Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Taking the morning train

As you probably know, my family lives in a New York City apartment. While there are a good number of perks that come with this, including the complimentary 2 a.m. wake-up alarm service provided by the local bar patrons, there are a few downsides. One such downside is the fact that the floor is not entirely ours. We live on the third floor of our building, which means our feet touch the ceiling of the second-floor apartment beneath us. If we choose to be the friendly and respectful type, and we often do, we have to limit some of our behavior. We try not vacuum or make other loud noises very early or very late in the day, and we keep our clog dancing to a minimum.

Sometimes, though, no amount of kindness can avoid a complaint, either to you or your landlord. Believe it or not, some city dwellers are actually irritated by the noises they hear above them, and I'm not talking about sounds caused by the occasionally necessary chair-smashing or pogo stick race. No, these people are bothered by walking or simple furniture movement. Somehow they don't grasp the concept that, by living in an apartment, you might have to hear some noises made by people who live above you. I once had a downstairs neighbor approach me frantically to complain about the slight tapping noise made by my coffee table whenever I put my feet on it. That's nothing compared to another person we know who is so bothered by simple noises she had called her upstairs tenants to complain daily, and she threatened to have them arrested by the police or deported. She says the tenants blast their radio and host wild dancing parties whenever we're out (since we never heard such things), but other tenants in the building say noise has always been a problem with her. They told us that she once called and threatened (in the most polite way, I'm sure) to stab a pregnant woman who had made the dreadful mistake of dropping something on the floor. She's a sweet old lady, once you get to know her.

Fortunately, this person does not live directly below us. The tenants who used to live there were very kind to us, and tolerated the many noises Kyle started making once he transformed from a little immovable baby to a fast-moving, foot-stomping, wild and crazy noise machine. But they're gone now, and we are just waiting to see whether our new downstairs neighbors will be as friendly.

In the meantime, we have become a little too comfortable with an empty apartment beneath us. We're living it up, giddily stomping on the floor whenever we feel like it. Our son is enjoying it, too, as our neighbors' departure just so happened to coincide with his new love for a toy he received nearly a year ago from my aunt and uncle. Kyle has spent many mornings this month riding a blue plastic train through the apartment, running over anything in its path and bumping into walls. When the steering wheel doesn't turn the train far enough, he often stands up and flips it around, sliding its four wheels on the floor. He also manages to drive the train over small obstacles by lifting the front wheels, passing them over the object, and then dropping them back onto the floor with a THUD! He then does the same with the back wheels. Sometimes he also removes the back of the train seat and throws it to the floor. This all happens before eight in the morning, even on Saturdays.

If our neighbors were still downstairs, we probably would have hidden the train in our room each morning, but it's been so much fun watching him play with it. In the weeks he has been using it, his driving skills have greatly improved, though he has yet to master parallel parking. He often leaves the vehicle right in the middle of a traffic lane, where an unsuspecting visitor or dad might create more noise on the floor with his or her body after tripping over the thing.

Soon, though, we will have to be quiet again. Hopefully the neighbors we get downstairs will be tolerant of our kid, just like the previous neighbors were. Even so, I suppose we will have to return to our old morning routines, keeping quiet out of respect to those living beneath us. Kyle will have to limit his train riding to the late morning and afternoon hours. I guess that's the way things will have to be until we move to the suburbs or have a ground-floor place. It's too bad, really, because Kyle has truly grown to love the train. The only thing he seems to love more is his toy jackhammer.

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