Ant-ics

It’s been ages since I shared a tenant-related story. Partly because I have this fear that some of them have googled my email address and found the blog. Partly because people aren’t being incredibly stupid assholes (KNOCK ON WOOD).

I will tell you this though- remember when The Smell Lady was harassing the Japanese exchange student with daily accusations of smoking pot in his apartment? Well, he’s long gone (and so is she, thankfully) and yet there is still a distinct pot smell coming from across the hall. Turns out, it was his neighbor (the woman who watches our cats when we go out of town) who is the culprit. She straight up lied to Smell Lady’s face about it. I don’t blame her. I mean, what good would confessing do? Fuel her fire and no one in their right mind would EVER want more of her wrath.

Gee, I don’t miss her one bit.

Meanwhile we’ve had an on-going ant problem in multiple units located in the front section of the building. At first it was in 2 apartments, then it grew to 4, and now it’s 6 and counting- including our apartment. I hate ants. Let me emphatically reiterate my feelings: I HATE ANTS. They gross me out due to their high volume, persistence and rampant foraging. Despite being very clean people. Despite the 8 traps we have set along their trail. Despite me going all Pulp Fiction on their asses, they continue to come en mass in search of food.

Let me explain what “going all Pulp Fiction on their asses” means. It’s me  basically losing my shit in the kitchen as they are swarming about the floor and counter. Picture me standing there, eyes bugging out, red-faced and fuming, screaming “I WILL EXECUTE EVERY MOTHERFUCKING LAST ONE OF YOU!” as I spray them with Windex. That’s what it means.

It’s not my finest moment. I’m pretty sure it scares the cats and Mr. Darcy. But as I have previously made clear, I HATE ANTS.

So Thursday we have AARD coming out for the 3rd time to spray except this time every single apartment on the bottom two floors is going to be sprayed. Even if they have never seen an ant. We must eliminate this problem. Some of our tenants  have been suffering for far longer than us and the damn ants are even in their bathrooms (eww). Unfortunately, spraying means no humans or pets can be present in the units for 2-4 hours after. Which means on my day off I will get to cart my two cats over to my Mom’s for a couple hours. The upside of that is that I don’t have to pay for boarding them AND I get to hang out with my Mom and nephew for a bit. Hopefully none of the tenants will throw a fit about having to board their pet (so far, not a peep) and this final spraying will end the wrath of ants.

When It Rains

It rained and rained and rained all weekend. Perfect weather for staying home to write holiday cards and bake. Except I woke up Saturday with swollen glands and soreness when I swallowed. Eek! I thought I had bested those germs last week?!

I’m home from work today because the sleep I got was sweaty, feverish, and intermittent. I was apparently snoring so badly (thanks mucus!) that Mr. Darcy had to sleep on the couch. I feel pretty wrecked this morning and am going to attempt to take it easy.

Except that a new tenant is reporting fleas in her apartment and there is a leak in the basement and there are multiple noise complaints about a particular couple in a particular unit and the front door isn’t latching every time it shuts and. . . and. . . and. . . Mr. Darcy was a dear and went into work late so he could get flea bombs and set them off. I’m dealing with the other stuff today as energy permits.

I’m half-way through my cards and baking but not sure I can muster the enthusiasm or energy to finish either today. The couch beckons.

Here’s some holiday cheer for you:

 

Finn AKA Rudolph

 

 

I am not a sideline person.

If there is one thing that rallies the fierce protector in me it is an animal in need. If there is a natural disaster, I donate money to care for the animals. If someone loses a pet, I donate money to the animal rescue organization. If I see a homeless person with a pet, I get the pet food or give the person money for the pet. If I see a dog wandering around lost, I will pull over and try to help it find its home. It breaks me to watch shows where animals are treated inhumanely. An episode of Hoarders where a woman has 36 cats, more than she even realized she had, most of them sick, all of them living in their own feces and not properly cared for drives me to tears and outrage.

So when The Music Man’s friend called me yesterday afternoon to ask for access to MM’s apartment because the dog was locked in the bathroom and needed to be walked I LOST IT. Granted, I internally lost it because I was at work but I quickly finished up what I was doing at the office and rushed home so I could let the pup out. He’d been in there since 11:30 the night before! It was 3:30pm when I opened the bathroom door. SIXTEEN HOURS locked in a bathroom. He had defecated, peed and thrown up. The bathroom was a mess with cleaning supplies (clearly not used) strewn about that the dog could have chewed up in his anxiety. There were fleece blankets for him to lay on but he had puked on them. I cleaned up the mess while the dog ran around the apartment looking for his owner and barking. I got it fresh water but he was too busy being free from that small, dirty space. I leashed him and we went out for a walk.

