Saturday, October 24, 2009

Neighbour, Neighbour

I was vacuuming my floors yesterday afternoon when there was knock on my door. It was my downstairs neighbour.

She started off by the conversation by saying "That's why I would never knock (referring to my pre-Rosh Hashanah policy of tapping on the floor when her son was making a racket). This is making a lot of noise; my ceiling is shaking". Interestingly enough, she seemed a bit taken aback by the fact that the noise was caused by a vacuum. So I decided it was an opportune time to educate her about the nature of the building.

I told her also that I tried very hard to be quiet. My point was that I try to be considerate of the fact that what I do may affect them, i.e. I try to be a decent neighbour. But I think she didn't catch that, since she responded that I needn't refrain from doing anything because they're loud.

I think she did take away though how 1. her son's bedroom is below mine, and 2. the floors/walls are paper thin. In short, we live on top of each other, with no privacy. What I found interesting about the "exchange" was that the offense that I committed, in her opinion, was that my knocking was causing her son to feel like he couldn't do whatever he wanted. While I chalked it up to cultural differences, I couldn't help but think "But he can't do whatever he wants. He's a young boy. And he needs structure in his life!".

Anyhow, the incident weighted upon me, as it seemed to me that obviously, despite my lack of knocking since Rosh Hashana, there was lingering resentment on their part. So I figured that the right response was for me to go downstairs and try to clear the air one more time. My first attempt to speak to them en route to shul was unsuccessful - the wife was sleeping. I decided that I would leave shul early to try to speak with her again before heading over to friends for lunch. After all, peace takes precedence over everything, right? B'H', my second attempt was successful: as I came down the stairs, the husband was collecting the mail, and informed me that his wife was up. So ran over to their door and knocked. His wife opened the door, and was thrilled that I had come by. She said that she didn't have anything negative in her heart when she had come by the morning before, and while I wasn't 100% convinced of that had been true at the time, I did think that my coming by rendered that true retroactively.

It was a nice ending to the saga. And, now that we're formally introduced and the air has cleared, I'm hoping that for the duration of our time as neighbours, we'll be able to remain neighbourly and keep the peace, bli ayin hara. :)

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