Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How (not) to meet your neighbors

I have been getting the Washington Post delivered to my doorstep for the last six months. For the last few weeks, sections have been missing. I will open my door and instead of being met with a neat, fresh paper, I find sections spread apart, usually with one missing. I've noticed and I've been annoyed, but I haven't even been able to determine what section was missing so I couldn't have missed it too much. Today was different. Today - war was declared.

After a very fast-paced morning at work, I sat down in the break room with my newspaper and, as always, reached for the sports section first. But today, there was no sports section. No box scores, no news of what Gilbert Arenas is up to now, no Ovechkin, no John Wall, nothing but me and my sandwich - which my coworkers made fun of. It ruined my whole day.

Taking the sports section out of my Washington Post is a declaration of war. It's time to stop being nice and start getting real. I'm determined to put an end to this thievery for once and for all.

But what the hell do I do?

I can wake up at 5 a.m. every morning to claim my paper before the vagrants get at it, but I shouldn't have to miss sleep just to get the newspaper I pay for every day. A coworker suggested I solve the problem as he did in the past - got up as soon as the paper was delivered and tied a string to it, and pulled said string underneath his door and attached it to a frying pan, or something that would make noise and alert him as soon as the paper had been touched. It worked for him. He caught an old lady red-handed stealing his paper.

This is a good suggestion, but I sleep like a rock. I could probably tie the string to my toe while I was asleep and it still wouldn't wake me up as I was dragged across the floor. Finding a way to alert me in the early morning is not practical, so I handled the problem the way I handle most things - with passive aggressive humor. Tonight before I got ready for bed, I wrote with magic marker on a piece of paper and hung it on my door:

If you would like to read my newspaper, please leave your apartment number and I'll be happy to leave it by your door after I am done with it. If you insist on helping yourself, please leave 75 cents instead of stealing something that is not yours. Thank you so much!!

I taped it up tonight, and proceeded to put on my pajamas and get ready for bed. About fifteen minutes later, I heard someone outside my door. It sounded like tape being ripped, and I immediately expected that it was the newspaper thief, rejecting my passive-aggressive note and tearing it off the door.

Keep in mind, I'm still pissed off about the sports page. It really threw off my whole day. So, when I heard the noise, I ran to the door, swung it open with the fervor and self-righteousness of someone who has been morally wronged and ready to confront her tormentor. I leapt into the hallway like a pajama-clad superhero. I was ready for battle.

The thing is, I didn't really consider what I was going to say to this person. Nor did I consider what I would say if it was not, in fact, my sports page thief but my new neighbor standing outside of my door, tearing open his mail while he read the strange note on the neighbor's door. Which is exactly what happened. Needless to say, I was completely unprepared.

So, when I leapt outside of my doorway like a superhero named Captain Pajamas, I was met awkwardly by my new neighbor (who was wearing a suit, he had just returned from work) and we stared at one another in mutual surprise and silence. He said, "Uh... I was just reading your note." And I giggled and suddenly my superhero turned into her alter ego - an awkward giggly girl trying to explain things in a very stream of consciousness sort of way. "Oh." I said, "haha. Every morning someone takes a section of my newspaper... and... sport pages... really mad... frying pan..." How do you explain to someone why you nearly accosted them in your pj's? I wish I had a video so this incident could become a youtube sensation and Daniel Tosh could give me a web redemption. Unfortunately for all of us, none of this was captured on film. My crime fighting skills need a little work.

On the plus side, the new neighbor and I formally introduced ourselves to one another. One of us in a three-piece suit, the other in silky pajama bottoms, a t-shirt and no bra. He seems very nice and he suggested that I get an exploding blue ink packet like they use to catch bank robbers. He makes good sense. I hope to not run into him again for a while.


Paul said...

Oh, sure; leave us hangin'. Did the note work? Or was your paper even there this morning? Had it been replaced with a dead fish?

policomic said...

A friend of mine once faced this problem, except the thief was taking the whole paper, not just a section. So one morning, he got up very early and wrote, in large letters, on an inside page, "I know who you are, you bastard."

That stopped the thefts, but only for a couple of weeks, until the thief figured out he was bluffing.

Nicole said...

That's really not the best way to meet a neighbor!