If I’ve had the pleasure of hosting you the last three years, then you know how much my downstairs neighbors sucked. They were a 30-35 year-old couple: he, a humorless, serious dick who worked for the Red Sox as one of Theo Epstein’s number-crunchers; she, an attractive school-teacher who was, behind the scenes, incredibly high-maintenance and impossible to live above.
I pride myself on being a good neighbor (for the most part). When they went out of town, I would collect their mail without being asked. Zach (the dude) usually put the trash bins out; I always brought them back. And he and I split the snow-shoveling about 50/50 (notice that my roommates account for zero per cent of both — but that’s for another day).
The main sticking point in our relations was noise. Their bedroom was directly beneath our living room. Many was the night when, at 10:30 or 11:00, the doorbell would ring. It was Zach asking us if would could turn it down, because Molly (the chick) couldn’t sleep. As time passed, we kept lowering the volume, and still, the doorbell kept a-ringing.
It got to the point that my roommate Dimitri (who, beforehand, had a penchant for watching TV at bafflingly high volumes) bought and presented earplugs to Zach. His response: she was already wearing earplugs. (It raises a very interesting question: how does Superman ever fall asleep?) Eventually, amazingly, our landlord took the step of going into their ceiling and putting in additional insulation-stuff — and I’m sure it cost him quite a bit.
Thankfully, they moved away a month ago (without saying good-bye). Another young couple took their place; my landlady said they were new post-docs, or some shit, at Harvard and MIT.
They got off on the right foot before we even met. I noticed that they presented their outgoing Netflix envelopes in the mailbox exactly the same way I did (photo, right). Either they were taking their cues from me, or the three of us were on the same wavelength. It was win-win regardless. (Zach and Molly did not do it this way).
Then, I got to meet them briefly in the driveway about two weeks ago, and they made a very favorable first impression. They were very nice, and smiley, a pair of Nice Person From The North/Midwest stereotypes. (The dude’s last name is Shepherd, but I forgot to tell him how much I was looking forward to using Lost /”Dr. Shepherd” quotes around him).
Now fast forward to Thursday. Snoots and I left for a walk, and I found a post-it note on our door that read:
Hey guys, this is Rob from downstairs. Just wanted to say that I hope we aren’t making too much noise for you and we thank you for also being courteous! Feel free to use the little barbecue I put together out back. Also, Jen & I go to the gym during the weekdays at about 6:30 a.m. So we don’t have to wake you up in the morning, could you call or knock, anytime, to let me get the car out of the drive[way] if you will be parking behind us? We should be able to park legally on the street at the end of next week. Thx!
He also left his cell phone number with the words “call anytime” next to it.
So, a huge SNOOTY SHOUT-OUT to Dr. Shepherd. Without knowing it, you had something to fix: my faith in neighbor-humanity. And fix it, you did.