The Eighth Sin – Noise
Remember the seven cardinal sins? You’re given the serious task of adding a new one to the list — another trait or behavior you find particularly unacceptable, for whatever reason. What’s sin #8 for you? Why?
Noise is a very subjective topic since by definition it means “any unwanted sound“. What might be a great birthday celebration or a funny conversation with your friends is perceived as noise to outsiders. There’s one thing though that the majority of people would all agree on:
Neighbour or housemate noise is the new Eighth Sin and unfortunately there is little one can do if affected by it. Of course I am not just creating a new sin without backing up my claim, so here’s a little story about … *scary music*
THE NEIGHBOURS/HOUSEMATES FROM HELL!
I lived in the UK from 2006 until 2011 and moved 15 times.
My first place was basically an air bed on the living room floor during the world cup and after a month of no sleep due to constant parties and room sharing with drunken strangers I was desperate for my own room. I found one but moved again quickly as the live-in landlord was a compulsive hoarder and did all of his laundry between 1am and 5am every day. You guessed it right, my room was next to the laundry room and I could feel the washing machine rumble all night. I found out later that just a week after I had moved out the house burned down due a gas leak. Scary shit.
The next flat was great but I wanted to move in with friends so quickly changed places again. We rented a gorgeous 4 bedroom house and the world was perfect – except one of my flatmates was a phone addict and had loud 6 hour conversations throughout the night. It not only disturbed my beauty sleep but our phone bill skyrocketed and when we found out a little while later that she hadn’t been paying her share of the bills she quickly left to go back to France.
So it was time to move again into an all-girls house share where I managed to last 2 months due to constant partying and playing loud music. I remember on my birthday night around 3am I woke up terrified due to a major BANG on my door. I opened and it was one of my housemates who was wasted and had fallen down the stairs backwards and hit her head on my door. Maybe that was her way to say “Happy Birthday Mel!”.
I moved in with my boyfriend at that time who I had only met around 2 months earlier but he was in a similar position, living with the noisiest South African male to walk this earth so we united and were finally in peace in a great flat.
Until Dave and Stacey moved in a few doors down. Their garden extended out in the back and Stacey’s favourite pastime was standing on the patio and talking on her mobile. For hours. Preferably at 2am. Who came up with the idea of mobile phone plans with unlimited minutes?? “Talk as much as you want to your loved ones”. Yeah, this is what the adverts are telling us but they’re not showing the dark side of sleep deprived neighbours. We quickly found out everything about Stacey and her life: She was a teacher and about to start a job at her new school. Dave and her sometimes had a few arguments but they were still happy and in love. Stacey had gained a few pounds of weight.
We also found out their party dates first-hand – they mostly enjoyed throwing techno parties from Monday till Thursday. It all got a bit too much when one day, it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and we were in our garden enjoying the sunshine and relaxing, blaring music started to play and filled the whole neighbourhood with the sound of Akon. Dave and Stacey loved Akon and played his new album “Konvicted” for hours on end, on repeat. To this day I cannot listen to Akon without triggering a rage for this couple.
We tried talking, writing notes, nothing helped. So we moved. Into a new lovely house with great neighbours. Until one day we walked into the garden to be met by an excruciating high-pitched sound. It took us days to find out what it was and until then we were unable to use our garden or open the windows towards the back of the house. Turns out our next door neighbours, a very friendly elderly couple, had installed a cat scarer in their garden. It didn’t seem to work properly as they still had a lot of cats jumping around and the device is supposed to emit sounds in a frequency which humans cannot hear. We approached them and they were friendly, even though they couldn’t hear it (interesting, apparently you lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds as you get older).
I had to move again because my boyfriend and I broke up, but that’s a different story. At that point I had honestly thought I’d seen and heard it all, nothing can face me. Boy was I wrong.
My new pad, the first one I didn’t (technically) share with anyone! However I was to find out rather soon I was in fact sharing my flat with my upstairs neighbour because the soundproofing was non-existent and he was noisy as hell. It was one of those Victorian period conversions you see a lot in the UK. The day I moved in he came down to greet me. Long, greesy hair, ears pierced, grubby and slightly smelly leather clothes “Hey, I’m Richard. I’m an unemployed drummer!”. Great. Just great! Why always me?? I’m going to kill the estate agent!
He must have read my thoughts. “Don’t worry, I only practice during the day so you can sleep at night.” Problem: I worked night shifts from 8pm ’till 8am and had to sleep during the day. The drummer wasn’t happy about this but I explained to him I work 4 on 4 off (it took him a while to grasp it, he wasn’t a particularly bright guy) and we agreed that I print him off my shift plan. He had issues understanding it though (how hard can it be??) or perhaps he didn’t care because he ended up drumming like a maniac for hours, day in, day out. One day the lamp on my living room ceiling came down because of the excessive noise and bass coming from his amp. At night he kept me up with his laundry (déjà vu, anyone?) because my window would rattle from the washing machine spin. I could hear it when the washing cycle just started. Slowly at the start. Just 5 turns. Pause. Another 5 turns. Pause. Then later the spin, then the final wash again. I thought I’d go crazy. I actually had a washing machine noise phobia for two years after moving out which resulted in me having to leave my flat immediately after I put a wash on!!
I talked, I begged – he just didn’t care. No job, no kids, no responsibilities – all he wanted was drum all day. So I paid double the rent after the estate agent refused to let me break my contract (even under these circumstances!) and moved to a wonderful, bright and super quiet apartment in London.
I’m now living in Ireland and so far, we’ve been very lucky. Neighbours are fairly quiet but smoke a lot of weed so I have to make sure I don’t have the window open whilst they’re smoking outside otherwise my room smells like a grass farm.
Have you been a victim of inconsiderate neighbours and house/flat mates before? I would love to hear your story! 🙂
This post is in response to the Daily Prompt