Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The universal language of the central heating pipe

Do you live in an appartment and do you warm your rooms with central heating? Then you know this. If your neighbours are making noise there's only one way to let them know they're making noise. This is not by knocking on their door and tell them or leave a passive aggressive note in the general entrance but by making noise. You could of course stomp back, put the volume up of your TV or stereo (or laptop), hamer against the wall. If you're not entirely sure who the obnoxious neighbour is who is making the noise, there seems to be only one way to let your neighbour know - by ticking or hammering against the pipes of the central heating. This, in case you are unaware, is heard in the entire building. Success guaranteed.

I live in an appartment building with 108 other households. Roughly counted. The block is 13 storeys high. One of the few living together rules of the building says that you're not supposed to make noise, putting a painting on the wall included, after 9pm til roughly 7am and not on Sundays. If someone at 9.05pm suddenly wakes up and remembers he or she needs to hammer that needle in the wall, you just know that at 9.05pm and 15 seconds someone ticks a coin or some sort against the central heating pipe. The Building Newspaper (a folded A4 with the 'latest' about the building) has reminded the residents 'NOT TO COMMUNICATE VIA CENTRAL HEATING PIPES'. It still happens, of course.

Last night I was brutally awoken by radio alarm clock. Not my own but by one of my neighbours. The music continued to penetrate my bedroom and indeed yes, it was annoying. I didn't want to know the time but I looked anyway. 3am. For fuck's sake! I understand some people need to get up at 3am and that it's hard but there's no need to share this experience. Apparently other residents in the building shared this opinion and weren't patient enough to search for a coin at this hour. Instead they kicked hard against the central heating pipes which probably must have woken up half the building. The message got through - the music stopped.

I don't know most of the people in this building but I'm superglad to know we all know how to communicate. If the same scene repeats tonight I might resort to the passive aggressive note. It won't wake people up at least.