How to Become Best Friends With Your Apartment Neighbors

I’ve lived in a few apartments over the years. Some nice, some not too dissimilar to that one banana peel that’s been sitting next to the dumpster for three weeks. Regardless of niceness or interior and exterior workings, though, there’s one thing they all had in common: neighbors. All apartment complex’s have them. Even that banana peel next to the dumpster. In fact, Tina and Rick, the nice couple that lived next to the banana peel, were perhaps the nicest neighbors I have ever had. And also raccoons.

When it comes to having apartment neighbors, you have two choices: befriend them, or act as though they don’t exist and avoid any kind of communication and interaction, even if that means hiding in the frozen foods section at the grocery store. This post is advice for those that choose the first option. Actually, that’s underselling. This post is advice for those that want to become best friends with their apartment neighbors.

The following seven pieces of advice are relevant for current and future tenants alike. Keep in mind this isn’t an exhaustive list – there are infinite ways to make friends – but in my experience it’s a good place to start. (For the best results, try some combination of the following. But not all of them, you don’t want to seem desperate.)

1. Vacuum late at night. There’s nothing better than the sweet sound of a vacuum to help put you to sleep. Forget about fans, or soft, subtle sounds of nature playing in the background, vacuuming is the white noise you’ve always wanted. Your neighbors will pick up on this, and appreciate how thoughtful it was.

2. Walk constantly and aggressively. This one is especially great for making friends with the people that live below you. The more aggressive the better. If you have heals, bring ‘em out. If you’re in to clogging, don’t be afraid to practice for a few hours. If you’re in a bowling league but don’t want to drive to the bowling alley, go ahead and get some rolls in. It’s all just a nice way to let your neighbors know you’re thinking about them.

3. Let the water run longer than you need to. It’s always fun to hear your pipes working harder than they should. And, if you’re on one of those community apartment complex plans where you all split the water bill equally, regardless of who uses it the most, this is doubly effective.

4. Leave your trash sitting outside the front door for a couple of days. People love this. It shows them your taking care of your place, but not wanting to overflow the community trash. If you can smell it from two doors down, even better.

5. Play loud music. Oh, you normally put the volume at a respectable 4 out of 10? Come on, you can do better. Try 9. Heck, why not crank it up all the way! It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, you should always turn the music up louder than you think necessary. This will help you make friends for a couple of reasons. First, it lets people know what music you’re in to (it goes without saying you have exquisite taste). Which not only brings neighbors together, but allows you all to skip that ice breaker at the monthly pool party. Second, it means your neighbors won’t have to go to the trouble of playing their own music. Think about it. That’s minutes, even hours, of time saved searching YouTube, or taking chances on Pandora, or playing old playlists. You’re basically a public servant.

6. Borrow something and never give it back. I’ve seen it all too often. One neighbor lends another neighbor an item of theirs – you know, flour or something – and then that neighbor uses it for what they intended and then immediately give it back. I mean, how insulting is that? It’s like they don’t even value its worth. In order to show your neighbors you truly care, and don’t think of their personal property being worth the equivalent of a burnt rug, keep that item and never give it back. They may come around asking for it, but it’s all a front. Stay strong. Lie if you have to (watch, it’s easy: Ron, I gave that plunger back weeks ago. Silly you). They’re just happy to see you properly appreciate their stuff.

7. Let your dog shit on someone’s welcome mat and leave it. After all, nothing quite says ‘your the shit’, like actual shit on someone’s personal property.

The Unrivaled Stoke of Taco Night

There are a few occasions in life that demand an extraordinary amount of excitement – one’s wedding day, the birth of a child, a promotion at work, and that bucket list trip to Morocco where you unwittingly took part in a camel race, among others. And then there’s taco night. That’s in a category by itself.

By definition, taco night is the day of the week where you have tacos for dinner. Simple enough, right? But it’s more than just that. It’s an event that you plan your whole day around. For one night out of the week, you have a free pass from all responsibilities and obligations. A co-worker asks you to babysit their kids? Sorry, can’t do it; taco night. Your buddy wants to do sushi and a movie, say, Jupiter Ascending? Come on, Frank, you know better than that. Your boss wants you to do actual work at work? Not a chance, you have to plan for taco night, and you’re only halfway through your taco spreadsheet.

Why all the fuss? For starters, tacos are delicious. They’re one of those foods that seem to be universally well liked. And by well liked I mean people will cut in line in front of a baby to get their hands on ‘em. Cut throat stuff. They’re also worth the equivalent of an old Volvo in the event that you are using them as currency in the state of Nevada and parts of Canada (by no means fact checked). So there’s that, too.

But perhaps the best part about taco night, and tacos in general, is the ability to bring people together. Eat a taco or two, or three, or four, or five (holy smokes, Keith, eight tacos!?), drink some beer, talk to people, listen, laugh, meet your future significant other or Denzel Washington, whatever. Heck, maybe even convince your new friend Denzel Washington to partake in a taco race, winner takes the other’s car. Anything can happen on taco night, with anyone.

(Oh, you don’t have anybody to share taco night with? That’s cool too. I’ve done it by myself plenty of times. Not because I didn’t have friends, but because they had plans… and stuff. Like really important things and definitely not a sick dog excuse that came up last minute after I spent the entire day debating whether I would get hard tacos or soft tacos and finally just settled on a 50-pack of both.)

On one’s worst day, taco night is an opportunity to eat something tasty, and spend some time with quality people (even if that person is just you). On one’s best day, it’s a rare chance at a Career Day*. What does a career day feel like? Well, it’s kind of like riding a bike for the very first time. Riding a bike for the very first time at taco night? Quite possibly a Life Day**.

