I live in a mews with an electronic gate. The gate is operated by a buzzer, given to all residents who live within its confines. If you lose it, you have to pay the silly price of £50 for a new one. That’s pretty expensive to me.
A few months ago, I needed to drive to my parents’ house but our buzzer was nowhere to be seen. So instead of sitting in my car scratching my head for hours, I sought help. I was duly told by my boyfriend that I could open the gate from the mains-box, located at the bottom left corner of the gate. How he knew what to do I didn’t question, but when I lifted its lid, it seemed simple. Under a few loose wires was a red button that opened the gate. Thenceforth, I repeated this action every time I wanted to drive anywhere. We’d lost our buzzer, and nobody in our house was buying a new one anytime soon.
A week later, we were off to the supermarket and I was hunched by the old mains-box replacing the lid when a porsche jeep pulled up nose to nose with our Yaris. A man who looked like he eats people got out and in a faux-official voice said, ‘Where’s your buzzer?’
‘Sorry, we lost it,’ I said, rising from the box. ‘We need to get a new one.’
‘Don’t use the mains box’ he said threateningly. ”We’ve been told by the people it’ll break the whole system.’ I cocked my head doubtfully. What people? ‘OK, sorry’ I said placatingly and looked back to find my boyfriend’s arms provocatively outstretched, palms facing the sky, neck lost in an animated shrug of indifference. ‘Get in the car’, he said and for a second I felt like a Hollywood damsel.
A month later, we discovered that our use of the mains box was being closely monitored and discussed by the entire neighbourhood. Not only were they emailing back and forth, getting themselves into a terrible tiz about how broken the mains box now was (it wasn’t), but they eventually informed our landlord (a nice guy)about how naughty we are. Here’s an excerpt from the Porsche guy’s tell-tail email:
“… I have this morning replaced the screw that had been removed from the gate box housing. I actually spoke to the tenants at number 10 about 2 months ago ….. Have to say I found them impolite as it was a case of shrugging the shoulders and “so what” kind of attitude especially from the bloke. But for security and peace of mind of all residents I think it is essential that the box is secured and the button is only used for emergencies. Thanks”
After this, we got a new buzzer, because we didn’t feel it right for what otherwise was a healthy tenant-landlord relationship to be tarnished like that. But, yeah, the neighbours won.
Last weekend I was pressing our shiny new buzzer like a mad woman, trying to open the gate, but nothing was happening. So I knocked on a neighbour’s door to ask if his buzzer was working and if so, could he buzz me out? He was perfectly friendly but was clearly busy doing something. His wife had the buzzer with her, but he came out to see if he could somehow make mine work. Then another neighbour joined us; an irish man who’d clearly been watching from his house. As he approached, I said – ‘excuse me, hello, could you possibly buzz me out? That’s my car there…’ – and he COMPLETELY ignored me. He went straight over to the other guy who for some reason had my buzzer to his ear, and explained the situation; that the gate wasn’t working and someone was coming to fix it asap. The guy didn’t really care. This was my issue.
I intercepted, ‘Maybe I could use the…?’ but he cut me off and continued louder to the other guy saying how maybe they could use the alternative but ‘prohibited’ method of opening the gate. Just before the guy who didn’t give a shit, died of boredom, I said:
‘I got in trouble for doing that last time,’ daring this Gaelic Zeus character to look me in the eye just once.
‘I know you did‘, he vomited, and walked over to the mains box.
Seconds later, the gate was opening and the irish man whose soul must be in such a wretched state, gave a thumbs up to the other guy who by now was just a bored person holding a broken buzzer. ‘Should be OK now!’ he said, like they were pals. They weren’t pals.
‘Thanks!’, I sang, invisible, my voice lost in the wind and got back into my car. As I sped off, I chucked our new buzzer out the window in an act of decisiveness. If I’m going to live surrounded by rule obsessed chauvinists, I’m going to use that mains box over and over again till one of them has the guts to come and look me in the eye about it. That way we win.
*Anyone else got a massive dick living on their road? Do share :)