I was taking one of my post-lunch, day-off-from-work naps, when I was rudely awoken by the sound of deep bass from one of my neighbors playing their music. I love music and even loud music, but when it is not my own, the sound of it is one of the most gut-wrenchingly annoying sounds in the world to me. I stumbled off my couch and into my kitchen to look for a snack. Eating is my second favorite thing to do on my day off and now, thanks to my neighbor, napping, my first favorite wasn’t happening. Nothing in the kitchen looked appetizing and then I remembered I had Ranch Sunflower Seeds in my car. They were leftover from the road trip from which I had recently returned home. This meant I would have to make the long trek to the garage, which, in my apartment complex means a long walk and an elevator ride, but the sunflower seeds would be worth it. And it would also give me a chance to see which neighbor was playing their music so loudly. I would never do or say anything, as it was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and not 2am, but I could at least scowl in the direction of the music. In this way, I am a very old soul.
My apartment complex here in Los Angeles is a lot like Melrose Place, less anybody young and good-looking and a pool. By this, I mean all the apartments face-in toward one another. There are only 30 units, thus making it very easy to see where the music would be coming from. As I walked through the center of the complex toward the elevator, the music became louder and as I got closer, I discovered it was coming from the 2nd floor and more specifically, unit 211. The door was wide open and the music was blaring. They might as well have put the speakers on their welcome mat. ‘What an asshole, ‘ I thought. What could possibly be going through their mind? I shook my head and continued on into the elevator. Upon entry into the elevator, (the ONLY access to our garage, otherwise, I would have taken the stairs and this story may never have happened) I noticed a hand-written sign posted in the elevator. This had become a recent trend in our complex that began a few months ago when someone lost a blue Swatch watch and posted a reward. Since then, there have been other lost-and-founds, furniture for sale, and lost pet signs posted. Seems it is a good way to communicate as everyone who drives has to take the elevator. Today’s sign was different though. It read “Whoever stole the blue lawn chair please return to #211. I JUST put it out yesterday and I have had it for years. SHAME ON YOU.” That’s right. Apt. 211. The very apartment that was blasting their terrible music was using our innocent apt. building elevator communicating medium for shaming! The BALLS this tenant must have. I admire them.
I laughed as I got off the elevator, retrieved my seeds, and got back on. Walking back to my apartment, I cringed listening to the Maroon 5 coming from 211. It seemed even louder now. Something came over me and I realized this was an opportunity I had to seize. I threw open my door, dropped the seeds, and grabbed the closest writing utensil I could find. It just so happened to be a red Sharpie. I casually walked back out my open door and toward the elevator. I carried my red Sharpie between my index finger and thumb and upright along my wrist so that it would be hidden from plain view. What I was about to do was very risky because, at any moment, one of my neighbors could emerge from their home and surely catch me in the act. I pressed the elevator button casually so not to suspect any possible on-looker. The doors opened and I walked in. I pressed the “G” button to take me to the garage floor so that I could have 30 seconds alone in the elevator. As soon as the doors shut, I turned toward the sign and on it, I wrote “Perhaps your blue chair was stolen because you play your music so damn loud and with your door wide open. I don’t have your blue chair, but if I did, I would keep it out of spite. Shame on YOU!”
I had only enough time to write this brilliantly composed retort before the doors opened to the garage. I prayed there was no one waiting to ride the elevator back up because surely they would make the connection between the fresh red ink and my red Sharpie. There was no one. I pressed the button for level one and rode it back up. I walked out into the courtyard and toward my apartment with a sense of satisfaction that cannot easily be described. I had found a direct, totally anonymous, ironic way to tell my neighbor to SHUT THE FUCK UP. I smiled for about an hour or so after the fact. As I ate my seeds, I fantasized about the tenant of unit 211 finding their note had been tampered with and their attempt at shaming had been thwarted. I imagined other tenants would laugh and revel in the joy that someone had “really given it to 211.” It really is the little things in life that bring the most joy.
I don’t know if 211 ever saw my response. The sign was taken down later on that evening. Let’s just say that afternoons in the Hayworth apartments have been pretty quiet the past few days and I can’t help but take it just a little bit of credit. It was a good Thursday.