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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Drama, Mama

If Mister Rogers was still among us and happened to be around here lately, he might say that it has not been a beautiful day in the neighborhood. He would be forgiven for saying this because it would, unfortunately, be true. We absolutely love where we live. It is an excellent location with a supermarket within walking distance, and many stores and restaurants within short drives. All of our apartment buildings are fairly small by some standards; each has only two stories and a total of eight apartments. Although we are very close to a fairly highly traveled intersection, our location is quiet and peaceful. It is a great place to call home. On our side of the building, we have us as and our neighbor Laurie on the ground floor, and Maggie and Annie on the second floor. (Out of respect for their privacy, these are not their real names.)

A couple of weekends ago, I spent most of my time resting because I wasn't feeling well. Okay, the truth is I felt pretty awful with some stomach problems. I won't ask for any sympathy, however, because I believe that these problems were entirely of my own doing. A person can only eat so much fried and salty food before the stomach revolts and tries to drown you with its own acid. Lesson learned, believe me. 

On this oh-my-goodness-why-did-I-do-that-to-myself Saturday night, I heard some really loud pounding on Maggie's door at about 9:30. I mean really loud banging. I thought perhaps Maggie had invited a male friend over and he was knocking loudly until she answered. I was vaguely aware, in my drowsiness, that the door was opened and heard some other noises before I drifted off again to sleep. When I woke on Sunday I was still a bit the worse for wear and spent most of the day lounging in bed. Very late in the afternoon I decided that perhaps I should get some clothes on and fetch the previous day's mail. That's when my phone rang and we became aware of the bad days in the neighborhood.

It was our neighbor, Maggie, who lives directly above us. She is a great young woman who has her engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines and she is a very considerate neighbor. She proceeded to tell us some things that came as a great shock to us. The person who had knocked at her door late the previous evening was her neighbor on the second floor, Annie.  When Maggie opened the door, Annie tried to punch her and force her way into the apartment. She warned us to be aware of the possibility of violence and let us know that she would probably be moving to another apartment in the complex very soon.

Annie is a young woman who does not work due to disability. She has some motor and speech impairments and seems to sometimes get lonely in her long hours at home alone. Maggie often works unusual hours, sometimes having to leave for work at three in the morning to work day shifts. She has tried to be kind to Annie, but told us that Annie has knocked at her door at all hours of the day and night, often interrupting her sleep. She had to ask Annie to stop doing this because it was causing her to work on only a couple of hours of sleep, which we all know is just not enough. Oddly enough, every time Annie knocked on her door, she acted as if she had never done so before.

Trent and I are very protective people, so we offered to be around at any time that Maggie comes home and is afraid to walk up the stairs and past Annie's door alone. I also spoke with our neighbor Laurie and advised her to be aware and make sure she kept her door locked. Suddenly, a string of unusual happenings all began to make more sense.  For example, Annie is the only one on this side of the building who is a smoker, but Laurie keeps finding cigarette butts in her trash container when she leaves it outside for pickup. There are other things that I won't bore you with, but all things seemed to point to one possible culprit.

A few days after the violent outburst, Maggie obtained a temporary restraining order against Annie. It required Annie to keep a certain distance from Maggie's front door, as well as a certain distance from her outside the building. The first day after the order was served, Annie parked herself right in front of Maggie's front door to smoke, so we called the office to ask about policies for smoking in the breezeway. I wasn't trying to be vindictive. It's just that every apartment has a private balcony or patio, and we really don't want to smell the smoke or walk through the ashes and cigarette butts on our way in and out. All I did was ask about smoking in the breezeway, and the leasing agent knew which building I was calling from. When we left a short while later, someone was heading toward Annie's door with a letter asking her to limit her smoking to her own balcony. And when we got home, Annie had shown her displeasure by spitting off the landing onto the ashes she had left earlier. Yikes. Drama, mama.

A few more days went by and Maggie had a court date to try and get a permanent restraining order. Annie was taken to task by the judge for having inappropriate outbursts in court. That very evening, she decided to stand outside Maggie's door and shout obscenities and insults at her. Maggie warned us again that our neighbor was riled up and that the police were on the way to speak with her. (Just like they had to a few days before when Annie verbally assaulted another resident's young child.) When I peeked out my blinds to see if the police had arrived, Annie was headed toward Maggie's vehicles. She saw me and came over to bang on our front door as well. More drama, mama. 

Maggie received a call from the leasing office the other day to say that Annie is being evicted. Maggie is still moving to a different building so that Annie will not know where she lives. Today, someone started moving Annie's things. Monday, Maggie will be moving. We will be losing a wonderful neighbor and a not-so-wonderful neighbor at about the same time. I feel sorry for both of them. Maggie has had her life and peace disrupted because of the fixation or possible mental illness issues of a neighbor. Annie has to move because of her fixation or mental health issues. I hope that she gets some help because until she does neither she nor her neighbors will be safe. Although I will feel safer with her moving on, I feel a sense of sadness for whatever it is that she is going through. I'm also sad to be losing Maggie as a neighbor. But I will definitely feel safer without all of the drama, mama.