Clank clank grar
June 19, 2018 9:16 PM   Subscribe

The neighbor is working on his car, again, in his garage about 40 feet from my bedroom. It's after midnight and I have to get up early for work. I am simultaneously too pissed off and too socially phobic to go talk to him. What to do?

For tonight, I'm going to sleep on the couch with earplugs, but this is not a long-term solution because i can still sort of hear him and the couch is really uncomfortable. This has become a huge trend with him lately -- this weekend he was working on his car till after 1 am, pounding on something metallic so loudly that a white noise app turned up full volume failed to block it out.

By a quirk of the layout of our house we're really the only neighbors affected by this. His garage literally overlooks our house, which is set many feet lower than the alley and his garage, with only a tiny strip of backyard as buffer.

I'm okay with anything up until about 11:30 p.m. but after that I start to get irrationally angry.

Should i wait and talk to him sometime during the day? Or is it better to go talk to him when i am actively being kept from sleep? I have literally never spoken to him before. And is there any way I could do this without actually talking to him--would a note work? Either way, what should i say? And is this a reasonable request? I somehow get the feeling he's only doing it now because he doesn't have any other time to do it.

If it matters, this is a very quiet neighborhood otherwise.

Thank you!
posted by whistle pig to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, this is totally reasonable to be upset about. If your houses are close enough together that you can hear him, then it's not ok for him to do car work at that hour.

It's possible this is the only time he has, but it's also possible he simply doesn't realize it's disturbing you. Go over during the day, and it will go much better if you can actually talk to him. If you talk to him, you can tell him it's a problem, and ask for a way to contact him when it's preventing you from sleeping.

After you've tried a few different daytimes, write a note, give your contact info (if you're nervous about this you can use a throwaway email address), and ask for a way to contact him when it's a problem. In the note, make the assumption that it's just because he doesn't realize the noise is disturbing you, and get a friend to read what you write before you leave it, so they can make sure you're not being overly upset. I would also include that you're ok up until 11:30 pm but after that it's a problem.

But yes, first you really should try meeting in person; almost anyone is more likely to respond to a polite request from a person they've actually met than via note (especially than via unsigned note).
posted by nat at 9:36 PM on June 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

Start out being easy-going. Terry, you may not realize how noisy it is when you work on the car at night. It would be a big help if you could keep things quiet after 11. I'm a nice person with impaired hearing. If my neighbor came over and said It's summer, and with the windows open, your music/ tv is really loud*, I would make a big effort to turn it down. If your neighbor is a jerk about it, you can consider calling the police. But assuming common decency is a better place to start.

*Fortunately, my nearest neighbor has even worse hearing.
posted by theora55 at 9:44 PM on June 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

Also, I have social phobias, and it takes a couple of difficult nights before I work up the ability to talk to a neighbor. At my old house, the guy next door was renovating after midnight. It helps to keep in mind the very likely scenario in which neighbor is a good guy. At my old house, when I complained about the noise, neighbor was pissy, but stopped making big noise late at night, so it was a win. When other people are assholes, They Are The Assholes, Not You. You deserve to be able to sleep.
posted by theora55 at 9:49 PM on June 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Call the local police department and ask about the regulations on your block for late night disturbances. Next time it happens, call the police and let them handle it.
Unless I was on good terms with the guy, I would never let him know I was making the calls. He can own his behavior.
For every neighbor that makes the call, five more are grateful you did it.

Some people justify their actions by saying that it was not a problem because no one ever complained.
Others need several calls in a row to get the message.
Sun is down, people are trying to sleep. He knows better.
posted by TrishaU at 12:16 AM on June 20, 2018 [7 favorites]

I was in this exact situation and went over, in my bathrobe, to ask the neighbour to stop and the neighbour was all "Nope, my house" etc. The next morning he came back when I was out and apologised to my husband. The neighbour explained he had lost track of time and hadn't realized how late it was. Happily he never did it again. So it is entirely possible that the guy A. doesn't realising how disturbing it is to you and B. doesn't realise how late it was. If you are worried about an in-person discussion, consider leaving a note. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 4:17 AM on June 20, 2018

Is the garage door open? At the least, and perhaps as an opening salvo, you could ask him to close it after a certain time.

This is a reasonable request.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:24 AM on June 20, 2018

Go over and talk to him, start with a daytime visit. I am full of sympathy that this is going to be socially difficult for you, but just...gather up your courage and do it. There's an excellent chance that he had no idea the noise was bothering anyone and he'll just cut it out.
posted by desuetude at 7:35 AM on June 20, 2018

Next time it happens, call the police and let them handle it.

Just from experience, the police will usually ask you "did you talk to them first?".

If you say no, they will suggest you do so before they get involved.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:05 AM on June 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thanks, everyone. We'll see how this goes...
posted by whistle pig at 2:06 PM on June 20, 2018

Anecdatum as a home mechanic: sometimes you start a task, and rusty bolts are stuck, or you have to remove a bunch of parts you didn't expect to, and maybe you need to drive that car to work tomorrow and on a certain level you realize it's dark outside but you're in the zone and you're not aware that your shop speaker is loud or that others can hear you when you're using the Big Hammer out of frustration.

Or maybe there are other stressors in his life and going out into the garage to wrench on the Jag/Beetle/Camaro gives him agency and a series of achievable tasks that he can feel progress in.

Suggest you visit him during the day with a six pack, not when you may both be frustrated, and let him know that the late nights are affecting you. He may not know.
posted by a halcyon day at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2018

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