I have figured out why New York has been called "the city that never sleeps." It's because it is the city that won't be quiet at three o'clock in the morning. Who can sleep through all this racket? Long-time residents, apparently. Alas, for a poor San Francisco / Chicago transplant, a good night's sleep is only a dream - a wide-awaking dream.
Car horns, screeching tires, and wailing sirens make me feel like I'm living in a live version of that "Grand Theft Auto" video game. Add to this mix barking dogs, shouting people, and blasting music at all hours of the day. And the icing on my noisy cake are my upstairs and downstairs neighbors. The woman above me lives in high heels, and the guy below me runs his wall-sized TV at max volume 24/7.
Some of my readers may recall that I had a noisy neighbor problem once while living in Chicago. Then, my foresightful month-to-month lease and an abundance of vacant apartments to which I could relocate made moving easy. My next apartment wasn't perfect, but it was totally livable, and I stayed there until moving here. Unfortunately, finding a new apartment in New York is not so easy. In fact, in my price range, I'm lucky not to be living in a converted subway tunnel.
I asked the lady next door, who also relocated from quieter realms three years ago, how she managed to cope with the ambient racket. She said, "Oh, don't worry. You'll get used to it." However, the fact that I had to ask her the question three times, and very loudly told me the real story. "Getting used to it," is a euphemism for "slowly going deaf."
Luckily, New York is also the city where you can get anything you need at any time of the day or night. So, the last time I was woken up in the middle of the night, I threw on some clothes and trotted down to the 24 Hour drugstore and grabbed a box of earplugs. Ah, sweet relief.
I trust that I will eventually get used to the noise and/or lose a big chunk of my hearing. But, when you're wide awake at three a.m., that seems like a small price to pay for a good night's sleep.