Sunday, November 05, 2006

Neighborhood Party

I'm not sure how long I'll leave this post up because it makes something very public I wasn't planning on sharing. It's not that I haven't written about it-- I have. But I always delete the post before I publish it because I want to remain relatively anonymous and this more or less pinpoints who we are. I suppose it's possible one of my neighbors reads this blog, though I doubt it because no one really talks to us much, and we haven't told any of them about it.

Anyway, one of our neighbors is sensitive to dogs barking. And I guess our pugs were barking while we were away. They were also barking around 7am in the morning when we would feed them outside. Our neighbor began by yelling out a second floor window at my mother-in-law, who was feeding the dog. Then she put notes in our mailbox. Then she called the city to complain. Then she wrote a letter of complaint. We tried everything-- containing the dogs, giving them more space, moving them, even bark collars. Months passed (after the bark collars) and we heard nothing. We thought the problem was resolved. This summer, not a week before Chuffy died, we got another warning letter from the city, this one complaining that our dogs bark "continuously and throughout the night." This is false. The dogs are in the house with us at night, crated. We don't leave them out. I explained this to the city. I also explained that there are dog owners in each of the three houses that butt up against our homes and across the street from the complaining neighbors. At first I was mortified that our dogs were making so much racket-- no one wants to be the neighbor with the annoying dogs. But after a while, and no other complaints, I began to wonder if the dogs really were barking all day, or if our neighbor was extra sensitive. There were lots of days I was home all day with the dogs outside and they didn't make a peep. Anyway, it doesn't matter-- if the dogs are barking all day, that's not okay. I couldn't express this to the neighbor because any time I'd go to the door, she would be conveniently unavailable. And even though I'd ask her kids to let her know I'd stopped by, she never came by our home. She doesn't even walk up to the front door-- just leaves notes in the mailbox.

So now it's just Pugasus. We haven't had any complaints since Chuffy died, and we bring him inside if he barks at all. Or we put the bark collar on him.

Well, on Friday night, the neighbors were playing their music so loud just after midnight (so I guess it was Saturday morning), Jason could hear it in our study. He popped his head over the fence and asked them to turn it down. They shut it off.

Then last night, Jason and I were settling in to watch Nacho Libre, but we could barely hear our television. We had all the windows and doors closed in the house. But all we could hear was the pounding bass of the music next door. "They'll turn it off at 10," I told Jason. "Yeah," he agreed. "They are sticklers for the rules." Well, 10pm rolled around. Then 10:15. Then 10:30. Every time a song would change, we'd think, Finally. But then it'd resume again. Jason wanted to call the police. But I said that I wanted to just go next door and ask them to turn it down-- it's a courtesy I'd want paid to me, so I'll do the same.

When I got next door-- at about 10 till 11pm, I rang the bell. I could hear the people inside:
"Don't answer it. Who could it be at this hour."
"Someone probably called the cops."
"Seriously, don't answer it."
Finally, someone did, and I asked to speak to the homewoner. When she came to the door, I said, "Hey, it's kind of late and the baby has woken up twice. I was wondering if you could turn the music down."

Her response?
Something like, "Well, we're having a birthday party. And I left you a note in your mailbox."
I was surprised by the response. "A note? In my mailbox?"
She said, "Yeah. My whole family is town and it's only going to go until midnight."
I replied, "Well, I understand you're having a big party. I see you have caterers, and I certainly don't want to keep you from having a good time. But the baby has already woken up twice, and so could you just turn it down a bit?"

I left. They turned it down. But it threw me off. Somehow I walked away feeling like I was the asshole. Like I was wrong to ask them to turn down the music. You know, the thing is, if they weren't such sticklers for the rules, I probably wouldn't have said anything-- I would have figured it was a one-time thing and let it go. But you can't go around calling the city on your neighbor, leaving them both signed and anonymous notes in their mailbox and on their front door, and then not expect them to hold you to those same standards, you know?

Anyway, I checked the mailbox on my way past it back up the hill-- no note. And when we left this morning at 7am to go walk the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and drove past the mailbox, there was nothing attached to it. But guess what was taped to the outside of the box when we got home around 10am? Yup, a note from the neighbor. It was dated yesterday, but I just don't buy it. Especially because I looked for it last night.

When I told my friend about my conversation with the neighbor this morning, she said, "You should leave them a note in their mailbox that says: We still have a dog." Her rationale? Apparently as long as you warn someone that you are about to violate a city ordinance, it's okay to do so. . . And that got me to thinking-- my friend is right. That music was so loud. It doesn't matter that she left us a note (if she even did). That doesn't excuse the behavior. How about you just turn down the volume. No one was asking them to move the party inside, even though the voices were loud. We just wanted to be able to hear the television in our own home. Geesh.


Anonymous said...

you definitely lead a more fun life than me......i wish dallas had something to offer. i love reading your posts! can't beleive the neighbors are such schmucks!!!! something comes to mind about thinking about the whole of society not just the individual.

alison frm dallas.

Ron and Julie said...

Karen, there is no rule out there that says they can play loud music until 10:00pm unless they have a permit for it. You did the right thing by talking to them first. If they have called the city on you, then you shouldn't hesitate to call on them. BTW if it is against the rules for your dog to bark then it also should be for them to yell out the window at people. My point is that what is good for one should be good for all.

Larry and Kyndra said...

Hey there! Love the new family picture. Hope is all going great, and thanks for keeping up the blog much better than me! Love, Kyn and Larry

KHS said...

Our city's municipal code has quiet hours from 10pm to 8am every day-- there are delineated rules about what the volume of things can be after this time. But their music was loud enough to violate the daytime municipal code. And Ron and Julie are right-- there is no option to get a permit to play loud music after hours. . . Thanks for agreeing that I did the right thing! Karen

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Amanda said...

Umm, I was already to comment on the neighbors until I saw the one left before me. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like a solicitation for, well, solicitation. What the hell kind of spam is that? Sorry.
I have obnoxious neighbors with low thresholds for anything but their own needs. I cannot tell you how many times they have made me feel the guilt, shame general loserness you felt walking away that night. That and a fierce urge to move to the countryside and away from anyone who might be offended by anything I might choose to do.