Monday, July 21, 2008

Living in a fishbowl

I'm still getting adjusted to living on the first floor with windows that look right onto the street. My windows are on the north side of the building so I get light all day long but never direct sunlight, so the apartment stays relatively cool without the air conditioners running. (I run my A/C all the time when I'm home anyway.) But with no gap between my windows and the sidewalk, I get a front-row seat for everyone who walks by. I can see them, and if it's after dark and I have the shades up, they can see me too. Two weeks ago I had the day off to get my cable modem replaced, and I had the shades up all afternoon. If I hadn't had a clock, I could have told the time by the amount of foot traffic outside. I'm half a block from the Union Street stop on the M/R lines and starting in the late afternoon there's a constant flow of people walking up President Street from the subway. I don't mind the people walking by, even when they stop outside my window and talk. If it's late at night and I'm trying to sleep, I just turn up the fan on the air conditioner and drown them out. And that's only happened once. There's nothing that interesting on the sidewalk outside for people to stop and chat for long.

What I'm not so happy about are the people who don't realize someone lives here. On that afternoon I was home, one of my neighbors stepped outside for a cigarette and stood right in front of my window. At least she had the decency to look toward the street instead of right in my window. Then on Sunday night I had the shades open while I was making dinner. A food delivery guy rode up and chained his bike to the metal bars guarding my air conditioner. That wasn't cool. There have been a few other times when people unloading their cars or waiting outside the building door have stood in front of my window.

The point is that I don't care if you're walking by, but if you can help it at all, please don't stop, stand, peer in, or otherwise pause in front of my windows. I'm thinking about putting a sign in the window that says "Please move along. I live here." However, I know I live in New York, and it wouldn't make any difference. In fact, it would probably make things worse and invite people to do stupid things. I'll just keep the shades down at night.

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