Monday, June 27, 2005

Apartments I Have Had, part 1

Or rather, mold and mildew experiences I have had.

My very first apartment was a three-bedroom that I shared with anywhere from three to five other girls, two cats, a bird, and a dog that occassionally showed up at our back door. It looked nice from the outside, and we loved the floor plans and the cheap, cheap rent. The cheap rent was indicative of the quality of the apartment, which had clearly seen better days. The grocery store across the street sold large buckets of lard. I remember that distinctly. I also remember that on our first trip to said grocery store, we asked if we could borrow the grocery cart to push our groceries home in (we had hoofed it instead of driving across the street, because driving had seemed ridiculous until after we’d bought our groceries). We promised to bring it back. I also remember pushing the dirty, rusty cart back across the street in the dead of the night two years later.

We knew we weren’t getting our deposit back, because we did a number on that carpet. The very first night we were there, my Best Friend/Roommate tripped and dropped a bottle of Strawberry Hill on the carpet. A few months later, my other roommate threw a pumpkin at me and it got all over the carpet (and me). Technically, she claims that she was not throwing it at me so much as away from herself, but in the end, it amounts to the same thing, because I was directly in the line of fire. It ruined my tiger slippers. Of course, I’d never really felt the same way about them after that time they were attacked by a ferret (while I was wearing them), but still, they had been a gift, and I was sorry to see them go. There were countless other indignities suffered by the carpet, including that last semester we were there, one roommate threw up rotel dip all over everywhere.

But there was also extensive water damage to the carpet, so we didn’t feel like it was entirely our fault that the carpet needed to be replaced. This was the apartment in which the H knob shot off of my sister’s shower, resulting in water spewing everywhere. The apartment complex’s solution to all the flooding that resulted from that was to put a box fan in the hallway. No offense, Big Al, but you blew it on that one. It also experienced flooding whenever it rained, because the apartment slanted and so water would just run in from the back porch. We didn’t notice the slanting at first, until one day my sister noticed her medicine cabinet wasn’t straight. Then she realized it wasn’t the medicine cabinet. After that I was very uneasy about the structural integrity of the building.

It wasn’t until I was cleaning out stuff when we were moving that I noticed that there was mold or mildew all along the carpet by the wall in my bedroom. I hadn’t noticed it before because that was BF/R’s side of the room, and the last time I’d been by that window was when she and I cut a hole in the screen and went out that way once when our boyfriends were visiting. They’d both been out of town for the semester to do internships, and they’d come in to town to visit. We had been unable to prevent it, not without actually breaking up with them. When they showed up, we discovered we’d rather be somewhere else. She and I had made some excuse and fled to our bedroom, deserting my poor sister and leaving her as a decoy. BF/R and both very considerate people when apart but we bring out the worst in each other. [I’ll blog on that some other time, possibly under the topic “things I have done which as a Christian woman I should probably be ashamed of but I’m just not.”] Our first thought was to just stay in the bedroom until someone came and looked for us. That’s when I got the brilliant idea to cut a hole in the screen. My thinking was that if we were very careful, we could sew it back up later and the apartment complex would be none the wiser. Actually we never did sew it up, and later wasps built a nest in the window frame, so we couldn’t open our window after that.

Anyway, we cut a whole in the window screen and climbed out. That’s when we realized the flaw in our plan—we couldn’t get in our cars because we’d left the keys inside. Also, we’d left my sister behind, and you never leave a man behind. So we went back, walked in the front door, and claimed that we’d walked out that way in the first place and had told them we were leaving, and it wasn’t our fault that no one had paid attention. [And I’m sorry to say that the incident did not spell the end of my relationship with Joe (not his real name). I was too much of a sucker and he was too much of a sap. But that’s another blog.]

So ANYWAY, I was cleaning out the apartment when I discovered that the mildew had reached my closet and had infected a box in my closet, full of letters and other mementos, many of which were now ruined. I started to sort through the items to see what could be salvaged when an ENORMOUS cockroach jumped out of the box and down my shirt. Oh, the humanity. I’m sure the screaming could be heard for miles. It exited my shirt and I killed it, and I may have then thrown up. I certainly went and took a shower, but for all that it was a long time before I felt clean again. And this is why, to this day, I don’t like to try to kill those things. Because at any moment, it could jump on me.

This had happened to me once before, at a summer job. My friend and I were cleaning the bathroom (because that’s what the summer help had to do in addition to helping customers. “yes, sir, I have just been cleaning the toilets, but here, let me hand you your change.”), when a roach jumped out from behind the wall and onto my leg and then on my friend and then disappeared to parts unknown. We didn’t realize we were screaming, but my manager came flying back there, clearly expecting to see us being killed by an intruder. He was a tall, lanky man named Andy something who was as laid back as they came, probably because he had a coffee mug permanently glued to his hand. If you asked him how much coffee he’d had that day, he’d say “not enough.” This was the most alert I had every seen him, and I’d certainly never seen him move that fast. He wasn’t happy about the screaming when he realized we were not, in fact, being assaulted, at least not by a human or a pack of wild dogs, nor had we just discovered a corpse. We told him that next time a roach came out of nowhere and jumped on him, then he could tell us not to scream. For the rest of the day, I did that involuntary twitch where you jump and then make sure nothing’s on you.

