When I first went to Japan, I found it fascinating how so many people could get along in a small amount of space. For example, if you take the subway in Tokyo during rush hour, you better not be claustrophobic, as people are jammed in with you any way they can. Fortunately, I'm tall enough where I can keep my head above the fray and get some fresh air, but down below are Japanese pushed into my navel (and just about everywhere else). Remarkably, as close as the quarters are on the subway, the Japanese try to respect the privacy of the people surrounding them. I've always admired the Japanese for this; quite simply, there is great respect for the concern of others. Because of the small amount of available space, I guess they really have no alternative.
Contrast this attitude though to the United States where we have a heck of a lot more space, but we still have areas where people live in close quarters, such as apartment buildings and condominium complexes. I recently had a reader complain to me about a neighbor in her apartment building who was causing a lot of trouble for the residents there, whereby he would be loud, knock on doors in the middle of the night to wake people up, and generally be an all-around nuisance. They tried to talk to him, but he disregarded their complaints and continues on his war path. My reader asked me what she should do about the situation.
First, you have to recognize you are dealing with someone who is either immature or socially dysfunctional, and such people can be dangerous as they have no concern for anyone else but themselves, the absolute antithesis of the Japanese culture. Second, find out the rules pertaining to your apartment complex as written and attached to the lease or contract, perhaps some governing documents. If such rules and regulations do not exist, look up local government ordinances. Next, register a written complaint with the proper authorities; in fact, get as many people as possible to sign the complaint with you which adds more credibility to your argument. Although you may want to take your complaint to your landlord, in all likelihood, he will not care. From his perspective, an obnoxious tenant that pays his rent on time is better than a quiet, empty apartment for lease. In other words, you will have to register your complaint with law enforcement officials.
When your complaint is officially registered and the person is notified, he will either be forced to conform or may become more belligerent. Now is the time to keep a journal of any other incidents that may arise, including pictures or audio if pertinent. Hopefully, the situation will go away, but it may also erupt on a grander scale, whereby you end up in court or be forced to move yourself.
Such a situation is unimaginable in Japan. The neighbors would talk to the person who, in turn, would become embarrassed and comply in order to maintain harmony and not to lose face. However, in the "home of the free," such a talk would only make the problem worse, not better.
There are of course other alternatives, such as a baseball bat persuader, or hire Nunzio "Three fingers" to have a little "chat" with the problem child, but it is probably best to try legal alternatives first. Then again, you could move to Japan, if you don't mind being squashed into a subway car.
Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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