Learning to live along with 39 other apartment dwellers

I haven’t lived in a multiple-unit apartment building since the Air Force, so it has taken a few gentle shocks to accustom me to the different circumstances from living alone. I hope this doesn’t brand me as a trouble-maker, as some have suggested (my fellow apartmenteers, that is). But moving in with 39 others can cause some problems.

This is a mild warning to those seniors preparing to move to an apartment.

First encounter was with a delegation of six women, one using a walker, who rang my doorbell one afternoon. The lead visitor, a formidable appearing lady, began berating me for playing my stereo too loudly, particularly the woofer part of it. I was tempted to point to my hearing aids and claim handicap but thought better of it and turned down the woofer.

Second encounter was a note under my windshield wiper accusing me of not recognizing the “pecking order” for parking places. I had parked in her spot a couple of times when she was out, unthinkingly. I wrote an apology and promised to leave her No. 1 slot unoccupied. We became easy neighbors.

Then another note under the wiper. This from a man who claimed I parked “erratically” and he was going to take photos and show the complex manager. And that I was “never” to park next to his beautiful pickup truck. Or else! I shot back I would park where it was legal and if it was next to him, too bad, but that I would avoid touching his truck and I would park more carefully. No response so I wind up parking next to him except when a visiting BMW takes the spot.

The latest was the other night while I was cooking a Frenched pork chop. My smoke alarm went off, and I ignored it. Then came a pounding on my door: another delegation of an angry woman and two big men. The woman charged into my apartment and pointed at the ringing smoke alarm.

“You’ve got to turn that off before the fire department comes! If it doesn’t stop, go to the manager’s apartment and tell her about it.”

Luckily, the alarm went silent, and the three left angrily. I later asked if the smoke alarm would contact the fire department. Only if smoke was rolling out under the door and into the hall where smoke alarms would alert the firemen.

I share these events with seniors just to alert them to the problems of living in an apartment building. Most seniors who do so have been living in solitary or dual splendor and may, like me, have forgotten the niceties of group living. We seniors tend to be easily provoked at some slight insult. (Not me, of course, but all of you.) Incidentally, if you come to visit please park as far from the building as possible. A little walk will do you good and spare us all from stress.

And speaking of stress, as I’ve written the HUD building includes a hot tub, which I thought I would be using daily along with the stationary bike and treadmill in the exercise room. I’ve only used it twice with the 90-degree weather. But just wait until ski season, then I’ll be watering away the sore butt and back!


Time magazine recently ran a piece about how those who have more than one language are more successful, live richer lives and suffer less risk of dementia. I now wonder where that leaves me? I was modestly fluent in French and less so in German and Italian. My Japanese language skills were good enough to get me on the right train (and off) and to order a beer in Tokyo.

Makes me envy my fellow journalist Guy W. Farmer, who became fluent in Spanish during his Latin America tours of duty. I fear he came off better in the language games. He certainly doesn’t suffer from dementia.

Incidentally, the last week New Yorker magazine ran a long piece about companies selling products that are supposed to strengthen the brain. Conclusion: lot of people making money offering brain games. Little to show they help at all.


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