The best and worst apartment I have ever lived in
HIKER JOHN would like to battle!
Something a little bit different today. A story about the best and worst apartment complex I’ve ever lived in, which includes the story of the Crazy Neighbor Man.
This story more or less starts when, after graduating college and moving back in with my parents, I got fed up with my father’s racial epithets and my brother and sister’s respective existences (I don’t live well with others). I oped to move out into the neighboring town where I worked.
I settled on an apartment that my coworkers and good friends lived in. In fact, I got the apartment right above theirs. It was the worst apartment complex I’ve ever lived in because the train tracks ran next to the building across the complex from mine and there was a highly annoying Labrador retriever in the backyard on the other side of my building.
But, as I said, I lived right above my coworkers and good friends. We hung out, we yelled at each other through the floor, there were movie nights and dogs everywhere. Not to mention if your car got a flat or the battery went dead, it was a minor change in hours to catch a ride to work.
My apartment was also next door to the man known throughout the neighborhood, and occasionally, the town, as the Crazy Neighbor Man, Scary Man, or That Walking Guy.
He was retired as best I can guess, didn’t own a car, his only family was supposedly a daughter living in Europe, he loved to play loud music at all hours ranging from the Rolling Stones to Bach, he left his front door open whenever he was home, and he never spoke to anyone. Except me.
Something I suppose must have endeared me to him. I couldn’t get him to shut up sometimes. We’d see each other on the porch and he’d talk for fifteen or twenty minutes ranging from topics such as the weather or Texas A&M University vs. the University of Texas or Anime Is Socialist. I could hardly get a word in at times. He often invited me in for beer, wine, coffee, tea, a glass of water. I always politely declined.
He was definitely an odd sort of guy. My friends came over for our annual get-together, which happened to coincide on his birthday that year. He knocked on my door and offered me a slice of his birthday cake. I’m wondering now if someone bought it for him (and if so, who) or if he bought it for himself, or with the express intention of offering me some. I may never know.
One day I heard knocking. Our doors were two inches apart, so I didn’t know if the knocking was at his door or mine, so I checked. It was someone from FedEx delivering a package to him. He wasn’t answering, and the FedEx guy asked if I could hold it for him. I said sure. Turns out the Neighbor Man was either asleep or in the shower, because he turned up at his door to investigate a few minutes later and I gave him the package. The next morning he gave me one of those Turtle chocolates as a thank-you gift.
He was the reason I started leaving my front door open when I was home. I usually leave windows open when they can’t be entered except by scaling walls, but I never tried leaving the door open. It was quite nice. I can’t now, because I have cats that aren’t allowed outside, but I would do it again if I could.
I did run into him on his walks through town. He usually went to the post office and the grocery store. He had a cane and a backpack and occasionally a small cooler. He would stroll along, swinging his cane. In a town with no public transportation and spread out as it is, most of the populace was disturbed by a white man who walked everywhere because he didn’t own a car. It was revolutionary, and not in a way they liked.
Just an aside to explain the quote to this particular post. The Neighbor Man wore a very simple and very particular outfit. Khaki pants, leather shoes, leather belt, a cane, a button-up shirt in some shade of khaki, brown, or green, and a hat. The A-kon after I moved out (which was the day after I moved out) my friends and I were standing in the dealer’s room, people watching. I saw a guy dressed almost exactly like the Neighbor Man, but who clearly wasn’t. I pointed him out to Dargon and whispered “That guy is cosplaying my next door neighbor!” Later on I noticed that he had Pokeballs attached to his belt and was actually cosplaying a Hiker from the Pokemon games, but it was still funny as hell.
There’s no magical moral or socio-environmental soapbox to this story. It’s just a story about a building and some people and trains and a sadly neglected Labrador retriever. There’s also a story about a pit bull that wanted to go to the party, too, a mentally challenged couple my downstairs neighbors didn’t like, and a lot of animals that were being kept without paid pet deposits. Make of it what you will.