Sometimes I want to write about things that would make good “Six of the Best” columns, but they really aren’t “best” things, per se. Sometimes they’re “worst”.
That’s why I’ve decided that the first SOTB of every month will now be a “Six of the Worst”.
I live in an apartment. I don’t have a lot of stuff, so I don’t need a lot of space. My goal is to live somewhere convenient, inexpensive, safe, and decent. I thought I’d found that place, but as it turns out, not so much. So, here are six of the worst things about apartment living, especially if you’re a geek like me.
6. I got 99 problems, and most of them are parking-related. — My complex has assigned parking spots. That’s all well and good; it means I’m guaranteed a space in front of my apartment. A space. Singular. The real issue is that my street has nine six-unit buildings, and each unit is a two-bedroom. Many units are home to families with two parents, but each two-bedroom unit only gets one assigned spot. And my street has exactly ten guest spots.
Yeah. Ten. So if I want to have a friend come over, I have to park on the next level down (it’s a three-level complex) and slog along a dirt path from the half-ass attempt at a sidewalk (which ends at a dirt wall with no stairs) to my front door. Either that or my friend does. And if I’m having a dinner-and-board-games party, everyone is screwed. Many complexes “solve” parking problems by numbering spaces and assigning them to residents, but as a leasing agent (at a different complex) once told me, numbered spaces means there aren’t enough spots.
And this doesn’t even begin to address the… let’s say “creative”… methods my neighbors use to solve their problems. Like parking in no-parking zones because they know they’ll never get towed, thereby making it nearly impossible for fire trucks and ambulances to get down the street, and also making it nearly impossible for the person who has the spot next to mine to pull in and out (because it’s directly opposite a no-parking zone). People ignore the rules because there’s no enforcement; it’s just like a child who keeps getting told “if you do this, you’ll get a spanking” but never gets the spanking. Empty threats.
5. There’s no escape. — Many apartment complexes have a single point of entry and exit. Mine is no different. Many apartment complexes are also home to families with children. Again, mine is no different. However, when the apartment complex’s solution to “I can’t get to work on time because the school bus blocks the entrance for ten minutes right when I have to leave” is “go to work at a different time”, I get a little angry.
Most people don’t get to choose what time they leave for work. Most people also work not just because they want to but because they need to pay their rent. So my choice is pretty much “leave earlier than I want to and sit around at work doing nothing” or “leave later than I want to and risk being late, losing my job, and not being able to pay my rent”. I realize that the complex doesn’t actually control this issue — the school system does — but perhaps this information could be made available so we could take it into account. Additionally, there’s the fact that three enormous apartment complexes all use the same road to exit to the main arterial; six school buses plus hundreds of people all on the same two-lane road equals a morning jam before I can even get into the usual highway traffic.
And this doesn’t even begin to address the fact that the kids waiting for the bus (and their parents) have no concept of respect for those of us trying to leave via car. They just stand there in the middle of the road, and if we honk at them, suddenly we are the ones in the wrong. Especially to the parents who sit in their cars, idling, blocking the entire entrance. But, again, unless the posted penalties are enforced, no one will stop doing it.
4. Do you like your neighbors’ music? No? Too bad. — Look. I get it. Older apartments aren’t built as well. The walls are thin, and you hear things occasionally. I get that, and I’m okay with it. My bedroom is pretty quiet, all things considered. But if I’m in the living room, kitchen, or dining room, it’s a constant barrage of deep bass music, sometimes loud enough to vibrate my dishes in the cabinet or drown out my television — which I keep at a normal, semi-quiet volume. I deal with it, though, unless it’s coming from the parking lot.
Yeah. The parking lot. Where my neighbors and their friends sometimes turn their music up so loud that my couch becomes a massage chair. I’ve called in multiple noise complaints, but nothing gets done. Of course, if I were to play polka music at high volume, I would be the bad guy.
And this doesn’t even begin to address the yelling that goes on well after 10:00 at night. The neighborhood kids are outside, shouting at each other (there’s some kid named “Joey” who everyone wants to play with, apparently), running around in the parking lot or behind my building, right when my child needs to be fast asleep. I thought giving her the back bedroom (which backs up to a green space* would be enough, but alas this is not the case).
3. Repair work requires an act of Congress. — Most of us are tinkerers. I can fix minor things like garbage disposals and faucets or shower heads. But when water is pouring into my bathroom from upstairs, there’s not a hell of a lot I can do except put a bowl under it and call maintenance. Who shows up eventually. After all, I have two bathrooms; if one is out of commission, I can use the other.