His demeanor totally changed once he was out. He peed 4 times in the span of 5 minutes. He would look up at me and wag his tail. We returned to the apartment and I tried to get him to eat but he was too playful, bringing me a toy and wanting to play tug-o-war. We played and I petted him as he tried to lick my face. I dreaded having to put him back in that bathroom but I had to go to an appointment then another appointment then to pick Kaply up at the airport. I couldn’t keep him with me.

With fresh water and food, I put him in and shut the door. He howled and barked and whined and my heart just broke. I forced myself to leave. I called both of The Music Man’s friends to let them know that we needed an alternate arrangement for the dog because his barking would disturb the other tenants besides the fact that it was just cruel to leave him trapped for hours on end in that bathroom. I left for my appointment and called my Mom who graciously and generously and without hesitation offered to take the dog for the night.

See where I get it?

I worried about over-stepping my boundary as an apartment manager. I’ve worked hard to hold a firm line with The Music Man in the past months, staying far away from any friend-like overtures because he takes any inch. But I could not stand by and not help that dog. I was doing it for the dog, not The Music Man. I got a hold of one of MM’s friends and he agreed that it would be best if I was able to take the dog which was all the go ahead I needed. I went to my appointments, ran home to pick up the dog and some food, and dropped him at my Mom’s before picking up Kaply and her 100lb luggage at the airport.

His friends say that The Music Man will be back today. They both initially said that MM was in the hospital suddenly. At first I didn’t tell them what I knew because what if MM was lying to them? But finally I was like, “Listen. I saw The Music Man leave with three officers late last night in handcuffs. I know he is not at a hospital.” Then they filled me in about how he is harmless and just went overboard contacting a person who has a restraining order against him. It actually made perfect sense given MM’s behavior. He is a bit over-the-top and has a problem with harassment. I’ve experienced it first-hand!

When The Music Man returns I am going to require him to have a back up plan if he needs to leave suddenly without the dog. A friend needs spare keys to his apartment and to be responsible for picking up the dog and taking him in or to boarding. I do not want to be the one who gets the dog removed from him as I know that that dog is his companion and lifeline in a lonely life ripe with a terminal illness and mental health issues. He loves that dog and takes very good care of him. . .when he’s not being hauled off to jail.

I know I’ve gotten too involved but like I said, there was an animal in need and my conscience couldn’t abide with me sitting by and letting it be someone else’s problem. If you see a problem, it’s yours. The world doesn’t get better if we all just watch from the sidelines.

How could you not help this little guy?

Why I didn’t get enough sleep last night.

I was falling asleep on the couch watching Castle when I said, “That’s it. I’m putting myself to bed.” Mr. Darcy joined me a few minutes later, tuckered out himself from staying up late the night before working on one of his contract gigs. We’re laying there in the muggy night, the fan blowing, restlessly shifting under covers trying to get comfortable, having an idle, sleepy conversation when the front door buzzer goes off. Once, then again, insistently. I get up and go to the phone in the hall, lifting the receiver, “Hello?” I’m thinking it’s a tenant who has locked themselves out so I am prematurely irritated.

“This is the Seattle Police. Please let us in.”

Excuse me?

“Uh, ok. Is there something I can help you with officer?”

“No. This concerns a different apartment.”

I buzz them in and turn to tell Mr. Darcy what’s happening. We both throw on clothes and make our way down the stairs. Before we hit the bottom floor we can hear the officers talking and a tenant, The Music Man, is frantically explaining he has a dog, he is sick, etc. There is panic in his voice and we hear handcuffs as the officer says, “Just turn around. Calm down.”

That’s when I looked at Mr. Darcy and said, “I don’t want any part in this. Let’s go.” And we booked it back up to our apartment. I felt embarrassed for the Music Man and also a little scared. The officers clearly didn’t need the managers butting in or they would have asked to speak with us when they rang our buzzer.

From our living room windows we could see not one but three cop cars parked on the corner. We sat in a dark apartment keeping watch on them, waiting to see if they were in fact hauling off The Music Man. A total of 20 minutes had passed since they rang the buzzer when we saw three officers walk out the side of the building with The Music Man, dressed in a t-shirt and shorts and what looked like no shoes, a suit blazer hung from his gaunt shoulders, his arms not in the sleeves because they were handcuffed behind his back. One officer held him by the arm and in the other hand held a plastic grocery bag filled with what looked like clothes. They put him in the back seat of one of the cruisers and then two officers had a casual conversation beside it while the one who hauled Music Man used a sanitary wipe to clean his hands.

