Posted by: Kate | December 4, 2009

Score One for the Upstairs Neighbors

Remember my passive-aggressive neighbors? They’ve got the downstairs apartment, we’re upstairs, and that’s it; two units in the house. We had a salvo of mildly unpleasant emails several weeks ago, made more awkward because I specifically requested that we sit down and talk this out face-to-face instead of trading emails, and their response was immediate, deafening silence.

I let it slide for a while, and honestly would have ignored it completely, except the apparent agreement with the landlord is that the man who lives downstairs, Officer C, is responsible for snow removal on the walkways and driveway, and if the town declares a snow emergency I need to move my minivan off the street. It hasn’t snowed yet – indeed, yesterday and today it was in the 60s, but who says global warming is anything but a myth?? – but chances are it will, and soon. So on Monday, I wrote an email, directed to Officer C but copied to the landlord (whom I had left out of our prior discussion):

Good afternoon,

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. I’m writing to clarify the winter parking situation – we’re lucky to have gotten to (almost) December without any snow, but I’m sure that will change soon enough. I need to know the specifics about what to do if a snow emergency is declared in Salem: by what time do I need to move, specifically where should I move the minivan, should I plan to move it again after a certain time, and so on? I want to make sure I know as much as possible about the expectations before the weather turns colder.


I followed it up with another note, just to the landlord, with a quick summary of what had transpired before – “I don’t need you to take any action on any of this, I just wanted to let you know what’s going on since it seems to be harder to resolve than I had expected.”

Nothing happened for a few days, except the family downstairs continues to be loud (I notice them more now, and I wonder if that’s because I have been sensitized to their presence via irritation, or whether they’re deliberately amping it up, passive-aggressive style). The daughter runs everywhere, and sounds distressingly elephant-like when she does, and the father’s voice is nothing short of booming – including when he snores. Fine, people make noise, it’s an old house, this is the evil of apartment living, we’ll cope and try hard not to visit the real estate listings until the other house has disappeared off my list of problems.

And then, this morning, I awaken to this note, the sum total of the email:

It’s common sense…… But in short, we need to fix the first problem before we address another.

Gah. Glad I brought this to the landlord’s attention before it got more overtly whiny. I wrote back:

OK… I think I’m going to need more input to understand what’s going on, then. Would you prefer to continue communicating via email, or is there a time when we could get together and talk?

And settled in for another, extended wait. I’ve since heard back from the landloard, and this has brought me an inordinate amount of glee. Maybe I’m just reading too far into it, but it sounds to me like she’s not entirely sympathetic to whatever story he has brought to her…


Sorry I haven’t had a chance to reply on your last email, thanks for passing that along.

C also emailed me. I am encouraging him to have a face to face discussion. My impression is that he is frustrated about the non-snow parking plan. Also, I believe he is misinterpreting the intent on your previous emails, although I am not sure why, another reason to discuss in person rather than email.

Thank you for your patience and persistence!

So, we’ll see. We’re home the next several weekends, and we only have one car, so if the minivan is here, that means we’re all here as well. I’m happy to leave the ball in his court, either to invite us downstairs or to make the effort of climbing all 14 steps to come to our place. I’ll bide my time by researching the best breed of goat to offer in a ritualistic, real-estate-selling sacrifice.


  1. Those people are awful. So awful!

    Good on you for getting the landlord in the loop.

  2. Hey maybe they’ll find your blog & heckle you from it just like your in-laws! Wouldn’t THAT be fun?

    …oh, and for the record I’m partial to the fainting goats
    easier to catch & all that

  3. Well I hope they come to the party because clearly emails are too easily misinterpreted. And yes, wise move getting the landlord involved although I don’t know why ‘he’ doesn’t make the rules. It would be so much easier if a third party laid out the law of the land.

  4. Sounds like you have my old neighbours!! They constantly ran their robotic vacuum early in the morning after they went to work (why they couldn’t set it for the afternoon was beyond me) and then when the woman’s boyfriend moved in they got worse. He stomped around the house (wood floors upstairs in a house not really meant to be apartments) and talked VERY loudly. We emailed the landlord and things just got worse. It was pretty outrageous.

    Hope your issue gets solved!! That experience has pretty much ruined apartment living for us!

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