When I first moved to Chicago from a small town, I thought about how amazing it would be to live in a big city where everyone didn't know everyone else's business. The idea of starting over in a new place and meeting new people I hadn't known since I was five thrilled me.
But I soon came to learn that just because you don't know everyone, you still come to learn a lot about their business just by living in close vicinity to them. In the building where I live now, I know that the guy who lives next door to me apparently microwaves everything he eats and drinks because I hear the "beep-beep-beep" of his microwave at least six times a day.
The two girls who live on the other side of me are chain smokers, and their smoke seeps into my apartment on a regular basis. They also get a lot of late-night visitors, because their buzzer sometimes wakes me up at 1 A.M. Apparently at least one of their boyfriends thinks it's okay to lean on the buzzer for several seconds at a time, and if they don't answer right away he'll start yelling at them from the street.
Although we're supposed to put the trash that doesn't fit in the trash chute in the dumpster downstairs, the guy who lives down the hall is strong enough to go running every day but can't be bothered to take a three minute walk to the dumpster, so he leaves his beer bottles and large trash bags in the tiny room with the trash chute.
The girl who lives above me once tried to unlock the door to my apartment, because she thought it was her apartment. (I thought someone was breaking in, so of course I had the bright idea to open the door to see what was going on.) She also watches TV or listens to the radio about seven hours a day, and I used to be able to hear every lyric that was sung (by both her and the musicians) and every piece of dialogue from her TV shows. I say used to because after my polite request to her that she turn the volume down didn't work, I finally complained to the super. Now I just hear the muffled sound of her TV and radio for three hours a day, except when her boyfriend comes over, in which case they turn on the volume really loud to mask what they're doing. And unfortunately, sometimes the volume of the TV isn't loud enough to mask what they're doing, if you catch my drift.
I'm sure that my neighbors know plenty about my annoying habits, too. I have the musical tastes of a 13-year old girl (though it's been many years since I was 13), because at least six of the songs on my Top 25 Most Played list on my iPod are from Britney Spears' albums. I usually listen to the music on my headphones so as not to disturb my neighbors, but the chain smokers next door can probably hear me singing along to the songs anyway. I think they might be scared of me, anyway, not just because of my love of Britney's music but because I got so frustrated with all the smoke coming from their apartment and from the people smoking in the doorway outside that I started yelling, "I HATE SMOKE! I CAN'T BREATHE I CAN'T BREATHE I CAN'T BREATHE!" And of course, I made sure to yell it through the wall so they could hear me.
I also know that at least three or four of the girls on my floor get drunk on a regular basis, because they stumble in after one A.M. several nights a week, fall on the floor, laugh about it really loudly in the hallway, and then open the doors to their apartments, where they proceed to fall down in there as well.
I also know all about one of my neighbors' marriage, because I was in the laundry room with her once. She proceeded to tell me all the details of her divorce within five minutes of meeting me, following me up the stairs as I dropped socks in my attempt to get away from her.
But you know what I don't know about my neighbors? Their names.
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