This past Sunday I went to my little film studio to write. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot and saw the van belonging to one of the neighbouring business owners, I knew what I’d be greeted with when I opened the doors: his loud music coming through the walls.
I fired up my computer, put some lunch in the microwave and reluctantly went over to knock on the locked door of his store which was closed for the day. When he opened it I asked if he would please turn the volume down. This wasn’t the first time I’d made this request.
“Let me hear how loud it is,” he scoffed in disbelief. “Because it’s not loud in here.”
I completely disagreed but I didn’t want to argue and led him next door to my studio. I again tried to explain that one of the reasons I rent this office space is so I have a quiet place to escape my rowdy house of kids, dogs and distractions.
“This isn’t loud at all,” he declared, when we reached my desk. “Granted, I am hard of hearing.”
“I’m not hard of hearing,” I said. “And even with earplugs in I can still hear it.” He rolled his eyes at my predicament. I then asked him to consider wearing headphones if he wanted to listen to his songs at such a high volume.
“Why should I?” he asked. “I’m working and this is my day off.”
I told him I was working as well, and this wasn’t my day off and I was unable to concentrate with the muffled sounds of his booming stereo and heavy bass notes coming through the wall.
He said I was just going to have to live with it because he wasn’t turning it down and recommended I wear earplugs. I repeated that I’d already tried that and if he didn’t stop invading my space I’d complain to the landlord. He laughed.
“I can hear your microwave,” he said walking up to it. ”That’s louder than my music. I’m going to complain that your microwave is too loud.”
Annoyed by the large man’s intimidation method of close-talking and blatant condescension I told him to leave. He walked out shaking his head, remarking on how I was just embarrassing myself.
“You realize you’re being ridiculous, right?” he asked as he opened the door.
A couple of hours later he came by to say he’d changed the position of his speakers away from my wall but turned the volume and bass up and asked if it was any worse. I told him it was at the same intrusive level of noise and I remained unable to concentrate on writing.
“Well, this is your problem not mine,” he said dismissively. “You’ll have to rent a place in the mountains if you want something quiet.”
When I told him I didn’t wish to fight he said of course I didn’t because I would just be embarrassing myself if I complained. I informed him that I’d already e-mailed the landlord.
“You must be really embarrassed you did that,” he said. I was not.
Without stating his business or my location, I had also shared the experience on Facebook and quickly received a vast array of possible solutions.
Among many, I was encouraged to order food from every takeout place in town to be delivered to his address; take a hammer over and shut his stereo off myself; and allow a group of my biggest, strongest male friends to show up at his store and inspire him to be more polite.
None of that was my style, but I liked the strategy several people recommended: turning my stereo towards his wall and playing on repeat The Bird is the Word, Let it Go, or one of the other funny songs mentioned.
“Crank it full blast and then leave,” one friend advised.
More suggestions followed and after tolerating the situation all day until he was gone, I read a comment proposing I find the breaker box because every box has a main breaker. Bingo. Why hadn’t I thought of that?
Our two spaces used to be undivided years prior, so the control panel in my studio actually controls the electricity in his store as well.
Apparently I have more than one option to turn what my disrespectful, arrogant and very noisy neighbour insisted was my problem alone into his problem as well. Hopefully he learns to be a considerate person so I don’t have to try any of them out.
He was certainly right about one thing. I am embarrassed—for him.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com.