I need help.
We know this. I need so much help on so many levels it's difficult to prioritize the issues.
But here's the issue requiring immediate advice.
You may recall mention of my head-banging-metal stoner neighbor.
For a while the pot smoking was only occasional. Once every couple months.
Over the past six months the toking increased to once a week. And lately it's been three-four day-long non-stop toke-fests. And not the "good" stuff. We're talking rank, dead skunk smell.
Someone told me medical marijuana smells really bad - like the cheap stuff 14-year-olds smoke under the bleachers. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt and some sympathy about the medicinal need for pot.
Yadda yadda yadda my condo smelled like weed - really bad weed - stale dead skunk weed. I had windows open, vents covered, and still: The stench remained. When friends told me my hair and coat smelled like pot I knew it was waaaaaaay past time to "do" something about my neighbor's habit.
Imagine every movie, television show and documentary you've ever seen about college life in the late '60s and early '70s. Imagine the stoner frat house off campus in Ann Arbor or Madison. In 1971. Now imagine how the basement of that off-campus frat house in 1971 might smell. Welcome to my living room. Incense and peppermints. Turn on, tune in, turn your eyes around. Baby.
I'm, you know, "cool" about drugs, especially pot. I love going to Flaming Lips shows, for flip sake. If the user isn't hurting anyone else I don't care what other people do or smoke or snort or swallow or inject into themselves. I'm not saying I advocate narcotic use. I'm just saying as long as no one's getting hurt it's none of my business and I'm not going to judge.
My neighbor is forcing me and everyone else on our floor and above and below him to endure his pot smoke and affiliated smells.
And no, the issue wouldn't be resolved by giving him a better grade of weed, something more herbal smelling. Even the good stuff smells skunky when toked day in, day out. (We don't really need to delves into why I know this, do we? We can just leave it at: I went to college. I went to art school. I've been to lot of concerts.)
And no: incense, air freshener, dryer sheets etc. are not a solution. My condo is littered with dryer sheets. A friend brought over Fabreeze, soy candles, and a hospital grade odor elimination spray (her husband's brother is an ER doctor). So then my condo smelled like dryer sheets, Fabreeze, sandalwood and cheap, stale skunky pot. Mmmmmm, now there's a lovely aromatic blend.
One day on my way to the trash bins one of my other neighbors cornered me in the stench-ridden common hallway. She's about my age. And a college professor. And spends a couple months a year volunteering at schools in Jamaica. She's no stranger to weed. And she's as fed up as I am.
"What are we going to do about this?" She gestured, pointed, into the hallway air, as if the stench was an entity, a being, and she was accusing it. Actually, it kind of is an entity. It's so bad the smell has become another neighbor.
Both of us are probably the "coolest" people on our floor, "cool" in the sense that we're not judgmental about things like pot and heavy metal and the people who enjoy them. We're certainly the last people among our floor's residents you'd expect to complain about pot smoking. We don't want to be the ones to narc out our head-banging stoner neighbor. We resent that his immaturity and inconsideration are putting us in the situation of "to narc, or not to narc."
But, as my neighbor said, this isn't "just" a matter of moving. 1) This is a condo building, it's not a simple matter of riding out a year's lease and moving, and 2) the housing market is awful and other than the foreclosures in my building nothing's selling. And, even if by some miracle one of us had an interested buyer, the stench of pot in the common hallway and through the vents would drive away most (all?) prospective condo buyers. Would you buy a condo in a building that smelled like stale skunky pot?
When I first moved in I knocked on my neighbor's door to talk to him about the decibel level of his Metallica and the smell of his pot. I approached him with a "hey, it's cool, I've been known to bang my head, too, and I don't care if you smoke pot, but, I have a job and need to get up early and go to work, so I need to sleep and your 2 AM amps at 11 metal fests and pot smoking kind of interfere with that. Could you just turn down the music a few decibels and open a window?" I was upbeat, positive, "hey, you know, I'm not judging, I'm just asking for a compromise." My requests were met with "Fuck you bitch," and "fuck you bitch," and "fuck you bitch." And the music volume was increased and cigar smoke was added into the pot smoke mix.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, my neighbor is not a college student. He is a 45 - 50-year-old man. His father bought him the condo 15 years ago. He does not have a job. The rumor is that he collects disability insurance and/or welfare and medicaid and food assistance because he suffers from agoraphobia. One of my neighbors confirmed that she saw him using a Link card (Illinois' version of food stamps) at our local grocery. Another (the college professor) said she once opened a letter with a return address from a state agency, without paying attention to the addressee. Upon realizing it was a welfare statement she checked the addressee and realized the mailman had erroneously put the letter in her mailbox. But that was 9 or 10 years ago. So. That's pretty much the sum total of what's known about our neighbor.
So, the whole, "just go next door and have a talk with him" about the music volume level and pot smoking didn't go over very well. We're not talking about a mature, reasonable human being.
That didn't make me more "willing" to rat out someone. I mean, I'm not that person. I'm not the person who complains to management about rock music and drugs. I'm the tolerant, nonjudgmental, easy-going person.
And, hey, one day I might be overcome with the urge to crank up the Pixies* or cook spicy curry tofu.
I wouldn't do these things at 2 AM, though. Or habitually, daily.
