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Wise advice given to me several times yesterday by friends and neighbors — Steve, there’s no sense in trying to fight with a crazy person.  One friend changed the word fight to reason.  I get it.  I really do get it.  In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said that we know what is decent behavior, we want to be decent, but each and every person fails at some point in every day.  We fail to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people.

I am trying not to act like a crazy person.  I am dealing with the crazy person.  I so much want to fight back, but I know my friends are correct.  It really is difficult to not confront this person face to face, fight her, take her on, make her stop.  My friends tell me that I expect her to act like a decent person, in the way I expect a good person to behave, like every person is hard wired to honor what they know is the right way, unselfish.

When I returned early yesterday morning at 4 AM, after taking my daughter to the airport, the confrontation with my rude downstairs neighbor was really eating at me, enough that I slept very little during the three hours I had left to sleep.  I fumed, fought the anger inside of me that wanted to fight back, the guy who wants to be decent warring with the guy who just wants to put on the gloves.  I know what is right.  But I also know that I need to reach some kind of resolution — and that resolution needs to be my own, not hers.  It’s up to my neighbor to solve her own demons.  What I do know is that my neighbor is controlling, I have allowed myself to be controlled, have been tiptoeing around my condo when I don’t really need to.  I thought I was keeping peace, but what I really am doing is enabling my downstairs neighbor’s perpetually bad behavior.

So, I wrote her a letter, knowing that it will solve nothing as far as she is concerned.  But putting my thoughts in writing takes the guy with the gloves out of the equation, allows me to move on.  I don’t need to fight with her.  I only need to live in my condo, not worry so much (within common sense reason) how it affects the numbskull who lives in the condo below me.

I also called the property manager, as well as talked to my next door neighbors.  Each revealed a common theme — my downstairs neighbor has behaved the same way towards each owner of my condo unit.  The property manager assured me that any complaints lodged by my crazy neighbor would be dismissed.  The manager and my neighbors assured me they are on my side.

One thing I am certain of — the woman calls my daughter a whore again, the gloves come on.

My neighbor copied two pages from an old copy of our condo rules, highlighted the word ‘guests’ and ‘excessive noise’, placed the pages in front of my door yesterday.  I responded by taping my letter to her front door.

Therese,

Thanks for greeting my daughter and I in such an unpleasant, rude manner last night.  All I can say is that you should be apologizing for the behavior and attitude that you demonstrated.  I don’t anticipate that you care about good will or else you would not be behaving the way you have behaved since I moved in this past April.  I have lived in apartments, houses, condos, dorm rooms my entire life and have always had excellent relationships with my neighbors.  Sadly, I fear that is not possible with you as it currently stands.  I have never encountered such selfish, childish behavior from any neighbor.  Congratulations on being the first such neighbor that I have ever had.

For your information, the young woman with me (as she kindly explained to you) last night is my daughter.  She slept at my condo for the first time last night.  My daughter is a college senior and is completing her student teaching right now.  The reason why she stayed with me last night is so I could take her to O’Hare airport.  For the next 8 weeks, she will be student teaching at an international school in Guatemala City.  Her flight departed at 5:45 this morning, the reason that we were up at 2:30.  When you so rudely confronted us, we were on the way to my garage to leave for the airport.  It was an excellent time with her, but your behavior certainly could have put a damper on our mood.  I love my daughter, cherish the opportunities to spend time with her, so I do not appreciate someone whose behavior gets in the way of that enjoyment.

I have tried to be as polite and courteous to you as possible, including being careful about what times I use my water and appliances.  When I arrive in my condo, I take my shoes off at the door so I don’t make as much noise when I walk.  So when you yelled out your objection “you are always flushing your toilet”, I was surprised.. and maybe I should not be surprised.  Apparently you have been rude to everyone who has lived in my unit, including the same kind of complaints about flushing the toilet, etc….

Since you have not voiced any objections to my condo habits since last April, I considered them resolved.  Why you decided to voice them so angrily last night, without any discussion or warning, I don’t know.  You certainly had no reason to be angry.

I want to continue to be a courteous and polite neighbor.  I suggest you take the time to discuss your grievances with me in a calm manner.  I will listen and try to change what is possible to change.  Unfortunately, a toilet needs to be flushed, but even that I have tried to limit.  You and your husband are welcome to visit and discuss.

If you can’t deal with living in a first floor condo, may I suggest that you sell your condo and move to a place where you do not have neighbors that live above you?  Otherwise, I ask that we deal with each other kindly.  I do not plan on moving any time soon.

Sincerely,

Steve Henry

Unit G

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