Monday, November 19, 2007

Apartment house sense

Today I turned on the heat. For the first time since March.

See, I was putting it off and putting it off because I had stuffed a fleece IKEA blanket down the heating vents so it would muffle sounds from the other apartment. I think it worked. Or maybe it was my mildly threatening note that worked. Either way, I have been ignoring the coming cold for the last few weeks because I knew that turning the heat on while having a blanket in the slots would probably equal fire. And that's not the heat that I want.

But today, I could feel the cold through the single-paned window and as my nose started to freeze up just by me sitting on my couch, I decided it was time. Winter, I guess, is on its way and having poorly insulated windows is just one of the fun problems I have with owning an apartment.

The rest have to do with my building (and as my building has provided plenty of blog fodder before, I am sure you will all know that). It always reminds me of this Paul Simon song:

"There's been some strange goin's on
And some folks have come and gone
And the elevator man don't work no more
I heard a racket in the hall
And I thought I heard a fall
But I never opened up my door
It's just apartment house sense
It's like apartment rents
Remember : one man's ceiling
is another man's floor
Remember: one man's ceiling
is another man's floor"

Let's look at the line, "I heard a racket in the hall, and thought I heard a fall, but I never opened up my door."

Friday night, my boyfriend and I were stumbling back home after a greasy late-night meal at Hamburger Marys. It was probably 3 AM.

As we get to my apartment, he tells me he is going around the building to the back so he can get his bag out of his car. He has his own key so he can get in the building, so I went for the front door. Just as we parted ways, we heard a scream. Followed by another scream. We both look at each other and then look up at the building from where the screams seem to be coming from. There are no lights on in any of the windows. Everything else is dark and silent.

The Rockstar just shrugs (meh) and heads to his car. I continue for the front-door, listening as I go. The screams have stopped and now it's just the sound of some woman crying.

I remember thinking to myself that it was probably a domestic disturbance or some drunk girl who just got dumped or something. Considering it was very late on a Friday night, I was sure alcohol was involved at any rate.

I try and shrug it off and get in the elevator.

It stops at my floor and as I get out, I hear a mild commotion to the right of me. I look over and around the corner of the hall I can see...

On the ground, a pair of women's legs from the knee down, sticking out from around the corner.

The rear end of a man who was apparently standing bent over the body.

And the voice of the man saying something along the lines of, "Oh shit, oh shit!"

I freeze for a split second and then realize that the man hasn't noticed I am there, so I quickly book it to my apartment and lock the door. I don't know why my first instinct was to run and not to help but it was. There was something so creepy and dangerous about it all that I had to get away and reevaluate. Meanwhile, I realize that my bf is coming up the elevator.

Suddenly I forsee him getting off and stepping out into the middle of a murder scene or something and getting his ass kicked...or worse. So I pick up the phone and call him. He answers.


Turns out he was in fact already in the elevator but the elevator luckily stopped at another floor for no reason and he was able to jump out and take the stairs (which open right beside my apartment, out of the view of the elevator and the other hallway).

I usher him inside and explain what I saw. After we stand there debating for a few seconds, we decide to tiptoe back out there and see what is really going on, if we can help, etc.

So we do, only to find no one there at all. The apartment is eerily silent. We stand around and listen for a few minutes, only to creep back to the apartment, an imensely creepy feeling hanging over us.

Afterwards, I started to feel bad that my first reaction was to run and not help. I couldn't help it, I did not feel comfortable going around the corner and see what some big ass dude had just done to some chick. I also did not feel comfortable with my bf going there as well. But by checking it out together, I felt more protected. Still, I had to wonder why I didn't see any one else coming out of their apartments to see what all the screaming and commotion was about...

Maybe they know something I don't.

For example, a few weeks ago, the Rockstar was staying over. I think it was, again, a Friday night.

I'm a very light sleeper, so as soon as I heard my doorknob jingling at 4AM, I woke up with a start.

You know that creepy feeling when you just wake up out of a dream and it's dark and in the middle of the night? Well, now imagine you hear someone trying to get into your apartment. I was freaking the fuck out.

I look down at my bf, but as usual he is in a coma and snoring away. So I get up and tiptoe to the wall and peer around the corner at my front door (remember, I live in a studio, it's one L-shaped room).

I can see movement behind the peephole. And I can see my doorknob slowly turning up and down. And then I notice I forgot to put the chain across the door.

I run back over to the bf and wake him up. Or try to.

"There's someone at the door, someone's trying to break in, go lock the door!" I half-whisper/half-scream.

It takes a good minute to get him out of bed. I point at the door, fear in my eyes. He has sleep in his eyes and has no idea what is going on. Still, he stumbled over to the door, puts the chain across and goes back to bed.

"What are you doing? Someone is OUT THERE!" I hiss at him.


