There are several clear positives about apartment life, but every so often, the negatives hit home with such clarity and impact that it can be quite frustrating.
Ours is a 1980s building, with nineteen floors. It’s quite idiosyncratic in design and some of the decisions the architects and builders made. We discover these on an annual basis when something goes wrong and we need a repair or upgrade to something.
This week, the problem wasn’t so much the building but our dear neighbours. While we have some very sweet people in our building, and an absolutely amazing concierge and building management team, some of the residents are truly awful human beings. No other way to describe their behaviour.
We had an annual cleaning of the communal water tanks on Thursday this week. It meant all water services being turned off from 9am to 4pm while the tanks were emptied and serviced. We got emails from the building management company about this for weeks in a row and we simply prepared by filling lots of water bottles the day before and popping them in the fridge.
The water was actually turned back on earlier than expected and no harm done.
That night, what amounts to a flood was discovered on our floor. The night porter was up on our floor trying to deal with it just before midnight. Long story short, one of our lovely neighbours decided to head to Paris for the weekend (I know, in the middle of a pandemic lockdown) and just before he did, he turned on all his taps. I have no idea why he thought this was a good idea – nothing like this was suggested by the building management company.
Six hours of running water later, it has passed through his apartment and our into our shared hallway. The into the cupboards that mask access to the electrics, plumbing and other services. And then, dear reader, through the wall and into our apartment. Right into our walk-in wardrobe.
Friday morning was spent moving out clothes and shoes, attempting to dry the carpet and assess the damage to the wardrobe’s structure. It was far from ideal and not something I generally like to do within moments of waking up.
We still have some heaters in the wardrobe, drying out the carpet. It absolutely stinks. The water was also absorbed by the built-in wardrobe and drawers, so the bottom of that is literally beginning to disintegrate. It’s not the same as having our apartment engulfed by fire or the Thames overflowing and washing us all away. I know this. But we’re in the middle of lockdown and literally *everything* is more difficult to do as a result.
Is our neighbour evil? No. Is he thoughtless and possibly a bit dim? Absolutely.
Like the people who cook and refuse to use their extractor fan, flooding the whole floor with pungent cooking smells. Like the people who refuse to park in their allotted parking space downstairs and continually use the visitor parking. Like the people who absolutely refuse to wear masks in the communal area and attempt to get into the lift with me almost every week. Like the people who kept having friends over for drinks after they played tennis, while we were in a tier 4 lockdown.
None of their behaviour makes me want to do the same. I don’t want to break any of the rules we’re meant to abide by. It just frustrates me that their communal and aggregate thoughtlessness makes for a frustrating experience on a regular basis. And that’s when I need to remind myself of the positives of living here.
And I imagine who I’d throw off the balcony in a post-apocalyptic scenario, to sacrifice to the vicious and insatiable zombie hordes below. It’s quite cathartic.