What the hell are my upstairs neighbors up to?
May 23, 2014 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I have been repeatedly woken at night, often for hours, by noises from the upstairs neighbors, all of which I find bewildering. For a few days I hear them drilling in their bathroom, apparently installing something. Now they wander around upstairs for hours, back and forth to the bathroom, running the water for a few minutes each time, occasionally punctuated by a brief grinding noise I would associate with a garbage disposal, but not for so long that they are disposing garbage (and how would you even get a garbage disposal in a bathroom sink anyway)?

I feel like I am in the Tom Waits song where he constantly asks "What's he building in there?" My upstairs neighbors are awful fuckups in their early 20s, mild drug users who have no ability to control how much noise they make, stay up until 5 in the morning, and sometimes have psychotic episodes where they sometimes just start screaming and continue for long periods. I don't know if these facts will help figure out what they're doing, but they are amusing and one should never leave out an amusing fact.
posted by Bunny Ultramod to Human Relations (43 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Sound like heroin addicts
posted by zia at 1:53 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Meth manufacture should be suspected. Be very, very careful.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:56 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]

If they are, shall we say, not necessarily participating in the same consensus reality that the rest of us typically are, then I don't know if there's any way to guess what they're doing in there. It could be some sort of weird DIY project where they just do it for a few seconds or whatever, every time they go in there, and then get bored and wander off.

I had a neighbor who used to garden like that. The whole front yard was totally dug up, tools everywhere, and he'd sorta wander out there, work for 10 or 15 seconds at something, then get distracted and wander back inside. Repeat 15-20 times a day, sometimes at night too. In that case it wasn't harmful or even annoying, just ... different.

Sound like heroin addicts

I've been adjacent to (like in the same bathroom as) people doing heroin and it wasn't noisy. What would the grinding sound be? (Honestly curious, not an expert on heroin usage.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:56 PM on May 23

I'm curious what "not so long that they'd be disposing garbage" is, since I run my disposal for like 15 seconds at a time, mostly.

That said, I'm also confused about the idea of a garbage disposal in a bathroom sink. I'm sure one could do it, but I'm not sure why you'd bother.

Best Case: they are doing weird bathroom renovations like laying tile or completely replacing major fixtures. Odd to do it in the middle of the night, and especially weird if it's a rental. But, ummmmmm, OK?

Worst Case: cooking meth, maybe? Or kitting out their bathroom so that they could do that?

Really Really Worst Case: something about this reminds me of the Party Monster murder.

I don't really get how weird bathroom drilling/grinding = heroin addicts.
posted by Sara C. at 1:58 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

I'm curious what "not so long that they'd be disposing garbage" is, since I run my disposal for like 15 seconds at a time, mostly.

Like, a single second. GRRRR and done.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:00 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Theory 1: it actually is a garbage disposal and your neighbors are Kramer.

Theory 2: let's think of all the non-illegal electric/mechanical noises there could be in a bathroom...electric toothbrush. Razor. Vibrator left on the countertop and on for some reason. Avid DIYers installing stuff. Coffee grinder is in the bathroom because the kitchen sink broke. (And maybe they're just insomniac and compulsive and that's why it's at all hours?)
posted by phunniemee at 2:00 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Datapoint: I sometimes just run my garbage disposal for a second or two, since my drain tends to be slow and this seems to be enough to get it going again.

How far is the kitchen from the bathroom? Could it possibly be that they are running the garbage disposal in the kitchen and it only sounds like it's coming from the bathroom? Sound might travel along pipes...
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:04 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

During stressful periods in my life, I was prone to some weird and compulsive behavior. Behavior such as pacing around the house for extended periods of time and doing something to something else in each room, usually turning lights on and off. Messing with the water or garbage disposal would fit right in to that sort of behavior.
posted by griphus at 2:05 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Don't people use small burr grinders to do stuff like grind up drugs - I see that hinted at in reviews on Amazon for small burr grinders.
posted by tilde at 2:06 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Maybe instead of a little weed grinder, they're using a coffee grinder to grind their weed, and then running the water to fill up a big weed bong. They might be doing giant hits of drug weed. Getting weed high, like in the songs.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:07 PM on May 23 [55 favorites]

Could it possibly be that they are running the garbage disposal in the kitchen and it only sounds like it's coming from the bathroom?

