I live in a densely populated luxury high-rise apartment building in a busy downtown neighborhood that has a diverse mix of residents. I have lived here for four years and have never really had many issues, until recently. My next-door neighbor works in the medical field that at times has very late or early hours associated with it. I also work in a field that has odd hours, so I am empathetic. My issue is, she has a new boyfriend she is intimate with anywhere between 2 and 4 a.m. I am a light sleeper and get awakened by their sessions together. I can hear her voice and, at times, jostling of furniture. I have thought about telling the building management, but it would be obvious that the complaint would have come from me, and I don’t want that. I also don’t want to cause embarrassment to either of us. How can I address this delicately, without causing embarrassment, or must I suck it up and suffer?
—Sleepless in Seattle
Dear Sexless in Seattle,
I want you to know I really hear you and thankfully not your neighbors. I too lived in several luxury high-rises for many years and as with most newer apartment buildings, while they may be referred to as luxury, the construction of the damn places are often undeserving of said adjective.
The last non-luxury, luxury apartment I lived in was a very large rental building with 840 units. There were several common areas including a coffee room where sleepy, grumpy millennials would line up with their neighbors while nary a “hello” was ever spoken to get free Starbuck’s coffee and tea from 5A – Noon. No, there was no Barista and no venti, double mocha latte half-caf with an extra shot, one Splenda, and one Sweet n’ Low. You would think by its very nature, the coffee room would elicit friendly conversation, however; you would be wrong because it’s mostly filled with an angst-ridden generation of folks who are annoyed that they have to stop texting for a moment in order to remove a cup from the stack and press the start button all by their entitled selves.
The only sound one would hear or shall I say be assaulted by was from two toddlers who along with their father took over the coffee room and used it as their second family room on a daily basis. The little brats, I mean boys, played the game of “THIS MIIIIIINNNNNEEEE” at an ear-piercing level accompanied by the blaring noise of cartoons coming from the coffee room television. Perhaps the father gave the children coffee as evidenced by their, shall we say, physicality. I don’t really think they needed it, however; I reserved judgement as I had no proof.
Since I am me and exemplify proper behavior and always abide by the rules of etiquette, it’s my personal duty to say good morning and smile at everyone I encounter, forcing the zombies to attempt eye contact and mumble something that resembles “good morning” while thinking, please don’t talk to me. I always walked away feeling quite satisfied to set such an important example of proper manners as well as modeling good neighborly behavior.
And then there was the, every building has one, the coffee room cray-cray lady. The cray cray lady would simply corner people and spew on about something or other. One time I had a momentary thought that perhaps I should have compassion for her and made the very disturbing decision to ask Lady Cray Cray,“How are you?” She said, “Let me ask you something?” Against my better judgement, I said “Certainly.” She pointed to her very gray sweatpants, not to be mistaken with athleisurewear, and said, “See this writing?” I said, “No. I’m sorry. I don’t see any writing.” She said, “Take off your sunglasses.” I took off my very expensive sunglasses and again said, “I’m sorry, I don’t see any writing.” She said, “Are you color blind?” I said, “No.” She asked for the third time, “You don’t see this writing?” Again, I said, “No, but I’m sure it’s there and I have to go now.” She said, “Some people see it, some people don’t” and laughed to her cray cray self loud enough that even some of the non-caffeinated zombies in line, as well as the arguing toddlers, turned to look at her.
Any hot mess, I wear sunglasses inside and if you want to know why I would tell you it’s because I am light sensitive and I don’t like fluorescent lighting but the truth is a lady of a certain stature should not be seen in public before the application of her caviar-cucumber eye mask nor without make-up.
So Suck-it-up in Seattle, I would suggest for you to verify that the sounds you are hearing are actually the sounds of intimacy. You may be mistaken. Moaning can also be an indication that your neighbors are in pain, even if they are in the medical profession. I suggest you stand in the hallway with your ear pressed to the door and when the volume and frequency of the sounds increase, it is your duty to pound on the door as hard as you can and inquire loudly, “Are you okay in there?” I am confident you will feel like a hero as well as relieved when your neighbor yells back through the closed doorway, “What the F*ck do you want?”
Salacious in Seattle, thank you for writing. Please follow my sagacious advice and keep me abreast of your findings. If all else fails, either coordinate the timing of your intimacy with that of your neighbor, purchase some earbuds or move into a condo building.
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