Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why I would not make a good P.I.

Have I ever told you about my neighbor below? It seems like I haven't, maybe because it is not one of the prettier aspects of my existence here. I strive to help you walk away from your computer with a warm-fuzzy. But Mrs. Neighbor does not evoke warm fuzzies. I must first say this, I have WONDERFUL other neighbors. All except this one. The others are precious. They've hand-knitted my baby sweaters, they offer me plates of food, they put my children in their cars and driven them to school when the street dogs are out. I could go on and on.

Just after we moved in, a neighbor told me in confidence that the previous tenant had moved out because the downstairs neighbor was so nasty. Surely that was just a rumor. But even if it weren't, I wouldn't have let that stop me from moving in. This apartment is perfect for us. But in a very short time, I realized exactly what they were talking about. She began banging her broom on her roof at us anytime she heard something in our apartment. We'd get 'banged' for pulling out our kitchen chairs to sit and eat. We'd get 'banged' when one of the kids dropped a toy.

So, what did I do? I heaped some coals. I bought pads to put on the feet of all our chairs. I baked her cookies. She loved my cookies, and even asked for the recipe. I told her they had peanut butter chips from America in them, that she couldn't make them without those, that I'd bring her some back. Then I did. (I gave up luggage space with God's help!) I had the kids try to stay on the rug in the morning. I did everything I could think of to try to appease her.

One day the kids got the idea to roller skate on our outside balcony. We have a two story apartment and on our second floor, one balcony totally hangs outside of the building so I didn't think it would disturb anyone. When they roller skated, she started banging because she could hear a faint rolling sound from two stories down. Then suddenly the banging stopped. And the police came to my door. (It seems like I did tell you this, didn't I?) I'll spare you the details, but I'll say two things...I was told it was "against the law to roller skate on the balcony" (to which my Turkish friends have rolled their eyes and said, "Please!" in their own Turkish way!) and I experienced discrimination in a way that I never have before. I know the Turkish word for "foreigner" well, but this day I experienced unfairness to a new degree. It was not a happy day.

Now, are you ready for the point of this novel? My latest offense against my neighbor is where I shake my rugs. Shaking your rugs out the windows/balconies is done by every Turk I know. So, I shake too! Mrs. Neighbor has a glassed-in balcony, but I shook my rugs out that balcony one day when one window panel was about 3 inches open. She started screaming about dust coming in, then she ran into the common area of the apartment and screamed more. Then she banged at me every 1/2 hour the rest of the day. It was not a happy day.

What to do? I pray for her. I greet her warmly. I have asked the Lord what to do. But I have finally come to the conclusion that she is not a healthy woman. I doubt I can ever please her. A thought occurred to me one day. I hear and see her shaking her rugs on that exact same balcony below me (you know, the one she screamed at me for using). If I took a video or pictures of her, then if (WHEN!) she reports me to the apartment manager, I'll just smile and run the clip. I'd become a Private Investigator!

So, I began to develop a plan. Video. That's the key to solving this. But let me tell you, every time I heard her rug shaking, my heart started pounding! I began to sweat! I'd run for the camera, then she'd be gone. I even once saw her shaking them when I was down on the street outside, so I hid behind a tree, fumbling for my camera. Then finally, glory be...after weeks of these unproductive heart-stopping rituals of running for my camera, one day this week I heard the "VWHOOM!" of a rug. I stealthily (actually, shakily) made my way through the house, grabbed my hand cam, hid behind the door, then click-click-clicked away. I took at least 6 shots, including a video. She didn't see me until the end, when she scowled at me. I think I shook for 30 minutes after that. I called CC and said, "I did it. I did it. I'm ok. Whew." And I wondered, "Do Private Investigators shake this much on a stakeout?" I doubt it. Anyway, I pray she leaves me alone, and I do NOT plan to publicize this video to anyone here...unless of course she pulls out the big guns on me. If I get a knock at the door and a complaint, the photo above is my evidence! (See, my life is not all roses! You've encouraged me to be real. I am just being real.)


Stacey said...

Reading your post made me want to be on a stake out somewhere with you. Then it occurred to me, that we probably have a few stake-outs in our past, probably best not remembered! Another reason why David is glad we live across the world from each other. Miss you friend!

Mandy said...


Tara G. said...

Sara, you crack me up!!! I haven't even seen my neighbors although I can hear them sometimes. They're doing renovations upstairs which is super annoying- banging and sawing and clanging all day, every day. Not fun during nap time.

Anonymous said...

Sara, in my 50 years of living I have learned one thing and that is no one else can tell another person how they need to handle something. No one except our parents should they be living -- I have always trusted that source.

I'm saying that to say my comments are not meant to be advice, just food for thought. Have you considered going to her and asking her why she dislikes you so much, why she dislikes your children? Have you introduced her to those wonderfully "charming" (Charming comes in handy.) children of yours?

To me she sounds like an unhappy and lonely woman. As I said, this is not advice because I am definitely not there and not in your shoes.

My other thought is prayer. I know you probably have done this but don't give it up because the one who knows what motivates this woman to be so unpleasant is God. (Prayer will also help you to have peace of mind over the situation and not let her get to you. :)

Have I told you in email about my nasty neighbor across the street who despises me and David and the kids and made our lives miserable? I hit my knees praying that God would move these people. We are the end of a dead end street and couldn't step outside in our yard without insults being yelled at us. They had convinced our other neighbors that we were awful and no one was speaking to us. It was misery. I kept praying and begging God to move them. He did!! But guess what, two years later we got word they were moving back! I was so upset. I had two years of peace and quiet and now here they come . . .

I did not understand God but it was real clear to me in prayer to trust Him. I just cried and cried.

When the man came back after a two year absence, the first thing he did when he got out of the moving van was to walk over to David and apologize and say things would not be that way again!! Can you believe that??? We couldn't! David still says something is funny. He even waves at us now as we pass by.

This just happened recently and we don't know what the outcome will be but what that said to me was God in control, Sara. Not you, not me, not the nasty neighbor - God.

Ask God what to do about her. As old fashioned and cliche' as that might sound, that will work.


Sara Campbell said...

Ok, I'm going to comment on my own post! This is a first! Mel, I thought your advice was good. The lady has 2 just under Eva and one teenager. The screaming we hear from that house can only be identified as dysfuntional. I once went down and told them 'no more' because I was so worried about her kids. I've gone down and had tea with them. I've sent EVA (yes, Eva! Who can resist her?!) down with a plate of cookies, she slammed the door in her face. I think the reason she dislikes us so much is that she can't control us to the extent she would like. For example, when she was screaming about the potential dust that flew in...she spent hours on the aftermath of that, whereas a little broom and dustpan would have had it up in a minute (if there was any dust). But she was angry that she could not control me and that the apartment manager had given me permission to shake my rugs out any of our balconies (I had asked him.)Her home is spotless, but her children are misearable. I think of the verse, "She tears down her house with her own hands." I pray I never become that. One thing she can not control, which I do not plan to stop doing, is to pray and be an example of Jesus to her in my friendliness and in the way I interact with my kids. I will most likely be the only example of Jesus she ever sees. Thanks for your thoughts, I love your wisdom!

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right, Sara!


P. S. I wish I lived close enough for Eva to knock on my door . . . Wouldn't I love it?!?

Rachel said...

Your stakeout has me cracking up. I hope things get a little better! Way to stick to your guns and make reasonable concessions. Hope you have a lovely day!

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