Not only that, but tacos are cost effective. I know, being stingy with money isn’t super becoming. But when your TV stand is a cardboard box that’s sitting on an empty suitcase, cost effective is nice. If you happen to fall in to that category, you can rest easy knowing the most expensive component of the evening will be the meat (outside of other things like alcohol and perhaps the odd piece of entertainment, like an indoor trampoline). And you can get like 16 pounds of lean beef for under $30 (depending on meat quality prices may vary).

Taco night is a versatile meal that can be enjoyed any day of the week, too. Yes, there is a certain romance about Tuesday. But I assure you, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are just as good. (If you’re not sure what day is best for you, tinker a little. A Tuesday here, a Thursday there, all seven days in a row starting today, whatever.)

At taco night, there are endless possibilities and opportunities. If you can think it, dream it, and put it in your taco spread sheet, it can happen. At its core, though, taco night is a chance to connect with good people over some tasty food. And while the people of taco night may come and go (for whatever reason), one thing always remains the same: taco night is something magical.

*One’s best day of the year.

**One’s best day of life.

A Cautionary Tale About Pooping in the Woods

Okay, if we’re getting technical, yes, I did poop my pants in the woods all those years ago.

To be fair, pooping in the woods is harder than you’d think, and even harder if you’ve never done it before, which was the case for me. At least that’s what I tell myself. There’s no toilet seat to lean on, nothing to use as a guiding force, just you and your choice area in the woods. For me, it was Alaska.

I was 13 (I’m still not sure if that’s young enough to feel okay about it, or old enough to feel like writing this is the worst decision I’ve ever made), and my family and I were on a week-long deep sea kayaking trip somewhere outside of Valdez. For the first couple of days, it was rinse, wash, repeat. During the day we’d kayak next to uninhabited islands, through clusters of glaciers, and across open, expansive bodies of water. At night we’d set up camp, cook some food, swat at blood-thirsty mosquitoes, and tell stories around a fire. It was camping at its finest.

But that all changed on the third day. The day I pooped my pants in the woods. Now you may be wondering how I made it to day three with no prior incident. Well, that’s easy; I hadn’t pooped yet. You see, this was something I had thought about long before going on the trip. I had never pooped in the woods before, and quite honestly, I was terrified to do so. So I conjured up a plan: to hold it as long as possible.

I knew the plan wasn’t foolproof. It was about as well thought out as a game of hop scotch with toddlers on ice. So it was no surprise when the moment came – it was inevitable, really – I was just hoping to put it off as long as possible.

The fateful day – day three – started out as any other: kayaking through beautiful, uninhabited wilderness. Which may be one of the better ways to start a day, unless you’re somebody that hasn’t pooped in three days. Then it’s torture. Subtle waves feel like something out of The Perfect Storm, and gorgeous landscapes begin to resemble that one kid from elementary who thought it’d be funny to kick down your extravagant, and architecturally brilliant block building.

By lunch it was apparent – I could hold it no more. We cruised to the shore of a remote island, and I jumped out of my kayak and darted into the woods. With it being my first time, I didn’t know much, but I knew picking your “spot” was important (for a number of reasons, among them being bears getting weird and jealous).

After a little searching, I found a spot I deemed fitting. It was perhaps the most beautiful bathroom I’ve ever seen. A hidden valley encompassed by distant mountaintops and green that went for days. If it were a decade later, I would have definitely put it on Instagram. But it wasn’t, and any tranquil thoughts I had were quickly taken away by the screaming pain in my stomach. It was time.

I’ll spare the details of what transpired next, but know things seemed to go reasonably well. And there was also a hawk circling above. I tidied up – pulled my pants up, dusted myself off, etc. Pretty standard. Except it wasn’t.

I think I knew it then, but I didn’t want to believe it. Surely not, I thought. There’s no way. Not me. Not here. Not with that pretentious hawk circling above – he’ll tell everybody. But disbelief soon turned into reality, as I came to the realization that I had indeed pooped my pants.

The subsequent events are spotty at best. Between the shock and sheer embarrassment of it all – to this day I’m not sure anybody on that trip knew what happened that day in the woods – I think I’ve blocked it out of my memory. Or at least put it into a deep, dark corner until my unborn child goes on his/her first date. I do know, however, that the rest of the trip continued on and it was great. The colors of the gorgeous landscape a little brighter, the mosquitoes a little more tolerable, and the subtle waves of Alaskan sea pleasant. Once again, it was camping at its finest.

…..

At the end of the trip, before leaving Alaskan soil, we stayed the night in a hotel. It was a good thing, too, because I got food poisoning from a Mexican restaurant and spent the night wrapped around the toilet for more than one reason. Alaska was sweet, though.

A Couple of Tips to Ensure You Don’t Poop Your Pants in the Woods 

1. Don’t skip leg day. It’s easy to do. You’re a bro, or lady bro, and you like to lift and start to see some gains in your chest, back, and arms. You want more. You buy protein and start crunching it at the gym multiple times a day – all upper body, of course. Soon, you’re yolked. From the waist up, at least. But that doesn’t matter because you’re a jean person anyway. But then you take a weekend camping trip with friends and find yourself in need of doing the deed. No big deal, you think. I’ll crush this, just like I crushed that superset of bench press yesterday. You find yourself a nice space next to a bush and take your stance. Uh oh. You begin to waver; your upper body heavy and your legs having not seen a single squat in seven months. It’s too late, though. Things are happening. You power through, like a real bro, but unfortunately your aim has been compromised and you end up like me at 13 in Alaska.

2. Focus on the task at hand, not the hawk circling above. That’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy yourself, you are pooping in the woods. But at least make sure your landing zone has been cleared.