How to quiet down my noisy Asian neighbors.
January 2, 2007 6:30 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to get the young Asian couple next door to quiet down their arguments?

A few times a week the young Asian couple next door have very heated arguments which involves knocking about, door slamming and lots of screaming.

I don't think their arguments are physically violent and if I did I wouldn't hesitate to call the police. But it is annoying, especially, late at night (sometimes as late as 3:30am.)

Of course, being Asian, their arguments aren't in English, so I don't know the subject matter - they both seem to yell at each other equally so I don't think that any one is more abusive than the other.

In the past I've found that dealing with noisy neighbors directly works best. I'm a kill them with kindness kind of guy. I'll tend to show up with a beer in hand and say, "Hey, how's going, here I brought you a beer, do you mind turning your music down?" But given the domestic nature of this annoyance I'd rather not get involved. Then again, maybe a direct confrontation would be okay?

I could call the property management, but I don't have a lot of faith in them to address the issue. I suppose they would send a letter and being as narcissistic as quarreling couples can be I'm sure they would just ignore it... or turn it into something further to fight about.

Another option I've considered is leaving a note (sealed in a envelope) on their door which maybe just asks that they be considerate and take their psycho-relationship fights outside.

Whatever the solution I'd like to remain as anonymous as possible.

One last concern is that maybe this is just some sort of cultural thing... maybe certain Asian couples just yell at each other? I guess it would help if I knew their heritage. I tend to lean toward Korean, but I could be way off... Please shoot this theory down if it is completely off mark.

And yeah, I fully realize that these two sad sacks should just break up with each other, but that's none of my concern. If it helps they are a perhaps in their early to mid-20s.
posted by wfrgms to Home & Garden (30 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm really not sure why the fact that they're Asian is relevant. "Maybe certain Asian couples yell at each other." Ummm...I think couples of all races can get heated at times. If you find the direct approach works, why not try it?
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 6:48 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Koreans are fighters, certainly, but no more than anyone else, I don't think, and it's not like it's a cherished part of Korean culture or anything. What is a part of Korean culture is to utterly ignore people who are outside your circle of personal friends/acquaintances/family. If someone's not in your circle, they are an unperson, so a) their feelings are not considered b) they will be unembarrassed about airing their dirty laundry, in whatever form.

So if these folks are indeed Korean, making friendly overtures so that you impinge on their humanradar (depending on how old-skool Korean they are (ie if they hew fairly closely to the usual Korea-Korean norms, it'll work)) might just make you a person to them, in which case they'll be too ashamed to make all that noise.

Me, I'd just yell 'shut the fuck up' at the top of my voice, but I'm a bit brash that way. I like my sleep.

Alternate comedy option: record their screaming, then play it back at deafening volume at them, some time later.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:48 PM on January 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

Call the police. An oldie but goodie.

Threaten to move out if your landlord doesn't do something. They hate it when people move out. Make it credible though. Say, "Where should I send my notice to move-out letter?" and when they ask you why, mention the noise.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:49 PM on January 2, 2007

Sorry, that should be b) you will... Pronouns gone mad.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:50 PM on January 2, 2007

In a similar situation, I finally called the police after a weekend of constant screaming, and once did the trick.
posted by clarahamster at 6:58 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Screaming and door-slamming as late as 3:30 am on a regular basis goes beyond any cultural understanding issues. Cops. AND a letter to property management. If it's after 11 pm or before 8 am, they're probably violating the local noise ordinance or their rental agreement anyway.
posted by desuetude at 6:58 PM on January 2, 2007

It is likely that, if you call the police to report a domestic dispute, the police will take one of the parties to jail. Where I live, it is standard policy to take one of the squabbling couple to jail and prosecute them for domestic assault.

That will, most likely, incent them to keep their noise down in the future.
posted by jayder at 7:12 PM on January 2, 2007

Nthing calling the police. This sort of thing is routine for them, and it'll probably stop things soon, and permanently. Besides, if one of them actually is in danger, it might be just the prompting he or she needs to get out or get help.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:24 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

#notjustfoxybrown: I'm really not sure why the fact that they're Asian is relevant.

Um, it is because the poster can't understand what they are yelling but has a slight clue about some set of languages they they might be speaking.

Then again the neighbors might have identified themselves as just being Asian rather than a more specific nationality. I've noticed this vagueness mainly with Koreans in the US - say you go to a common meeting place (like near a famous outdoors clock) and then some Koreans show up to meet others and ask you if you have seen anybody that looks like their friends. 90% of the time they will ask if you have seen any "asian" guys. Most other Asians are much more specific in their requests.

If you really want to embarrass this "asian" couple, then just tape record their fights. If the people are somewhat traditional then they think it is fine to fight within the (so-called) privacy of their house but any discord outside is extremely shameful. Once you have a tape with clear words just put it in a boom-box near your front door and play it on a loop.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:57 PM on January 2, 2007

Yes, there is a cultural thing re yelling and violence in Chinese domestic relationships (if this is a Chinese couple). But it's a f*cked up thing about Chinese culture and should not be tolerated. (Also, I would not be so sure that there is not violence.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:59 PM on January 2, 2007

Just a note to add to Stavros, if they are not Korean, but rather Chinese or Japanese (particularly if they are trying to fit in in a new place), then speaking to them or having the management or cops do it for you may be enough prompting to get them to quiet down. They may be so ashamed that you heard them that you will never hear a peep from them ever again, or at least for a while.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:03 PM on January 2, 2007

I believe in a slightly more personal approach. Calling the police without ever talking to the people to me seems undignified. But I grew up with the belief that people solve their problems, not lawyers and tape recorders. My approach would be very simple - to go talk to the couple. I would tell them that I have heard their arguments (which were very loud) and ask them to please keep their arguments to themselves. If that didn't work, go to the landlord, and the police as a last resort.
posted by kingtaj at 8:36 PM on January 2, 2007

I knew someone would chime in with a "why is their race relevant?" number.

