Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More Noise

Just as I was about to write about it, the house alarm about a block away that's been shrieking since yesterday afternoon finally fell silent. It was fairly easy to tune it out here, except very late last night, & when I crank up the a/c later I wouldn't have heard it at all. But everyone living closer to the noise must have been going nuts. I was developing a perverse curiosity about how long it would keep up. Another day? A week? A month? I'm almost convinced everyone else in this neighborhood is a drug dealer, illegal immigrant, parolee, or has some reason not to want to bring themselves to the attention of the police by getting on the phone & bitching over an obvious public quality-of-life hassle that I, in my small city naivete, believe the uniformed departments are supposed to remedy. Eight ridiculously loud off-duty Haitian cabbies hanging out on the corner at 3 am, we'll ask them to take in inside. Crap game on the sidewalk directly under the streetlight, that's brazen, we'll chase them away. Two illegal roosters waking everyone up before sunrise? We'll stop by & tell the folks to get rid of them or face summonses & fines. Street noise is responsible for a large portion of my high electric bills during warm months, both here & where I used to live, I'm not complaining about that. Rather, it's how some people are oblivious to the effect they have on their surroundings - & I mean even the otherwise friendly guy who cranks up his car radio to ear-splitting volume so he can feel the bass as he checks the oil on Saturday morning, the same folks who don't flush the toilets in public restrooms.

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During my days in Jersey City, the smoke alarms in my building were constantly going off one frigid winter night. I spent a few hours trying to disable them, but they were hardwired and not battery-powered. Even after escorting members of the Jersey City Fire Dept. around the screaming hallways, not a single neighbor emerged from their apartment to see what all of the ruckus was about.
 
Like two weeks ago when there was an obvious fire evacuation condition in my building, the alarms went off, some of the tenants wouldn't go outside even when other tenants banged on their doors. Including tenants with children. I mentioned it to a fireman & he just shrugged, like he was all too, perhaps even tragically, familiar with it.
 
Bob, the difference in my building was that it was home to a few dozen well-off yuppies. Race and class don't necessarily determine courtesy and intelligence.
 
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