Yesterday, Chris and I both realized that, if we had been able to “test drive” this apartment before moving in, we would not have chosen to live here.
Let me preface this by saying that our neighbourhood is gorgeous and I LOVE this city, so we’d try to stay in the area, but this particular building under this particular management? No thanks.
To begin, we first viewed this apartment in July. The walls needed to be repainted and the floors refinished, in some places replaced completely, since the tenant who had just vacated had been here for 30 years. This was fine by us, and I wrote down a little list of everything that I noted as “wrong” — missing screens in all the windows, a loose door on the medicine cabinet, rough patches/missing bits of wood for the floor, no towel bar, no shelves in the coat closet although supports were fastened to the wall for them, a massive crack in the wall under the air conditioning unit installed in the bedroom, and an uneven burner on the stovetop. When we came to check out the apartment again at the beginning of August, to sign our rental agreement to move in on September 1st, we dropped by the apartment to check out the work. The walls had been refinished but nothing else, so I gave the landlady a copy of my “to do” list. She laughed it all off, saying “Wow, you sure expect a lot”, at which I smiled and said, “Yes, we do.”
I had a midwife appointment nearby on August 28th, so we packed a few things from our old apartment into the car and went furniture shopping as well, with the intent of dropping these items off at the apartment after the appointment. To our utter surprise, we were not allowed into the apartment; the floors were being repaired & refinished that very day and therefore we couldn’t leave anything there. This is two days before we had our moving truck scheduled, so we were fairly pissed, but the landlady apologetically offered us space in her office to store some of our items until we moved in.
August 30th rolls around, we end up paying our movers somewhere around $700, and I’ve still got no screens, missing shelves, and no towel bar. Oh, and to top it all off, the entire place reeks so badly of polyeurethane that we have to keep all our windows open — letting in bugs — to get some fresh air. Having to breathe these fumes makes me feel quite indignant. Still, we shrug it off, order pizza, and, since it’s a holiday weekend, decide to call the landlady on Tuesday to work out getting these issues addressed.
By Tuesday, we’ve discovered that the clock on the stovetop doesn’t work, the water in the shower doesn’t get very hot, and several of the cabinets and doors “stick” when you try to open or close them. Every morning begins with one of us slamming our shoulder against the bedroom door to open it. We discover that the floodlight in the back of the building where the dogs go to do their duty at night turns on and off based on some unknown rhythm, but it’s definitely not based on motion or sound detection. We’ve also realized that we never received a laundry card, can’t be dialed from the front lobby (sorry about that, pizza dude), and don’t know how to open the lobby door from our phone anyhow (sorry again, pizza dude).
Oh, and wonderfully, we discover that once in awhile when we turn on a stovetop burner, the timer will start going off and will not stop until it feels like stopping — no amount of banging buttons or swearing will help this.
Still, I love that we’ve got two bedrooms, a beautiful view, and all of the ‘problems’ are small. I mean, they can all be fixed. We gave our landlady a list, after all, and while she’s certainly more scatter-brained than anyone in her position ought to be, she’s pretty nice and we’re generally patient people. We’re going to bring our baby home to this place! It’s already got that going for it!
Let’s fast-forward to last Monday, September 29th. We still don’t have a towel bar and we’re still missing a shelf in the coat closet. The door on the medicine cabinet is still loose, but I’ve been told this is because it’s so old that no one manufactures the track for it anymore and there’s nothing that can be done (to which I replied, “Then it needs to be re-glued” although that has yet to happen). Oh, and the thing with the fucking stove timer going off randomly while the stove is in use is still happening, although it’s getting to the point where it happens so frequently that cooking is a prolonged series of gritting my teeth against the cacophony interspersed with all-too-brief moments where I can just enjoy the sound of my food preparation.
There’s a knock on the door. It’s our landlady and a handyman; they want in to check out our sink, because there’s a leak in a nearby apartment and it might have an adverse effect on our plumbing. I’m cooking chicken soup at this point and I’m a little bit annoyed that they want to come in without notice since my kitchen is, appropriately for the amount of chopping and deboning I’ve been doing, a mess. But again, I’m thrilled that they are being proactive and looking to fix a problem before it gets out of hand. Our landlady is playing with the dogs and delighting in how absolutely adorable they are while the handyman grumbles at Chris about not emptying out the sink and the cabinet below it for him (what the fuck dude? We didn’t even know you were showing up).
