I live in a nice quiet apartment complex. We do not yell. We do not throw loud parties. We occasionally drink wine on our balconies and call "Howdy!" to our neighbors as they pass, but we're not Loud People. When one of us *is* loud, it stands out very clearly.
Today, as I arrived home from the CostCo, I noticed that my neighbor's car alarm was going off. The woman who lives in the apartment behind me was walking past, and we stopped for a moment, heads cocked like RCA dogs, while we talked about whether or not we thought it likely that the person sticking out of the car was stealing it, or merely unable to silence it. We decided on the latter.
A few minutes went by. I could see that the gentleman in question appeared to be taking his door apart, so I figured that he was having some troubles with the electrical system. I went inside, and the alarm stopped.
Two minutes later, it started again. The downstairs neighbors' dogs began to bark, which causes the Simple Cat a certain amount of directionless panic.
It went on for a couple of minutes, and stopped. Then it started again, just as the cats and dogs and badgers had all calmed down. Three more times, five minutes apiece, then on and on for almost ten minutes.
I sighed, and went out into the light rain. I walked over to the car and said, "Is everything OK?"
The man half-into the car stood up and looked at me irritably. The door panel was in pieces. "Yes."
I said, "Your car was making that noise, so the other neighbor and I were thinking that we'd feel awfully silly if you were stealing it and we just watched you, so I thought I would come over and see."
"If I'm stealing it?"
"Yes. You don't appear to be."
"Don't people who steal cars usually...TAKE them?"
I nodded. "Yes, that's the usual way. But this is Austin. You could be turning it into an art car. It doesn't look like that's the case. You do, however, appear to be taking bits of it apart."
"Just observing that, and that it keeps making that noise when you do. Do you need any help fixing your car?"
"No, it's not broken." I refrained from pointing out that most of the door was hanging off at an unsustainable angle. The alarm stopped. I nodded, wished him a nice day, and turned around. Eight steps later, the alarm went off again. I turned around and walked back.
"Are you sure your car's OK?"
"Yes, it's perfectly fine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Are you sure YOU'RE OK?"
"Great!" he said somewhat sarcastically.
"...which is best evidenced by the fact that I haven't been honking in the parking lot for the last half hour." I unleashed the +4 Gaze of Asperity over the rims of my glasses at him.
"So, because the 'friendly chat' part of our conversation appears to have failed, allow me to clarify: please either acknowledge that your car is broken but you are fixing it, or stop making it make that noise. Because if your car is OK, and this is its normal state, honking and slightly disassembled, then I am going to request that it live elsewhere."
"Oh. I'm sorry. Yes, it's broken and I'm fixing it. I didn't think anyone would notice the noise."
"If I may be blunt, is it likely to keep making that noise for much longer?"
"Uh, no? I mean, I hope not."
I smiled cheerily at him. "OK! Thanks so much! Enjoy the rest of your evening!"
I skipped back across the parking lot and bopped up the stairs to my apartment, leaving him standing there looking slightly confused, door panel in hand. It went off twice more, and has been silent for the last hour and a half or so. I remain boggled as to how you can stand next to your flashing, honking, partially disassembled car and insist that it's perfectly fine and there's not a thing wrong...