Category — The high rise files

It’s a hole in the wall.

Last Tuesday, my building engineer knocks on my door and tells me there is a little problem brewing behind one of the walls in my master bedroom.  He thinks there is a problem with one of the water pipes and unless it’s dealt with it might burst.


The thought of having hundreds of gallons of water pouring out of a high pressure, high-rise water system and into my bedroom is not particularly appealing.

Even less appealing is the thought of tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

So, I immediately consent to the inevitable.  Breaking through the wall to get to the pipe. Sledgehammer away, people.

After about an hour of pounding, I walk into the bedroom to find the following.

Apparently my building engineer is a frustrated cartographer.

A rough representation of South America with Australia apparently having been relocated to the south Atlantic.

Oh, yeah and the rest of the bedroom covered in fine plaster dust.

Long about now, I’m thinking that a flood would have been more desirable.

So, out comes the dust rag and the vacuum.  (Handling these things normally cause an involuntary face tick.  Which is how I justify a biweekly visit from my housekeeper.)

The next day the crew returns to switch out the pipes.  The water is shut off in that portion of the building for five hours.  That means 35 pissed-off residents.

I finish and retreat back into my office.  About an hour later, I hear more banging.  I walk back into the bedroom a hour later to find this.

Oh, man. Australia is still fine, but what the hell happened to South America?!

And once again, the entire bedroom is covered in white plaster dust.

I briefly consider calling Ripley’s Believe It or Not as I reach for the vacuum cleaner a second time.

Then on Thursday, a different crew arrives to plaster and paint the former South America and Australia.  Then a third crew needs to come back upstairs to move my furniture back in place.

In doing so, my white bedroom carpet is stained, which results in a call to the carpet cleaner.  Appointment set for Wednesday.

I wish they had just taken that sledgehammer to my head.

March 18, 2012   Comments Off on It’s a hole in the wall.

Why being a landlord sucks. Part 2

Sigh.  This has been another week of prospective tenant hell.

I am so exhausted from dealing with all of these asshats that I can barely type right now.  So, I’m going to keep this rant short.

Here’s a play by play of some of the conversations I’ve endured while trying to rent my one bedroom condo.

Location, location, location

Prospective tenant #1: Hi…I’m really interested your apartment.  I see that you are asking $1700 per month rent.  But, I’m currently paying $1,100.  Is there anyway you can reduce the rent?

Me: Sure.  I don’t see why not.  First let me call my bank and tell them to reduce my mortgage by 60% so that I can cut the rent by the same amount.  Oh, and by the way, I give prospective tenants an I.Q. test.  Clearly you won’t be passing that anytime soon.

Prospective tenant #2.  (After a 30 minute apartment showing and tour of the building.)  Oh, one more thing.  We are really looking for the lease to start on May 1st.  Would that be okay?

Me:  Of course, it’s okay.  Are you kidding me?!  I’ll just tell the bank to fuck themselves in April.  I was just kidding when I posted April 1st in HUGE type on the ad.

Prospective tenant #3. How many square feet does the apartment have?

Me:  Sorry, I cannot rent the apartment to anyone who is illiterate.  The square footage is clearly listed on the ad.  Unless you are visually impaired there is no excuse for your stupidity.

Prospective tenant #4.  (Provides a number in the query email for me to call him.  I dial it and the name on the voicemail doesn’t match the name on the email, so I reply to the email stating that.  He calls me shortly after and tells me that the autofill put in his old work number.)

Me:  Seriously?!!!   Did you not notice the incorrect area code and digits?   Are you capable of going to the bathroom without supervision?

Give me strength to find a suitable tenant before I commit a felony.

March 8, 2012   Comments Off on Why being a landlord sucks. Part 2

Why being a landlord sucks

As a long-time landlord I’ve had my share of great, and not-so-great, tenants.  (Current husband/wife tenants are awesome sauce.  Unfortunately, their family is about to expand and they need more space.  God speed.  They’ve earned themselves a great referral into perpetuity.)

Unfortunately for me, this means I have to start the tenant courtship/screening process all over again.  Kind of like starting a new dating relationship except that a credit check, criminal screening and a lot of cash is involved.

Then, again, I’ve been known to put prospective boyfriends through the same thing. I just feel that Google stalking is pretty much mandatory if you are going to impact my life in any fiduciary manner.

Brand new bathroom with floor to ceiling marble just completed.

Being that this is a one-bedroom apartment and located on Chicago’s lakefront, it usually attracts late-twenty-something, up-and-coming middle managers.  Typically, ones who have been educated at prestigious universities.

Unfortunately, their educational pedigree is not always a good indicator of their character.  May I share with you my first three experiences from this cycle?

Prospective tenant A.  Mom and dad live in a well-heeled Chicago north shore suburb.

Their little princess is a fairly recent graduate of the University of North Carolina.  She emailed me last Sunday to arrange for a viewing.  By Wednesday, I had not gotten a reply to my email back to her.  I sent her another one from a different address just on the outside chance it ended up in the spam folder.

Twenty-four hours later I heard back.  She was interested in setting up an appointment for either Sunday or Monday.  I emailed her back within in minutes trying to get specifics from her.  As of this writing, no reply.

Prospective tenant B.  Late 20s, Gonzaga U graduate who is relocating from the West Coast.  I called her within minutes of her email on Thursday.  She was only in town for a couple of days and wanted to secure an apartment for an April 1st move in.  She wanted to see the apartment the next day.

