More signs that I’m getting old

Posted: October 1, 2012 by S. Trevor Swenson in Life, Me & Mine
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

From time to time I write of various aging milestones. Usually they are bittersweet occurrences where I have a new realization that allows me to relate to older people I used to think were so silly.

“Hmmmm well I’ll be damned, Grandpa was onto something here. Pulling my pants up to my nipples and belting them there is actually a good look and very comfortable.”

All the signs are there. I don’t like today’s music. I scoff at how the kids dress these days. I’m sorry I cannot for the life of me understand the pants belted around the ass look. A couple years ago while walking down the street I passed some children who made exaggerated gestures of disgust over my cigarette smoking and I actually turned around and shook my fist at them. I told my mother about it layer and she laughed. “It’s all down hill from here isn’t it Ma?” I asked the Crazy Lady. She confirmed that yes indeed it was all downhill, but after age 50 she told me I would start enjoying being a grouchy old person who delights in sucking the fun out of all childhood shenanigans that I happen to encounter. My mother had turned into one of those old ladies who would watch children playing and yell out her window to “Stop that!” or “Get down from there!” and she was loving every minute of it. Hobbies are important.

Recently I had another milestone. I had gotten home from a long night at work which had followed a long week at work, and I had to wake up in 6 hours to go back in for a double shift. Upon entering my apartment I immediately heard that my next door neighbors were having one of their all night backyard parties. Every couple of months my neighbors throw a loud party in their home and back yard where they blast music until 4 or 5 am. I have gone next door and asked them to please bring it inside and they have been dismissive. My next step was to call 311, not to be confused with 911. 311 was set up by former mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is the patron saint of grumpy old men and killjoys. 911 is for emergencies and 311 was for non emergencies and minor irritants (stray dogs, noisy bars and neighbors and things like that.) 311 was one of those ideas that is good in theory, but a bad joke in practice. No one really considered the logistics of 9 million perpetually annoyed New Yorkers having a number they can call and gripe to an underpaid, apathetic city employee who has to pretend to listen. Suffice to say that 311 calls got very backed up, so they added a proviso to the 311 system which gave them up to 8 hours to act upon your grievance. So if I were to drop a dime on my noisy neighbors at 3am, the city had until 11am to address the issue. My neighbors were usually done with their partying by 5 or 6. Then the city would call me back and wake me up at 10 or 11 and ask if the noise complaint had been addressed. 311 calls also took approximately an hour to get through to the apathetic and angry city employee. Press one for English, y para numero dos por espanol…they wanted you to take a survey… It wasn’t the best system in the world. In fact, the word “sucks” comes to mind.

They went with Your City, Your Needs, Your Blah as an ad because “Sucks to be you!” was already taken?
My city? My number? My ass!

I needed to get some sleep before my double shift in 6 hours so 311 was not an option. I had to take it up a notch. I knew that the police would respond to a 911 call, but this wasn’t exactly an emergency. Sleep is very important to me, but the NYPD isn’t so concerned if I wake up after a poor night’s sleep and I’m cranky during the brunch shift. So, if I were to get the police to respond, I’d have to embellish.

So I dialed 911 and another embittered, apathetic city employee answered. “Nine-One-One, wass your ‘mergency?” “Yes” I replied “I think my neighbors are having a fight in their back yard” (a noisy fight set to meringue and salsa music) “Is anyone injured?” they asked. “I don’t know” I replied. I’d actually feel more guilty sending an ambulance along with the police. No sense in waking up the poor EMTs who camp out and sleep in their ambulances on the road next to the East River by my house. After a few more questions (“Are there weapons involved?” “Um, well one can hope.”) they took my number and said they’d dispatch someone.

Approximately 10 minutes later I got a call from a 911 dispatcher claiming the “police are downstairs, you have to let them in”. I explained that it was my next door neighbors and that if I had access to my neighbors home I’d simply unlock the door, walk to the DJ station they set up in their backyard for these parties and turn down the volume myself…then I’d put my finger to my lips and say “shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”, wink and go back home. The dispatcher had difficulties understanding this, but eventually I think she relayed the message to New York’s Finest that they were going to have to put the jumbo box of Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins down and actually emerge from the police car and ring the doorbell to my neighbors home. I was dressed in my sleeping outfit anyway, silk boxer shorts with little motorcycles on them and my over-sized cookie monster slippers. If I went next door in those boxers, my neighbors might mistake me for a biker or member of the Hells Angles and in the interest of bring neighborly I didn’t want to antagonize them any further.

From my bedroom window (YES, I had closed it smart asses.) I heard the NYPD using their training and living up to the motto painted on the side of their cars “Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect” “You wanna go to jail?” “Turn down the music, people are complaining!!!” There was some argument and voila…the music got turned down. I laid down and said my prayers and tried not to dwell on the impending mean old ladies sending back their eggs benedict and not believing me when I tell them we don’t have a senior citizens discount.

My neighbors weren’t done for the evening though. After the Blue Meanies left they turned the music back up in regular intervals, and soon it was back up to a volume not so conducive to neighbors sleeping. Grrrrr. I’d have to call again. I couldn’t call from my home as the 911 system had my number, so I threw on some clothes and stormed out to the corner payphone. Most payphones in NYC are broken. I don’t think the companies that own them even bother with them anymore. Someday in twenty or so years children will ask their parents what they are, and the parents wont know. “Um, modern art honey.”

I walked to the payphone and dialed 911. Even broken payphones can generally still dial 911. For some reason I expected to get the same 911 operator/dispatcher so I employed a totally pathetic little old lady voice. For some reason the police and politicians respond well to little old ladies. Maybe because they vote? “Yes, Hello?” I said in a stupid fake falsetto sounding slightly similar to my dear old grandmother. I had to take this up a notch if I wanted to get any sleep tonight. Maybe if I said they looked like Middle Eastern terrorists assembling a bomb to loud latin beats they’d send 60 squad cars over…lights flashing and sirens blaring. Instead I chose to say they were gang members having a rowdy party. For some reason, I really started to get into my old lady role.

Really getting into character. “Oh, deary me!”

“They are a gang. They are those Hells Angel Crip-Bloods.”
“Yes, Ma’am.”
“This used to be a nice neighborhood…”
“Yes, Ma’am. Is anyone injured?”
“I think they are beating up and ravishing junior high school girls from the sound of it.”
“Yes, Ma’am.”
“I have church in the morning and I need to sleep.”
“Yes, Ma’am. You say they’re in the back yard?”
“Yes…the back yard. I go to St John’s here on Newtown Ave.”
“I see Ma’am and how long has this been going on?”
“Oh, I have been going to St Johns since 1987. Before that I went to St Barnabas’ on 30th Avenue until they arrested Father McGregor for molesting the alter boys on camping trips up in the Catskills…I used to go to the Catskills with my late husband-God-rest-his-soul…we saw Henny Youngman once…”
“No Ma’am, I meant how long has the party been going on.”
“Oh…all night long…I can’t sleep. I have church in the morning.”
“Yes Ma’am, were sending the police right away.”
“Tell them to hurry.”
“Yes, Ma’am.”

It’s amazing how fast the police show up when a poor old woman calls.

  1. Ruchika says:

    I wonder if the police will stop her if a poor old woman is the one partying.
    “Uhh ma’am?” “Yes laddie?” “Can you please turn down the Maroon 5 and Metallica tracks you’re so patriotically playing?” “Lad, did your momma not teach you anything.” “Right ma’am. Just do me a favour and tell the next policeman who comes to say something similar that I tried my best. Oh and could you put on Payphone again? Thanks, night ma’am.”


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