Patience is a virtue that must be acquired by practice.

I thought that one up on my own.  Aren’t I special?  Humility is still a virtue I am saving for.

That statement really is not all that wise.  It’s common sense.  True, although there are enough people who emerge from the womb possessing that very virtue.  All the others have to pay for patience in very painful ways.  Me?  Personally, I am one who has had to learn by a series of hard knocks and mistakes.  In my 58 years on this earth, I have had to work at acquiring what patience I have.  Am I completely there?  Ain’t no way.  Am I the same boy I was even a few years ago?  No.  After a raising a male child, losing a job months before my 25 year work anniversary, separation and divorce, and living above a nitpicking shrew, I have had to practice that very patience I have sought to acquire in order to survive.

The nitpicking shrew tried to strike again recently, in the form of three formal complaints, attempts to have me accused of various degrees of noise violations.  Friday 7, a letter arrived in my mailbox, a notification from property management and the condominium board that a hearing would be held February 12 at 8 PM to consider the complaints filed by my downstairs neighbor.

“..against and relative to you creating excessive noise during the hours of 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM on a somewhat regular basis, which are considered ‘quiet hours’ under the Association’s rules and regulations.  This ‘noise’ has been defined as heavy walking, jumping on the floor, dropping objects on the floor, rolling an object on the floor and leaving the bathtub faucet running for 20 to 30 minutes at a time.”

While I read the notice, my heart sunk into my stomach.  I sat in my little galley kitchen, head in my hands, asking myself how in the world this could be happening.  It didn’t take Solomon to recognize how foolish and silly the woman filing the complaints had been.  How could the board even consider the complaints?  Had they even looked at the history of her complaints?  Why were they giving me only 5 days?  I fought with my fears, told myself that this was a new board, a new property manager, mistakenly taking the woman serious.

I would find out a few days later that was true.  In the meantime, I pulled the current version of the condo association’s rules.  Association rules regarding noise are limited to two short regulations —

  1.  Contact the police along with the property manager for excessive or abnormal noise coming from a neighboring unit.
  2.   No excessive noise between the hours of 10 PM and 7 AM.

My anxiety eased a bit, my blood pressure stabilizing as my heart climbed out of stomach.  There is no mention of quiet hours in the rules (there can’t be) and nothing I was accused of could be considered abnormal or excessive noise, nor was there proof of such.

There were showers in the middle of the night.  My son took a few showers during his holiday visit.  He is also 6’4″ tall and around 240 pounds.  There was heavy walking.

I was still wound tight.  I wanted it to be over, wanted to do something to make it all stop right away.  There was nothing I could do at the moment, I knew, except put my thoughts together.  The notice said I could respond by email or mail, so I drafted a quick email and sent it over.    In the email, I reminded the board that association rules did not mention quiet hours, and the rules also were supposed to allow the resident accused of a violation ten days to respond.  The email gave the history of my neighbor’s behavior from the day I moved to my condo unit, plus a few of the details of some of our confrontations.  I said that I wanted to appear at the hearing, requested that I be allowed the ten days given in the rules.

It helps that I have a brother who is an attorney.  I talked with him over the weekend.  That was good and bad.  There was assurance that he had my back, including an offer to appear at the hearing with me.  Attorney’s salivate at the opportunity to attack, which was bad.  Attack was not going to be beneficial.  My brother did give me good suggestions, made sure that I asked for copies of the actual complaints — which took some coaxing to get cooperation from the property manager.  He called me on Monday evening and asked me what I was trying to accomplish.  I assured him that I was not putting up a defense, only making sure I had all the necessary documents in case my neighbor showed up with a lawyer or tried to make a case after the hearing.  He told me that the response I submitted was excellent, plenty good enough to show the board that the complaints were unjust.  I had convinced him.

The hearing was productive.  My neighbor didn’t show, which the board president noted.  When asked before the hearing if she had any evidence to present, she simply said that she had pressed charges with the local police, gave a badge number of the officer and the case number.  She couldn’t produce any documents of proof.  The property manager had followed up with the police, found out that my neighbor had not done what she claimed.  It was a lie.  Her failure to show for the hearing gave me a chance to be as candid as I liked, provided the board the opportunity to drop any air of impartiality.  They listened, sympathized, complimented me for not showing anger.  The hearing ended up being a good thing for me.  I was assured that no further and future complaints would be considered.  A letter will be issued within the month notifying us of the board’s decision.

I could have blown up before that meeting.  I could have been a total ass.  Years of deposits in the account of patience and experience paid off, I guess.

Waiting for that letter.  I may do a little dance when I read it.  After all, I earned that dance.