How do you know that you are not listening to music in Zimmerlautstärke? When a neighbor rings your bell and tells you (un-)freundlich, aber bestimmt that he is going to anschwärzen you at your landlord/-lady. (Selfmade) problems between neighbors are centuries old in a country where you can still find the Blockwart-type that notes every time you enter or leave your apartment building (although you know none of your neighbors by name anyway) or where that Großmutti seems to always be at the window, creepily watching your every step. German television has taken up up the formula „persons living in different apartments/houses in the same building/street = sure source of trouble = Einschaltquote“ many years ago and frequently presents new cases of how you might be able to drag that neighbor to court or at least get Mietminderung. Because don’t you forget that there are gesetzliche Ruhezeiten! Dogs are only allowed to bark thirty minutes a day – ten minutes at a time max.! – while the noises that come out of your apartment between noon and 2pm and from 10pm to 6am in the morning shall not be audible to thy neighbor.
But wehe dem who has children! If Klein Fritzchen dares to let one of his shoes fall on the floor after coming home from Ganztagsschule, this might just bring das Fass zum Überlaufen for that Onkel with sensitive ears living downstairs – and a whole calvacade of landlord agents and noise specialists on the scene. These will then set up noise detection equipment that would make any The Lives of Others Stasi agent feel ashamed of his Stone Age listening devices. They will try hard to discern any walking noises from upstairs and tell the children to walk and then run to measure and feel how annoying the fact of them being alive must be like to that Onkel (whose Rente they will eventually pay while they themselves will most likely end up with a food stamp when they are his age).
Or maybe that Onkel‘s Ruhe in his Schrebergarten is disturbed by the sounds of joy that children are known to utter when they frequent a playground. In return, Onkel will bombard the local administration with complaints until they will finally shut down that playground. Or that playing field. Or that Kindergarten. Or Onkel will become a Wutbürger, start a Volksinitiative, and prevent any of the above named facilities to be built at all – so he can enjoy his beer and the radio transmission of the Bundesliga without being upset by those Gören and their Lärm.
And while he is downing his tenth can of cheap beer, sitting in his Campingstuhl, or ordering another round of Pils and Korn for his buddies at the Stammtisch – that epitome of German popular intellectualism, right after the Bild „newspaper“ – he will start ranting about those teenage brats and their Flatratesaufen. Of course he has never passed out, lying in his own puke on that fine night at the Volksfest when he was fourteen years old …