Unlikely. They unmistakably go into the bathroom and then the grinding happens. Unless they have developed a Kitty Pryde-like ability to pass through walls, it's happening in the bathroom.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:07 PM on May 23

Is there any way you can go up and politely knock on the door to say you've been hearing odd noises and just wanted to check everything's ok? Failing that, can the building manager check it out on your behalf?
posted by freya_lamb at 2:08 PM on May 23

My shitty awful upstairs neighbors were like this for two years, always doing hammering and weird renovations in the middle of the night on weekdays, and then the dude would occasionally have nude roid rage freakouts screaming on the fire escape.

Now they have a baby and none of this weird shit happens anymore. Encourage your upstairs neighbors to have a baby is my crappy suggestion.

And yes, I echo the advice to bang on their door angrily in the middle of the night because even if you do not learn what the hell they are doing you will at least have had the extreme satisfaction of having spoiled their fun or terrified them in the midst of a drug binge.
posted by elizardbits at 2:10 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]

Since I spent the last week screaming at them to shut up their goddamn dog, called the landlord on them, and contacted the humane society, they probably wouldn't be too amenable to see me.

The landlord is a fuckup as well. He hasn't responded to any of my complaints. I'll be out soon, but wanted some closure on this incredible mystery.

Weed grinder and bong water seems like a real possibility.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:10 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Coffee grinders and water can also be used to extract the good stuff from prescription painkillers.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:12 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Burr grinders aren't that loud, are they? I don't think my upstairs or side neighbor can hear my coffee grinder. Also, wouldn't you fill the bong with water first, then pack it with the ground up weed?

My upstairs neighbors hangs art (?) on the walls of her staircase (?) at two a.m., which necessitates a lot of hammering.
posted by Aubergine at 2:13 PM on May 23

Could the grinding noise be a retching noise? Someone with an eating disorder perhaps?
posted by Iteki at 2:16 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Burr grinders aren't that loud, are they? I don't think my upstairs or side neighbor can hear my coffee grinder.

I hear absolutely everything my upstairs neighbors do, alas. Including gargling, shaving (electric shaver), stumbling around drunk in heels at 5:30 am every single Saturday, and yes, a coffee grinder. It's not that these things are extra loud (except the drunk stumbling), it's that the building's insulation is shit. If you can hear basic life sounds and not just stuff that hits the floor, you can definitely hear a coffee grinder.

I would bet they're using it to grind up pills to snort, rather than weed, because you'd probably smell the weed by now.
posted by like_a_friend at 2:18 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

(Hey, I brought up body disposal! It was mentioned! Bases have been covered!)

Also for the sake of providing a real answer, no, weed is not ground in a burr grinder. Weed doesn't really need to be ground up at all. You see those little handheld seed-separators, but you'd have to be processing epic amounts of weed to want something large and mechanical enough for a neighbor to hear it.

Also why do that in the bathroom? I don't think I've ever seen anyone prep a bowl anywhere but the living room. And bongs don't require that much water. Anyone doing that many bong rips is going to fall asleep before they had time to disturb you. And less yelling. You'd probably smell that much weed, too, before you ever heard anything more to do with it than a Bob Marley record.
posted by Sara C. at 2:19 PM on May 23 [11 favorites]

Could the grinding noise be a retching noise? Someone with an eating disorder perhaps?

I am uncomfortably familiar with their retching noises, as my weekend alarm clock is the sound of copious hangover vomiting from one or the other. No, this grinding sound sounds like a router being driven into a concrete wall.

How are you all getting confused about my hammering comment? I said nudge nudge.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:19 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Like they're hammering nails? Or do you mean that there's a lot of stomping around?
posted by Carillon at 2:21 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Industrial strength vibrator in the bathroom? Noisy blender/grinder thing to make smoothies for drug induced munchies? Some really bizarre loud computer game? Combination of all three?
posted by leslies at 2:24 PM on May 23

Based on how manic they get, with the pacing and all, and the fact that they seem to get three hours of sleep per night, I think grinding up drugs is a real possibility. What sort of pills might these be? I take out the garbage, so I can see if there is any further clues if I know what to look for.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:27 PM on May 23

tbh speaking as a former tweaker they sound a lot like tweakers; it doesn't really matter WHAT it is they're actually doing because it will only make sense to them while they're tweakin.

every tweaker I have ever known has been a nighttime creeper-arounder with an astonishing lack of stealth.
posted by elizardbits at 2:30 PM on May 23 [26 favorites]