Yeah. It took almost two days for them to deal with a water leak (which was costing them money) coming into my bathroom through the light fixture. Electricity plus water usually equals bad things, but all they did the first time was empty the fixture and patch my ceiling. They didn’t go upstairs to deal with the problem — water coming in from my neighbor’s bathroom. I don’t blame my neighbor, by the way; he didn’t do it on purpose. I blame maintenance, who took almost two full weeks to fix the problem correctly, which included respackling my ceiling (and dripping spackle on the doorknob, floor, and shower head, and not cleaning any of it up).
And this doesn’t even begin to address the frozen pipes issue in winter. The complex’s solution is simple: put up signs with a picture of a dripping faucet and the words “FREEZE WARNIG”. Look, if you’re not from an area where freezes happen, you don’t know about the whole “dripping faucet” thing. Not to mention the fact that my faucets, because they’re so old, tend to squeak over to the off position if they’re in “drip mode”. I waste so much water during freeze warnings that I can’t even begin to make a good analogy for the amount.
2. Do you have a moment to talk about Jesus? — I’m not going to go on an anti-religion screed here. If you want to believe, then believe. If you don’t, then don’t. But please don’t come to my door and repeat the same spiel I just heard you give to my next-door neighbor because the walls are so thin that I can hear it perfectly. Use your brains. Or, y’know, just drive the giant Jesusmobile through the complex, blaring praise music at 9:30am on Saturday mornings.
Yeah, didn’t the complex neglect to tell you? Every Saturday morning a box truck is going to drive down every street, playing praise music through humongous speakers, making sure that you’re awake and thinking about Jesus and how great he is. No matter what time you got in after LARPing Fridaynight; no matter how big a headache you might have or how sick your kids are; no matter what you feel about Jesus or religion in general… the Jesusmobile** trumps all of that.
And that doesn’t even begin to address the literature that gets posted everywhere. Including in my mailbox, but I’m specifically talking about the flyers stuck to my door exhorting me to come to this church or that church… or, worse, to remind me that “life begins at conception” (and, in case I speak Spanish, “la vida comienza en la concepción”). Because that is a discussion I want to have with my child. Regardless of how you believe, it should be up to you as a parent to make the decision as to when and how you want to tell your child about the abortion issue.
1. “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” — Bill Cosby probably wasn’t talking about apartments, but when you’re trying to find a place that you can afford, that’s in a good location, that’s safe, and that is decently-sized, -built, and -furnished (appliance-wise), you can’t please everyone. I found a place built 40 years ago with working appliances, convenient to the highway, not convenient to any sex offenders (I checked), and is pretty large for the price I’m paying.
Yeah. That’s what I thought, anyway. But getting out of the complex is nearly impossible when school is in session, driving to the highway requires a U-turn or waiting through at least two cycles of the traffic light, the freezer and dishwasher are on their last legs, the oven smokes if I set it higher than 400, my neighbors play loud music at all hours, people mill around in the street and park in no-parking zones, the windows and walls are so thin that I end up spending $280 per month on electricity in the winter and still need space heaters, and the fitness center is only open from 10am to 6pm (which is convenient to no one, thereby explaining why it’s in such good shape).
And that doesn’t even begin to address the cost of moving — I’ll be doing that in a month or two, to a place with a better location (but only one road out and a two-lane road to the main arterial), low crime (there’s a pre-school across the street, which means slow drivers every school day), convenient to work and school (but taking the train would cost me more time, so I’ll have to battle traffic every afternoon), with ten-year-old appliances (newer than what I have now, at least) and carpet in the dining room (stains galore). No parking problem, though; I checked. Twice. So we’ll see how that goes. I might be writing this column again in a year.
My daughter is very firm in what she wants when we move.
First she said that she gets the master suite because she wants an “en suite bathroom”***. I told her I would look for a place with dual en suites, but didn’t have any luck.
Then she said we needed to get a house so she could get a dog. But not just any dog — she has to have a Westie. I will not be getting a dog that I can**** throw like a football. It’s not happening.
I can only imagine what she’ll ask for next. Hopefully the fact that the place I found has two swimming pools and a tennis court (she is learning to play) will sate her.
And if my neighbors get loud, you can damn well bet I’m waking her up at 3am to practice her clarinet.
Got an idea for a future “Six of the Best” column? Tweet it to me @listener42.
** And isn’t it interesting how Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Atheism, and Pastafarianism don’t engage in the same behaviors that Christians do when it comes to proselytizing? There’s no Mosescopter or Allah-Yacht, is there? Although a Mosescopter might be a cool thing to see. Once.