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"Respect My Authori-tay!", an Essay
Proving once more that the more you try to avoid humans, the more they bother you (and of course the more you try to befriend humans, the more they stay away), my roommate and I had a little run-in with the law.
Last weekend, we decided to go out for dinner and then rent some movies to watch at home. My roommate suggested I study up on John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat so we rented "The Killer" and "Hard Boiled". So while we were laughing away at dozens after dozens of men getting mowed down in the latter movie, we get a knock on the door...
Apparently, we were being too loud and someone (probably our neighbors) complained to the night watchman on call for the whole complex. My roommate answered the door and the guy told him we needed to turn the television down. My roommate said, "But it's not quiet hours," and the guy responded, "I don't care if it's quiet hours, I want you to turn the TV down." My roommate wanted to finish the movie first so he basically consented and that was it for then.
When we finished the movie (the hospital carnage is great), my roommate and I decided to go talk to the watchman to clear up what was obviously the watchman's blunder. The facts were that it was right before midnight on a FRIDAY evening. Our handbook says quiet hours on the weekends don't start until 2AM. Also, this guy tells us to turn the TV down without any justification beyond saying we got a complaint.
So we go over to the main office, and I'm a little wary because I could tell by the way the guy presented himself that he was going to be a little bitch about it. Of course, the guy isn't in the office when we go over there -- he's doing something up on the girls' side of the dorm. Eventually he comes down and when we see him, my roommate asks, "You need to tell me what quiet hours mean because it wasn't quiet hours when you came to the door."
Instantly, the guy gets in my roommate's face (literally, inches away) and tells him he doesn't need to give him an attitude. Keep in mind my roommate is 6'2" and 210+ pounds or so. For an Asian, that's huge and imposing. He won't let this short white guy intimidate him so he stands his ground. The watchman's plan basically backfired and he refuses to tell my roommate what quiet hours mean when they're written expressly in the handbook. He goes on and on about how my roommate is giving him unnecessary bullshit and how he needs to back off and calm down. The watchman instigated everything, and the only part my roommate played in it was not backing off, and keeping at asking his question.
Eventually the watchman runs out of things to think about in his little head so he goes into his office and talks to us from behind the desk. Still, he won't tell us why we should be quiet when it's not even 2AM yet on a Friday. He asks me to reason with my roommate and tell him to go back to his room. I tell the guy that I have no control over my roommate and that I have the same questions too. The guy, not seeing any hope in me (trying to give me a good exit, but failing because I see what he's trying to do), starts threatening to write up a formal complaint, and eventually threatens to call the police. He doesn't, for awhile, saying he could have if he really wanted to, but he's trying to be reasonable with us. Right. He goes on to say things like, "If you were in my club, I'd have thrown you out a long time ago," and "If you don't go to your room, I will have to call the cops."
He's speaking to my roommate, of course. I don't get in a word edgewise. The guy calls the cops after my roommate demands answers some more, and the guy implies to the other person on the phone that maybe my roommate is intoxicated and needs to be escorted to his room. I say, "What the fuck do you mean maybe he's intoxicated? He's not!" but of course the guy's in full spin on the phone. He's acting all threatened and shit.
So the cops come almost immediately, while during the time we waited, I was trying to get the guy to talk to me. He wouldn't talk to me because he was so flustered and distracted with my roommate standing behind me (I wanted him to back away so I could reason with the guy). This guy was scared shitless of my roommate.
Both of us, my roommate and I, knew that the cops wouldn't do anything, so we were basically telling the watchman to go ahead and call the cops. When the cops come in, they very professionally split us up into two groups to talk to us individually. We each give them our sides of the story and our cop, very calm and rational, tells us that this guy's just a hired watchman and it does no good for us to talk to him, because he's not responsible for anything. He also admits that my roommate has good points and that maybe this isn't the first case people have had with the watchman. In other words, the cop was pointing out that this wasn't the time to bring up our issues.
The cops leave without doing anything, of course, and the watchman ends up looking like a complete fool. A funny aside is that when we were talking to the cops, these two drunk kids stagger into the main entry room and we all turn around and look at them. Just seeing the cops in action makes me respect them a lot more. They didn't take sides and they kept both parties away from each other. They got both stories and took down information. This little disturbance pales in comparison to what they normally handle. They're well-trained. And wasted by people like the watchman who get themselves into their own problems.
When we go home to our apartment, we run into a bunch of people outside and they ask us why we were talking to cops. We tell them that the watchman told us to be quiet way before quiet hours even began. They say that that's utter bullshit and that the watchman's been pretty psycho in the past. One girl says that she doesn't feel safe with that guy having the key to her apartment. They also say that one time the watchman was on 6th Street (Austin's bar/club street) when he should've been working. And that he has a meth lab. And numerous other tidbits. What a class act!
My roommate and I are both pretty steamed about it when we get home. The watchman should've NEVER talked to us in the first place. He should've told whoever called him that it wasn't quiet hours yet and so they should put up with it until that time begins. But no, he decides to pick a fight with us and cause trouble. Ironically, he yelled emphatically at us that we don't know how to do his job, and that all he's trying to do is not put up with bullshit while keeping things orderly. This coming from someone who also tried to push my roommate out of the office. If you're trying to promote order and civility, you don't get in someone's face and later try to forceably remove him from the premises. That's just itching for trouble. He's NOT doing his job.
