I’ve been living in an apartment with my family as my house is being constructed. The last couple of months have reminded me why I’m not fan of apartments in the first place. We moved in on a Friday morning, and that evening around 9 pm I saw a group gathering outside to smoke. They were being a bit loud, so at 10 pm (quiet time for our ordinance) I called the apartment complex security number. I drifted off to sleep through the noise, only to be re-awakened at 11:30 pm to two different guys screaming at each other. The phrase “I’m going to kill you, you m$%^-f%&#$” was loud enough to easily penetrate my kids windows. After I called the police, the argument continued, and at one point the very un-Christian thought of “Maybe they’ll shoot each other and then quietly die” crossed my mind.
My apartment isn’t in the ghetto. It’s actually really nice. It has a nice pool, complete with a kiddie area and a 4.5 foot section. It has a nice workout room, with a partial weight set, treadmill and even a kids play area next to it, where my kids play while I get my workout in. The apartment complex hosts all sorts of events, and they have a movie and game room area too.
It’s a nice apartment. And I couldn’t hate it more, because of the people.
When Hurricane Florence threatened our area, we were told to clear off our patios. I did, but I saw plenty of patios where the apartment administration had to force people to comply. These people had zero regard for the potential impact of their patio furniture as flying debris.
The guy below me constantly plays loud music well after the 10 pm quiet time. I’ve tried being nice and not instantly calling security at 10:01, but it doesn’t matter. He’s also more than happy to drink a 40 oz of cheap beer and then leave the empty bottle sitting on the stairs. I think he’s just a slob…I mean, who drinks Milwaukees Best in an age of craft beer?!?
The sad reality is that none of the amenities matter. The fact that we have a nice dog park doesn’t matter when people are happy to have their dog poop on the sidewalk and walk off. The workout space empties out when the local ruffian comes in with hard core rap music blaring from a speaker clipped on his pants (that are down below his butt), sharing the obscenities of his music with everyone in the area (news flash: get headphones!). Even the well designed breezeways become littered with bottles and cigarette butts.
It serves to remind me, in an age where we increasingly talk about technology, that people still matter. People make and break systems. You can have the nicest setup in the world, and it can be broken by complete morons. All the laws in the world won’t stop stupid behavior.
Luckily, the reverse is true. People can truly make bad situations better. Every challenge that I faced had the shining moments where others came through for me. I see that every day with people I work with, from my church and just my local friends in the area. One friend who just retired from the Navy is working to improve veteran psychological help. I had an awesome set of people working at my Cub Scout pack, both at my last duty station and now at my new one. Another friend was recently activated to go help in disaster relief in North Carolina.
It is easy to let people bog us down. It’s easy to be a pessimist. The news loves a bad story. It doesn’t have to be like that though. True happiness isn’t going to come when you’ve removed all the bad things. True happiness comes when you’ve accepted that bad things are in this world, and you resolve to make your part of the world better.
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