I have no idea what he did, why he was arrested, or where his dog is since he lives alone and there wasn’t enough time for someone to show up to take the dog. We stayed up even longer talking about what could have happened to get him arrested. It could be anything really. I don’t know how much I should know though a tenant living in my building who can get arrested? Is not really a tenant I want. That’s not the kind of building we run. I feel bad for him as he is very sick, paranoid, and mentally unstable. I’ve alerted the landlords and will wait to see what happens.

It’s All Part of the Job

The dumpster area in the back alley was strewn with clothes and recyclables and trash so we donned our latex gloves and got to work. I was on one side of the dumpster picking up harmless cardboard when I heard Mr. Darcy from the other side let out an audible groan along with “You have GOT to be kidding me!”

So of course I had to go see what was up.

Upon picking up a soiled white shirt Mr. Darcy had discovered poo. And it appeared to be from a human.

GAG.

He picked it up with his head turned away while making noises to express his utter disdain and disgust for the task . It was pretty gross. Way worse than picking up a discarded bra or that one time I had to dispose of a needle. Or the last time we cleaned back there and he had to warn me, “Watch out for that used condom.”

Ew.

This is why we wear latex gloves when we clean the trash area.

And why we are locking the dumpsters and every tenant will have to use a key to throw their trash away. It’s a pain but the dumpster divers are making a mess of our alleyway. It might not stop them from defecating but at least people won’t be standing knee-deep in our trash rifling through it.

This job has its perks and its drawbacks.

Twisted

It was 9pm when I heard a knock at my door. I was fresh from the shower and in my pjs.

Sigh.

It was one of my more high maintenance tenants. Since moving in she’s been very. . . let’s just say “particular” because I am trying to be nice. She likes things a certain way and while I appreciate that as I am like that too, being on the receiving end of those requests is pretty exhausting. But I’m nice to her because I am a nice person. . . and I am probably her to someone else. Just trying to even out my karma, you know?

So she’s distraught because her smoke alarm is beeping because the battery is low. She does not have a ladder or a chair that will get her up to the high ceiling where it is installed. Trying hard but failing miserably, I attempt to hide my disdain and tell her I will get a ladder and come up.

The ladder is down in the basement. She lives on the top floor. All of this requires me putting on a bra. Which, as we all know, is not my favorite thing.

I grab the ladder and a battery and make my way up the 4 flights of stairs. As I’m hoisting the ladder up the second floor landing, I accidentally dropped the battery I am holding in my left hand and it plummets down the space between the staircase. I lean over to look for it and when I step back, I miss the step with my right foot. My foot in an effort to find footing falls behind me and twists, the bottom of my foot turning inward and my ankle twisting. I try to grab onto the railing but it’s too late. I’m falling back a couple steps onto the landing, the ladder toppling down next to me.

Well, fuck.

I immediately think IT CAN’T BE BROKEN I HAVE TOO MUCH GOING ON. I had a fundraiser to run the following day and a trip back east in a week. Then I start to panic- I won’t be able to do yoga and I’m just now getting so attached to it. It’d be just like my life to fuck with my yoga mojo. I need my yoga!

I manage to pull myself up with minimal tears and realize I can gingerly put pressure on it so it’s not broken. Phew. And because I am a) crazy and b) bad ass, I grab that stupid fucking ladder and make my way up to the next floor (my floor) where I grab another battery and since I don’t have pockets and holding it before proved problematic, I stuff it into my bra cup. (What? Don’t tell me you’ve never used your bra for temporary storage. This much boob has multiple purposes.)

I make my way to the top floor, change her battery, make minimal small talk even though she’s trying to be polite and ask me about my life. I am like MY FOOT FUCKING HURTS & I AM WEARING A BRA PAST 9PM. Things aren’t peachy at the moment, Ms. P. That’s what I’ve decided to call her. P for Particular.

It’s really not the end of the world but when you’re hurting and you just want to be unwinding in your apartment and instead you’re on a ladder with a twisted ankle, you might not be in the best mood. I couldn’t fathom dragging that stupid ladder all the way back down stairs so I leaned it against the communal hallway wall and went into my apartment where I iced my foot then wrapped it in an ace bandage. Which is what I’ve been doing off and on for the past five days. The swelling has finally gone done but walking stairs are hard and my ankle cracks a lot more than usual (and it cracked a lot to begin with).