I call my current tenant to nail down a mutually convenient time and call “B” back within five minutes.   We confirm a 2 pm showing on Friday.  I shuffle around my business appointments to accommodate her.

The appointed time comes and goes.  I call her at 2:15 pm.  The call goes into vmail.  She is a no show.  Needless to say, she didn’t even return my call to apologize or explain.

Prospective tenant C.  She called me yesterday and set up an appointment for this afternoon for her and her fiance.  She makes it, he doesn’t.  Lovely young lady who tells me that she really likes the apartment, but that they have already been approved for a different one.  She asks to take an application and discuss with her fiance.  I receive a polite email an hour ago that her fiance has decided to go with the other apartment.

So, as a public service to 20-something young professionals looking for apartments, here are some tips.

1.  There’s this thing called the internet.  That means that prospective employers and even landlords are going to search your shit out.   We will track down your work history and connections on LinkedIn, check your vapid tweets on Twitter and reverse search your phone number.  And that’s just for starters.

2.  As landlords, we are likely to be older and better connected.  As in, we actually may know people in top management in the company for which you just accepted an entry level assignment.  It’s not a smart idea to piss us off.  (I’m speaking directly to you, Ms. Gonzaga.)

3.  If your Twitter profile professes your love of martinis and partying, you aren’t even going to get to the credit check phase with me.  The last person I want living next door to me is a drunk who may end up puking in the hallway.

4.  If you make an appointment with me and don’t show, I will check your Twitter or Facebook.  (It’s because I care so much and want to make sure you didn’t have an accident and are in the emergency room.  You get that I’m being sarcastic, right?)

If you are posting away about your adorable Tar Heels, I’m going to take that as a sign that you are still alive and you are a rude piece of crap for not keeping your appointment or calling to cancel.

5. To Applicant C.  Thank you for being classy enough to send me an email informing me of your decision.  Common courtesy will get you far in life.  Oh, and your engagement ring was gorgeous.  Just sayin’.

I will eventually rent this apartment.  Probably sooner rather than later.  I will likely get an amazing tenant (reread the part about my ability to conduct thorough background checks).  But in the meantime, I’m also likely to deal with several more spoiled private school, trust fund babies who were never taught the importance of courteous behavior.

March 4, 2012   3 Comments

Elevators. Aka potential stink tanks.

Living in a high rise, the only way to exit the building is by first taking the elevator.  Or by parachuting out of the window which I do not advise.  What with the winds and all.

Press the down button at your own olfactory risk.

Most of the time the quick elevator journey is uneventful.  However, there are times when a gas mask is desirable.  Let me count the ways.

1.  People who wear too much perfume or aftershave.  Or make selections that smell like a cross between Draino and Raid.

2.  Smokers whose garments reek of nicotine.  (My goal is to throw up on one of them.)

3.  Non bathers.  Yep. There are one or two in every building.  Eau de stench.

4.  Smelly pets.  No, I don’t think it’s cute if your dog licks my ankles with his slobbery, smelly tongue.  On the other hand, you may wish to ask it how it enjoyed a heaping helping of the body lotion I just slathered onto my legs.

5.  Food.  I don’t mind the scent of pizza wafting out of a delivery bag.  It’s garlic reeking through human pours that I have issue with.  Are you trying to protect yourself from the invisible vampires who live in the neighborhood?  Seriously.  What the hell are you eating?!

6.  Passing gas.  You can’t hold it in for a few more seconds until you enter your own apartment?!  Seriously, what is your problem.

So, if you are guilty of any one or more of these six olfactory sins, then the next time I enter an elevator and you are in it, I would appreciate it if you could wedge yourself into a corner as far away from me as possible.  It would also be a good idea if you turned your back to me.  This way you will be missing my grimacing and eyeball rolling.

January 29, 2012   2 Comments

I don’t need Broadway to see Spiderman

Having a lot of real estate between my high rise windows and the outside world usually means I get a boatload of privacy.  You can run around getting dressed, etc., without worrying that someone is going to peek in.

Except, of course,  when the windows are being washed.

Typing away in my office the other day, I turned my head to see this over my shoulder.  So, of course, I had to reach for the iPhone to snap the picture.

Spidey does windows, too.

I know that sometimes people are startled when they turn around and see a window washer dangling high above the ground.  For me, it’s the other way around.  I get concerned that if I get too close to the window, I’m going to scare the window washer. Even more so, if I’m not wearing makeup.  Which, frankly is most of the time.

Also, because I’m typically dressed in Nike couture.  Usually involving exercise capris and a random T-shirt in the summer months.  I’m not exactly a candidate for the pages of Vogue when I’m occupying my home office.  More like Little Shop of Horrors.

So you can understand my concern about not wanting to frighten window washers right out of their harnesses.  (I’m pretty sure that would constitute an OSHA violation.)

Understandably, I’ve made my office a web cam free zone.  (I had a client ask me recently if I used Skype.  Sure, if you are okay with me adding hair, makeup and wardrobe charges to your monthly invoice then I’m willing to Skype.  Otherwise, not so much.)

So there you have it.  If you are washing my windows, it would be a good idea not to spend to much time looking into my apartment.  It could be hazardous to your health.

July 13, 2011   1 Comment