Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Sticky Situation

I recently found myself in a sticky situation with my downstairs neighbor, who I had never met before. I just come back from a vacation, and was sitting at my computer when I heard the woman enter through the front door. I heard her rummaging through her grocery bags for a few minutes, and then I heard her get extremely agitated. At first I thought she was yelling at herself, her cat, or at someone on the phone, because I heard her do so on several occasions. When I heard her addressing “the person upstairs,” I was shocked. She complained angrily about the possibility of her eviction, confusion about the rent, her astrological sign, and how she shouldn't be messed with. In other words, it made no sense.

I immediately starting wondering what it was all about. When I am in my apartment, I move around with soft slippers, socks, and my bear feet. I put down area rugs and rug pads in my bedroom and living room, which are requirements in my lease. I also don’t have a television or other noisy appliances that would bother others in the building. In short, I am a very respectful neighbor.

When the episode was over, I met with the assistant apartment manager of my building, who told me that the woman has had difficulties with former occupants and other management personnel. He offered to meet her to ask if she needed anything, and then introduce me to her. I went along with the plan, and it worked out well; I even shook hands with her twice. I walked away from the meeting relieved and a little sad; she appears to have little social contact with people, and her physical and mental capabilities are definitely declining. We did not bring up her earlier tirade, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen again. If it does, I will make sure to take appropriate action. For now, I am glad I handled the situation with tact.

How do you handle difficult situations like these? What would you do differently?

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