This isn't the first time we've gotten noise complaints. We've gotten noise complaints all throughout college. In our first year, there were 5 guys in our suite. Four of us got along great, and I'm still friends with one of the other guys (friends being people who just relate to each other and who have no problem picking up where they left off, months or years later). The fifth guy, however, was a student from Asia (Korea?) and he didn't get along with our late nights very well. Eventually he started staying at his uncle's house. Next semester we got a white guy from Denton and he was slightly kooky. Needless to say, his schedule of early classes didn't get along with the rest of us. Eventually he started staying with a friend. It's not that we didn't care about these guys (and in all honesty, the other two guys were more noisy than my roommate and I were, that year -- they had friends over at 3-4AM). It's just that that's how we lived. Why we were given early birds and people who had NOTHING in common with us is beyond me. The rest of us got along superbly. I feel bad for these two guys, but they at least knew that they could only ask so much of us.
Next year, my roommate and I moved to our own apartment. We got an apartment that we're still in now, located at the very end of the hall and only next two apartments -- one to the left and one below. The people below can't even hear us, and judging by our observations, they're just as loud as we are.
I have a subwoofer on my computer and my roommate has two. He plays his music a lot, and loud. I play mine a little here and there. It makes the walls shake, but I sleep just fine when he's playing his music, and he sleeps fine when I play mine. Loud music doesn't bother me when studying. When he studies, he'll either close his door or go to the library. We compensate for each other's habits.
The neighbor our first year there never complained at all. Dunno what that was all about. The year after that, we had some really quiet Asian girl next to us. She didn't want to complain. However, we DID receive an anonymous note on our door telling us that the next time our music was heard, the cops would be called. So instead of anyone coming to tell us to be quiet, or WHEN to be quiet, we just get a threat. My roommate, being the standoffish type, puts the note back on our door with a dare to go ahead and call the cops on it.
Sometimes watchmen walk through the complex to make sure everything's okay, and when they hear us playing too loud, they tell us to turn it down. We of course do, because they came when it WAS quiet hours. They were polite and very civil about it, not brutish and ugly to us. The point is that whenever we are TOLD when to be quiet, and what is appropriate, we listen to it.
We never found out who left the note on our door, even after asking people on our floor. At the end of the year, we found out the girl next door DIDN'T write the note, after her dad told the resident advisor such, when they were moving out. I feel sorry for the girl -- she probably wanted to ask us to be quiet, but didn't. One thing I've learned better from my roommate is that you've got to ask for the stuff you need, and go after it.
This year, we have new neighbors again. They got an RA to come over and tell us to be quiet, and when he was done, my roommate heard a girl outside say thank you to the RA. My roommate went out there and saw our neighbors hiding in their room. He asked them point blank what hours are good for them and they waffled on the answer. He had to keep asking until they gave him definite times to turn the music down.
And ever since then, we've done exactly what they asked. Quiet at 10PM on weekdays, not too late on weekends. We always do exactly what people ask of us. When they ask, of course, instead of sit there like helpless slobs.
Apparently that wasn't good enough because one time the neighbors pounded on our wall at 8PM (!!) and then they called in the latest complaint. Or at least, we think it was them. Everyone else in the complex knows we keep to ourselves and never cause problems. Hell, some don't even know we exist. It's not as though we rouse rabble.
Later that night, until like 5AM or so, there were a bunch of people outside as usual, partying and singing and yelling to bad music. And of course, no one complains about them. Even if they make a mess of the place, leave trash outside their door, and all that junk. We don't complain because we accept that that's what college is about. Rowdy, loud people. If you want quiet, you move to a place that emphasizes quiet time.
Hey, we're young and we're students. We're awake late at night. We like music. We like loud music. If you need to study or sleep, ask us to be quiet. Ask us in person. Don't get someone else to do it. Take some initiative for yourself.
We're going to try and get that watchman removed. Based on his abuse of power. Also based on peoples' feelings towards him, and our own distrust of anyone who's that hot-tempered and who will probably grow up to hit his wife, just for talking back to him. We've never had any problems with previous watchmen, and we've even had conversations with most of them. They understand the environment and they're nice and respectful to us. That's all it takes. Anyone who's doped out and trying to keep the peace is going to be dangerous.
But the truth is that the world is full of cowards, people who cannot handle their problems on their own, or even worse, demand from others things that only they have a problem with, when everyone else is fine with it. Frankly I am tired of people not dealing with me directly, and doing little shady things to get around talking to me face to face, or at least in direct language in e-mails or whatever. Mouthes are basically little encryption machines, taking what the brain is thinking (the truth) and churning out lies after lies, in a (futile) effort to preserve the safety of the source.
As it stands now, we've talked to the resident advisors and they've all thought that what the night watchman did was incredibly stupid. We've known most of the resident advisors for years and they know we never have problems with people. They can't jump to conclusions against us because they know we obey the rules of the place. Students are doing better jobs than hired hands. Sad.
Beats me if anything comes of this. We have a whole semester to get through the pestering of our neighbors though. To be honest, we have no real complaints against our neighbors or the loud people outside. That's what living in a community is about. We just wish they'd come talk to us first. We understand they need their quiet time. So do we! They just have to ask.
I definitely don't want to live in an apartment when I get older, if I can help it. I don't want to have to deal with this once I graduate. I won't have the excuse of being a student for being loud and fun-loving and mindless any more. :)
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