Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Friendly Neighbors


Over the past week, we all got to witness some very, er, neighborly behavior in our elevator. It started with a note from the Hausverwaltung asking us to all please not trash the elevator, and to ask anyone doing construction work in our apartments to please not trash the elevator. (I never actually saw the elevator trashed in the days prior to the note, so I don't really know what brought this on.)

A couple of days later, the letters to the right appeared. Apparently the top note, written anonymously, was not originally posted in the elevator, but left in the mailbox of one of the building's (very nice) dog owners. The letter is pretty damn bitchy, telling her that her dog is getting the elevator and building dirty all the time and that she knows for sure it must be that particular dog (our building is bursting with dogs). The recipient of the note wasn't about to let herself get harrassed in this manner without responding. She posted the letter for all to see, calling out the anonymous letter-writer for leaving it her box and stating that her dog was not responsible for all of the things the original letter accuses him of. Both notes stayed up for a few days!

Fun stuff!

We described this to a German friend who reports it is common to have people in your building with nothing better to do than to take the German habit of looking out for societal order to an unfortunate extreme. In her own building she had a retiree accuse her of keeping a bike in her apartment! Oh the horror! First, it's perfectly allowed to keep a bike in your own apartment, and second, my friend doesn't have a bike. Thinking back, one time a neighbor asked me in the elevator if I had a gray cat. I thought she was just curious, but now I wonder if there could have been some cranky spin on it.... (I do not have a gray cat, but there was one that wandered around outside our building a lot.)


  1. Oh my. Sounds like a recent situation in our building where someone (anonymously) left a note in the lobby stating that it was against the "building managment"'s rules to leave strollers in the lobby, suggesting that instead, they should be stored in the cellar. Now, there's only one baby in the entire building, whose mother was recovering from a c-section and postpartum depression and would never be in any shape to haul a stroller down the narrow staircase into the cellar (our building doesn't have an elevator). So leaving a general (anoymous) notice for all to see was completely passive aggressive. Daniel got so worked up about this that he wrote up his own note, stating how there were no such rules (or even a "building management" for that matter) and that requiring the stroller to be stored in the cellar was completely ridiculous and antisocial -- and he signed both our names to it. Both notes disappeared the next day without further adieu, but the poor mother implicated in all of this did stop by our apartment to say that she appreciated our support. The stroller has remained in our lobby ever since.

  2. I also received a neighborly note in DE, after I had only moved in 3 days, telling me that I had come to a very nice building, with nice people, and that they are sure I am a nice person too...but that my TV was too loud.

    It went on about how the letter writer suffers from migranes and loud noise irritates her, etc.

    The kicker? I didn't own a TV, or any sort of sound making articles. I send her a nice note back asking her to come by the next time she heard such noise as we must have a misunderstanding as I had no TV...

    This was in July. I received a Christmas card in December with an apology that the true culprit had been found.

    I don't miss living in DE.

  3. Oh, passive aggressive delightful! I do find them amusing, but when they're directed at me, not so much.

    I just reread your posts on mold because we also have a pretty bad mold problem in the one corner in our bedroom and of course the landlord just came over with his measuring device and lectured us on proper Lüftung, etc. Tonight we just got a letter from him basically stating that everything was fine before we moved in, so the mold must be our fault. Ugh. It's really an awful feeling. I'm pretty he lied about there not being any mold in the apartment before! It appeared suddenly overnight about 2 weeks after we moved in, and it's gotten worse since, despite numerous sprays. I wonder if it's worth paying for a professional to come check it out...?

  4. If you love Passive Agressive Notes....

    I swear one of the units in my German class was "Arguing with your Neighbors" ....okay, it was really "Wohnen: with a section on "Streit im Haus"

  5. What bopper said. Do a decent translation and submit it to passive-aggressive notes dot com. I like doing translations if you don't feel like it. :-)
    - ian in hamburg

  6. We used to have neighbors who would crank up their radio at 7am to 'get back' at us for partying and playing the guitar at crazy late hours....except we didn't party or own a guitar, or even a stereo at that point. They heard other neighbors, yet left nasty notes on our door and refused to believe otherwise.

    I've also been chewed out for not shaking somebody's hand/greeting them. Never mind I hadn't greeted half the people there b/c I was busy still carrying food out for the function...sheesh people!

    Some people here are just always in attack-mode. Chill already!

  7. Oh fun! Gotta love bitchiness in German. I can't stand passive aggressiveness in English, and surprisingly enough we haven't encountered too much of it over here in Deutschland. Good luck with that building, haha.
    Glad I got a chance to stop by, great blog :)

  8. I love this discussion, though thankfully have never been on the receiving end of one of these notes (which surprises me considering some of soon-to-be ex's behavior in our apartment). I wanted to just chime in here for Mandi to say that strollers are actually written into renters' laws -- they have to be allowed to stay in the lobby (even if they're likely to be stolen there); just one of the bizarre legalities that most Germans don't seem to pay attention to, despite all the stereotypes suggesting the opposite.

  9. Wow, I can't believe some of your stories! We have enough material here for a German-neighbor-specific version of passiveaggressivenotes dot com.

    Sarah G: You might want to have someone neutral come take moisture measurements in your apartment. Also, I don't know how well your apartment airs out, but if it tends to be stuffy because you can't get a cross-breeze, you might want to pick up a dehumidifier. It has really helped us in general, but we still get high moisture readings in the mold corner because there is some problem there.

    C: Soon-to-be-ex!? Sounds like you are going through a lot in addition to moving...take care.

  10. ‘... bike in her apartment’ Hmm? In that case, I plead guilty.

    I have to admit: I cringed! Badly, to tell the truth, because ‘my’ German fellows keep on behaving ridiculously. Pretty much what is presumed around the world of Germans, huh? Have you considered to write a huge ‘f**k you’ (or least: ‘God hates us all!’ ;-)) across those letters? I certainly would've done it... (really!)

  11. I feel so lucky! I've heard so many horror stories but fortunately haven't experienced any of them despite the fact that our stair well is often not as clean as it could be (a sin in Germany, I'm told :)ge


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