KNOCK KNOCK – WHO’S THERE?
We’ve lived in this street for a little under two years and it’s a lovely place. The neighbours are friendly, the countryside starts literally just round the corner and the house itself suits us perfectly. Many species of birds congregate in the huge beech trees lining the canal that runs close behind the houses opposite and the Dawn Chorus has to be heard to be believed.
The town itself is clean and pleasant and lies near the centre of the motorway system and the airport, so it’s easy to get to pretty much anywhere quickly. There are some lovely parks within walking distance and the gym and swimming pool complex is less than a mile away. The shopping centre, also fairly close, is perfect for our needs with a good mix of chain stores, supermarkets and small specialist shops.
There’s only one problem: someone keeps slamming their front door at all hours. It usually happens late at night and in the early hours. We can tell it’s the same door by the noise it makes – a rattle of glass, a thump of wood on wood and the after-jangle of the letterbox and knocker reverberating.
And it often happens twice.
I’ve heard it countless times, lying in bed in the dark.
On several occasions we’ve gone to windows and looked and listened but there is nobody about, no vehicles start so we’ve returned to bed none the wise.
But today I thought I’d blog about it and see what others think. What would readers do if they were here, and would they make efforts to track down the nocturnal door-slammer?
And if they found out, what would they do then?
Our road is a short cul-de-sac meaning there are only a few houses close enough to belong to the culprit. The folks on our left don’t have a door with glass and a knocker and I’ve heard their door shut – so it’s not them. The neighbours on the right are quiet people and they have a porch with sliding doors, which means we can exclude them as well.
Further along on the right come two lovely families who both have young kids. The children play out in the road and are very friendly and sociable. Both sets of parents are thoughtful and aware people and would hardly slam their doors at unsocial hours and risk waking their own youngsters up. We can safely discount them as well.
That leaves five possible venues.
Two houses stand at the end of the road and three face us. Let’s begin with those opposite.
Furthest away is a nice bloke in his early 40’s. He’s a gentle person and cycles around the local lanes when not travelling the country selling hi-tech computer security software. He runs the neighbourhood watch and was very friendly when we first moved in. (probably checking us out as my partner was fond of quipping) I’ve seen him shut his door and he’s quite quiet and deliberate, as would be expected from someone who sells security systems. He isn’t the door-banger.
I’d like to digress here for a minute and briefly look at doors and how we use them. I used to work for a globally-known local automotive manufacturer and remember learning how problems with doors were, for a time, a major source of downtime, and causing great irritation to management. Although cars are built on increasingly mechanised production lines, the correct fitting of doors still requires lots of human involvement. Experienced workers bend and thump the fitted doors with mallets to achieve that satisfying ‘clunk’ we all expect when we casually leave a vehicle and swing the door shut behind us. It’s a mix of science, technology and old-fashioned metal-bashing.
Doors in houses likewise have to be hung by experienced people to avoid gaps, draughts and sticking. But all kinds of doors can be damaged by slamming. Whether this lack of care is due to ignorance, or some psychological transference of anger, I cannot say, but I often see folk treat both car and house doors as if they were unbreakable. Doors are designed to be shut thoughtfully, and work much better and for longer if they are used properly. If you’ve been used to taking your bad moods out on the humble door, then this is a plea to be nicer in future.
The people opposite would be easy to blame for this anti-social slamming as they’re considered ‘strange’ and ‘up to no good’ by some in the road. As far as I know, the couple are guilty of nothing more than not being talkative or sociable, and have never done anything wrong or impacted badly on anything or anybody. Yet keeping themselves to themselves, as the old saying goes, appears now to be tantamount to being a career criminal according to the so-called respectable neighbours. I’m naturally talkative and highly sociable but wonder what people would be saying if I had severe agoraphobia?
However, I’ve seen the people opposite leave for work and they don’t shut the door like that. So it’s not them.
The people in the house next to them are perhaps the quietist in the road. Their front door is to the side of the property and they come and go almost imperceptibly. They really respect their doors, so we can scratch them from the list.
That leaves two properties in the frame – apologies readers; I couldn’t resist one pun – the biggest houses in the road.
The property nearest us houses a family with several teen-aged and older kids and a middle-aged mum and dad. There’s always someone arriving or leaving so their door is regularly opening and closing. It’s a quiet door and not the offender.
Which points to…
The final house in the road is inhabited by a single woman in her middle to late 50s. We’ve spoken to her several times and she comes across as nervous and slightly scatty yet warm and gentle. She has a job requiring no little intellectual input, works in her garden and has a very friendly cat. So could she be the phantom slammer?
I woke early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, so got up and absentmindedly looked out of the bedroom window. The woman at the end came out of her front door, walked to her car, opened the door, closed it again, then walked back to her front door and slammed it shut. Then while I was watching she performed the whole sequence again.
This was the same sound I heard so many times before. Half an hour later I heard it again and went to the window in time to see her come out and do it again.
So, readers, hopefully you can see why I’m asking for some suggestions. If this was a case of someone doing it either without thinking or deliberately trying to wake the neighbours, there are plenty of avenues open to remedy the situation; I could simply go and tell them to stop, I could send a letter, either straightforward or sarcastic, or I could report them to the local authorities.
But if this woman is acting out some obsessive/compulsive behaviour I don’t want to make her feel worse or threatened, so the above responses are all problematic.
If I talk to her she might deny it and then what do I do? How should one balance the nuisance on the one hand, and the psychological risk on the other?
Is it better to challenge such behaviour, whatever the reason, or should I mind my own business?
I know readers have more experience of this field than me and wonder what they might suggest.