Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Joy of Tourette's

Downtown, while waiting for the light so I could walk across an intersection, a deranged man was screaming obscenities and waving his arms around. "Where I come from, they wouldn't stand for this!" he yelled over and over, interspersed with every four-letter word known to man. He made me a little nervous as he was clearly looking for a fight, but apparently, that is his corner of the world. The light changed, I crossed the street, and he stayed on the sidewalk, screaming in rage at new people entering his zone.

Everyone avoided him. I'm thinking that maybe I could do a remarkable simulation of a person with Tourette's. I've had some training as an actor. Surely I can pull this off. Since nothing else works, maybe I can scare my next-door neighbor into leaving, although in her line of work, she's probably used to weirdos. She clatters about incessantly in dominatrix heels on the hardwood floors, just like her predecessor, and slams doors. Last night she had a party. There must have been two dozen people crammed into her small apartment, including the one who left a bicycle in the hall, blocking the door to the backyard and garbage cans. The malevolent odors of greasy fast food from her apartment permeate the hallway, seeping into our space. Spraying her door with Ozium hasn't helped much, although it did afford me a slight amount of momentary pleasure. Semi-automatic fire would have been considerably more satisfying.

Complaints to management have been ineffective, even though tenants are guaranteed "peaceful enjoyment of the premises" under the law.

What a crock.

We shouldn't have to be the ones to move. Where is the justice in that? So I'm thinking that if I can lurch around yelling obscenities outside her door, maybe she will fear for her life and go somewhere else. More likely, I'll be locked up in a cell with all the lowlifes and hookers who don't already live next door to me.


minijonb said...

Guys like that walk into my favorite indie CD and record shop all the time. The owner of the shop wants to get out of the business and always asks me if I want to buy it. Aside from brick-and-mortar record shops not being a good investment right now, I just couldn't deal with the Tourette's customers, so I decline the offer every time.

furiousBall said...

I guess the flaming bag of poop prank isn't that effective in an apartment building if the pranked is right across the hall?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


They all congregate in the same place? I thought that was against the Tourette's Rules of Disorder.

Thanks for visiting my humble planet.


Actually, right next door, as in common wall. And I think the word "common" is the operative one here.

Ryane said...

haha. you should try and kill her with kindness. next time she has a large group of...ahem, visitors, you should swoop over there with a plate of cookies and milk, take a Bible and leave a cross outside of her door...HAHAHAHAHA.

oh well. she doesn't seem like the sharpest tool in the shed, so perhaps all that sarcasm would just be wasted. ;-)

seventh sister said...

A friend of ours has Tourette's but he manages to keep it under control except for eye blinks. Sometimes he will tell us what he has been wanting to yell out and it is usually hilarious. I'm sure he keeps the embarassing stuff to himself. It sounds like the guy crossing the street had more problems than Tourette's, though. Sorry you are having such a hard time with your neighbor. Maybe you could call the vice squad or someting.

MsLittlePea said...

Sounds like a good idea. I know a good filthy word or two...should I come over and help out?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


To say nothing of the cookies. Unless I could lace them with rat poison.

The cross would be useful if she's a vampire, though, which may be the case, judging by the hours she keeps.


There was nothing hilarious about this guy. From what I've read, people with Tourette's can sometimes control the urges for awhile, but when they release it, it's even worse.

Vice Squad. Now there's an idea whose time has come, so to speak.

Sweet Pea,

Please do. I need all the help I can get.

Anonymous said...

Poor Bill had a dentist with tourettes when I met him.

As for the girl upstairs, sorry, I have no valuable advice. Tourettes every time she's around is a good start.

Liz said...

Gosh, she really sounds like one of our ex-neighbors. Hmm...maybe "Crazy Claudia" migrated upstate?
We used to call the cops and complain when things got really out of hand with her "guests". That usually shut things down but the problem was that LAPD would take an hour to show up.

Another neighbor sent certified letters to our landlord detailing her insane activities. Nothing happened until we ALL started complaining about the random people living with her for weeks on end. Then the landlord threatened to evict. She eventually decided to move but until then we had to endure her gazes of hate and her OCD vacuuming at 2 am after she'd have a screaming match with her boyfriend.

SO maybe if you get other folks in your building to also complain??

la cubana gringa said...

Ahh, the joys of San Franciscan neighbor proximity. Let me know if you need any back up.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


A dentist with Tourettes? That sounds truly frightening with all the precision required in drilling, etc.


I think her name is Robin, if that's even true. When she says "hi," I doubt it.

Nobody else in our building really cares since she lives next door to us and we get the brunt of it.

La Cubana,

I do need back up. Where do you stand on the Hippocratic Oath? Is there any wiggle room?

There could be cheese in it.

thethinker said...

We just got rid of the annoying college students who lived next door and loved to party until 3 AM and leave beer bottles on our lawn.

Actually, we didn't really get rid of them. They just left on their own.

Hopefully your annoying neighbor will too.

Josie said...

