Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Honeymoon is Over

I committed some heinous crime in a previous life. I'm not sure what it was, but it must have been particularly awful. That's the only explanation I can think of for why I'm unable to find a quiet place to live.

The first couple of weeks here at the new apartment were so nice, very quiet at night, no problem sleeping at a decent hour. Then the noise from upstairs gradually became worse and worse. When it first began, it was only a couple of nights a week, beginning at 10:00 p.m. when the kid took his shower and got ready for bed, continuing until 11:30 p.m. Well, OK, just a couple of nights, I can handle that. Then at the beginning of January, it was every night. Every single friggin' night, and every three to five minutes (yes, I'm keeping a written record) a bedroom door slamming, a cupboard slamming, drawers slamming, things dropped on the floor, dragging furniture across the floor. So, I talked to the security guys, and they said that noise after 10:00 p.m. was a no-no in this community, and if it continued I should call them.

Finally, I did call them one evening and asked them to call the upstairs folks. Didn't have any effect, the noise still continued until 11:30 p.m. After a few days, I'd had enough again, and once again asked them to tell the 10th floor folks to knock it off. I heard the guy upstairs on the intercom phone, saying "OK, OK, sure." then talking loudly to his wife as the noise continued. Obviously this is not working.

Fine, I decided I'd make a change in my own lifestyle. Most people here shower at night before bed and not in the morning like I'm used to, so I've been doing that. This allows me to sleep in a bit longer, but it also cuts down on my morning "drink-loads-of-coffee-while-fiddling-around-online-to-wake-up" time. I still don't feel I'm getting enough sleep, and I usually get shocked awake by some loud bang at least once after I hit the sack.

Last Sunday I wrote a very nice letter, which Shannon had helped me compose, really polite and all, asking the upstairs neighbors to be more considerate after 10, close doors, drawers, and cupboards gently, etc. I gave it to the security guy to give to them, because he said that was the best way. Attached to security's copy was a two-page record of the time and type of loud sound I'd been experiencing. After about a half hour, my doorbell rang, and it was one of the security guys. He said the upstairs folks had refused to take the letter and maintained that it wasn't them making the noise. Needless to say, I was incredulous, mouth agape as I listened to this hogwash. The guy said the next time the noise started, I should call the desk, and they'd send someone to my place to listen to see where it was coming from.

Strangely enough, Sunday night was very peaceful, no slams and thunks, and I heard the first shower running much earlier than usual. I had a meeting with my landlord on Monday evening, and I talked to him about all this. He told me that in Taiwan buildings sometimes the sound is actually coming from three or four floors up, that the people right below don't hear it, but the folks two floors down do. I'm sorry, but I don't buy this. Granted, the origin of some noises seems difficult to pin down, but those slamming doors and dragging furniture are quite obviously right over my head! No way in hell that sound is coming from two floors up.

Monday and Tuesday were also quite peaceful, and I was able to sleep early. To me, having it suddenly become quiet after security talked with the 10th floor people just seems to reinforce the fact that it was them making the noise. I mean, why else would the noise cease like that, after being a nightly ritual for over two weeks? However...... Wednesday it was business as usual with lots of noise. I tried to listen carefully to see where exactly it was coming from, putting my ear against the ice-cold concrete walls on both sides. I thought maybe some sound was coming from next door, and since I'd already met that woman and she was very nice, I went to ask them if they were possibly closing doors and cupboards quite loudly. She and her husband talked to me for a long time, both maintaining that their living room, which is right next to my bedroom, has no cabinets or anything that would make that sound, and that since she babysits infants she has always taught her family to be very quiet, so as not to disturb the babies. OK, so not them. Didn't seem that the noise was coming from the apartment on the other side, either. After the loud noises continued until 10:40, I called the desk and asked them to send someone up. Of course, just as when you take your car to the mechanic it will NOT make that funny noise, so it was that as soon as the guy arrived (bringing with him a disgusting miasma of cigarette smoke that polluted my entire apartment), the upstairs was silent. And as soon as he left, the noise began again, but thankfully ended at 11:00 p.m.

On Thursday they started early, around 8:00 and continued until at least 10:40, this time someone using power tools, dragging furniture around and rolling something heavy across the floor. I tried to ignore it best I could, certain that if I once again asked the guys to come listen, it would be quiet. Last night we had more power tools and hammering, and when someone fired up that drill at 10:20, I lost it and called the desk. But then I heard the drill sound twice more, and once it really did seem to come from the babysitter's side. It's hard to tell, is it upstairs and making the wall vibrate and the sound is traveling down it? I truly did believe the neighbor when she said they try to be extra quiet all the time, because she has that honest sort of look. I tried listening at their front door to see if the drill sound was coming from in there, but I couldn't hear anything. And there was clearly some sound that was coming from upstairs, because in the small bedroom, there are no other apartments on either side, just two balconies, so the sound is definitely originating from upstairs.

So here I am, once again dealing with inconsiderate neighbors (somewhere) who don't seem to sleep much themselves. It's still much better here than in Zhuwei, and I don't have the added burden of tons of noise from outside 24-7 to deal with. I will try to adapt and just stay up later than I want, since I don't think anything is going to make them stop. I sure wish I were the sort of person who could roll out of bed, wash my face, get dressed, and be out the door, because then I could sleep until 7:45 a.m.! Alas, that's not me. The latest I can sleep is 6:45 a.m., I need that hour of wake-up time in order to be fully functional. I don't know how the Taiwanese do it, getting only 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night - or less.

Now that I've gotten that particular rant over, on to a new one. My teacher this semester is incredibly boring. We're third-year students and we're being treated as first-years. The first test she gave was so laughable, two pages, handwritten (badly, my writing is much nicer), of simple "fill in the blanks" and make some easy sentences. For the last three semesters, each time I've had a test it has taken me almost the full two hours of class to complete it. Most required writing some small essays, and most were four pages of typewritten questions. It took me less than half an hour to complete the test last week. And so far this teacher has not asked for any homework! OK, so that's sort of nice, except that it doesn't really push me to make progress. Another thing that bugs me is that she loves to hear herself talk and doesn't give us much chance to say anything. This may be helping me improve my listening skills, but I need to talk, too! We're all frustrated and not looking forward to dealing with this every day until March 28 when the semester ends. Argh.

Despite all of the above, I must say that I'm still incredibly happy here in Taiwan and have no desire to leave it. Anyone who knows me knows that I will always have a complaint about something, no matter where I live. It's the way I am, I'm a griper for sure, and too old to change my ways.

1 comment:

aetherwellen said...

Oy, that sucks that you have noisy neighbours again, and that the security guards are too slack to actually do something. :(

Hope the new term brings a better teacher.