I had a discussion today with my upstairs neighbor this morning. She leaves her airconditioners on, all of them, all day and night, even while she’s at work. One of them is very noisy and makes the doorknobs in our bedroom vibrate. I met her in the hallway and addressed the problem (again). She was very defensive, which is not new, but in a (for her) novel way. She said:
– “I can run my airconditioners whenever I want!”
I said she could, it’s her electricity bill, and was going to reiterate my real complaint (about the noise), when suddenly I realized that, no, this time I won’t shut up! So I added:
– “Still, don’t you feel bad about wasting fossil fuels and polluting the environment? What about your grandson? I am always thinking of Amie’s future. I am sure you think of his future too. I know you’re very fond of him.”
This rambling and pacifying tone is typical me: I can’t bear confrontation, and my neighbor can be very rude and aggressive (verbally), so I was extra careful.
– “Those will be their problems, not mine,” she stated, stomped off, and slammed her door.
Then followed the brilliant insight, the stroke of argumentative and rhetorical genius, the absolutely withering reparte:
– “How about this: in 50 years time, when water and food and fuel are rationed, your grand and great-grandchildren are allocated less than others, because their grandmother was so wasteful.”
– “It would be totally unfair to punish my grandchildren because of my behavior!”
– “Oh really?!”
(Again she stomps off, but after her slamming her door, she thinks about this, and within 10 minutes I can hear she has turned off her airconditioners. Then she calls me up to suggest the condo step up the recycling and install a compost bin…)