The Dump Truck

Jan 23 2005 Published by under Uncategorized

This morning, my upstairs neighbor woke me up earlier than usual with a loud crash that (I later discovered) sprinkled a few chips of ceiling plaster and paint onto the hardwood floor of my bedroom. Dammit, I just cleaned!

During the past six or so months since my upstairs neighbor moved in, I adjusted my daily worry schedule to coincide with his peak nocturnal earthmoving activites so I can make maximal use of this otherwise wasted time while he rumbles around above my head like a runaway dump truck. Incidentally, this also explains how he earned his nickname from me; "The Dump Truck".

But living under The Dump Truck has not been entirely worthless because I have learned at least one important lesson; I learned that I am not as pacifistic as I thought. In addition to worrying about my employment and financial situations, I also invest a portion of my newly-scheduled night time worry hours into wishing that Santa had left a bazooka leaning against my bedroom wall last month. Well, my birthday is coming in a few days, so perhaps Santa will make amends for this, although it is my opinion that Santa has MUCH to compensate me for and I am not talking about missing Christmas gifts, either.

The Dump Truck also was the impetus for me to meet some interesting night time conversation partners in the NYC police department. After my complaints to the landlord about The Dump Truck did not result in any noise reduction, I began using that wonderful "non-emergency" police number in NYC, 311. In fact, I am sometimes tempted to call my 311 conversation partners to "catch up" on those sleepless nights when The Dump Truck is peacefully snoring above me (can't he do anything without making a huge noisy production out of it? In fact, it would not surprise me to learn that his unadulterated noise-making capacity is the reason his wife divorced him).

My contacts in the NYPD inform me that I am filing a "Quality of Life Complaint" when I call them to object to The Dump Truck's noise-making. I like that phrase better than "Noise Complaint" because it implies that the police actually take this sort of thing seriously and that they will do what it takes to remedy the situation that threatens my precious "Quality of Life". But it also raises some interesting questions; what exactly can be designated as "Quality of Life" and can I file a Quality of Life Complaint about my entire sucky life? What happens if I file such a complaint and nothing improves? And gawd forbid, if my life becomes even worse after my complaint has been filed, what happens then?

Some people assert that my neighborhood is noisy because my neighbors are Dominicans and I "should have known" this before I moved here. But how should I "have known"? Osmosis? Certainly, noise-making capacity isn't genetic because when I moved in more than one year ago, my (then) upstairs neighbor was a Dominican man and he never presented a noise problem (sure, he had a loud stereo, but he turned it down after 9 pm, as all civilized people do and as required by law). The Dump Truck, by contrast, is a short, very white-skinned man with hair the color of those wilted carrots that you sometimes find in your refrigerator vegetable crisper, and he relies heavily on furniture-moving therapy during the wee hours.

I know these things because I visited him very early one morning during one of his middle-of-the-night noise-making sessions and found myself face-to-face with his insipid grin, almost as if he expected me to ask him for a cup of sugar. Barely able to restrain my desire to wrap my hands around his skinny neck and squeeze until his eyeballs popped out of his head, I told him to stop the noise, that it was 230 am fercrissakes and some of us actually had jobs that required us to get out of bed in a few hours (this of course, was back in the days when I actually had a job).

But because I hurt my back yesterday while hauling my clothes to the laundromat that is one block away and because I thought the resulting pain was enough punishment for me to suffer for one night, I mistakenly thought that karma or cosmic justice or whatever would protect me from having to endure The Dump Truck's nearly nightly noise festival last night. So it was that I found myself in the darkness at 148 am desperately wanting to wail uncontrollably into my cell phone to the 311 staff, wanting to tell Jan or Michelle or whatever her name was that my back hurt so much that I could barely move without wishing to shoot myself with this year's nonexistent Christmas gift, that I was tired of struggling so much for nothing, that this is just not right and what did I do to deserve this, that I wanted to file a general Quality of Life complaint because my whole life sucks, and all I wanted was a decent night's sleep for a change and is this too much to ask?

