Moving – Again

I’m not going to say that I intend to write more because I’ve written it so many times it’s starting to sound ridiculous to me. However, this time I have a excuse!

Within the past year, my landlord has gone from bad to worse – or maybe I’ve just lost patience. In any case, I’ve become convinced that the building is so poorly maintained as to be a little bit hazardous. I’ve become extremely sensitive to building disasters in my neighborhood. They’re much more common than you’d think. If there isn’t a large loss of life, it barely makes it to the paper. On my way to get groceries the other day, I walked by a building going up in flames. A fire in an apartment on the third floor spread to the fourth and fifth and seriously threatened the neighboring buildings. I overheard a woman on the sidewalk say that her mother was trapped inside. She looked about my age, so I’m guessing her mother is not young. Fortunately, only one resident and six firefighters were injured and no one was killed. It barely registered on the news. (Article.)

Until recently, the landlord was storing items in the stairwells, which are the only exits in case of a fire. I called the city and the fire department was here the next day. Generally, the city has been good and responsive. The stairs were cleared and light bulbs were replaced. However, it’s only a couple of weeks later and some light bulbs are out again. Don’t ask me why. I’ve ceased trying to understand how my landlord messes things up so badly. Greed alone doesn’t explain it. It’s some unique combination of cupidity and incompetence. My intercom hasn’t worked since at least August. They’ve hired a locksmith to fix it. The locksmith has been here at least ten times, and that’s not including the several appointments that were never kept. It’s annoying that for over six months I’ve had to let people into my apartment at seemingly random intervals in a Sisyphean quest to fix the intercom. I presume that the landlord is paying the locksmith. Aren’t they at least annoyed that the locksmith appears to be utterly incapable of fixing the lock.

It’s like a comedy. They come, one person from the management company and one person from the locksmith. The guy from the locksmith company takes the intercom off the wall. He looks at the wires and shrugs. He turns to the guy from the management and says something in Spanish. The guy from management asks me what’s wrong. I say it doesn’t work at all. He, presumably, translates this into Spanish. The locksmith guy shrugs. He puts the phone back on the wall. The guy from management asks if I’m going to be home the rest of the day. I say yes. He says they’ll be back later that afternoon. They don’t come back. About half the building has intercoms that don’t work. They fix one, but then someone else’s stops working. Don’t waste your time speculating. I’ve been puzzling over this for six months and I don’t get it. I think I could have learned to install intercoms and put in an entire new system myself by now.

One of the people who works for the management company proudly showed me how they had put hardware cloth over the dryer vent to get rid of the rats after they discovered a happy family of them living in the vent. I smiled and nodded and said it was a good thing. I mean, what am I supposed to say? I imagine the management company doesn’t treat their workers any better than they do the tenants. Still, the rats had been living there for over a year. I bet they were only evicted because they weren’t paying rent.

Did I mention that this is an elevator building? Well, most of the time. The thing breaks down several times a week. They call someone who does something, I can’t imagine what, and it works again for a few days. I have an image of the working parts of the elevator, inside the shaft, as being held together with duct tape and bits of string. It’s a little bit scary. I’ve stopped taking the elevator except when I’m carrying something heavy. I live on the sixth floor. One of my neighbors who has an elderly dog complained to the management. They told her the elevator would cost over $100,000.00 to fix. I just learned this yesterday and now I’m terrified of the elevator, knowing that there is something seriously wrong with it and the landlord is not fixing it because they don’t want to spend the money. There’s an English bulldog whose legs are too short to handle the stairs. His owner has to carry him when the elevator breaks. He tells me the dog hates it. Fortunately, he’s a big guy. And to think that I toyed with the idea of getting a dog when I moved in here. (Note to self: Chihuahuas have their good points.)

In short, I think this building is an accident waiting to happen. I’ve contacted the city about some of these problems. It’s hard, however, to communicate an overall pattern of neglect. I’m going to write a letter to the city just to keep my conscience clear. If anything happened and someone got injured I’d regret not saying anything though I doubt anything will come of it. Then, self-preservation kicks in and I move myself out of here.

That’s the good news. I found a lovely new place not too far away. They probably thought I was a bit nuts because I insisted on taking a look at the basement and other places people normally don’t go. I looked on the city website to see if there were any complaints. Once burned, twice shy.

Hmmm… I was originally going to write about making drapes.

Yes! We’re making drapes again. Fun times.

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