Saturday, November 19, 2011

There's More Than One Type of Sensitivity Training

What does he do up there?...
As far as I can tell, he juggles bowling balls,
But he's not good at it.

"The Man Upstairs" by Voltaire

I don't know my neighbors. The most I've seen is passing nods to some of the gentlemen when passing between the building and the parking lot, and sharing space while trading loads in the laundry room. Occasionally, I'll spot someone lounging over a railing with a smoke while I'm walking by. That's it.

My neighbors, in general, aren't too bad. Loud music on school nights usually cuts off at ten or eleven, weekend parties rarely break midnight. Music in the morning is limited to someone, somewhere who either plays woodwinds or likes listening to them starting at five or so and going until the sound of traffic outside drowns them out. I'm grateful, too, to only technically have two neighbors: one to the south and one above (the west wall neighbor is the laundry room, and I'm on the bottom floor). My upstairs neighbors though...

I've always made a practice of listening closely to the world around me. When living with my parents, I could tell who was where in the house by the creaking of the floor and the sound of footsteps. I even knew where the animals were (even the cat) based on how they walked and how the house reverberated with the vibrations. It does wonders at work too, most along the lines of knowing when my boss is approaching (not that I've ever used this to keep me out of trouble, I just like knowing where people are).

Unfortunately, this has caused me to develop a sensitivity. My upstairs neighbors probably consider themselves quiet walkers, along with the rest of the largely disillusioned world. With my knowledge and sensitivity, I've done my best to make my own movements as quiet and unintrusive as possible, though, living on the ground floor with only concrete and dirt below me, that doesn't make much of a difference.

I don't know what my neighbors look like, so they could have a physical handicap to walking quietly. I don't dare comment to my landlord, and I don't need sensitivity training to tell me that. Still it wouldn't hurt for them to play with their cat during the day a bit more frequently so it didn't feel the urge to run laps at one in the morning.