Anyone who has lived in apartments, condos or townhouses knows there is a certain etiquette to residing there. Not the written rules they hand you when you sign your lease, but the unwritten ones we all must adhere to in order to peacefully coexist with neighbors who live in such close and sometimes uncomfortable proximity.
RULE #1: Do not look in windows
I know it is tempting, especially when lights are on and shades are open, but you must avoid that temptation! Of course, that is easier said than done. Like the time I was walking my dog early one morning and realized that the 20-something guy across the commons from me liked to do his morning stretches on his deck...in the buff! Yowsa! I swear I only glanced his way, my eyes drawn to the fact that the lights that blazed from his apartment were such a glaring contrast to the predawn gloominess. He apparently wasn't offended by my inadvertent voyeurism, as he called me a cheerful good morning and gave me a little wave...with his hand, people! But accidental peeping tom-ishness in no way explains why yesterday the gal who lives a couple of apartments over, while watching her dog do its business about 2 feet away from my patio, peered in my office window. My blinds were half open, which meant she had to actually stoop over a little to look in. She suddenly saw me sitting at my desk staring back and turned quickly away, practically dragging her poor dog by its leash through the snow. A couple of years ago I lived in an apartment where poor design meant you could lean against the outer rail of your deck and look into the living room of the apartment next door. Imagine my surprise one afternoon when I realized the man next door was doing exactly that. I was so creeped out I kept my patio blinds shut for a month.
RULE #2: Never, ever park in someone else's parking spot
Yes, I know there are limited spots and you have 4 cars, but park on the street if you have to NOT IN MY SPOT! You know it is mine. It has a number. And that number is ASSIGNED TO ME! I cannot express how frustrating it is to come back after a grocery trip with 6 bags, while it is snowing like crazy, only to find that the guy who lives above you has parked his ginormous truck right in front of your door. We are encouraged to call the number posted right on the building for the tow service. Instead I took the high road and left a tersely worded note stuck to his window. It must have worked because now he parks in the one handicapped spot in the entire parking lot. I lived in a complex in Austin where one guy would put out orange cones whenever he left. I can imagine how peeved he was when he came home one day to see a vehicle not his own parked smack dab in his space, the cones seemingly undisturbed and carefully arranged around the truck.
RULE #3: Pick up your dog's poop or at least kick it to the curb
This should go without saying, but some people obviously think the rest of us dog owners are going to cover for them. Kind of like living with your mom where she picks up your clothes, dishes, shoes for you. I imagine them thinking, that nice lady in the corner apartment probably won't mind picking up my dog's poop while she is bagging her dog's stuff. I watched the college student who lives 3 doors down walk her two little ankle biters, pause while her dogs did their business right on the sidewalk...and then just walk away as though nothing happened! Listen up, if I have to walk with a pocket full of doggy bags, then so do you.
RULE #4: Refrain from joining in the conversations coming from the condo next door
In fact, try to ignore any noises arising from your neighbor's apartment. Several years ago I lived in the apartment below a young woman who liked to have her boyfriend over on Saturday afternoons. Let me just say I learned early on to keep my patio door and my windows closed when he was visiting. I have to admit I have not always toed the line with this rule. I once lived above a few guys who liked their heavy metal music loud and late at night. I think I can be excused if I happened to stomp around a little in the early morning as I got ready for work. I am not proud of that, but I am not too upset about it, either. They would bang on their ceiling and I would stomp on my floor. See, we got along!
Of course all of these rules go out the window if you actually know your neighbors. I had just moved into my townhouse with my college aged daughter, only to find that some of her friends were renting next door. That night as we all settled down in our new place, we heard a loud "Good Night, Jenn!" coming thru the walls. That kind of rule breaking I can get behind.