Neighbors

My rent is cheap. Let’s start with that. It’s a little over half of what is considered standard rent in Los Angeles. The place has a kitchen, two bathrooms, a shower, three rooms, and a living room. We have closets, we have electricity, and we, thankfully, have locks on our door. We pretend the freeway roar is the ocean.

It’s not that the neighborhood is bad, it’s just that no one in their right mind would call the cops. I believe this puts us slightly above the neighborhoods where cops practically live, and below the neighborhoods where people are willing to have them come in and help.

There are a great deal of reasons for people to call the police in my neighborhood. There aren’t any gunshots, gang tags or nightly death cries, but we all regularly disturb the peace in a variety of annoying ways.

At least once a week, cars park in our cul-de-sac and the two men inside just stare at you until you hurriedly walk away. Cars park pretty much anywhere they want and the construction site was basically a playground until they finished those homes last month. All this aside, it becomes pretty apparent that no one wants the cops around in my own little complex, the Westminster Apartments.

Let’s take a look at a little slice of the 18 apartments, just ours and the tenants below us.

Our apartment: Rather loud 2-3 nights a week, between 8pm and Midnight. We jump. We have friends over. Cigarettes are smoked by the windows. We play music and movies at a volume that is only comfortable for people below 26. We regularly have construction projects that involve hammers, drills and power sanders. We also really like to yell.

Their apartment: Dog that never stops barking, 24/7/EverydayWe’veBeenThere. A baby that loudly screams between 6pm and 2am, whose window is directly below mine. The TV is never off, never quiet, and never a show I find worth listening to through the floor. They have relatives who leave their luggage in the hallway, and the dog will dive at their window when you walk by it, usually making you drop whatever you’re carrying. I’m fairly certain we’re not even allowed pets.

And why have we not called the cops on each other or even complained to the landlord? The easy answer is the landlord is impossible find, speaks close to no English (sent an electrician when we asked to fix the toilet) and the property manager insists that you leave a voicemail and then he’ll call you if he wants. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t call back.

We can take the racist route, and assume we live with some illegal immigrants who want to avoid the cops at all times, or maybe the massive Chinese population in our apartment doesn’t call authorities they can’t communicate with.

But I don’t think that’s it…or all of it, anyway. It’s not that we don’t report each other because we can’t. Or even because we won’t. It’s because the longer we don’t, the more accustomed we become. There somehow exist this horrifying harmony. I annoy the hell out of them just like they annoy the hell out of me. We are completely comfortable in the clusterthing that we’ve managed to create.

I don’t look forward to the tiny dog (which in my mind I have decided is a Chihuahua) slamming into the window each homecoming, but I’ve come to expect it. God help me, I might even miss it when it doesn’t happen. This smoking, screaming, barking, banging, jumping all-day-everyday circus is becoming home.

I’m starting to worry that my next apartment will need to be next to a prison.