What the hell are my neighbors doing?

I’ll try not to give too much background information, but anything in here might be a clue . . .

My husband and I live in a neighborhood of cookie-cutter houses, built at the same time by the same builder. Our next-door neighbors have been there about 15 years. Dad and mom in their mid-40s, daughter about 20 at college, son maybe 15 in high school. Their house is absolutely identical to ours, but I don’t know what kind of appliances they have. We have awning-type windows, the type that crank out.

We are cordial to them and talk to them and their dogs over the backyard fence, but don’t hang out with them much because 1. we don’t have kids, 2. we don’t have corresponding work/home hours so we rarely see them, 2. they smoke incessantly so we can’t tolerate being around them much. But they seem to be OK people. I think he is a teacher; don’t know what she does.

It’s only really gotten cold here in northeast Ohio in about the last two weeks. It’s been in the 20s overnight and in the low-mid-30s during the day. Otherwise, we might not have noticed. They have a window in an upstairs bedroom that they never seem to close – it’s at least a foot open. It’s been that way for two weeks. It’s fucking *cold *here. There’s not a board over it – we can see light through it.

I like leaving windows open myself – I hate that day in the fall when we have to close all the windows, because fresh air keeps me from getting headaches. But leaving the windows open in 20-degree weather? Our fuel bill would be $1000 a month. Plus we would freeze our asses off.

The first time we noticed it, we just assumed it was a mistake. But then it stayed open for days. My husband happened to get home from work one day the son was strolling up the walk from somewhere and my husband was very relieved – he asked “Hey, did you guys know your window is open up there?” The son looked astonished and said “It is?” and hurried into the house. The window is still open. That was about five days ago. We have been wondering what to do, and getting all kinds of crazy ideas, one of the crazy ones being just asking them what the hell is going on.

He has been planning to go over and ask, but he got called out of town on a business trip. I just took the dogs on a walk around the block. It’s 30 degrees. The window is open.

They have a ground-floor window that’s completely covered with condensation all the time. It just drips, drips, drips. We’ve figured that’s just a poorly ventilated laundry room. Or is it?

What the hell are they doing in there?

Maybe I read too much Stephen King, but have you seen the mom and dad since the window has been open? The cold air might be keeping something from smelling. :eek:

No, I haven’t, but again, we have different work hours. I have a long commute so I leave at o:god-thirty, and since standard time resumed I come home at o:fucking-dark.

But I’ll keep an eye out for them. It’s bright and sunny today.

And I read too much Poe. That might be what has me so paranoid, but I was thinking more along the lines of meth lab.

It would be impossible to find out unless you somehow infiltrated their home.

Give us some background information on these people and their general behavior you’ve noticed. :stuck_out_tongue:

Penguins upstairs.

Toucans downstairs.

None, really. Dad used to work at a lumberyard, got laid off, got certified as a teacher. As far as I know, he’s a teacher. Don’t know Mom’s job. Daughter is away at school, as far as I know, out of the picture. Son seems OK when alone, prone to punk mentality when with friends, which is mostly during summer when not occupied. Two beagles.

If you had a window that wouldn’t close, and it was 20 degrees outside, wouldn’t you get it fixed? If you couldn’t afford to get it fixed, wouldn’t you put a board or cardboard or something over it? If you were a kid and a neighbor pointed it out to you, you might be embarrassed, but mightn’t you say, “Yeah, we’re going to get that fixed”?

If you just really liked very cold air in your bedroom, could you justify the incredibly high fuel bill?

Does cooking up meth require a lot of cold air?

Does anyone see this as not unusual? I mean, we’re not going to go to the cops and tell them to raid the place (open window = probable cause!!!) but really? WTF?

ETA: runner pat: WIN!

Next time you talk with them over the backyard fence say ‘Did you know you have a window open? That must be costing you a fortune!’ If they give you an answer, there you have it. If they don’t, just accept you do not have Need To Know.

Well, if we see them, we certainly will. But backyard-fence time of year has mostly passed into frostbite time of year. I’m going to go out for a while now, and maybe I’ll get lucky and see one of them in the driveway.

Perhaps an indoor smoking room? Open window to promote air movement?

Haha, maybe it’s because I live in the city and wouldn’t know (most of) my neighbors if I fell over them, but I cannot imagine being this invested in knowing why my neighbor’s window is open! I’d make myself crazy if I wondered about the weird things my neighbors do.

Maybe leave an anonymous reminder note. Fold it up and just stick it to their fence entrance. Then see what happens…

Be sure to pay attention to their reaction when they read the note as well and what they do with it. This may be important information should they not close the window… (I’m not saying just spy all day, but if you happen to notice them grab it)

I mean, if they just read it, look around oddly, crumple it up, and go back in without closing the window, you may just have something going on next door.

That’s what I was thinking. A friend does that as a compromise with her nonsmoking husband. They keep the door closed so that the rest of the house doesn’t get smoky or cold.

The process of making methamphetemine does require adequate ventilation during certain steps, but I doubt that’s what it is. You’ve said they are smokers, so they are probably airing out the bedroom.

The “drip, drip, drip” downstairs? I guess it could be hydroponics but again, it’s probably something mundane.

Definitely plausible. But why keep the window open 24/7? Unless they are chain smokers and stay home often.

If they have mylar film over a stuck window it could look as if it is open but no wind can get in.

Another thing to consider here. Since the window IS open 24/7 they are definitely aware of it. The room in which the window is in will probably have a closed door and be sealed the majority/all of the time. That being the case, it’s going to be rare for someone to be in that room. Unless of course they enjoy hanging out in a freezer.

That might be it.

It’s fine to speculate here and come up with possibilities. Since they were notified once of the problem, you’ve done all you can. Do not bother them about it again or you will be the intrusive nosy neighbor people don’t like.

For what it’s worth,

I frequently leave my bedroom window open in the late fall, even once in a while in the winter. I’m in the Chicago suburbs, so it does get quite cold.

I just really like the fresh air. Of course, I have to wear more to bed - and frequently a knit wool hat - but I’m just weird like that.

Perhaps they share my weirdness?

Anybody cooking meth would take great pains to conceal the fumes – it’s a very smelly process. Just an open window wouldn’t do it and in fact would be likely to give you away. And, I’m not an expert or anything, but I don’t think it involves any kind of steam (on a large scale).

I keep my window open about a foot, 24/7, for my cat, who poops and hunts mice outside. (However, this is California.) I like the cold air on my face while snuggled up in my down blanket.