"Why do you think I just told you to lock the door?"

It took a few more minutes of this before he was awake and realized exactly what was going on. So we then get up and tiptoe over to the door and cautiously look through the peephole. I was expecting someone's evil eye to pop up in view (perhaps that's from recently watching The Cable Guy) but there was nothing there.

Now, I know a lot of you are thinking that it was probably some drunk person on the wrong floor and thinking this was their apartment. But how coming I never heard a jingling of keys? How come they never knocked? And how come the doorknob was turned ever so quietly?

Plus, two months ago there was a sign posted on the front of our building. The usual, don't hold the door open for strangers followed by a personal note. Some couple in apartment 402 had written beneath it that they were sitting at home one night, watching TV, when their doorknob had started to turn repeatedly. Someone was trying to get it.

And then below that, someone else had written, "same thing happened to me, same night, I'm in apartment 707" and below that was scrawled, "Yup, same thing, thankfully my door was locked, they tried for awhile, apartment 1101."

There were about 20 different people writing beneath it, saying it all happened to them too. Apparently someone was trying people's doors on the off chance that one of them was unlocked.

Now, I always lock my door the minute I get inside. But still. Creeeeeeepy.


Karinaxoxo said...

Thats a bit scary - I've always felt safter living in apartment buildings - but I guess not!

Steph said...

You did the right thing by not confronting the dude, but you really should have called the cops. Even after the people seemed to dissapear.

Indiana said... your building haunted???

My front door does not even have a just push it's either locked or it's not.

Wanderlusting said...

Karina - I know, I still think it is safer it's just not "perfectly" safe

Steph - Yeah I guess, but I don't even know if those people were even from a building on my floor, so I don't know what good that would have done. Last night I called the cops was because some mental patient was going nuts in the parking lot, was on hold for freakin' ever. I'm just hoping that perhaps they got in the elevator and went to a hospital or something....

Vegas Princess said...

I think you should move. That would seriously freak me out too much to live there.

DCchick said...

God, that's so creepy. I would be running from my car to my apartment in a mad sprint and deadbolting both locks behind me.

Wondering Woman said...

A chain lock wouldn't do anything to slow somebody down if the door opened. I looked at a site called taylor brothers door lock & they had an inexpensive floor lock that looked like a good idea. You should really search out something more substantial. I'm pretty paranoid at the moment having just finished reading a criminal profilers interview with the BTK killer. It's impossible for sane people to grasp what an insane person will do. Best to be prepared -- (if this posts twice sorry but my connection appeared to have gotten lost when I hit publish)

Farrell said...


Blondie said...

wow! Reading that was like reading a mystery!!


Wanderlusting said...

Honestly guys, it's not that bad. I've lived here over a year and these are the only two things that have happened. The rest was just about the crazy elevator.

I mean, I live downtown. Lots of junkies and homeless people around. I can understand that if one happened to get in the building, they might try their luck with the doors. And no, you don't want to be catching someone doing that. But I digress.

My neighbourhood is the safest downtown. I have a total of three locks on my door, two deadbolts.

I own my apartment and despite it feeling small at times, I am not selling it, not over this. This is just part of apartment life, regardless of where you live.

Sipwine said...

Oh god. Both of those stories are scary.

So creepy! If you have the means to move, DO IT!

I agree with Steph, I think calling the cops would have been a good idea, even if its just to alert them to the area.

Sipwine said...

OK, I've been an apartment for the last few years and I've never had anything like that happen to me.

But I with drawl my comment if that is truly what you do not want to do.

Wanderlusting said...

Yeah yeah yeah. Calling the cops is what I SHOULD have done, but whatever. Somethings you don't think about when you are drunk and scared in the middle of the night. And believe me, I call the cops ALL the time, usually. Over everything.

Honestly though, I am not the slighest bit scared living here. It was ONLY scary at the time, but I sleep peacefully at night.

This can happen to ANYONE in ANY building. My apartment is as secure as they come, all it takes is just for SOMEONE to hold the door open for someone they don't know...that's it.

So please. Rest assured that I am fine, will continue to be fine and I am not moving over something so trivial.

(however, if you see another post like this in the future, maybe I will give it more thought :P)

M said...

okay, I know YOU'RE not scared but now *I'm* scared cause I read that. :P I wouldn't even know what to do if I was in your door handle situation. I mean, at least you had a lovely Ferris Buller lookalike to freak out with but what if you were all alone?!

Girl About Town said...

Mostly lurk here, but I agree with you that this kind of thing CAN happen pretty much anywhere. Of course I'm talking about the odd situation (as you've said it is). If it were more than that, I'd look at moving someplace else. But not yet!!

Michelle said...

Argh! The doorhandle thing is freaky as! It sounds like one of those urban myth things.. like the scratching on the roof of the car story. 'Cept it's real!!!