Hearts, don't some of her activities involve breaking the law? So, couldn't you call the police, especially if it's after certain hours? In Vancouver we have very specific noise laws, and the police do enforce them.

Can't you just imagine a dentist with Tourette's??? *shudder* Normal dentists are bad enough.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I've even resorted to folk magic, turning a mirror toward that apartment to make them go away. We'll see if it works.


Excessive noise after 10 p.m. is supposedly against the law, but the police are so busy tracking down real criminals that it doesn't seem right to call them. Nor would they respond, probably.

The main law that I care about is the law of common courtesy. That one bit the dust long ago in that space.

velvet said...

I'll bet you that she was the one who took the poopy bill.

The situation sounds intolerable and I can't believe that the management isn't even the least put out by the illegality of her subletting the apartment. Hmpf.

This sounds like a tough one. Good luck!

Old Scrote said...

You are right about the "law of common courtesy" biting the dust. I regret to say that even in Britain, once famed for the politeness of its people, courtesy, ie consideration for others, is slowly being eroded. It may be related to the current fashion for screaming about one's RIGHTS, forgetting that rights carry corresponding OBLIGATIONS. Well, I'll stop there, that's enough from the grumpy old man for one posting!

Sienna said...

Hearts! seriously you are onto something here, act really crazy around her...something that can be really effective is *totally upsetting the equilibrium*....up the ante, the crazy nakedness with tomato sauce smeared all over your body....better still both of you....tiny tim recordings play them loud really early in the morning....have a nap in the afternoons so you don't wear yourself out...

...oh and something you can release under her door, a foul smelling gas, of some sort, what's that one like rotten eggs? damn my science brain eluding me at this hour....BUT....and this the key...only do it around her!! never in any one else's presence..

Just you, Flip and her little secret, ( so she can't report you)

Whaddyareckon mate? :-)


Crankster said...

Hearts, use your creativity and channel your immaturity. Order pizzas. Sign her up for magazines. Put classified ads in the paper and on Craig's List. Even if this doesn't get rid of her, there are a thousand little ways to extract your pound of flesh!!

Ian Lidster said...

I have a friend with fairly severe Tourette's. He is also a professional and a city councilor. I know him well enough that I rarely notice his verbal tics, which are usually extremely profane. It always surprises people who don't know him, but I told him once, after covering a council meeting for the paper, "Ray, I envy you. You can sit there and listen to some bit of bullshit or another, and suddenly come out with 'cocksucker' (a favorite Tourettism of his) and get away with it." He replied: "You know, Ian, sometimes maybe it isn't Tourette's at all that makes me say it, but nobody will ever know."

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It's possible that management is allowing her to stay the month while she finds another place, but equally possible that they made a deal with her to pay more rent.

Nobody's talking, at least to me.

They normally paint and make repairs when someone moves out, so it's possible they are happy that they didn't have to do so.

I hear no sign of packing, and that worries me.


Your comment is an excellent post on its own. With freedom comes responsibility, but things are out of balance now.


Sulfur smells like rotten eggs.

I love your creativity, but I think such behavior might backfire on me.

If I could figure out a way to disable her heels, things would be a bit better. The constant pacing drives me off the deep end.


I love the idea of channeling my immaturity. What I would like to order for her is a hit.


Your friend has learned magnificently how to make lemonade when life gives him lemons.

Christina_the_wench said...

I'd hang like 50 of those pine tree car air fresheners above her door and see what happens.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


She would probably think it was mistletoe. Such things should not be encouraged.

riseoutofme said...

What if all the so-called crazies in the world are REALLY the normal people??

Where does that leave us?

As for your neighbour .... have you thought of dynamite?

CS said...

I think the person you encountered was psychotic rather than just having Tourettes. ourette's is a tic disorder and can include obscenties, but not that kind of behavior.

But back to the main point - yes, it is unfair you should ave to move. Where is the landlord in all this?

Smalltown RN said...

Ok first things first...Tourette's...I know you were making a point and it is received...but I have a nephew who has Tourette's and he doesn't shout and scream shout out obsenities....he does have "ticks" anxious body movements...he does attention issues but pretty much has been able to lead a fairl healthy life....

I can appreciate your frustration with your is terrible when people don't respect others surroundings...but then let's turn the coin...let's say she was a shift work....she needs to sleep during the on the other hand work during the day out of your apartment...the nature of your work causes noise....should she come and tell you to shut it down? Think not....I am a shift worker I have to deal with the lawnmowers, the weed eaters the blowers...the sirens, you name it...just because I work nights doesn't mean the world is going to shut down during days for. I have to find some way to cope.

Politely mention to this person that parties after midnight are disruptive and if she could have some consideration.....

Joking about using any form of weaponry just isn't funny to me....

Other than that I enjoyed visiting your blog...I hope you can find some resolve....cheers

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


Ok... it's time to pull out the serious stuff now.

Lets see... voodoo dolls, chicken bones, full moon, snake venom, call the Tahitian witch doctor to have the place smudged, call the priest to come do an exorcism, call the FBI to do an investigation and the IRS to do an audit.
Then submit her name and address to every single religious sect in San Francisco with the 'yes, please come to my house' box checked and circled.

