I’d expected The Neighbor to get angry when I finally got the HOA manager to issue her a noise violation. Just not that angry.
The first day, she just knocked. A few times. I laid low. Thought it was over. The next day, it started again. Right after I returned home from work. Despite trying to quietly enter my side of our duplex. When I refused to answer, her knocking became louder. Faster. Escalating. After a few hours, the knocking became a battering ram. Then, laying on my doorbell.
When that didn’t work, she ranted at me. Long and loud Unabomber-like manifestos through my front door, against “… the United States of America and its belief in a more pure and just conglomeration of automaton drones wrapped up in their Facebook networking conspiracies and their homophobic plots seeping into the constant updating updating updating and speaking of homophobes,” and she bellowed my name, along with horrible denouncements of atrocities against gay people that no straight person wants to be accused of. I hadn’t done any of them. She demanded that I talk to her. Now. When I still refused, she returned to her side of the duplex. Slammed her door with a bang.
Oh yeah. It was personal. Despite two years of acknowledging that I didn’t want to hear her screaming. Did I really need go and explain it to her? Again? Especially since she was more volatile than ever? No I didn’t. In her warped logic, she had a right to continue her bad behavior, which resulted with gaining access to me when I asked her to stop and …
Wait. I’m falling into an old trap: believing I’d find logic in her actions. If I could tap that magic bullet, I could resolve the awfulness and … Stop. I’m doing it again. If there were logic, we would have reached a mutual understanding. Immediately. There would have been no reason for her arrest or my nailing a stalking order against her. My life would have been more peaceful, and instead of writing this blog, I’d be consumed with freakishly more light-hearted geek-outs anticipating Benedict Cumberbatch’s role in Star Trek: Into Darkness … Stop. I’m doing it again. So much for alternate realities.
(Because frankly, how in the world could she seriously believe that my noise complaint was a homophobic plot? OK, she was mentally ill and she probably … Stop. I’m doing it again.)
However, at that point, now four years ago, I still believed in logic, along with believing The Neighbor was dangerous. Two opposites I believed could be reconciled. Especially by pressuring the HOA manager into issuing a noise violation. As we spoke, I emphasized that The Neighbor’s screams over the past month had escalated to near-daily explosions. That I was regularly calling the police. That the police told me to encourage the HOA to enforce its noise bylaws.
It was stupid, believing the HOA would succeed where police visits failed. I now know that the HOA’s strength is with grounds keeping, not interpersonal conflicts. My new HOA manager tells me that apartment managers get more training in that area than they do. That our neighborhood bylaws were written long before such extreme problems with mental illness began to explode. Nothing was set up to protect me or provide guidance for resolution.
Pat hissed through my cell, “You are being harassed. Call the police. Now. Get them to escort you to your car. Now. Have them talk to The Neighbor. Now. Drive over here. Now.”
When the police officer arrived, he asked for an explanation. I blurted everything in an emotional jumble. Complete with arms waiving in the air. That this whole thing started because The Neighbor wouldn’t stop yelling and then I tried to work with her and then she wouldn’t stop yelling and then I thought she was dangerous and then heard death threats and you know I think she’s mentally ill and then the pounding and then you know I’m really scared and then the noise violation and you know, I’m not homophobic …
He listened. Calmly. Patiently. Gently told me he’d talk to her. He was happy to escort me to my car. But before that—taking out a business card, writing a number on the back—after I felt better, maybe I would consider calling a mediator. You know, for help resolving things.
I felt like I’d been slapped. Realized how I’d portrayed myself. How any logical person would have interpreted it. Felt the accusations again. Two single women. And why haven’t you ever married? Living too close together. What’s the matter? Can’t get along? After I’d gotten to Pat’s, the officer called me back, saying he had spoken with The Neighbor. Relayed her side of the story. She just wanted to talk. Didn’t know if I was home or not. I was the one who was clearly hysterical, not her. He ended the call with, “Please consider calling that mediator.” Cat fight.
It was a hard lesson to learn for future dealings with the police. Be calm. Be pleasant. Relay only the facts. Keep it objective. No emotion attached. None of which I had done. I wept a long time that night.
But at that point, as the months and The Neighbor’s harassment continued, I refused to call the police. Was way too mortified. Believed I was now perceived as an irrational troublemaker. Who had solidly alienated herself from law enforcement.