One ordinary workday evening, I get home reasonably early, and I’m quite pleased with myself lying on a cushion in the lounge watching How I Met Your Mother. Someone knocks on the door. Weird. I live in this old building converted to flats, so my front door opens to a hall, not the street. If anyone was visiting me, they would use the intercom. Like any sensible person who has lived in a metropolis for five years, I ignore the knocking. After all, nobody helped me that time when I banged on my own door for an hour after I locked myself in my apartment and couldn’t get out. (Whole different story. Yes, it was embarrassing. No, I’m not telling you.)
The knocking comes again.
I go to the door. “Who is it?”
”It’s your next-door neighbour. Do you have wi-fi?”
”Umm, yeah.” No, I don’t wanna give you the password. Get your own fricking wi-fi, I’m thinking.
”When did you get the wi-fi? Was it when you moved in?”
”Yeah.” Weird question.
”Can you open the door?” Yes, this whole time I’m talking through a closed door. I know, I’m a baaaad bad person.
”What do you want?” I ask as I open the door, making my annoyance clear.
Holy crap, she’s standing there with some weird measuring device that keeps tick-tocking like the Geiger counters we used in Physics class at high school to measure radiation levels.
”I knew it was your wi-fi. I have been sick since you moved in. I have headaches, high-blood pressure, seizures. I just can’t do anything at all. I’ve had autonomic failure, … I just can’t function.”
Oh boy, I live next to a psycho. What do I do, what do I do, what do I do!!! (And what the hell is autonomic failure btw.?)
“Can I come into your flat to measure the signal?”
“What for?” I pretend I don’t understand her mission, while blocking her way with aggressive body language. In fact, I understand perfectly well what her complaint is. I’ve read about these people on the Internet before. Except, I’d assumed these things only happen in the Daily Mail, not in real life.
“Can you put this in your flat?” She shoves the measuring device in my hand.
I stand in the doorway without moving.
“Why? What do you want me to do with this?” Lady, I’ve been to assertiveness training and I’m not afraid to use it.
“I just want to know where the signal is coming from. It’s really strong in the bedroom.”
“Aha.” Like I care.
Suddenly, the measuring device stops tick-tocking. Act of God.
“It’s broken.” I shrug and hand it back to her.
“I will have to put some new batteries in it. ” She puts on a desperate face and shakes the device a bit. I give her a look that says Not My Problem.
“Oh, this is awful. I just … can’t function like this.”
Silence. The moment when she asks me to turn off my wi-fi is coming … the tension is building. I wait. She waits.
And then she says “I will have to move.”
I say “OK”.
We both go back to our lives. Mine probably a little happier than hers.