Fire doors in Yale’s residential rooms are there to save lives, but at 4 a.m., many a Yalie would rather risk peril in a raging fire than listen to his neighbor sing along to a Disney soundtrack.
Imagine trying to sleep while gangster rap music is being blasted from the other side of your fire door. You begin to nod off again, but your neighbor’s sporadic bursts of cursing to the words of the song jolt you awake. And when you finally do fall sleep, you are awakened three hours later by an alarm clock that rings for three hours straight.
For two unlucky sophomores, this is a reality every day. The sophomores would like to be referred to by the fake names “Ethan” and “Green Hornet” because they said they are worried about fueling tensions with their neighbor.
“It’s really hard to do math when he screams gangster rap at the top of his lungs,” Hornet said.
Ethan and Hornet said their neighbor has very eclectic taste in music.
“It’s a juxtaposition of gangster rap, the Cranberries and Hakuna Matata,” Ethan said. “He’ll walk into the room singing a song, and next thing you know, he will be blasting that same song on his computer.”
Ethan and Hornet tried communicating with their noisy neighbor by slipping a note under the door asking him to keep the noise level down. The neighbor retaliated with a note of his own. It read, “I’ll make less noise if you do the same.”
The same predicament affects many Yalies, whose fire doors are so thin that they can hear everything going on next door. While some students are frustrated and angered by the sounds that keep them up at night, others find amusement in the things they overhear.
A junior who wished to remain anonymous said she is happy that the fire door in her bedroom is not activated because it provides a shortcut to the bathroom.
“It’s much more convenient that going out the main door,” the junior said.
With the bathroom just a fire door thickness away, your bedroom can start to feel like just another stall.
Anna Wiedmann’s ’04 fire door leads to a bathroom shared by all the girls on her floor.
“You can hear people rip the toilet paper off the roll at night,” Wiedmann said.
But Wiedmann manages to have a sense of humor about the situation.
“It’s mostly funny,” she said. “Friday nights can be very interesting when people get slightly tipsy and start talking about hot guys.”
“Freshman year my fire door was adjacent to the bathroom,” said a junior who would like to be called “Britney” for privacy reasons. “I was privy to a lot of virtuoso performances of Whitney Houston.”
Britney can’t seem to escape these “crazy wannabe singers.”
“This year, my fire door is adjacent to this tone-deaf dude who likes to listen to the soft rock genre,” she said. “He’s better than television!”
Britney said she and her suitemates definitely spy on their fire door “buddies.”
“Why not?” she asked. “I assume that they overhear as much dirt from our suite as we hear from theirs. It’s a fair trade.”
Ethan and Hornet have started sleeping with earplugs to drown out the sound of their neighbors’ late-night telephone conversations, music playing and alarm clock. They have even tried stuffing the bottom of the fire door with socks, but to no avail.
Ethan said he did not always know the fire door was so thin.
“Last semester, the person in the room next to us didn’t make any noise at all, so we didn’t think much noise was getting through,” Ethan said. “This semester we can hear the guy exactly like he is in our room.”
Ethan and Hornet know the fire door works both ways.
“He can hear everything we do,” Ethan said. “If we want to say something that we don’t want him to hear, we have to whisper it.”
Hornet was more blunt.
“Having sex is so hard when you think your neighbor can hear you,” he said, “so you have to be quiet.”
Ethan said he overhears his neighbor making dramatic exclamations in a fake British accent.
“It sounds like he is practicing for a play,” Ethan said. “Either that or he has a very weird way of entertaining himself.”