Then the stove starts to squeal.
The landlady looks up. “What’s that?”
“That’s our stove. Remember I told you it was making that buzzing sound?” I ask.
“Oh, yeah, you did mention that. Wow, that’s annoying.”
Really? REALLY? BECAUSE IT’S MUSIC TO MY FUCKING EARS. “Can you fix it?”
“Uhhhh… aren’t you cooking?”
“Yes, but I can make room.”
“Have you tried hitting the ‘timer off’ button?”
Chris is in the kitchen emptying out the sink, but I hear his snort of laughter. I answer, “Yes, it doesn’t seem to do anything.”
Clearly this is an invitation for her to go in there and smack the buttons. After a few unfruitful seconds of this, she says, “Hmm. Okay, I’ll call a repairman.”
The second she dials the repairman (which begs the question — who is this dude under my sink?), the buzzing stops. She smiles. I force a smile in return. She converses with someone briefly, announces, “Okay, we’ll unplug it,” and closes her phone. “He says if you just unplug the stove for five minutes, it will stop the buzzing.”
She means permanently — I think — like I’m rebooting my computer, except it’s my stove. I open my mouth to speak, and Chris interjects with, “Okay, we’ll do that when dinner is done.”
The landlady then launches into a paean of praise about how often she walks by our apartment (she lives next door) and it smells amazing, because I’m cooking all the time. I’m appropriately flattered, feeling superior as well when she talks about how she just orders food all the time or has sandwiches, and the stove’s no longer buzzing at us, so I’m happy.
Until they leave, and the stove starts to scream again. Later that night, Chris pulls the stove away from the wall, unplugs it for five minutes, plugs it back in, and the problem seems to be solved.
But oh no, the evil stove monster will not be placated so easily. Late in the evening three days later, Thursday, it begins squealing when it is not in use. It squeals up until the second Chris unplugs it from the wall (and this is a night when his back was hurting him badly), then squeals the second he plugs it back in. I decide that I am going to knock on my landlady’s door and demand that this be fixed NOW. At ten PM. But there’s a note on her door saying she’s off-duty, with a phone number to call for help, so I call that number.
She answers. It turns out that she’s actually on call, but doesn’t want people knocking on her door. Okay. Whatever. “DO YOU HEAR THAT SOUND IN THE BACKGROUND,” I say, loudly, as I stand in my kitchen.
“Oh yeah, kinda.”
“THAT IS MY STOVE AND IT NEEDS TO BE FIXED.”
“Oh yeah, that. Did you try unplugging it?”
“YES, CHRIS MOVED IT HIMSELF AND IT IS NOT MAKING A DIFFERENCE. IT IS SQUEALING EVEN WHEN WE DO NOT HAVE IT TURNED ON.”
“Okay, it’s too late for me to get a repair guy out here unless it’s an emergency, so just unplug it for the night and I’ll call someone in the morning. I’m really sorry about this.”
Chris unplugs the oven and pushes it back into place.
I call my landlady the next morning, Friday, at 9am. This is the earliest that I could make myself get out of bed. She answers the phone with, “I called repairs.”
“Great! When can I expect someone?”
“Well, they’re short a man right now, so they might be able to get there this afternoon. If not, it won’t be until Monday.”
It takes all of my willpower not to throw the phone across the room. “We reported this to you last Monday. Why is it taking so long?”
“I didn’t put in the request until this morning.”
Apparently, the unplug it instruction that we received was the end-all-be-all of repair miracles. I mean, that’s really ingenious, to unplug something electrical to make it work correctly.”Okay,” I reply, very calmly; it is clear to me that she has no capability to fix this herself. “Thanks.” I hang up without waiting for a response.
As I’m sure you can guess, the repairman doesn’t show up on Friday. We spend the weekend without a stove — pizza one night, crockpot soup the next. Monday morning at 8:30am there’s a knock on our door with a repairman asking to be let in. Thank God that Chris was home and dressed, cause I was ass-naked in la-la land at the time. After ten minutes, the repairman announces, “All set!” and leaves.
The stove monster no longer shrieks at us.
Yesterday, Chris walked by the stove, stopped, and began to press buttons on the display. And then, with a resigned sigh: “The clock doesn’t work.”
We pay $1000 a month in rent.
I am beginning to hate this place.