For the record, my roommate has requested my interpretation of this story multiple times, but I always wanted to wait until the story was over before I blogged about it. I see now that the story will never be over. So Ima just blog about it, yeah?
This story goes way way back to when I first moved in, when Roommate warned me that our neighbors, let's call them the Schmidt's, were "a little weird." As a general rule though, I like to reserve judgement on people until they do something to me. At which point I judge--swiftly, irrevocably, and Jesus will convert to Scientology before I forgive them. Not the most sparkling of my personal qualities, but it's how I roll.
At the beginning, the Schmidt's seemed nice enough. Sure they were married but lived in two different apartments, and sure Mrs. Schmidt's head was two different colors, but those were really just slow clicks on the crazy meter--if my former au pair family was Chernobyl, my neighbor's brand of crazy was a Three Mile Island postcard. And when the Schmidt's sold me their cool bike for a really really low price, I went so far in my brain as to think maybe Roommate had just misunderstood them.
Such is life. You think your neighbors are nice people, and then it's all FUKUSHIMA, BITCHES.
Part I: No virtue? Get screamed at.
I think the impetus for Mrs. Schmidt's first epic meltdown was the fact that I got a boyfriend and (Dad, skip this part) he stays over sometimes. I mean, she'd been calling Roommate "cheap" for months, but I think she was holding out hope that I was virtuous. On that fateful morning, the second Al and I un-virtuously stepped out my door, Mrs. Schmidt when batshit on our asses, screaming at the top of her lungs, accusing us of having moved furniture around in the middle of the night, the volume of which I understood to be approximately as loud as a Mach 5 taking off at an AC/DC concert. The only problem with her accusation was that Al and I didn't get home until over an hour after we were supposedly fung shui-ing my room--at which point we immediately passed out because it was late and we'd been at a party. All of which I tried to explain to Mrs. Schmidt calmly and rationally, but there's no being rational after Liam Neeson has released the Kraken, at that point it's just Swim Faster Than The Unfortunate Guy Next To You time. For the next couple days, from the moment I stepped in the house, the Schmidt's would throw open their doors and hurl abuse at me all the way up the stairs. I can't swim very fast, so I was just silent and dignified.
(Dad, you can read again)
Part II: Washing clothes? Get wet, then screamed at.
Eventually everything quieted down, until I made the bad decision to wash my clothes at 11 PM, which I had been doing for months, mostly because in the hustle of uni I would totally forget until long after the sun had gone down. After the machine was done, I beebopped down the stairs to the basement and opened the door to the machine, completely unprepared for Niagara Falls to unload itself on my pajama pants because that's generally not what washing machines do. Instantly soaked below the knees, I stared at my dripping clothes and wondered why the fuck the washing machine had just vomited copious amounts of water on me. After a few seconds, I looked at the wall and realized that someone had torn the plug out of the socket and thrown it unceremoniously on the floor.
That was all well and good, except I still had a load of soapy clothes in the machine, with the extra addition of my wet pants. I plugged the machine back in. The blinking lights came on: there were nineteen minutes left in the cycle. Thinking the problem was solved, I came back downstairs a half hour later, only to find that, once again, the plug had been pulled. I plugged it back in. Four minutes left in the cycle. This time I sat in the basement and decided to wait for the machine or my neighbor, whichever one decided to finish it first.
Knowing that I was in for another scream fest the next morning, I barely slept that night. Sure enough, as soon as I opened my door, the Schmidt's were on me like a pack of wolves, if that pack consisted of only two creatures and one of them had a bi-colored head. You would think I had murdered their child, so intense was the screaming. As usual, I answered in calm tones, and then ignored it. But it got kind of tough--poor Roommate got sucked into the drama this time, and as the days went on, the insults the Schmidt's hurled at me got increasingly racist--they told me to go back where I came from, and asked Roommate what kind of filth had she let in the house. Roommate and I decided to use our collective powers and be the neighbors that fight back, in all likelihood probably the first ones to do so. We went to the housing association, filed complaints, and talked to lots of official people.
The result: the Schmidt's were no longer allowed to smoke outside of their apartments, and we were no longer allowed to wash at 11 PM. A few days later, we got a letter from the association mildly scolding us because not everyone appreciates our taste in music, so could we please turn it down. We interpreted this as the association misunderstanding the Schmidt's complaints about us, seeing as how our music volume (and taste) had never entered the equation. I can't blame them for the misinterpretation though--sometimes it's hard to pay attention to what Mrs. Schmidt is barking, because you're too busy staring at her bad dye job.
At this point I made the decision never to speak to the Schmidt's unless I had set up my microphone to record the conversation.
Part III: Hygiene? Get air let out of tires.
Fast forward to last week. The Schmidt's had spent the better part of a week slamming their doors so hard our apartment would rattle, so Roommate and I knew a storm was brewing. Then one night, as I was taking a shower, Mrs. Schmidt started banging on her ceiling with a broom. The next morning, I discovered that someone had let all the air out of my bike tires and stolen the little pieces that keep the air in. On my way to the bike shop, I got to thinking--didn't someone take the screw out of my gearbox that one time, so I couldn't shift? And didn't that happen the last time the Schmidt's and I had an argument? And the time before that, hadn't someone pulled the wires out of my bike light? I double-checked with Al, and yes, he distinctly remembered asking me about my gearbox and my neighbor's screamfest from the night before in the same sentence. So this was at least the second, probably the third, time that my bike had been fucked with after the Schmidt's had a meltdown.
The next day, a neighbor from the apartment next to us came over to let us know how sorry she felt for us, that the Schmidt's had terrorized everyone who'd lived here for the last twenty-five years, and that she'd like me to know that after I approached them, the Schmidt's had called me some word that I didn't understand, but from the expression on Roommate's face, I judged it to be pretty bad. Later that day, the two of us headed back to the housing association and told them about the doors. They were very, "Yes, yes, door slam=bad." Then I told them about the name my neighbors had called me, and all the things they'd called me before that. And how every time they got mad at me, something happened to my bike. The situation did a 180, lots of phone calls got made, I was given the number of people to call, and to make a long story short, the housing association recommended I file a police report for racism. This impressed me greatly, seeing as I still didn't (and don't) understand what exactly that word means.
Part IV: Spycams? Get one.
I decided to take the weekend to think about the racism report. The next morning, I woke up to find that once again, all the air had been let out of my back tire. Al came over with his bike pump, we checked the tires, and eventually determined that no, it was not my tire, someone was doing this deliberately. So, I did what any rational, well-adjusted adult would do: I went out and bought a tiny black webcam and a USB extension chord. Using a handy-dandy program a friend had recommended, I effectively turned my new webcam into a spycam. I set it up so it has a good view of my bike, turn the program on, and every time the picture changes, the program takes a snapshot and saves it to my computer.
The first two days I got zilch. But this morning, I discovered that around 8 AM, Mr. Schmidt spent a solid twenty seconds leaning down, examining my bike, and messing with it. Unfortunately, nothing was wrong with the bike when I got it out later.
So, that's my goal. I need hard proof of the Schmidt's abuse and/or vandalism, either in the form of photographs or a recorded screaming fit. My goal is to get them kicked out of their apartment and end the reign of terror they've been carrying on in this building for over twenty years. Schmidt's didn't count on me when they decided to be racist bipolar douchenozzles.