You go girl.

Scarlett & V.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


All the time.

You have a point about the difficulties of telling who is crazy and who isn't. Point of view is everything.


Actually, most people who are afflicted with Tourette's do not have uncontrollable urges to use profanity. I'm pretty sure the guy downtown was not taking a whole smorgasbord of meds.

Our neighbor has just taken over a second parking space of the five in the garage after someone moved out. The management company apparently has far more important things to do, or else she has put a spell on them.


I have also had jobs which required me to sleep in the daytime. The problem here is that my neighbor is amazingly noisy whenever she is home, day or night, and considering the fact that she is an illegal subtenant, one would expect her to keep a lower profile.

As stated above, I know that most people with Tourette's don't shout obscenities, but some do. I'm glad that your nephew is able to lead a fairly healthy life. It must be a very difficult condition to cope with.

I tried to visit your blog, but it wouldn't open beyond the profile page. Thank you for coming by here today.


Thank you for all the nice suggestions. If I ever learn her name, I will definitely sign her up for every offbeat religion I can find, also cooking classes.

The smell of fast food makes me queasy.

The Law Fairy said...

This reminds me... the other day walking into Starbucks I passed a man who was barefoot and who seemed a little "off." He was mumbling something indecipherable, so I breezed past him into the store. After I walked by I distinctly heard him shout "bitches!"

I mean, I KNOW he wasn't talking about me. There's only one of me, and "bitches" is plural. Maybe he was talking to one of his other personalities?

Oooo. You should make up extra personalities for yourself.

(none of the above should be construed as poking fun at anyone with the absolutely real and serious illness of dissociative identity disorder)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Law Fairy,

Nor did I mean any insult toward those with Tourette's Syndrome. It was just a case of "Hey! I can use this."

I will assemble several of my most bizarre personalities and parade them around the premises until they get the job done.

I think I'll be good at this.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I mean "we." I think we'll be good at this.

WNG said...

You have to do it. Then blog about it. Maybe they'll let you keep your computer in the asylum?

If that doesn't work I would try crashing every single party she throws.

thailandchani said...

Dead rat at her threshold, I tell ya! Voodoo. Scare the bejeezus out of her. :)



Anonymous said...

I am convinced that one day you will wake up to silence, that "they" will have left in the night. I am not sure a Tourettes-like explosion would even be noticed by her. Could she hear verbal explatives over her taptaptapping of heels?

Her name is Robin? How poetic is that?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


If I can't bring my computer, then I'm not going.


Do you think she'd smell a rat?


"When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin' along, along...

Wake up, wake up you sleepy head
Get up, get out of bed"

And then I kill her, right?

The CEO said...

Why not hire the guy with the Tourette's to help her customer's find her? I'm sure she's be thrilled.

Voyager said...

HISF, I know you didn't mean this in any cruel way, but I have to speak up. My son has Tourette Syndrome. (There is no "s".) It is a terribly misunderstood malady, and sufferers are not mentally ill, but I'm sure the guy at the cross walk was. The vast majority of Tourette Syndrome sufferers have only mild ticks or vocalizations such as throat clearing. You could spend a day with my son, and never know he has it, although you might think he has a touch of laryngitis. The more severe form is very rare, and often controllable with medication. But they are not crazy, at least not any more than the rest of us!
Rant over. Thanks for listening.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I think I'm done with this topic, but thanks for the suggestion.


Thank you for setting me straight. It's painful to come up against my own ignorance, but I'm always glad to learn.

I don't believe that Tourette is a form of mental illness. I'm sure the man I saw on the street has other things going on.

I have also done some reading about it since I did this silly post, and have learned a lot. In fact, I realized that one of my cousins who has had an uncontrollable blinking tic all his life, suffers from this. I don't know if he has ever been diagnosed.

Sadly, the more extreme forms of this malady characterize it for most of us.

I am very sorry if I hurt your feelings or anyone else's, and I appreciate your taking the trouble to share information instead of anger.

Thank you.

Open Grove Claudia said...

It's very hard to live near people. I whine about the naked guy while you have all of this. Sometimes I think that we are either pueblo or range people - maybe you and flip aren't pueblo, you know?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Sometimes I think that I am a middle of the ocean person, clinging to a rock like moss.

Since pueblos were the first apartment buildings, your guess is right. I have mostly lived in houses, and really don't feel comfortable sharing walls with strangers.

But I love San Francisco, where houses are in the multiple $-millions, a real quandary.

urban-urchin said...

Actually there is something to be said for the vice squad comment. You can call if you suspect (as you do) that there is illegal actitivty going on.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I do, indeed, suspect illegal activity, but I don't think it's conducted on the premises. I think that she and her predecessor probably work in hotels.

Believe me, if there were a steady stream of strange men coming in and out, I would call the police.

CS said...

No that's true, most people with Tourette's have non-verbal vocal tics and motor tics only. I just meant that even those who do use obscenities, you usually don't see that kind of behavior.