Tuesday, February 5, 2013


This is the story of how Caroline and I ended up sounding like cranky old people shouting at the hip kids. Except that in this story, we're the good guys, and the hip kids are jerks. I'm pretty sure. You decide. A story in three parts: The Background, The Escalation, and the Showdown.

The background

Our apartment has been pretty nice overall, but one of the major flaws is that we have a lot of noise. Our windows and sliding doors face out to an alleyway, and just across the alley there is another high rise apartment building facing back to ours. The result is that any noise in the alley is extremely echo-y and loud. (Bill Elliot, our friend who is an acoustical consultant,  would hate this place!)

This is annoying for typical background noises: dogs barking or whining, car alarms, trash cans banging around, etc. But the real problem has been our neighbors across the alley, the partying apartment.

Immediately across from us and one floor down, there is an apartment where a few young people live. During the day, they often have the sliding door open and loud music playing, but that's ok - sometimes it's even good music, and during the day it's no big deal. However, on many weekend nights, they have LOTS of friends over and we can hear the loud music and shouting and other party noises, sometimes as late as 5am. I know this makes us sound like grumpy old people, but we want to sleep!

The Escalation

A few weekends ago, we had a bit of an escalation. They had a really loud party with singing, shouting, open windows and blasting music, continuing to 3am. At that point, Caroline and I had been laying awake for an hour or so, and we were getting pretty frustrated. We were already using earplugs and a white noise background, and still couldn't sleep.

Finally, I decided to go down and talk to the doorman of our building (in spanish). I didn't understand the whole conversation, but basically he was saying that my two options were to go talk to the doorman in the other building or to call the police. I went to the building next door and started to explain to the doorman how loud this apartment was being.

He cut me off and basically said "Yeah, I know. We've had complaints every weekend, and the police have already come once tonight!"

I replied: "What? The police had already been there? Why couldn't they do anything about it?" I'm not exactly sure I understood, but I think the doorman said that the police wrote a ticket for the partiers, and when the doorman tried to give it to them, they wouldn't even open the door, so he just slid it underneath.

While this is happening, another guy from our building comes over for the same reason. We chatted a bit about how terrible these guys are, and when I went back to Caroline I felt emboldened to take action since I knew that it was really disturbing other people too.

The Showdown!

I didn't want to just give up and feel totally helpless, so I opened our sliding door that faced over the alley, and in my loudest voice, I shouted across to the partiers: "Baja la musica!!!!!" which I think means turn down the music. I got their attention, and they tried to shout some stuff back and start a conversation, but I just kept saying angrily "Baja la musica!"

Not surprisingly, this didn't solve the problem. They kept on partying loudly.

I kept shouting: "Can you think of the other people?!"

At this point, other apartments facing the alley are starting to light up, and people from both buildings are also leaning out to yell at the partiers. It started to feel like maybe we had enough critical mass to make them shut down, but still, the partiers shouted taunts at everyone and continued.

We started shouted to some angry tenants in the other building, and they seemed to be saying that they were going to go and knock on the party apartment door from the inside. We had them surrounded, but still, the noise continued!

With no other ideas, I turned to the one option I could think of. I grabbed a rotten tomato off the counter, and I whipped it across the alley where it hit one of their window panes. THAT got their attention. (an consideration here - the alley was fairly wide, and our apartment is one floor up from theirs, so the throw for them to retaliate would be much more difficult).

At this point, they turned the music down a little, and a few girls came to the window to try and talk with us. They tried to explain "All of Santiago is a party on Saturday night!" but we just kept saying to turn off the music. While this is going on, we can see the door to their apartment open and the other angry tenants confront them from the other side. Meanwhile, I just stood there with another tomato in hand and shouted again "Baja la musica!"

Finally, after a few minutes of this situation, they turned the music way down and closed their windows, so we could finally sleep. Caroline and I cheered our little victory, and finally got some rest.


  1. When I used Google Translate, BAJA LA MUSIC means low the music, so maybe they thought you wanted them to turn it up!!!

    Pretty funny story, and nice shot with the tomato.

  2. I <3 Sam getting righteous stories.