The Neighbors Hate Me
Aside from the loud TV I've written about in the past, the woman next door is also a loud person in general, and when she isn't watching the TV, she's screaming into her phone, on which she receives calls with a regularity that makes me feel like a total loser in comparison. She's also a kleptomaniac. She's old and feeble and doesn't have a car, so when she gets groceries from Trader Joe's, she brings them home in the shopping cart. She just walks right off their lot with it. And it's a different shopping cart every time because she doesn't want to go through the effort of pushing an empty cart all the way to Trader Joe's when it's so much easier to just take a fresh, new cart. Even though there are signs all over the lot that say, in big Russian letters, "please don't steal our shopping carts."
This is a problem for me because I don't particularly want to live in an apartment building that's surrounded by shopping carts. They're difficult to get around to get into my apartment and it makes the place look like some kind of shantytown. My roommate agrees, and we've tried everything to get rid of the carts. We returned them to Trader Joe's. They came back. We threw them out in the dumpster. Someone took them out. We put them all on the bottom of the woman's stairway so that they'd be in her way and she'd get it that it sucks for us when she puts them in ours. She just moved them back into our way. Nothing worked, and the other day I caught her brazenly parking a shopping cart under our stairs. I asked her to please not put the cart underneath our staircase and she just said that she paid for the three bottles of water she'd gotten from Trader Joe's, so this somehow entitled her to steal a shopping cart with which to transport them back to her apartment. I told her she could buy her very own cart, a little portable one that she could fold up and keep in her apartment when she didn't need it and bring it with her when she did. "Where do I buy cart?" she asked with a laugh, as if I had just told her to go out and buy a unicorn. I volunteered to bring the cart back to Trader Joe's for her, but she just dragged it out to the curb and then pushed it down the sidewalk, where it would be in someone else's way. Well, at least it wasn't in my way and we'd reached an understanding, I assumed. Then, today, I returned home to find yet another shopping cart sitting under the stairs. Clearly, there is nothing more I can do. I give up. Until I move out of this place or she dies -- whichever comes first, and I know which I'm hoping for -- this is how things are going to be.
I walked past her apartment on my way to work and saw that she'd left her keys in the lock. I immediately considered taking them and never returning them to her, safe in the knowledge that I'd made her life as unpleasant and difficult as she insisted on making mine. But I didn't do that. Instead, I rang her special deaf people doorbell and, when she came to the door prepared for a confrontation, knowing that she'd just put a shopping cart under my stairs when I asked her not to and also that her TV was, yet again, at a considerable volume, I simply held up her keys and said she'd left them in the lock. "I forget. Thank you very much," she said. "You're welcome," I say. She may have won the war, but at least I won the battle of kindness.
I'm on my way back from work when I walk past another one of the neighbors. She's sitting on the ottoman she's placed on the sidewalk because apparently that's where inside furniture belongs and talking on her phone. I smile at her and walk past, only to be called back with a "young lady!"
She's talked to me before for parking too close to what is apparently her husband's parking spot in the garage. Meanwhile, in an effort not to do this, I park so close to the wall that I've actually hit it twice so I don't know what she's talking about but I promised to do better. I figured she was going to yell at me again about that, but instead she just said "how old are you?" I told her, but she only heard me say twenty and that number was enough to make her point: "twenty years old and you do not know to say hi to the neighbors!" I didn't know what to even say to this. I think I went with "huh?" "You are impolite! I am telling you to be polite!" she said. Meanwhile, I've smiled at this woman plenty of times in passing and not once has she ever returned that smile, let alone said hello. In fact, she usually glares at me as if she wants me drop dead on the spot. So, honestly, I thought I was doing both of us a favor by limiting my overtures to the small smile. I couldn't say all that to her, so I just said, "but ... you were on the phone. I didn't want to interrupt ... " She didn't even answer that, just went back to her phone call. And as I walked away, I could hear her saying to her caller, "twenty years old!"
Just for that I'm going to park extra far away from the wall next time.
Labels: I lose