Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sweet, Sweet Victory

Generally, I'm a guy who avoids confrontation. I'd rather just live with an unpleasant situation than confront the person who is making it unpleasant for me.

No, actually, what I usually do is be all passive-aggressive about it, and complain, bitch, and moan — often for the sake of a laugh — even though that does no good in terms of helping the situation.

It's what happened in my old apartment building, with my violin- and flute-playing neighbors, and for a whille, it was happening with my current upstairs neighbor, who would not only never remove her shoes when she walked around her apartment, but had a proclivity to clean her apartment late at night, and worse, to vacuum her floors at even later hours.

That's exactly what she did Sunday night: vacuum her floor at 1:30 a.m. This, of course, followed a brief clothes washing, which began around 11:30. And what did I do about it? Nothing. I twisted and turned in my bed, unhappy, concocting a revenge plot that would show her how disgruntled I was — but that I knew I'd never have the guts to pull off.

Another time she did this, about a month ago, I sent my neighbor an email that went ignored. So when I woke up in the morning, I decided to write her a note and leave it under her door. Here's what it said: "Hi there. Can you please please not vacuum your floor after 11 p.m., and especially not at 1:30 a.m.? It's louder than you think, and it's very inconsiderate. Thank you. Martin." I figured that would fall on deaf ears too.

Except it didn't.

In the early afternoon, I received this reply via email:

No joke, I stood up at my desk, put my two fists in the air, and exclaimed, Johnny Drama–style, "Victory!" I had finally gotten through, and Lydia (that's her name, which I knew) was finally going to stop. Sure, her email kinda made her look like a moron (she's my upstairs neighbor, "caused such nuance," "such sagely patience," etc., not to mention the fact that in three years it never occurred to her that vacuuming her floor at 1:30 a.m. was not appropriate), and she didn't hit all of Loren McDonald's 13 elements of effective apology emails, but she understood she was being inconsiderate, and was promising to be better in the future. Chalk one up for me.

I had known such a feeling only once before, and that was when my banging on the ceiling caused some upstairs neighbors to stop rehearsing their instruments. This time, my response was more civil, but it was equally rewarding.

Ahhh ... Sweet, sweet victory.



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