An Update On Crazy

Remember how my neighbor did the whole thing with the bread? And then there have been a bunch of weirdo little things (staring us down, giving weird responses when we pass him and do the usual polite greeting, beginning to undress in our parking lot then hiding behind a tree in the dark and the rain, etc), and then he flicked a cigarette at me as I passed him on my way to the train.

We know he is actually crazy. Not just a dick, but a someone who is struggling mentally. We see his odd behavior, we see him talking to himself, not having any understanding of how his actions impact other people around him, we see that he is incapable of just being a normal dude. Because we live above him and are part of his daily life we see when things are going ok for him and when they aren’t. This is all speculation but we call it when he’s “on his meds” and when “he’s off his meds”. This is not a huge leap to make.

On his meds = quiet, normal, apartment living neighbor.

Off his meds = all of the blinds suddenly shut tight, loud loud loud music playing at weird times (like Monday night at 12:30 am, keeping us all awake too long and making us very tired on tuesday), walking around outside with a constrained look on his face, focusing on getting to his destination so hard that it’s obvious there are unseen things around him he is trying to avoid.

When I got home from work yesterday all of his blinds were shut tight and the late night music marathon that vibrated through our floor the night before all meant he was building up to something. Then I woke up at 2:00 am with a jolt.

A strong smell of electrical fire had filled our bedroom. I woke Kamel up. He walked through the apartment checking our bundles of wires, nothing. No sign of any issue. The smell continued and I continued to say, “No, something’s not right. This isn’t a normal fire, this is like burning plastic. No, something’s not right.” I was not going to go back to sleep until that smell was figured out. Finally I went to check if they smell was coming directly from our window or from somewhere else and then I saw it – a pile of burning stuff right under our bedroom window in the parking lot, smoking up a storm, most of the remains already charred through.

I didn’t see him do it, but I don’t have to. We’re calling the landlords this morning to tell them what we saw. I realize I can’t anticipate or totally understand mental illness, but I just wish he could be a gentle crazy person, someone who is a little off and that’s it instead of constantly being a drain on our life. I couldn’t sleep until maybe 3:00 and now I’m ridiculously tired yet again today. And I feel guilty for tattling on him. But I also want to have our normal little quiet life back. The kind where I’m not woken up in the middle of the night by terrible smoke either from chain smoking cigarettes or a pile of burning debris. Or slamming doors or blasting music or rummaging to peel off his screens, or angry neighbors leaning on his buzzer. That’s all.

13 thoughts on “An Update On Crazy”

  1. Oh my gosh, how scary! Remember when we were talking about him a couple weeks ago and I was like, what if he forgets to turn the stove off or something like that? Then he ends up starting a fire on PURPOSE?! He should not be living alone. Period. Im so glad you called the land lord. Making a burn pile outside of an apt building HAS to call for an eviction. If not, we’re coming over with picket signs.

  2. Oh my word. That is kind of really scary. And you shouldn’t feel bad for tattling on him – because next thing you know that fire could be IN his apartment – or could have started the building on fire. And then it’s not just his problem and a small annoyance to you – it is a serious problem for everybody involved. I’m sorry you’re going through this. :-\

  3. Does SF not have an equivalent of 311?

    That’s what you call in NYC with these kinds of problems (I think you can also submit something online), it’s there to deal with noise complaints and other non-emergencies that still need dealing with. Oftentimes these situations are out of a landlord’s control. Yes, they can send and post notices about not being loud or doing unlawful shit, but evicting someone is a laborious process filled with red tape. I mean, neither you and your landlord know how crazy this guy is so I wouldn’t recommend anyone go knock on his door to say anything unless they’re the police or a qualified social services professional.

    I would definitely recommend looking into 311 and reporting him there as well.

    1. “Oftentimes these situations are out of a landlord’s control. Yes, they can send and post notices about not being loud or doing unlawful shit, but evicting someone is a laborious process filled with red tape.”

      This is unfortunately true. When I was an apartment manager, there was a tenant who I think was schizophrenic. He had an ongoing “battle” with the upstairs neighbors. We COULD NOT evict him. Like, despite the numerous, numerous warnings he got, the late rent…it’s just a really difficult process.

      Now, that said:
      1) This was in Seattle–SFO may be different.
      2) HOLY SHITBALLS THIS GUY IS BURNING STUFF UNDER YOUR WINDOW?? Yeah, that’s a different situation. That’s DANGEROUS. I really hope you reported it to the landlord. I’d also consider calling the non-emergency police.

      1. The update on this is: We are now working with the management company with the eviction process, putting everything in writing etc etc etc.

        I think our management actually HAS to do something about the neighbor because so many people have complained, because he assaulted me, etc etc… he is a massive liability issue and if they don’t we could sue the pants off of them if shit got real. (it’s sort of already real)

  4. That’s rough. And it’s scary having someone who is out of touch with the world (sometimes in a dangerous way) living near you or being part of your life. It sounds like you and Kamel are handling the situation really well, and respectfully.

  5. I wish I had something to contribute that would make you feel better about this, but the truth of the matter is that this situation sucks. I know that when I come home I feel safe, and that means the world to me. Although when I did live in an apartment I had a copule that lived upstairs form me that would come home drunk from the bar and get into HUGE fights. They never physically hit one another, but at times things would get thrown and broken, and scary. I know just how quick a good night can turn into a bad one due to a neighbor. Luckily I didn’t have to deal with that for to long because I ended up moving.

    I hope for you and Kamel that things work out swiftly and that your management company can get rid of this guy before things get worse. Just remember – you can’t out crazy “crazy”. Best to avoid him when you can, as I’m sure you do.

    Good luck girl, and major hugs to you!

  6. that is really scary!! And just not okay. for the safety of everyone involved, that lives there, the neigboring buildings, the kids that play in the street – I’m glad your apartment manager/company is actively doing what they can to make it safer for all. Sucky that it takes so many letters and signatures and official type things. I’m so sorry!!

  7. I just wanted to throw my .02 in as far as not feeling guilty for “tattling.” My sister has similar-sounding mental health problems as your neighbor, and “the system” or whatever isn’t really equipped to deal (and that’s if your neighbor even has systemic supports in place). I’ve been in the position of seeing my sister’s mental health deteriorate from afar for months at a time just based on her Facebook activity; meanwhile her support staff who visit her every day can’t do much but wait until she’s a danger to herself and/or others (fortunately-ish, she’s mainly a danger to herself) at which point hospitalization isn’t her choice anymore. My point being, your “tattling” may be the thing that gets him help, and he may have friends and/or family who breathe a little easier knowing that someone caught *something* reportable to get him that help. It’s a pretty small silver lining from your perspective, I’d imagine, but maybe it’s something? In any case, I hope things get resolved quickly & you can be and feel safe in your apartment soon!

    1. Wow. your perspective is amazing. I know that he is probably a danger to himself and he needs to be NOT living alone. And it does make me feel better to know that this isn’t where he should be. But I just can’t help feeling like I’m also taking away whatever independence he has… I’m still going to do everything I can to get him out of this apartment, but it doesn’t feel like a victory. It just feels sad.

  8. Wooow , good luck with all the procedures. You are doing the right thing, your safety, and that of the other neighbors goes first.
    Hugs to both of you, this is just hard stuff.

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