At one time or another, all of us have caught a glimpse of a stranger inside of his or her apartment. We’ve seen them in their kitchens as we walk down the street, or looked up at the flickering blue lights of a basketball game playing on their living room TV. If you live in a large apartment complex or on a densely populated street, you may frequently see the same neighbor in his apartment before he pulls down the shade at night.
But what should you do if it doesn’t appear that your neighbor knows how to operate his shade in the first place? What can you do if you can watch him in his bathroom- all the time? While the situation may be interesting at first, it can get uncomfortable quickly, especially if you have children at home. This is a delicate situation you’ll need to handle with sensitivity and tact. Here are a couple of potential situations to consider.
You already know the neighbor:
If your neighbor is a close friend, you may be able to diffuse the situation with some humor and explain your feelings. However, it’s more likely that you and the neighbor who likes to cook in the nude only trade glances in the mailroom. In this case, it’s best to keep quiet. While she may be receptive to your suggestion that she pull the shade down, you won’t know for sure. Your request may make her extremely uncomfortable. Unless you are a fan of awkward silence in the elevator, consider an indirect approach.
If you know your neighbor’s mailing address, you might consider dropping him an anonymous note, politely explaining your feelings. The same thing can be accomplished with a note slid under his apartment door. At least your all-hours view into his apartment will allow you to ensure he isn’t at home while you do it.
What about involving the landlord?
If your landlord is little more than an anonymous check-cashing machine, there isn’t much point in pursuing this path. However, if your landlord maintains a friendly, collegial relationship with his tenants, he may be of some use. He may be willing to discreetly explain the problem to your neighbor without mentioning your name. If your neighbor’s behavior is particularly inappropriate, a quick talk with the landlord may persuade him to change his ways.
What if your neighbor enjoys
When we can see into our neighbor’s windows, we often assume they don’t realize or care that they’re being watched. All of us forget to draw the shades some times, or just don’t want to bother when we’re in a rush. But what if the show your neighbor puts on in his apartment each night is just that- a show? What if he enjoys being watched? If you have already tried to express your feelings, either through a note or a third party and have gotten no response, this is a strong possibility. Your neighbor may get a thrill over exposing his life through the window. If you think this may be the case, you have an entirely different problem on your hands. Your neighbor has the right to do what he wishes in his own apartment, whether the curtains are drawn or not. Anonymous notes are not going to help- an exhibitionist appreciates an audience, sometimes even an unwilling one. Consider this- if your neighbor is putting on a show, he probably knows he is being watched. Is he watching you, watching him?
Now you have two choices. You can buy yourself some better shades and curtains and keep them closed. Or, you can appreciate your unusual living situation and realize it could be worse.