But I was too tired and in too much pain to do anything of the sort. Instead, after I filed my noise complaint (ho-hum), I crawled out of bed and walked slowly, painfully and quietly (so as to not teach my birds yet more unpleasant phrases) to the bathroom medicine chest where I found the ibuprofen in the reflected moonlight from the falling snow outside my window.

6 responses so far

  • V M says:

    Hi Hedwig ,Read your article about Paris. You must have shared some wonderful moments with Paris ... Talking about Central Park, reminded me of a documentary about the park, hosted by Isabella Rossellini, called "Wild City", 1999, on National Geographic channel, and a fresh look at its synopsis suggests it included the release of baby screech owls in the park.warm regards, VM

  • Gill says:

    Hi. Your blog is my 'blog of the day' today over on

  • GrrlScientist says:

    VM: one of these days, I will give in to corporate America and get a TV so I can watch these shows for myself. Gill: thanks for noticing my blog! I really appreciate it!

  • NeoLestat says:

    Hi! Popped over from 'Sometimes It's Peaceful' to take a look and boy do I sympathise with you with the dump truck. I've been there... theirs was a stereo played at all hours at mega volume... complaints to them did nothing, complaints to the authorities did nothing. Eventually I went upstairs on the main stairs of the appt block, forced the lock on the mains electricity cupboard on their floor and tore their fuse box off the wall with a sledge hammer... desperate times, desperate measures lol. suffice to say that I never had a problem with them after that... do you fancy a who's got the suckiest life competition?

  • Ms.PhD says:

    I LOVE your idea about Quality of Life complaints! Somebody should make a website for that!As for noisy neighbors, I have had some doozies (is that how you spell that word?). For a few years, I lived under this guy who was pretty quiet. Then he got a girlfriend who wore platform heels (we had hardwood floors). You can imagine how pleasant that was! I even went so far as to ask if she could please just take her shoes off when she was at home, and then just put them back on when she left for work in the morning. She acted like I was nuts and didn't change a thing. For a while I really considered buying her fluffy slippers as a present.Most recently, our house is in a neighborhood with some businesses across the street. One of them is a bar. Now, I would have thought the bar would be loud, but actually it's the women's spa that employs people to wash towels and robes 6 days a week, starting at 7 AM, that is driving us nuts. Even the dog-washing parlor is quieter.Of course, I have to point out that I am something of a night person. You might be inadvertently keeping your Dump Truck neighbor awake during the day, when he would normally prefer to be sleeping. Lord knows, when I've been up all night, 'normal people' are my enemies. I have this problem, though, that I inherited supersonic hearing, so I'm a really light sleeper. Earplugs sometimes help, a little...

  • GrrlScientist says:

    Thanks for reading, NeoLestat! Hrm, I wonder if turning off The Dump Truck's power might curb his nocturnal noise making activities? Thanks for the idea, now to locate the fuse box ...No, I don't fancy a "who's got the suckiest life competition" .. just as when I was a kid and was warned "don't make silly faces because your face will get stuck like that" I am afraid to tempt fate with such a competition because I don't want to get stuck like that. Ms.PhD: Maybe I should start a business where people can, for a nominal fee, file a quality of life complaint? Of course, I'd have to think of a reason why they'd want to PAY ME to take their complaint, instead of boring their friends with their complaining for free. This needs some development ... I could add this to my "Jobs Ideas" blog entries that I am always working on. Even though I'd dearly love to return The Dump Truck's favor by making lots of daytime noise, it's unlikely I can do anything to keep him awake since I never wear shoes in my apartment, I don't have a stereo to blast and I rarely am in my apartment between the hours of 6am and 8 pm (9 am to 8 pm on weekends). And besides, he lives above me and thus cannot hear me (I do wonder about my downstairs neighbors, though ... )And besides, I hate him now, so I don't care anything about him and his quality of life. Fweh!