09 January 2011

Everybody (Always) Thinks They Are Right

I'm reading this "book" right now called Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far by a guy named Stefan Sagmeister. Jesse got it for me for Christmas (she's so creative). It's basically a collection of twenty "ideologies" he has learned and used throughout his career as a designer. The title above is one that currently stands out to me: Everybody (always) thinks they are right. It makes so many things make so much sense and still opens up more questions. Hitler, Obama, my neighbor, and me. We all do what we do because we think we are right. He writes...

"Every human conflict throughout history, every war and every dispute, traces back to this one sentence. I think I am right when I cross the street as the light is changing... The bus driver blaring his horn thinks he is right to blow me out of his way..."

The presentation of the book (it's actually ten or so little books) is really interesting. There are a bunch of openings on his face that let all the different color inserts show through.

Which brings us to... this thing with my neighbor. It's really bothering me. If you don't know, the past two friday nights (both around 7pm) my neighbor who I've never even formally met has come over (after banging on the wall between us) and told me (in an aggressive manner) that he's going to call the cops if I don't turn down the bass. He won't stop to talk with me about it, only at me. It looked a lot like this...

(and he wasn't discussing his passion for !!! with me)

I've spoken with and talked down so many angry/crazy/drunk/etc Jamaicans in the last two years. Even the maddest of them was my best friend after 3min of talking. Now I realize there are some cultural differences with JA and CO, but this guy won't stop for 20sec to talk to me, so he's perpetually angry about the situation. He will not calm down. We could work out hours of listening. He could explain how I'm really interrupting his unusual schedule by playing music at 7pm on a Friday night. Maybe his kids can't sleep. But I can't make any accommodations for him other than complying with his banging on the wall because he won't talk to me. I can't tell you how angry he is. When's the last time someone was so pissed that no matter how calmly and plainly you responded and asked questions they still ended every (declaratory) sentence with a huge exclamation point? It's so bizarre to me.

So do I reward his bad behavior by turning it down? Or do I just go on doing what I think is appropriate for the hour of the day and potentially talk to the cop who responds to the noise complaint? Quiet hours start at 10pm in our building. Would a cop even respond to a noise complaint at 6:30pm on a Friday?

I left him a note requesting an grown-up conversation because the reality is, this is going to happen again. I guess he thinks if he's mad enough it won't? INSANE. I think I was cordial in the note. I realize that no one wants to hear bass from a neighbor all the time, however, is it fair to completely restrict the volume of said neighbor's bass or is a compromise in order? Isn't that what 'quiet hours' are for? Because at a certain point what's more imposing on the other person: his hearing my bass or me not being able to ever listen to music (mildly) loudly during appropriate hours of the day? I would say it's equal any given day.

Jesse thinks that even if he'd come to me politely and maturely (I can't stress enough what an infant this guy comes off as) and asked me to turn it down I still would've had issues with it. I strongly disagree. While I'm certainly more used to constant noise than the average American (see Jamaica) I also realize how frustrating it is hearing a neighbor's music till 8am. I don't want any neighbor of mine to be unhappy because of something I'm doing. I'm thoroughly happy to accomodate someone who shows me even an average level of respect. But the way this guy comes across? It really brings out the Todd Burka in me. It makes me want to learn him a lesson that I feel is necessary for his personal growth. Hard. At all hours of the day.

So anyway, this whole issue has been stressing me out since last night. I mean, it's not like I'm arguing with someone on the internet. The guy lives next door. I guess I don't have to worry about him coming out and talking to me when I'm not in the mood. All I have to do is turn my music up and it's like an invitation to him. So next friday when he bangs on the wall what do I do? I could... (a) also bang on the wall and not turn the music down (b) not turn the music down and then when he comes over be extremely polite and tell him "No problem. Sorry about that. Won't happen again." and proceed to not turn music down or (c) comply and turn it down whenever he bangs on the wall (encouraging his behavior).

I don't know if I made the connection with the book very clear. The connection was that my neighbor thinks he's right (he's not, of course). We all do. I do.

What do you think? Stressin' me out.

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