Let me explain. We live in a townhouse of sorts. It’s a building which contains six individual units; three in the front and three in the back.
Unfortunately for us, we are smack-dab in the middle. This means we have neighbors with which we share walls on three sides. THREE SIDES!!! I sure wish they were Tucker-proof walls. Additionally, our place has solid flooring throughout: wood and tile everywhere, no soft carpets to absorb footsteps or the sound of voices, not a lot of furniture or decor to absorb it either. And the place has three large echoey stairwells, and big heavy doors that are not particularly quiet when they shut. Understand that this is a big recipe for disaster!!!
Well it happened Monday evening. It was a state holiday, sort of like British Bank Holidays or American Memorial or Labor Day. It is Ascension Day. All holidays here are religious-based, so there are some rules that go along with that! There are actual laws here about noise on holidays: that there shouldn’t be any! I had no idea. Similarly, it must be quiet all day Sunday and evenings from 9pm-7am. Which is wonderful if you think about it. How great to have quiet Sundays to enjoy a stroll through a nearby park without the distraction of lawnmowers. On the other hand, how will I ever keep my home quiet on Sundays so as not to annoy my neighbors? We are home from church by 12:30pm, so that’s quite a lot of hours at home to try to be quiet!
I first realized this noise issue within minutes of walking inside. Seriously, this place was just so echoey, and to be in such close proximity to neighbors, I knew quickly this was going to be a serious challenge for us! We are going to need to really learn what an inside voice is! I know, I’m the first to blame. So please comment and share your suggestions.
My neighbor came by this evening to inform me that we were too loud. That musical instruments were forbidden on Holidays and Sundays, and I was playing the piano (keyboard), and that he could hear doors slamming and stomping of feet all day long! Oh my, I was taken aback! I feel so bad. I don’t want to be a nuisance to anyone, but I fear this is going to be very difficult to combat. We’re talking major changes coming our way! I want to be accommodating, but I also don’t want to feel trapped when I’m at home! It sure has made me feel uneasy and suddenly very American and a bit unwelcome.
It was after my neighbor left that I looked up the whole noise thing online, only to find he was totally right. It wasn’t a neighborhood thing, it was a LAW thing! A German thing. Being a good neighbor, and a good ambassador requires us to learn this culture and follow it as best we can. I may just turn into the noise-nazi (can I say that here)? So, please share your thoughts and advice. This is going to be tricky for sure!
Meanwhile, I will be consoled by…