Well, if you’ve got a problem, you need to come talk to us about it first!” Well, I did. “When? I haven’t heard anything about it!” Well, I’ve spoken with you about it once and him about it twice. “Well, you need to talk to us if we’re too loud for you. We can’t fix it if we don’t know. I’m in bed by 10, and I never hear anything.” Cool, we’ll come over and let you know if it’s too loud. It just didn’t seem like you guys were trying to be any better after the last three times we talked to you.

So we made up, declared a friendship, and things were good. We did neighborly things, helped each other out, talked over the fence, heck, we even invited them to Doodle’s birthday party in June. Things were good. Problem solved.

Only, their dogs started to become the issue. We laid sod down in our yard, wanted quick result grass. Spent a good chunk of monies, two full days with beer, pizza, lots of friends, a skidloader, some shovels, and a few trips to the dump. We started walking our dog, Ash, on her leash on the rockbeds around our bright green new lawn, and had the noblest intentions of putting up an invisible fence around the grass the keep her off it. (You’ll learn more about intentions not always leading to results over time.) Their dogs started coming over the fence. The grass truly was greener on our side, and they wanted a share.

Time and time again, I’d try to corral the little dog back over to where he slipped over the fence. If it was the bigger girl, she’d post up, either scared or territorial, and defend her little patch of my yard, so I’d have to mosey over to the neighbor’s door and kindly ask them to retrieve their dog. Several times I even had them come into my yard on cleanup detail as their dogs had SHAT ON MY GRASS THAT MY DOG ISN’T EVEN ALLOWED TO STEP FOOT ON.

As time moved on, volume became an issue again. They must haven gotten comfortable. Every other week or so, my husband or I went over there to have them turn down their volume as Doodle couldn’t sleep, or to come retrieve their dog.

So last Monday night. My hubby’s at work, my Doodle’s running around without pants on, I’m making pot pies, and Ash is doing the potty dance by the back door. I brush off the flour from my hands and walk toward the back door. Doodle doesn’t understand that it is far too cold to go outside without pants on, so the second he sees me making may way for the door, he rushes over to go outside too. So there we are, Ash desperately needs to potty, pantsless Doodle is frantically trying to push past me, and I’m covered in flour. I open the back door…

There’s their dog (the big girl, Bonita I’ve come to learn), teeth bared, hair puffed up, growling, barking, snarling, in my backyard bolting straight for my door. In a half a second, I have to figure out how to keep my dog from bolting towards her and protecting us, how to get in between this aggressive beast and my Doodle, and how to make sure everyone is accounted for inside as I shut the door to keep this barreling mutt (she’s actually a full-blood pit, but that’s beside the point) from entering my home. Don’t ask me how, but I managed to get the door closed right as she lurched up, landing on my backdoor and barking her little head off as she scratched at the window on my door and tried to get in.

*breathe, Kortney. Doodle’s ok, you’re ok, Ash is ok. Don’t think about Bonita trying to claw her way into your home for a moment and just breathe.*

So, after a second or two of listening to myself tell myself to breathe, I hastily put my jacket on, throw some pants on Doodle, koala him up in my jacket, and march over to their door. I knock several times. No one answers. They left their effing dog outside while they went to god knows where knowing full well that she can get in my yard and gets aggressive and territorial. I walk back home in a huff and am greeted by Ash who still needs to go potty.

I’m done, I’m fed up, I can’t do this anymore. I Google animal control on my tablet. It’s too late, they’re closed. Next I Google our local police department. I call them up, tell them my story, and they send an officer. Somewhere in between my phone call and the officer showing up, neighbor-guy gets home and checks on the dog in the back. He notices that she’s in our yard and gives her this soft giggly “come on, Bobo, get your butt back on this side” which infuriates me more. It’s not a game, she doesn’t get to switch sides back and forth like it’s effing hopscotch…. I should probably let the police know that the dog has been retrieved though. The sqadcar’s already on its way, and they still want to talk to my neighbors if I still want them to. Yes, I do.

I call my landlords first thing the next day and let them know about the neighbor’s police contact regarding the dog. I keep in touch with my landlords very well. I tell them how things are, what’s going on, the neighbor’s are being great, not so many issues but they’re getting comfortable… All the time. It’s a small town, I went to high school with one of the ladies, my brother-in-law has rented from them multiple times, we know each other’s families… They are so sorry, I did the right thing calling the police, and they’ll take care of it. Problem solved.

Until Wednesday night. We’re getting ready for a small Thanksgiving, my hubby, his mom and brother, and me. We each have a beer, we’re making soup and getting things ready. Jake and his brother don’t get home ’til late, so we’re relaxing at the end of their workday. Every once in a while we go out back for a smoke break. I notice that there are still lights on in the neighbors’ house. All the while Doodle is sleeping soundly dreaming of dinosaur tattoos or whatever else two-year-old’s dream about. It’s about 12:15 and we get a knock on the door. Two policemen with a noise complaint. A noise what?! We kindly explain to the officer that we’re simply getting ready for Thanksgiving, we’re not being loud at all, we’re speaking at a very low volume when we go outside, and that we’ll do everything to be quieter if we’re disturbing anyone. They ask me how many times we’ve had officers come by on noise complaints. Like, interrogating, like he’s sure I’m going to lay out some outrageous two-digit number. I tell him never. He looks shocked as he tells me that we need to keep it down, and he looks at his watch and adds with a snide attitude “especially at this hour.” Thank you for your service, sir. We’ll honestly do everything in our power to not disturb anyone. We’re just hanging out.

We all look at each other, what the eff was that? We whisper-giggle with each other about not flushing the toilet and how we’re probably opening the fridge too loudly. We go out for another smoke break, neighbor’s lights still on. We whisper outside – it’s funny if you don’t look at it as infuriating.

Not thirty minutes later, 12:40, another knock on the door. Another set of police officers, another noise complaint, same complainers. WHAT THE EFF?!? We let them know about the other officers who we just recently spoke with, they tell us they just keep getting complaints, we tell them we’re just hanging out, they tell us they reported loud music, I open up my door a little more so the officers can hear that our tv is on, but barely audible. We don’t even have a stereo. They let us know their kids can’t sleep. We let them know we have a two-year-old passed out upstairs who hasn’t heard a peep. They tell us it’s really late and we really need to keep it down. Then I tell them about the dog. About the issues we’ve had with them. About how loud they typically are. About complaints we’ve had to our landlords since they’ve moved in. About how, perhaps, they’re just being vindictive. The officers go next door to talk to our neighbors, to see what they can’t do to come to an understanding, and we go the rest of the night without an issue.

Really? Are people THAT unwilling to take accountability for their irresponsible ways, for their lack of consideration of people around them, that they’d make up our same complaints and send an officer to lay down the law on the quietest family on the block?

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