Being an apartment manager is dangerous. If you’re a klutz.

Costly Kindness

The people pleaser in me is stressed out to the max.

Without going into too much detail, let’s just say a situation that I thought was over is NOT over and has come back with a vengeance and some strongly worded scapegoating. Not fun! It’s times like these where I wonder if being nice is worth it. So now I am trying to calm down after being verbally attacked via email and figure out a proper response that doesn’t come from a place of defensiveness.

How the hell do you respond to an attack without being defensive?

I told Mr. Darcy last night that I need us to figure out a plan for when the apartment management gig will no longer be necessary. I need a light at the end of the tunnel. I need to not have the stress of people taking advantage of my good nature. I need to not live where I work.

Send me some good vibes if you will. I need some clarity.

Neighborly Neurosis

You’ve heard about the Hoarder, right? She’s my tenant, my next door neighbor, a very nice woman who lives in an apartment stuffed with stuff and things and more things and other stuff. She’s also very tiny so I’m surprised her apartment has not yet swallowed her up.

So the other day, Mr. Darcy and I are returning home and I notice multiple bags in the hallway. Bags filled with what appears to be recycling. Her apartment door is slightly ajar and I can hear voices. This piques my interest because a) I’ve never in the 2.5 years I’ve lived here heard her have a visitor over, b) could she actually be cleaning (gasp!) and c) I am nosy. As we walk past I poke Mr. Darcy while pointing and (stage) whispering “look inside the Hoarder’s place!” because I want him to see the hoarding in all its glory but instead he looks the other way aghast that I, again, have zero ability to be subtle.*

It’s true; subtlety is not my strong suit.

A little while later as I lugged laundry down to the wash room I noticed that the bags had multiplied. Where there were three there were now six. While I commend her progress, I don’t much care for looking at other people’s trash. Besides the lease specifically states that tenants are not to clutter up the communal hallways. I let it be as much as it irks me because if she’s actually cleaning her hovel, I don’t want to stop progress.

The next day I leave to go to work and there are still bags there and now, a large box apparently containing an air purifier. This puts me on edge. But I don’t say anything. I tell myself to chill and if the stuff is still there when I get home from work, I will talk to her. Mr. Darcy texts me later that morning on his way to work to report that some of the bags had been removed. But when I arrived home that night there were still bags of trash and the air purifier. Grrrrrr! Again, I let it go thinking she’s trying and I should cut her some slack. She does have a bit of a limp and maybe it’s harder for her to clear out her debris. I mean she’s differently-abled and I should be more understanding. But still, I HATE LOOKING AT THAT SHIT IN THE HALLWAY.

Here’s where I wonder: If you are a hoarder and you live in a communal apartment building maybe it’s a cruel twist of fate to live next to your apartment manager who also happens to be a bit of a clean freak. Or it is possibly The Universe trying to help you get a grip. Don’t make me call A & E on your ass.

It’s then Tuesday and I leave for work noticing there are still bags and the box near her door. I swear to the baby Jesus that if she doesn’t remove that pile of shit by the time I get home, I’m fucking writing her up. Then I apologize to the baby Jesus for swearing and ask for a little help with having some patience and tolerance because I AM ON THE VERGE.

Can I get an Amen?

I arrive home last night to, guess what? Three bags and the damned box. I drop my stuff in my apartment and write her a note. Not an official warning that goes in her file, just a neighborly notice saying that while I appreciate she is cleaning out her apartment would she please not keep stuff in the hallways for days at a time as it is disrespectful to the other tenants and against her lease agreement.

Because one day? Okay, I can tolerate it. But three days? Hell to the No. If you let one person breaks the rules then all hell breaks loose. I’m trying to run a reputable establishment here for fuck’s sake.

AMEN.

*Remind me to tell you sometime about the time when Mr. Darcy and I were on a plane and I was very unsubtle.

Tow the Line

I finally reached my limit and towed someone illegally parked in my driveway.

I’d been away for a few days and upon return found a Chevy van parked in my driveway. We were in Mr. Darcy’s car which means my car was in the driveway, pulled up enough for a car to fit behind me. The only car allowed to park behind me is Mr. Darcy’s. I’m pretty sure I’ve made this crystal clear to all of my tenants since I gave everyone a strongly worded letter months back and have made a point of telling every new tenant that unless they clear it with me, they nor their guests are ever to park in my spot.