I have more stories about that apartment, but I’ll save them for another time. Suffice to say, my apartment experience since then has not been greatly improved.

19 comments:

Amanda Sue said...

not only are you a coffee-holic, you are a blog-o-holic.

it took me 30 minutes to catch up from the weekend. now i gotta take a nap!

JLR said...

Yes, I know. It is a problem. But have no fear, I can feel the laziness coming on. Soon, you will have nothing to read but the comments of others posting about how I never post anything anymore. I apologize in advance.

jes said...

your apartments. they have been a problem. perhaps you should consider taking up residence somewhere ...

more reputable.

Amstaff Mom said...

No wonder my blog is boring, I've never lived in an apartment. Or a dorm. I feel so left out. But, I CAN live vicarously through your blog. I hope your blogs keep leading to other stories as the coffee to apt. thing happened today. This post was great on so many levels. The roach story had me chuckling mightily. I'm one of two people that think the movie Clue is hilarious. Only b/c I began watching it when I was young. Anyway, there's a line that Mr. Green says, "Mrs. Peacock is a MAN???" I thought of that line immediately when you said, "Also, we’d left my sister behind, and you never leave a man behind." This is my brain on too much caffeine.

JLR said...

Oh, I LOVE Clue. It is one of my guilty pleasures. I know it's a terrible movie, but there you have it. My sister and I quote from that movie all the time, particularly the Martin Mull/Tim Curry dialogue about whether there's someone else in the house.

And jes, I would LOVE to live somewhere more reputable. But unfortunately, I pick apartments like I pick men. They *seem* ok at first, but then they turn out to have severe maintenance issues. I solved the guy problem by giving up dating, but I gotta have a place to live.

Night Flier said...

I can relate to your Cockroach story, when I lived in FL my apartment had these foot long roaches! Ok...more like 4 inches but DAMN. I've never lived with roaches before then or since then. And when you step on them to kill them they go *crunch*...GROSS!

I can't wait to read your "Part 2"...good post! :)

JLR said...

thanks! :) Yes, you know my sister considered going to grad school in Florida, but she heard about those roaches, and she heard those some of the fly. That's when she decided that, even though University of Miami has a great program, she would not, under any circumstances, live in that state.

Plus, my cousin got attacked by an alligator there.

JLR said...

that should have been, some of "them" fly.

jacks said...

And I thought the story about the roach jumping out of our candy box at work was bad... Eeek!!

JLR said...

ew. No, that sounds pretty bad.

CrimsonStar said...

just a passerby but i wanted to say that your musings improved my sad monday greatly. thanks for the laugh.

Night Flier said...

I think that you only get roaches in community living type homes in FL...dorms, apartments etc. Because when we built our house we never saw a roach again for the 2 years we lived there. I'd move back to FL in a heartbeat, but always live in a house!

Amstaff Mom said...

We have more in common than just our initials JLR. I am so ecstatic that you love Clue. I even have the DVD, which was not easy to find, mind you. My sis and I quote it all the time. "It's just you and me honey bunch.", "But eet is dahk up there and I am fright-tened of the dark, weel anybody go wheez me?" "I will" "I will" "No thank you." I am attempting to laugh quietly at the scene you speak of. It's not working. I'm so comforted to know that my sis and I aren't the only ones that quote it.

JLR said...

oh, man, my sis and I say that "you and me, honey bunch" line ALL the time. Also, the "I hated her SO much. Flames, on the side of my face . . ." Ok, now I want to go straight home and watch that movie.

crimsonstar, thanks for passing by! No matter how bad your day is, always remember that you COULD be cleaning a public restroom.

diane: I notice you did not mention the flying roaches. Is this because you are following the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" rule? Because it wouldn't make a difference if you didn't have them inside if, the mintute you stepped outside, you were pelted with flying disease carriers.

Also, there's still the alligators.

Amstaff Mom said...

I was thinking the same thing, it's time to break out the movie again. It's been too long! My hubby refuses to watch it. At least there is someone else out there that appreciates it.

"and you had a letter, and you'd had a letter.." "GET ON WITH IT!"

We could so just throw in Clue quotes randomly in our comments. Oh what fun this will be.

RR said...

I can't resist the Clue quoting. Sorry, folks-who-don't-like-that-movie!

"Forget the key; unlock the door!"
"I can't. unlock. the door. without. the key!"

JLR said...

what a great idea, and very appropriate--I can end all of my very long posts (which is pretty much all of my posts) with "to make a long story short (too late)."

Amstaff Mom said...

Oh my goodness, those are two of the BEST lines from the movie. HOW could I forget? Especially Mr. Green's face as he's being shaken on the key one.

"Let us in, let us in!"
"Let us out, let us out!"

Ben said...

You have a knack for tangents. Way cool. ;)