Sometimes it pays to ignore the
voices coming through your door, especially if you live in an apartment building with
neighbors on either side of you. When I saw what was moving in as I was leaving for work
one morning, my first thought was…”that’s it – I’m doomed!” |
all I could see was the form of a woman, bent over a box as she dragged it towards her
new dwelling place. As I rounded the corner of the hallway going towards the elevator, I
happened to look back and made eye contact with “the Exorcist,” or so my mind
yelled. She had angry, dark eyes, thick, penciled on brows and bright red circles on
high cheekbones. A chill accompanied me into the elevator and cloaked me in its embrace
for the rest of the day.
Arriving home, I made a quick salad for
my dinner and was just sitting down to eat when there was a knock on the door. I opened
it to look into that garish face as the mouth began to move and words of introduction
“I am your new neighbor…” she started explaining and it
took her the better part of a half hour before she had finished and I was able to go back
to my salad. I was, by that time, in possession of her entire life story and a salad
that lay limp with the weight of salad dressing. Dumping it into the garbage, I opted
for a sandwich instead.
The next morning, she was waiting for the
elevator as I walked toward her. “I know you’re a nurse…could you…?” she enquired. No
“good morning”…no nothing. She launched right into her list of requests. A polite
“sorry…I am unable to help” was what she got in answer. Coming home that evening, there
she was. Does this woman rent the hallway? She was holding a bloodied thumb out to me
and screaming that she was hemorrhaging. I asked her if she had a bandage. Why did I
even open my mouth? Before I knew it, she had grabbed my arm and was pulling me down
the hall towards her apartment. Inside, she showed me an arsenal of first aid equipment
– bandages in every size and description, solutions, ointments. You name it, she had it!
I quickly cleaned her thumb, applied a bandage and sent her off to the hospital for a
A few more episodes popped up where she needed a helping
hand. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not against helping anyone, but she has decided that
it was my lot in life to serve her needs above all else…not! I was finding myself
looking around the corner when I got off of the elevator to be sure the coast was clear,
before making a mad dash to my apartment and very quietly closing the door. This worked
for a while; as well as the fact that I asked her, very politely, to LEAVE ME ALONE!
There was peace on earth once again…until the fire!
The alarm woke
all of the tenants out of a deep sleep. In my training, I knew it would be safe to block
the door with towels to keep the smoke out and stay inside until the firefighters
arrived. There was no heat, so the fire wasn’t nearby. Trick-a-treat – the name I gave
my neighbor because of her clown-like makeup – was standing in the hallway, screaming
and pounding on my door. She ignored my yelled instructions to go back inside her
apartment, so I opened the door and yanked her into mine as the black, acrid smoke
swirled through the hallway and into my lungs.
Trick-a-treat was so
hysterical and wanting to leave the building that I could do nothing more than get her
outside. Down the emergency steps we went…me in my tattered tee shirt and plaid
boxers…In the lobby, the finest firefighters in the city were escorting the tenants out
the main entrance. I asked one of them if it would have been safe to stay inside and he
said that it would have been better if we did. I looked over at my nemesis and summoning
all of my willpower was able to just walk away…I was that mad.
was finally able to return to my apartment – some two hours later – I quickly showered,
washed my hair and went to work. When I got home that evening, there she was, waiting for
me. How did she put it? “You saved me and now I owe you my life!” She proceeded to
follow me as I turned around and went back into the elevator…”let me clean your
house…what can I do for you…you must let me do something for you…” she went on and on as
the doors closed on her. I leaned my head against the elevator wall, closed my eyes and