After the "fuck you bitch" response I called our building management to talk about the noise issue. They registered the noise complaint. Three of those and you have to go to a condo board hearing.
The problem, though, is that he's not the owner of the condo. And he's not a renter. His father owns the condo and lets him live there. Meaning, my neighbor is not "responsible" for his behavior. His father is. And his father lives in Florida. So. Basically, there's no easy, clear way to kick him out or even fine him, at least under our condo rules.
So that's where the official channels got me with the noise complaints.
And then the pot smoking increased to the three-four day-long binges.
After a particularly difficult couple of days I was past my level of tolerance.
We all know I have issues, problems. Not challenges, bona fide problems. Some days...some days are really, really, really awful. Financial stress, job rejection after job rejection, health issues (with no health insurance)...and that's a good day. I'm not proud that I couldn't separate my personal problems from my neighbor's inconsiderate habits. But. You know how sometimes you just...break? Things hit at once, pile up and you hit your point of intolerance. And do things you wouldn't normally do.
Like narc out someone.
Last month I did the thing I didn't want to do.
I followed protocol for after-hours disturbances in our building and registered a complaint with our night security manager. He's a pretty decent human being so I went to him more to discuss my situation than to file a complaint. The result of that conversation was that our security guy came to "smell" our hall. He said he's noticed it from time-to-time but agreed this was far worse than he's noticed in the past. He came into my condo and confirmed the stench. He also confirmed the ineffective open windows, covered vents, dryer sheets, soy candles and Fabreeze.
He then logged an official narcotic use complaint along with another noise violation.
A week later I was called to a meeting with the building manager, the security manager and the condo board president. They had a "talk" with my neighbor. The pot is not medicinal. He was told that one more complaint and the police will be called and a board hearing will take place, with or without his father present.
I'm really not that person. No one should get busted by the cops and/or evicted for crappy weed. Or good weed, for that matter.
But then again, no one should be forced to endure pot stench, either. Or three days of Iron Maiden at wall shaking volume.
Things "calmed down" the past couple weeks. I didn't feel "guilty," but I didn't feel "good" about the events that transpired. I didn't mean, "No pot, no music, ever." I just meant, you know, "let's be reasonable about this."
Sooooooo, now, we have a new issue.
My neighbor has obviously heeded the complaints and is "worried" about the cops and his "totally uncool neighbors." If he really does have agoraphobia my complaints and the "talk" with the building management must have been a total nightmare for him. I feel bad if he's living in a state of paranoia, but, dude, look in the mirror. You're responsible for your own paranoia. If you're a paranoid agoraphobic doesn't it seem like you'd live way, way, way above reproach, be extra super careful to follow the letter of the law and not do anything that would cause anyone to want/need to talk to you? I'm not paranoid or agoraphobic so I'm not clear on the the ability to reason, connect behavioral dots, when you're afflicted with paranoid agoraphobia. Insight, anyone?
What's someone like him to do? He wants to get high and listen to metal. That's what he does. That's all he does.
He found a solution.
Our common hallway and my condo now smell like damp, musty, moldy bong water. (We don't really need to delve into why I know what moldy bong water smells like, do we? We can just leave it at: I went to college. I went to art school. I've been to lot of concerts.)
If I complain, again, the cops will be involved and I don't want that. I'm not sure what they'll do. I'm pretty sure our police force has much bigger problems, dangerous, violent gangs, for instance. I think unless you're caught selling/dealing drugs, especially something as petty at weed, you get a fine, like a traffic ticket. If that.
But. The damp, musty, moldy bong air is setting off my asthma. My asthma inhaler is almost empty and I cannot afford another one.
Yes. I will soon be losing my condo and this will be a non-issue...but...my real estate agent was generously going to try a short sale for me. On his visit to look over my place again, the pot/bong smells were so strong he pulled me aside and said, "I'm not judging, I know you said it's your neighbor, but really, if it's you just lay off for a while or do it outside or something, I can't possibly show this place smelling like this."
Yes. My real estate agency counseled me on drug use.
And the only drug I'm using is my asthma inhaler because of my neighbor's bong use.
Do I file another complaint which will prompt police action? Try to talk to the neighbor again?
My other neighbors also filed complaints, so we're a unified group and we all know the current score...and none of us wants to see the guy "in trouble with the law" over pot.
And yet...we don't want to live this way, either.
Because I share a common wall and vents with him, and I am the most effected (and affected) by it, I'm the one with the asthma issues stemming from the bong smell, so the verdict is that I'm the one who "should" file the complaint that will trigger the call to the cops.
Or do we ask him to go back to smoking "regular" weed instead of the bong? At least then my asthma won't be as much of an issue.
Help. Please. Help. I need sound advice on this.
Do I just "deal with it" until foreclosure locks down my condo and I'm not living here anymore? My neighbor's feeling on that is that my foreclosure is an unrelated issue. For now, I live here. Period.
So do I pursue justice, follow the rules and get the cops involved? Is there another compromise?
Someone? Anyone? Help?
*And really, the only way to properly listen to Planet of Sound is with amps at 11.
Labels: bong hitting neighbor, moldy bong smell, pot smoking neighbor, smelly skunk pot stench