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City Beat May 29, 2003
Remont Season
By John Dolan Browse author Email
Page 2 of 2
It's always been hard for me to confront neighbors. Once in Berkeley the crazy man downstairs decided to take up the drums. See, that's the thing about these SSI recipients. Thanks to that generous $800 check they get from the great state of California each month, they can sleep in as late as they like. That was my neighbor's schedule: he'd wake up around two or three in the morning to practice his drums. He wasn't even any good on them.

I seethed upstairs for two nights, then went down and threatened his life. He believed me, thank God. The noise stopped.

But that was long ago. Nine years in my own house in Dunedin dulled those old urban-Serengeti instincts. I let the bastards downstairs get away with it. Every night I gritted my teeth and swore I'd go down there. And didn't.

Being a coward is exhausting. You lie there fuming, thinking up devastating speeches or more violent scenarios -- but you never actually do anything. It takes far more out of you than any actual fight would. I know that; I've always known it. But I can't seem to do much about it.

A confrontation seemed especially daunting here, because I'd have to do it in Russian. God, the lucky bastards who can speak their own language all day! I had it so easy, living in English-speaking countries! And I never even realized!

Finally I worked myself up to go downstairs. I rehearsed an outraged complaint in Russian, stomped down and pounded on the door, ready to pretend to be furious and tough. But the guy who answered the door was no thug. He was short and urbane, and interrupted my bad Russian with perfect English, explaining that they had a water leak. That's why they had to work late into the night. I went back upstairs almost proud of myself, convinced the worst was over.

But the sledgehammers resumed next evening. I went downstairs again. And again he was urbane and pleasant, apologizing and promising it wouldn't happen again.

But the next night -- Thor was back in session.

When they started using their hammers on the water pipes instead of the concrete, that's when it got serious. There is no sound more appalling than sledgehammers on metal pipes. It's like living inside a church bell.

We had no choice but to call in the ultimate weapon, our landlord. He called them instantly and said they'd promised to cut the noise.

They did -- for one night. Next night it was another concert by the hammering pipes. We're open to suggestions on what to do now. They always say Moscow's a great place for contract killings, but how do you contact these killers?

We've checked the Business Directory, and they're not in the index.

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