Paris Neighbour Wars – doormat abuse

This post was written by admin on March 13, 2009
Posted Under: Daily Paris

You could be mistaken for thinking people living in a nice corner of Paris might have the gift of civility about them. Now there might exist one or two antiquated kind and educated souls who understand the importance of manners, but they are a dying breed.

For almost the past decade Mme. Grenouille has put the washing machine on at 11pm so as to economise on costs. There is a lady on the ground floor partially deaf who we do not disturb and a young woman who has been renting upstairs for the past six months or so who has not complained about our washing times, I believe because the washing machine is on the opposite end of the apartment and is never very loud.
At 12:30am last night there was a BANG, BANG, BANG at the door. I would have slept through it if Mme. Grenouille hadn’t awoken me. In my state of slumber I said she’d probably imagined it and to go back to sleep, but she insisted on getting up to have a peek through the spyhole. Somebody was there on the other side! I think it freaked her out so she ignored it and snuck back to bed wondering if we had an intruder in the building. This morning the spyhole was covered up so I opened the door and pulled off a note that had been stuck there. It very impolitely demanded we not use the washing machine after 9pm (I think it should technically be 10pm), and that she would go to the owner of the apartment (it’s actually Mme. Grenouille’s apartment) or the police (who would really wouldn’t care less) – bearing in mind the washing machine had stopped itself by the time her blow-up had begun. When we opened the door again we hadn’t noticed that our outside doormat had been picked up and flung across the hallway and was halfway down the stairs; she must have thrown a hissy fit because we hadn’t responded to the banging on our door. If she had the courtesy to speak to us respectably at a sociable hour we would have apologised for unknowingly disturbing her (despite the fact she has woken us up on countless occasions) and changed our washing times.

Mme. Grenouille was quite annoyed by it this morning, but I told her not to react in anger because that’s how neighbour wars begin. Instead I wrote a note, included the original note from our door and stuck them (with La Poste prioritaire stickers as I ran out of sellotape) both to the main outside door so that any tenants in our building passing through the courtyard might read it. I was opting for the shame tactic so hopefully they can reflect on what is a wholly irrational way to behave.

Mme. Grenouille translated into French (just in case you thought I had girly handwriting!), but in English it reads.

“To Whom it concerns, Our mat was very traumatised last night, having been removed from its favourite spot and thrown without mercy down the stairs. We will refrain from washing after 9pm, but please do not take it out on the mat who is completely innocent in all matters.”

paris neighbour wars

Reader Comments

Try to learn to your charmante voisine what you could do together with a washing machine at 11PM …

Written By sapq on March 15th, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

Je ne suis pas sûr je comprends tout, but I am sure I can teach them the benefits of economising. 🙂 They’ve hoovered the floor more than twice before 7am, and we were very kind in our response, and had thought the courtesy might have been extended back to us instead of being taken out on our 40 year old doormat. Poor old thing.

Written By admin on March 17th, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

Merci pour cette page d’humour…..

Written By PICTURE2 on March 25th, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

Hehe, you don’t have your tongue in your pocket, as we say in France. But the english touch is the elegance you have put in your note. 😉

Written By SurfAnna on March 26th, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

Ah, the joys of passive aggressive neighbors!

My next door neighbor here in Korea once complained to my boss that I was “having loud parties with lots of visitors”, despite the fact that I don’t stay up late and had only ever had a single guest over once, and only for an hour at that. Her complaint backfired, as I was able to get my *other* neighbor, who is a friend, to state that I never have guests and am most certainly not the partying type. My boss talked to the woman and later confirmed what I had suspected was unfortunately the case: She didn’t like living next to a “dirty foreigner” (yes, those were the words used) and had been hoping to get me moved.

Written By Kelsey on April 4th, 2009 @ 5:56 am

Hi Kelsey. Wow that’s pretty low of your neighbours. Why is it the xenophobes often refer to foreigners as ‘dirty’?! My partner’s French mother did offer the suggestion that they might not like an English guy living in the apartment, but I honestly don’t think that had anything to do with it.

I can’t imagine there’s a great deal of American ex-pats living in Korea. I just read your story about the strays; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog with such a sad look. 🙁

Written By admin on April 4th, 2009 @ 11:59 am

Hehe, haven’t heard that one before. I have a book idioms and French phrases, but I’ve yet to get through it.

Written By admin on April 4th, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

You’re welcome! 🙂

Written By admin on April 4th, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

I’ve just stumbled across your blog. C’est absolument extraordinaire! Thanks especially for this very witty look into the politics of apartment-dwelling — and your exposé on the serious matter of doormat abuse. Très bien fait!

Written By Heather on July 31st, 2009 @ 6:09 pm

Very entertaining – I do presume the doormat has recovered and is not traumatized too much! Loved reading your blogs, found you while looking for old Paris pictures and very glad I did – I leave you today the end of 2011 in sight – with a smile on my face.

Happy New Year to you and all your readers xx

Written By Loz on December 31st, 2011 @ 11:42 am


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