Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Protective Mommy

I planned to write a post last night but got distracted by a hallway chat with my next door neighbour. We can spend hours talking about our cats, other neighbours, music, clothes, diets, boyfriends and hair. You know. Typical girlie stuff.

My next door neighbour (NDN) and I are the two old time tenants in the house with the suite downstairs having had five sets of occupants over the last eight years and the suite upstairs having seven tenants in the same time frame. NDN has lived here for about 8 years and I have been here for six. When I first moved in everybody was very friendly with each other but over time and tenants that has changed to where we barely talked or knew each other for long periods of time. Right now we all are on pretty friendly terms but my NDN and I are still occasionally shocked by some of the behavior we see from our present neighbours. The guy downstairs is only twenty one years old and pretty flush with cash. He and his friends are big drinkers and party a fair amount. So far the cops have been called to his place three times for rowdy behavior. Once by me and twice by other people in the neighbourhood. Not cool. He used to live upstairs last year for a brief time and had a puppy. This poor dog would howl at all hours because Owner Boy worked 12 hour shifts and never took him out. It was a disaster. Eventually he got rid of the dog, moved out for about 6 months and then moved back in downstairs. The guy is nice enough and means well but just does weird things.

The house we all live in is an old wooden 100 year old Victorian. I would say our chief safety concern in the house is fire. This place would go up in flames in mere seconds. NDN and I are very paranoid about this and I think we are right to be. When Owner Boy lived upstairs with his puppy during the cold months he would constantly leave for his 12 hour shift leaving the gas oven lit and the oven door open to keep his puppy warm. I can’t tell you how many times NDN and I would meet in the hall with both of us smelling gas and have to break into his apartment to turn off his leaking oven which had blown out. No matter how many times we would tell him not to do it and that the damned dog had fur and would be just fine on his own he would leave the next day with that oven going. So NDN and I would break into his apartment everyday and turn off the oven as soon as we heard him leave. He never said anything about this and neither did we. Eventually it got warmer and we didn’t have to do it any more. Fortunately for us the downstairs suite has an electric oven, better heat and no puppy.

So the guy who lives upstairs now is a real enigma. He is in his late 30’s or early 40’s and is very nice and friendly. To talk to him he is absolutely delightful. However several times a month NDN and I are woken up by him coming home staggering drunk in the wee hours. I am then woken early in the morning with the lovely sounds of him puking his guts out before he leaves at 5:30 am for his job. We are also very aware of which of the alternating weekends his two t’ween aged kids come for their daddy visitation because the whole house rocks with them running around like savages. They rarely leave to do anything so the poor kids are bored out of their mind in that tiny dreary apartment. Because of the apartment layout upstairs I get to hear him yelling at those kids for two whole days. It really bums me out. Yet when he talks about them he is so obviously the proud daddy.

This guy also admitted to me that we probably got mice because he had left several bags of garbage in his apartment for “a while.” Fabulous. Why would anybody do this?

This morning I was woken at about 5:15 am with the sound of this guy running across his apartment. Just as I was wondering what was happening the smoke detector in the hall went off. I quickly got out of bed and started getting dressed when I heard NDN and Owner Boy in the hallway trying to figure out what was going on. Then I heard the guy upstairs apologize about the noise and he said something about his heater and then the alarm stopped at that point. So I went back to bed. It has been cold the last few days so I assumed that he lit his gas heater (it is an attic apartment so no actual heating vents go up there hence they have a fixed gas heater for the suite) and some hot dust triggered the smoke detector. Later this morning NDN called and gave me the whole story. The guy had put his clothes on the gas heater “just for a few seconds” to warm them up and forgot about them causing them to scorch. Holy fuck! How stupid and dangerous is that? Why would anybody do something so risky?

What would you do? Don’t suggest moving as my rent is affordable and I can’t leave. Would you verbally give him shit? Would you write him a nasty (but carefully worded) note of displeasure? Would you tell on him to the landlords?

I am freaking a little here. It could have been a total disaster. My biggest fear is that the house will burn down when I am not home and Yoshi would perish. If that happened I would hunt down and kill with my bare hands whoever was responsible. I am not kidding. I would kill them.


Sharkey said...

He may be a nice guy, but it sounds like he has some issues and quirks. We all have issues and quirks, but hopefully not ones that would burn the house down!

I think I would try talking to him, getting my point across but being as nice as possible. Because living above you, he has the ability to make your life hell if he decides he doesn't like what you have to say.

Dima said...

Yeah, that's a sticky situation. There is no good way of dealing with that. I would probably talk with him and express concern.

Squirl said...

Yoshi is your baby. If somebody hurt her we would come and help you hunt the person down.

Would it help at all to talk to the landlord? If not, then please talk to him. It might not be Yoshi, it might be you, too. Then we would all have to come out and get him.