I didn’t recognize the car. I was tired from traveling. It was well past 10pm. I don’t need to have a list of excuses to justify why I was pissed off. It’s my driveway. I earn that parking space. I’ve had it with people ignoring the tow sign.

I called the tenants that were moving out that weekend to check.  No answer to my call, my text or my knock at the door. So I called the tow company and within 30 minutes, the car was gone.

I was so worked up over the ordeal that I forced myself to take a hot shower. Luckily I am blessed with a wonderful boyfriend who doesn’t mind staying up late letting me vent, who is endlessly supportive and calm. It was in the midst of my attempt to de-stress that the tenants moving out contacted me.

Yes. That was their car I just towed.

I had told them they could park behind me while I was gone but I am very certain I told them I would be home Sunday. Clearly they missed that part of the email. The people pleaser in me still feels guilty. I did say they could park there. But I also did say I was going to return on Sunday evening. I did try to get a hold of them in three different ways. They did not answer. It makes me sad because I like them. They were my favorite tenants. To have it end on such a sour note just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And let’s be real, I don’t like having people not like me.

I felt so much anxiety leading up to the walk through of their apartment the next day. I didn’t want to over-apologize despite feeling bad about the situation. I started off by saying I was sorry about the situation and that I felt bad that their car was towed. They just sort of looked at me and didn’t say anything. Not about the miscommunication or about their fault in it. Nothing. I took that to mean that they blame me. Maybe they feel sheepish. Who the hell knows. I keep expecting more out of people than they are capable of delivering and it’s exhausting.

But it’s over. They live elsewhere and I will, I’m certain, have other, possibly worse situations to face. It’s all just steps in the journey towards not personalizing everything, standing up for myself, and not over-caretaking the entire world.

Sigh.

“Living is a conversation with no end, a dance with no steps, a song with no words, a reason too big for any mind.” - Mark Nepo

Scenes from the Building

Phone rings.

Hi ______.

Hi Sizzle. It seems like the maintenance guy came in today instead of tomorrow.

Really? Why is that?

Well my stuff is moved from under the sink and a bag was left on top of my trash can.

That doesn’t make much sense. Why would he be in the kitchen when the work you requested he do is in the bathroom?

I don’t know but my stuff is moved. Maybe he needed to fix my sink? I did put an artichoke down the garbage disposal last night. . .

Aahhh. . . I know what happened. You putting an artichoke down the disposal caused your neighbor’s sink to back up. The plumbers were just here fixing it and they must have had to enter your apartment to fix the problem. I’m sorry you weren’t given proper notice. I would have never known that they were even in there if you hadn’t called.

It’s alright. I suppose it’s my own fault for putting the artichoke down the disposal.

{Um YES IT IS.}

I’m just embarrassed that my apartment is such a mess.

Trust me, you don’t know how some of your neighbors live. You have nothing to be embarrassed about.

****

Myself and a potential tenant are exiting a vacant apartment when we run into the neighbor from across the hall.

Hi ______. Whatcha doing? (She’s walking over to her neighbor’s apartment about to knock.)

Oh well I heard crinkling. I was going to ask _____ if he was crinkling something.

Her girlfriend is in the hallway with us, giggling.

Hmm, okay.

I know I must sound crazy. It’s just that I heard it. If it’s not him, maybe it’s a rat.

UH! HELLO! It’s not like I AM SHOWING AN APARTMENT TO SOMEONE WHO MIGHT WANT TO LIVE HERE OR ANYTHING. (To the potential tenant:) We do NOT have rodents. We never have.

Yeah, I’m just crazy. (To the potential tenant:) This is a great building.

Welcome to the building! She’s thankfully the harmless kind of crazy.

****

I received 3 voicemails in succession from the Music Man. They talk about how he was hearing very loud sawing noises and how he had yelled out to the offending sawing people, “DON’T RUIN THIS BUILDING!” Because that would help. He also said in two of the messages, “I not sure if you noticed but I am mentally ill.”

Really? You are mentally ill?! I never noticed! Not when you claimed someone was squatting in the upstairs apartment. Not when you claimed someone broke into your apartment and stole a battery. Not when you claimed someone was stealing your internet from five blocks away resulting in multiple calls to the police. Not when you asked your former neighbors to comply with a bizarre notification system where they put a stuffed animal in the window alerting you to when they are home or away. But hearing sawing and yelling about it to supposed offenders THAT YOU CAN’T SEE really convinces me.

****

Question: Is a compliment from a crazy person still a compliment?

Discuss.