If you’ve ever lived in an apartment with multiple levels, you may be quite familiar with this story, or at least something quite like it. The first apartment I got when I moved down to Florida was on the second floor in a cute little complex filled with a beautiful array of people: from the older folks with tiny yappy dogs, to a local police officer with a gigantic German Shepherd who had failed out of the Police Dog Academy; hair stylists, massage therapists, restaurant workers, families with young children learning to walk to grandparents pining for weekends when their grand-babies came to visit and everyone in between. We enjoyed having friends over to our apartment on the weekends to drink beer with us. We loved the fact that it was centrally located to a lot of different hot spots.
One of the first weekends we lived there the weather was perfect, so we had turned the air conditioning off, and opened the windows for some fresh air. I woke up in the middle of the night from the most bizarre dream about a staircase with statues and an opera singer all speaking and singing in gibberish. I sat up and wiped my eyes, slowly realizing that the sounds that had been in my dreams were real! It was coming from the porch downstairs, and had begun to penetrate into my dreams.
What was it that I was hearing? I had been in such a deep sleep, that it took me quite a few moments to realize that it was, indeed, singing in a foreign language and that I had absolutely no hint as to what corner of the earth it originated. Why was it playing in the middle of the night? And why on earth was it so loud? What was it??
My answers came a week or so later, when I finally met our downstairs neighbors: They were two of those aforementioned grandparents, waiting all week long to have their grand-babies visit them each weekend. They were old enough to be retired, and therefore didn’t keep normal hours during the week, because they simply didn’t have to.
That upcoming week, with our windows wide open, we also became accustomed to their voices speaking just a little bit louder than anyone else in the building, and their TV turned up just a smidge too high, and deduced that they probably just couldn’t hear past their own faces.
They also didn’t speak any English. At all. To me, they sounded Eastern European, but I had no way of narrowing it down any further. I gleaned this region based off of my neighbor’s children’s accents when they spoke English to my neighbor’s grandchildren.
The longer we lived upstairs, the more we learned, however inadvertently, about our downstairs neighbors. On Fridays they always cooked a terribly awful smelling dish that permeated and hung in the air until Saturday. They had their grandkids for a visit every other weekend, and each weeknight, regardless of the hour, they watched musical TV shows on their mobile devices at full volume on their back porch, from their native country.
They didn’t live there much longer, after we moved in to be a real nuisance, but I will always remember the smell of that Friday dish! When we saw the moving trucks outside we did a little dance, thinking, “Who could possibly be worse?”
Fast forward a week or so later, new girls had moved in, but we hadn’t met yet. I had been working a late store-set night at the retail store where I co-managed, and was so looking forward to coming home, and my head hitting the pillow. I pulled up into my parking space, and noticed there was a motorcycle parked in front of our building… this was new. I had a feeling it belonged to the new girls that lived downstairs, or perhaps, to either of their boyfriends. I didn’t give it too much thought, and headed upstairs to our apartment.
After I had gotten cozy in my bed, and dozed off, heading straight for a solid REM Cycle, a terrifying noise yanked me from the verge of deep sleep. I sat bolt upright and strained to hear it again. There it was, a female! I rubbed my eyes to push the sleep further away. Again! “My god,” I thought, “She sounds like she’s dying! What do I do?” And my mind immediately froze with fear as I said out loud to my empty bedroom, “I have to do something.”
I crept out of my bed, careful to stay light on my feet, and I heard the noise again, but something in the noise made me stop. This was not a noise of pain… This was a noise of ecstasy! But surely I was mistaken. And there it was again! This time I was certain. My downstairs neighbor was getting lucky! I smiled to myself, and then thought, “Well, it can’t last too much longer, right?”
Boy was I wrong. These cries of euphoria went on for what felt like an eternity. All I had wanted to do from the moment I left work earlier that evening, was go to sleep… and here I was: lying in my bed, wide awake, trying with all my might to block the sound out of my ears. I wadded up tissue paper to make earplugs, but I still heard her loud and clear. I laid on my side and clamped another pillow on my exposed ear, to no avail. More than an hour later, they were finally quiet, and I was able to get to sleep.
Not more than a week later, I still hadn’t had the privilege to introduce myself to our downstairs neighbors, there was a repeat performance at some ungodly hour of the night, and I thought to myself, “Ok, that’s enough of this.” And I called the first person I could think of, that would listen and actually have the power to do something about it, Ms. Denise, in the leasing office of our apartment complex. She and I had a great rapport and I felt I could go to her with any issues I had with the apartment or the community, so I dialed the leasing office number, and naturally, got the answering machine. I left a voicemail, in what I’m sure was the groggiest of voices, telling them I just didn’t know what to do, but I was sure that they’d know how to handle it, and that this just couldn’t keep happening. I even held the phone up to the floor, in hopes that the screams would record onto the voicemail and they would know how serious of a situation this was. I felt better, after I’d left the message, and eventually fell back asleep.
The next morning, while I was walking the dog, and checking the mail at the office mailbox, I went into the office. I smiled at Ms. Denise who was seated at her desk. She took one look at me, and we both burst out laughing. She cackled, and tears came to both of our eyes, we were laughing so hard. Brian, the head of Maintenance heard the commotion and came out from his office in the back of the building, and he began to laugh, too.
We composed ourselves, and while Ms. Denise said, “Angela, that was the BEST voicemail we have ever gotten, in the whole 11 years I have been working in this office.”
Brian giggled and said, “I hope you saved it!”
Ms. Denise replied, “Of course I did! I have a file where we save the absolute best ones, and yours has shot up to the top of the list. Even our General Manager agreed!”
“I’m glad I could provide you with some entertainment!” We all had another laugh together, and then I got serious, “So, you’re going to DO something about it… right?” I asked.
Ms. Denise wiped the tears from her eyes, and still with the biggest smile her mouth was capable of making said, “Of course we’ll help you. But I just have to thank you.”
Have you ever provided entertainment to someone at your own expense like this? I can’t believe I’m alone!