What should I do about my angry new neighbor?
posted by thinkpiece to Human Relations (49 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I just moved into a new apartment and I just had a, well, a ... fight with my next door neighbor! I mean, this is very odd! I'm kind of rattled so bear with me.
I'm a middle-aged lady and I've moved into an apartment building with an amazing container garden out front of the building that is the full-time hobby/pastime of the fellow who lives in the apartment next to mine. It's beautiful and attracts lots of attention from passersby. I appreciate it, but honestly, it's also slightly annoying -- he's out front constantly, he smokes, he waters, he is potting and re-potting, there's equipment, there's always something going on at the threshold, he's present all the time, one can't just duck in to one's building -- and it's not his space, he's just co-opted it and made it beautiful. So, ok, fine. I'm just gonna enjoy it.
On moving day, he pulled me aside to let me know that the front door of the building must always be pulled closed firmly -- and went on to detail all the crimes that have been committed in the neighborhood. I listened politely (I've lived in NYC all my adult life, and moved from one block over so I kind of know the security drill) and promised I would make sure the exterior door was firmly shut when I went in and out. He pulled one of my movers aside and gave the same lecture -- I mean, it was mid-day on a Saturday and we were moving furniture in, how the heck can we keep the door closed? And there are no serial killers around at that hour! My mover guy said, "Conspiracy theorist." Plus, the mover pulled me aside and said when he walked by the gardener's apartment the door was open and it was floor to ceiling magazines, books, etc, like a scene from hoarders. Smoking, hoarding, obsessive gardening, ugh!
I'm also starting to be not-so-happy because I have to walk past their door several times each day and they leave lots of stuff in the common hallway. Multiple pairs of shoes, cases of Enova (whatever that is, why do I even have to think about it?), their huge water jugs, etc etc. FINE. OK. I'm just stepping over it, tolerating, tolerating. And then, he does the nicest thing, he knocks on my door one evening and hands me a basil plant and a mint plant. I was effusively thankful, listened to his directives, and I thought, ok, I'm just a bitch, he's nice!! How sweet!
On Sunday morning, I go out to walk the dog and on my way in, he ambushes me: "Did you have a man come out of your apartment at 3 a.m.?" I'm like, Um, I wish, but no. Laughing, friendly. He is not laughing. He tells me that he saw a man in the building at 3 a.m. hovering around my door. I say, sort of smiling, "Well I have this big giant dog here, and it's weird that he didn't bark," and he kind of acts like my dog is a lame ass for not barking. He again launches into the door thing, I have to close the door properly. I sort of shrugged him off a bit because honestly, I didn't believe him about the guy and I KNOW HOW TO SHUT A DOOR! And he didn't mention calling the cops. He just seemed to think I had somehow left that door open and it was his duty to hip me to the near-death experience. Plus, he seemed irritated that I wasn't like, terrified. Regaling me with stories of all the crime in the neighborhood (by the way, I live in a relatively low crime neighborhood and the rents/prices reflect that).
I'm not gonna lie -- I wasn't dismissive but I wasn't taking the bait. I said, I definitely keep that door closed, it wasn't any man of mine at 3 a.m., I've lived in NYC all my adult life, I got it, I hear you, thank you, goodbye.
Meanwhile, my apartment door is next to the building's cellar door, where the garbage lives, as well as this guy's gardening stuff. If the door is left open, with the way the heat has been this summer, the smell is not so good. I close it 3x a day. I assumed -- possibly wrongly -- that he was using the basement frequently, in and out that cellar door, and tonight when I got home from work, there he was, smoking, pruning, potting, etc. out front, I come in, the cellar door is open, I get the dog, walk the dog, and when I come back, I say, So, hey, hi. And he says, Hi. And I say SUPER NICELY "Can you do me a favor, Can you make sure the cellar door is shut? This heat has really made the garbage smell worse!" And he says, Can you do me a favor? Can you make sure the front door is closed? Like I told you, there was a man outside your door at 3 a.m., coming after you and you have a dog that didn't bark! I want you to understand that the door needs to be shut!" And I say, "Wait a sec, I do understand, but I was talking for just one sec about the other door, and the smell ..." And he goes off -- You aren't listening to me, did you understand about the door, the man across the street got stabbed, on and on.
I lost my temper (like, slightly), I admit -- I said, All right! I hear you! You've told me 6 times about shutting the door! I went to bed at 10 p.m on Saturday, I didn't leave the door open. I got it I got it! And the gardener is getting angrier and angrier! So I immediately try and defuse with a joke -- I said, Look, you have your door thing and I have my door thing and we understand each other -- let's just shut the door on this issue. And I stick out my hand and say, "We're neighbors, let's shake and agree to each work on making sure those doors are shut!" And he starts going insane. Cursing me out, shouting, "Who the eff do you think you are, you don't know who you're dealing with, you'd better watch out, how dare you try and play games with me, don't you effing eff with me, eff you." This guy was shouting in the street -- little kids were walking by! I have honestly NEVER had anyone speak to me this way, I've never been threatened, I've never had bad blood with a neighbor (quite the opposite). I sort of sputtered "Are you threatening me? I'm trying to shake your hand as a good neighbor!" and he just kept cursing me out. I just turned and went inside. Shaking!! I'm actually kind of frightened. I'm a pretty easy-going person, this is highly unusual. I've just completely set this guy off.
I'm only here 2 weeks, love the apartment and neighborhood, and need to turn this situation around. I have simple questions: Should I be worried? What do I do now? Oh, and should I be worried about the hoarding and smoking. Oy!