Sunday, May 3, 2020

Apartment living in a pandemic.

Jacob Riis, Lodgers in a Crowded Bayard Street Tenement |
Public Domain
I have very little sympathy for the people who have been risking their own health and that of their loved ones to yell at their governors to re-open their states.

Besides the obvious reason -- i.e., they're risking their health and that of their loved ones to complain about not being able to hang out with their friends -- I'd hazard a guess that very few of them live in an apartment building.

So you've been cooped up in your house for weeks and weeks, and you feel like the walls closing in? Cry me a river, Toots. Try doing it in a 1,200-square-foot box, with other families in similary-sized boxes all around you.

Our apartment is a decent size, as apartments go -- but split between the girls and me, it's 400 square feet each. And while we live in a nice building in a nice neighborhood, the place has its flaws, not the least of which is that the walls, ceilings, and floors are really thin. Like, really thin.

We knew that when we moved in. But as alert hearth/myth readers may recall, the building we moved out of had turned into a construction zone. It was actually quieter here than it was at the old place.

Yeah, well, now that we've all been stuck inside 24/7 since March 13th, the thin walls are becoming a problem.

We got a call from the leasing office about a week ago. People had recently moved into the apartment right below us and had called to complain. Someone in our apartment was making a rhythmic thumping late at night and disturbing their sleep. Not that kind of rhythmic thumping! Like bouncing a ball, okay? Jeez, people.

Anyway, Amy and I were puzzled. Maybe it was just us walking around? But Kitty told us later that she'd been hearing it, too, and had assumed it was either the people next door to us or above us.

I suggested to the girls that if we heard from the office again, we should offer to trade with our downstairs neighbors, so they could be below the family with the newborn who cried at all hours.

I had thought the new parents were right above us -- but maybe not, because I was still hearing the baby even after we learned this week that the apartment above us was vacant. Now we have new upstairs neighbors. They moved in yesterday, and they've been stomping around up there all day. We are hopeful they'll be quieter once they finish unpacking, but who knows?

Then there are the joys of the package room. One of our amenities is a locked interior room next to the office where everyone's packages are left. The delivery folks log the packages in an electronic system that sends the addressees an email or text with a unique code for each package. You punch the code into a device next to the package room and it unlocks the door so you can retrieve your package. The packages are left on shelves by floor, so you often have to sift through a bunch of them to find the one with your name on it. Plus it's a small room in which social distancing is impossible. I went down there today, wearing a mask, to retrieve two packages for us -- and it's a good thing I had the mask on, because two other residents, both maskless, came in while I was in there to find their own stuff.

But there are bright spots. The people two floors above us have a toddler who likes to drop stuff over the side of their balcony. So far we have found on our balcony a stuffed carrot; a plastic zip tie; a drink straw, one end well chewed; and a cotton swab with both ends painted green. (We gave the carrot back.) Unfortunately, not everything makes it onto our balcony; the courtyard planter below us is decorated with a number of crayons and, at one point, her mother's cellphone. Mommy had to go to the office to retrieve the phone, as the courtyard is locked down due to the pandemic.

The best news? Our lease is up in July.

These moments of crowded blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. I know it's been forever, but keep wearing a mask and keep washing your hands!


ChrisJamesAuthor said...

Wow, you must need the patience of saints! Well done for putting up with all that. I followed the link and the apartments actually look really nice, just a pity they built the walls and floors so thin.

Lynne Cantwell said...

That's it exactly. The apartments are really nice and the location is great. We read about the thin walls in reviews while we were apartment hunting and kind of laughed them off. I guess the joke's on us.

Ah well. Just three more months.