MrsDoF said...

I'd be talking to the landlord/owner/building manager.
It is not your place to supervise the neighbors, but if one puts you and yours in danger, well, that is for someone with Authority. Someone who can evict the dummass if the words get rough.

Our last apartment, oh so many years ago, it was the guy on the lowest level who played The 1812 Overture on repeat on the stereo the whole fricken night. And marijuana 'drying' in the oven. And me pregnant with my second!
You better believe me, I called upon my hormones and temper and marched down to the place where I paid our rent promptly every month.
Turns out, the police handed the landlord a list of complaint calls for the same apartment.
They gave him a week. He abandoned half his stuff, which went to the dumpster.
Golly, the peace and quiet for two whole weeks was nice.

alan said...

I live in a house; the one I came home to from the hospital in '55. Dad built a new one in '65, rented this one and when we moved back here I bought it from him. The neighborhood has "turned over" several times in 28 years; at one point with drug dealers across the street and next door I had 3 deep sheets of plywood against the front wall of a bedroom just in case.

No one ever tried to burn my house down...

Talk with him or the landlord, but talk to someone!


Jessica said...

Talk to the landlord - you have a right to protect yourself and your baby. It's no fun ratting people out, but don't risk your home, your life or Yoshi's just because it's awkward.

spoonleg said...

Talk to your landlord! What a freak! That is so dangerous and totally irresponsible!

And seriously? Owner Boy needs to get a fucking clue. I would think that if my neighbors were breaking into my house every damn day that I would start to catch on that I'm DOING SOMETHING WRONG. I would have totally reported him and had his gas shut off. People like that needed to live in a padded cell where they can't hurt themselves or others.

eclectic said...

Yep. They're right. And Squirl's right. If something happens to you, I'm leading the posse.

True_Halcyon said...

Given his past history of idiocy, I would go immediately to the landlord with NDN as backup, citing his risky behaviour and ask that something be done. Before he reduces your home to a flaming pile of cinders. People like that scare the hell out of me!

Madame D said...

I have very low tolerance for bullshit, especially from people who know better.
That's why I cracked the veneer on the door of my upstairs neighbors knocking to tell them that vacuuming at 2 a.m. was even less acceptable than vacuuming at 6 a.m.

Speak to the landlord, especially about safety issues. Which "clothes on a gas heater" certainly falls under.

whfropera said...

Here's a thought - you very likely have building codes in Vanc., and that goofy gas heater is probably skating on thin ice with respect to the codes, if not outright illegal.

I would call the city hall, and find out who the building inspector is and tell him. Or the fire dept.

Thats only if your landlord is a slack-ass.

Precisiongirl said...

I'd defo tell the landlord. When it comes to accomodation I have no shame and will defintely complain/grass/dob-in... whatever.

Mine and Monkey Boy's safety and quality of life comes first to anyone's feelings getting hurt by a complaint.

Do it Kranki!

fueltank said...

First, make sure there are fire extinguishers in the halls. Not there, call the landlord. Second, get tenants insurance. It is not that expensive, and you don't want to have to worry about where you are going to go if the worst should happen. Third, get a carrier for The She-Beast and keep it IN your apartment. Keep some food and cat stuff in the trunk of your car. Fourth, keep copies of all your importnat stuff at your parents.

I know you have said your landlord is cool and your manager is not. Talk to them, but also be prepared to call the building inspector and fire prevention officer. You don't have to put up with the fear. We had a kitchen fire here a month ago and the thought of a real fire is very disturbing.

Oklay, so I got a little bossy there... but no-body fucks with my Stacey (unless she asks them to).

Skygreen Leopards Mother the Sun Makes Me Cry

east village idiot said...


Talk to your landlords. Trust me. If that building goes up in flames the landlord will be held liable.

They want to know what's going on and it makes no sense that you should have to live under that level of stress - it doesn't serve you.

hemlock said...

I think your carefully written letter would be good. That's so scary that people in your building do these kinds of things.

Then again, east village idiot has a good idea too.

kassi said...

I think that a letter to the landlord is in order. There is no way you should have to put up with that nonsense.

Von Krankipantzen said...


Thank you all for all your fabulous suggestions, your outrage and the validation for MY outrage.

This is what I have decided to do. I am going to talk with Dude Upstairs in a freindly way showing my concern over this risky practice if his. If he does assure me in a convincing way that he will never do anything so stupid again I will leave it at that. If he blows me off I will write a very strongly worded complaint to the landlord about my concerns.

I do have tenants' insurence as well as a very detailed escape plan and set up for me and the kitty. I also have a house fire extinguisher right outside my door as well as my own personal one in my kitchen. I am about as good as I am going to get. I will post again if anything else noteworthy happens.

Thanks again, guys!