I am trying to imagine how this would be weed-related. Bongs don't need to be filled up with water every few minutes - it's not like the water goes anywhere. And stoners are very, very unlikely to be all back-and-forth-and-walking-and-noisy-and-manic for hours on end, because come on, stoners.
posted by rtha at 2:33 PM on May 23 [8 favorites]

[Folks, it's askme, not a chatroom. Try and keep it at least business-casual in here.]
posted by cortex at 2:34 PM on May 23 [11 favorites]

Could you talk to their upstairs neighbors and compare notes?
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:37 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Two story building, alas.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:39 PM on May 23

I learned a lot about my roid rage douchebag upstairs neighbors by talking to their next door neighbor as he was moving out because he could not stand to live next door to a roid rage night hammerer. If there is anyone next door to them or who even has a window in a neighboring building that is close to their bathroom window it might be worthwhile asking some nosy neighbor questions.
posted by elizardbits at 2:44 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

As a datapoint, my neighbours do the grinding thing - short bursts, late at night, sounds like a fairly noisy garbage disposal thing - and seem to be the world's least discreet weed dealers. They go through a few nights of it then stop for ages though, so if yours are doing the same thing then it might go quiet after a while.
posted by Otto the Magnificent at 2:55 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Maybe their bathroom fan is malfunctioning and makes a loud noise when they turn it on, but they always forget when they go in the bathroom and turn it on with the lights, then turn it off quickly when the noise starts.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:59 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]

grinders (or handheld blenders) can absolutely be heard through apartment walls and they do sort of sound garbage disposal-ish.
posted by nadawi at 3:18 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Ha! The bathroom fan!!

Yep. Likely it is the type that turns on with the light, it's broken, they forget when they're high.

I bet you they've been using the bathroom at night in the dark for ages if your landlord never fixes anything.

The water is them washing hands after using the toilet.

Is the case closed?
posted by jbenben at 3:22 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

There is no bathroom fan.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:31 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Meth. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to make shitty, shitty meth; you can do it in a soda bottle. Agree with elizardbits that they're not going to make sense if they're tweakers (which they probably are). Avoid avoid avoid

Source: grew up in meth land
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:36 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Nthing tweakers. Heavy pot smokers don't pace. As to what they're doing with the drills, who knows? They could be cooking drugs, or not. The harm reduction site used to have a user art section where people in recovery could post pictures of their compulsive tweaker art/projects, most of them super intricate and making no sense to even the artists when they were sober. YMMV but when I lived in a building with lots of drug use, "What's he building in there?" got thrown around as a shorthand for someone descending into the meth pit when they would start putting aluminum foil over their windows and getting into obsessive building/dismantling. Anyway, yes, avoid.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 3:46 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

If you think it would not put you in harm's way but could possibly smooth relations for a bit, you could buy some doughnuts or a case of beer, something like that, and the next time it happens, take the doughnuts/beer upstairs and knock on their door. When they open it, you could ask if they want these doughnuts/beer your mom/sister/friend bought you that you can't eat/drink because you're on a special diet. Make sure the doughnuts/beer are in a box big enough so they have to open the door to accept them. You might be able to see inside briefly, or, at the least, see how tweaked//high they look, smell anything burning/cooking.
posted by perhapses at 3:47 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

I'm two weeks away from a new apartment, so I'll just let it go. It's irritating, and I'm pretty sick of living by druggies in general, but since my landlord seems specifically to screen for losers, they'll probably end up living above someone who murders them for their drugs.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:54 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

If they're tweakers they could be cleaning meth pipes (running water) and using a power drill to refill their Bics (grinding noise).

There are also some weird ways of making hash and hash oil that might entail those kinds of sounds.
posted by désoeuvrée at 5:01 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

For $4 you could get a diagnostic stethoscope and have a listen.
posted by PSB at 6:36 AM on May 24

Glad you're letting it go! As someone who's seen scarily vindictive druggie neighbors, I hope you'll think about anonymizing the question. (Your profile seems very real-namey and it's a smaller online world than we think.)
posted by kalapierson at 10:54 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

At this moment, nothing I have said in this thread would surprise them. I have been shouting "idiots" at the ceiling for months.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:41 PM on May 24

Maybe they installed one of those little washing machines or dishwashers that attach to your sink pipes but aren't really part of the plumbing?
Those things make super weird noises and could be in the bathroom. If it is a little washing machine, those things don't hold much so that could explain why they need to go back and forth for different loads and turn the water several times for a few minutes to fill it up.
posted by rmless at 9:45 PM on May 24

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