How to Deal with Rude, Elderly Downstairs Neighbors

It would seem that the closer I get to supreme happiness, the further it is indeed. When my wife and I lived in Manhattan, we had innumerable problems of lack of space, unsanitary conditions, and rude neighbors at all hours of the day and night. When we recently took up shop in a borough (Brooklyn) all of our fears seem to be assuaged; the pain was gone from lack of space, the space appeared to be clean in a relative way, and the neighbors in our building, albeit a little bit older, all went to sleep with the neighborhood at the end of the day.

Until we hung around for a while.

My wife and I had become used to the quiet daytimes of our Manhattan homes; while the answer was hit or miss in the evenings and nighttimes, we had become accustomed to staying up late and sleeping late on our days off. Since taking up overnight work again, a quiet daytime had become all that much more important to me.

The first incident happened not too long into our stay as I was getting ready to leave for work; around 10:30PM a tinny, mono quality voice began piercing the floor of our top floor apartment.

“Really?” I thought. Everything had seemed perfect; the neighbors were all suspicious and polite, the neighborhood was quiet, the picture, compete. I made my way downstairs to the source for the music in question and rattled hard on the front door.

Meet Alfredo (“like the sauce”) our aging downstairs neighbor who likes to turn the volume up to coincide with his elderly hearing. On the first night it ended up being “Wind Beneath My Wings;” the record of the year by Bette Midler and number one single from 1989 (…how far we’ve come, eh…the 2007 record of the year was “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse, just to give you some perspective).

I was sort of apologetic to the old man, thinking that he had just fallen asleep on the volume control and I triumphantly returned to my wife waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner thinking that I had laid the matter to rest.

She was suspicious; I was defiant. “Yeah, he’s just some old man. Not a big deal.” I should have been more matter of fact from the get go.

Alfredo continues to harangue us with his horrible music at all hours of the daytime. When my wife has a day off, he’s there; when I get home from work in the morning and don’t go right to sleep (aka – 8AM & later) he’s there, when I’m sitting on my couch at 5:45 in the evening waiting for my wife to come home writing a loathsome article about his very existence, he is there.

So this is my argument against the elderly in apartments and my method for dealing with him. When I invoked the super, the youngish James, Alfredo did not budge; he had lived in the building since before James was of legal age, why the hell should he listen to him? When my wife began stomping precipitously to his loud outbursts of sonic befuddlement, Alfredo just kept on swaying to the beat. When I would go downstairs and bang on his door more forcefully, he would try and win me over with elderly semantics, getting into discussions on how lovely the melody was and didn’t I love this record, anyway? No dice.

It would seem that the only way I’ve found to get rid of this audio disturbance is a combination of all of these. First when the noise is too great, bang on the floor constantly (this also works for elderly upstairs neighbors with banging on the ceiling), then, the offender will likely wonder what the heck is going on; call him out on his actions and use their linguistic jujitsu in a reverse fashion. Finally, when the noise persists, make a noise complaint with the city. This will, in turn cause the building owner to get flagged or cited or something and then the building owner will do the dirty work for you.

Ahhh…I imagine the serene afternoon when my downstairs neighbor is carted off, kicking and screaming to the old folk’s home for violation of something or other. We can either kick the old people out of apartments or we ourselves can get our own homes.

…Getting our own home? Now that’s not a bad idea, either…

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