So good job there.
posted by Bud Dickman at 8:47 PM on January 2, 2007

Pollomacho - tell it to my wife. ;-)

Not all Japanese (or any nationality) fit the stereotype.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:48 PM on January 2, 2007

If they're from an East Asian country, saying something along the lines of "Is there anything I can do to help you? You two always sound so angry" may be useful. Saying it this way will get the message across indirectly but effectively.
posted by jiawen at 9:02 PM on January 2, 2007

Of course someone chimed in with "why is their race relevant?". Because it's not. Arguments in Cantonese don't wake you up any more than arguments in English, do they? Slammed doors are a universal language we all speak.

The OP has people who are waking him up at night, and has noted that they are Asian. He appears to think that asking them to shut up might somehow be construed as racist. That bizarre view needs examining another day, but right now, as a result, this thread is now full of ludicrous and insulting stereotypes and rather than comment further, I'm going straight to Meta.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:11 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

But arguments in English can be understood by English speakers, and they can decide whether it is something they should just butt in about, or something they should handle more delicately.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:19 PM on January 2, 2007

Their race is relevant because the OP is trying to actually deal with a problem, and perhaps he is concerned that this problem might be treated differently by different cultures.

I worked for a Korean man for a few years, and he is now one of my best friends. When I first saw him "speaking" with his wife, I thought they were being very angry at each other, as they seemed to be arguing the entire time. He was a friend of mine, so I asked him if this were the case. He laughed and said that this is how Korean couples speak to each other.

I olse recommend the direct approach, the "beer in hand" maneuver seems like a good bet, might as well be friendly about it :)
posted by eparchos at 9:20 PM on January 2, 2007

>arguments in English can be understood by English speakers, and they can decide whether it is something they should just butt in about, or something they should handle more delicately

Please give an example of a situation where I'm woken at three AM by two people yelling, and I listen to the conversation and decide that I don't have the right to ask them to shut up.

And, meta.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:25 PM on January 2, 2007

>he is concerned that this problem might be treated differently by different cultures

Please give an example of a culture which doesn't understand my right to be asleep at three o'clock in the morning.

He deals with the problem by asking them to be quiet, and if that doesn't work by calling the cops. If he wants, he can skip the former and go straight to the latter. How is race relevant?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:26 PM on January 2, 2007

Please give an example of a culture which doesn't understand my right to be asleep at three o'clock in the morning.

posted by eparchos at 9:27 PM on January 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

Please give an example of a culture which doesn't understand my right to be asleep at three o'clock in the morning.

posted by Saucy Intruder at 10:04 PM on January 2, 2007 [21 favorites]

I knew a guy who dealt with this problem in a dorm room one time. His response was to make noise in response to their noise. When they slammed a door, he slammed one too. They very quickly got the point.
posted by Clay201 at 10:15 PM on January 2, 2007

Other than calling the police - DO NOT GET DIRECTLY INVOLVED.

A domestic dispute is a dangerous thing, even police are extra cautious/wary when responding to that kind of call.
posted by jkaczor at 11:39 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Were I in your position, I would knock on the door at some reasonable hour of the evening and simply say something along the lines of "Oh hey, you guys are often up really late and the walls are kind of thin. I have to get up early in the mornings for work, so if you could try and keep it down a little, I'd really appreciate it." No mention of the arguing, leave it short and sweet.

It may be a little passive-aggressive for your taste, but I prefer to err on the side of tactfully not mentioning that you can hear them arguing, as that's a pretty sensitive issue. (And also, as a neighbor, really none of your business. It'd be the same problem if they were setting off fireworks. Noise is noise.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:27 AM on January 3, 2007

You don't have to call the police about them being in a fight, most cities have noise ordinances so you can call the police about them being loud just as if they had been playing music.
posted by delmoi at 1:09 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think grapefruitmoon's approachj is by far the best. Short, obvious, and direct.

Also, I do think the original poster's observation about race was relevant, if a bit overstated. (FWIW, i'm of Asian descent and I think the couple's ethnic/racial background could certainly be one (of many factors) in how I would consider approaching the situation.
posted by jare2003 at 5:19 AM on January 3, 2007

For the love of god, please try dealing with them first before you call the police. Note. In person. Whatever. But have some respect for people and give them a chance to quiet down before involving the law.
posted by dame at 6:36 AM on January 3, 2007

Next time they have an argument, record it and burn in to a CD. Leave the CD in an envelope in their mailbox or taped to their door with an anonymous note.
posted by pmbuko at 6:47 AM on January 3, 2007

I had a similar situation with some neighbors. The fights were usually accompanied by very loud accordian music. (For the record they were not Asian ;) I tried grapefuitmoon's approach. It was almost verbatim, actually.

The woman responded with, "What do you care? I'm not in your house. Why don't you mind your own business?" and slammed the door in my face.

I called the landlord the next time. And I would've call the cops if it happened again but luckily they got evicted.
posted by Kloryne at 1:17 PM on January 3, 2007

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