C-I-L-L MY LANDLORD!!!! (long)

Actually, my landlady died a few weeks ago, but the management company (her brother and nephew) will have to do for the moment…

A couple of weeks ago, the building management had mentioned to a couple of tenants that they were going to be doing some electrical work in the building, date as yet unknown. My late landlady, when she was alive, apparently never wanted to spend anything for maintenance, so the building is in sore need of upgrades; the electrical system, for example, probably hasn’t been up to code in decades. Her nephew, now that she is gone, has told me he wants to take better care of the building, and I’ve been hearing bits and pieces from my neighbors that they had applied for permits to redo the wiring, but no date had been given for the work; the most specific thing I’d heard was “maybe sometime in September.” We even had a sign posted on the front door Monday morning that power would be off from 9 to 4 that day (nice advance notice there too, dudes!); I’d called the office to ask them to repair my kitchen light, which has broken for the 3rd time in the past 6 months, and they assured me that all electrical work would be completed by the end of July, but again gave me no specific date when work would be done, nor did they tell me to move anything or otherwise prepare.

Well, at about 7:15 this morning, as I was almost leaving for work, a knock came at my back door. I’d been hearing the work crew back there for the past week or so, yelling at each other in Romanian, and knew they’d been doing some work on my late landlady’s apartment, so it wasn’t a total surprise.

What WAS a surprise is that they intended to rip half the wiring out of my kitchen TODAY. They are moving the fuse boxes into the apartments, instead of the basement, and bringing the building up to code.

I am not at all against having safe wiring in my apartment, in theory; what pissed me off was the lack of notice. The crew leader assured me that they would carefully empty out the contents of my pantry and put them in the dining room, and that the work would only take a few days, after which they would put shelves back in the pantry and I could go about my life. At least that’s what I think he was saying; my Romanian isn’t so good, possibly not much better than his English. So with some (OK, a LOT of) trepidation, I left for work, figuring some displacement was inevitable.

Now those of you who know me know that I am somewhat of a cooking fanatic, and as a result I have a LOT of stuff in my pantry. At least I did, until this morning.

The crew leader spoke the truth; they did remove everything from the pantry and carefully place it in the dining room. IN A BIG FUCKING HEAP with no organization whatsoever - would it have killed them to leave space so I can reach the windows, or even the windowshades, over the next few days as the temperature gets into the 90s? What if I want to, you know, COOK something in my KITCHEN? I have no fucking clue where anything is right now except the frying pans hanging on the wall above the stove, like say, the flour, sugar, coffee, beans, cooking utensils, or pretty much anything I use on a daily basis.

And to add insult to injury? I’m not a neat freak, by any means, and no, I don’t care if workmen use my bathroom if they’re going to be here all day. But don’t leave dirt in my sink, don’t tromp mud and wet drywall plaster all over my bathroom rug, and and DON’T LEAVE THE FUCKING SEAT UP!

As a long-time apartment dweller, I have to say my favorite part was:

I laughed and laughed and laughed. Then I laughed some more.

Truly, I would have believed them and been just as shocked when I came home to a mess. The last time I had maintainence guys in it was to replace my water heater. No advance notice; I just came home to debris from the outer hallway, through my dining and living room and out onto the balcony. They managed to move every stick of furniture, left mystery streaks on the tile, carpeting, and walls. Out in the balcony cubby they moved my washer/dryer and I’m still trying to fix whatever they did when they hooked it back up. Everything in the laundry cubby was just thrown around in random piles, and mashed an entire planter box full of flowers. The sliding glass door was off it’s tracks and the tracks were bent and how they managed to get that mystery substance on every inch of both doors inside and out I don’t know.

But they’re really nice guys who almost certainly didn’t mean to make any of that mess (I wonder if that can be said in your case) and I got a new water heater that actually keeps working when there is more than a slight breeze blowing. Some people just don’t notice a mess and others have very different definitions of neat. I’ve learned to live with that. Not sure whether it’s acceptance of that which I cannot change, or the bastards have finally beaten me down. Either way, I have a working water heater-- woot!

So Eva Luna, are you ordering take-out tonight?

Well, it’s too damn hot for me to be hungry, though I’m considering getting dressed enough to run out to the White Hen and drown my sorrows wit my two good friends, Ben & Jerry. I’d drown my sorrows in booze, which was in a couple of milk crates on the floor of the pantry (for someone who rarely drinks, I have an astonighing amount of booze in the house), but I have no fucking idea where it is - it’s buried under the avalanche somewhere. If I wanted to eat, I probably have something in the fridge (yogurt, bread, etc.) that doesn’t require much preparation.

More importantly, though, they have also buried the cat food, and I’m not planning to order takeout for him, though God knows he could live for weeks on his belly fat alone.

Hmmmm… landlady died recently? Check. Building falling into disrepair? Check.

Do you live in my apartment complex??

Nah, building hopefully coming out of disrepair, and I live in the city.

On the bright side, from previous rental adventures I know the Chicago Residential Landlord-Tenant Ordinance pretty much inside-out.


If you don’t recognize this quote, I hereby assign you to watch old *Saturday Night Live * reruns:

Ah, 1981 humor, how quaint.

Dude, that line is timeless!

No, not quaint, twee.

Talk about being behind on humor.

Eva Luna, sorry about the mess. Get both yourself and the cat pizza for dinner. Mine like it with pepperoni and anchovies.


Update: called the management office and threw a fit which was probably a lot more polite than it should have been (because I’m such a godawful nonconfrontational person). The management office told me they may be adding a closet to my bedroom as well (which right now doesn’t have one; it’s a pretty bog room, but right now the only closet is in the hallway, which is a mild inconveniece, and I’d definitely have better storage than more floor space in there).

Apparently the construction crew screwed up; they were supposed to do the external wiring first, and weren’t supposed to touch the internal wiring for at least the next 2 - 3 weeks. The maintenance guy was mortified and promised to meet me at home after work to survey the damage; he promised to re-drywall the pantry tomorrow, but I told him the drywall wouldn’t do me any good with no shelves, so I’d rather he redid the pantry properly than quickly. In the next couple of weeks they will also be replacing the windows and all the electrical outlets. And probably the fact that half the construction crew is Romanian, but the other half is Albanian, and only one of them speaks more than a few words of English, didn’t help matters.

Boy, am I glad I didn’t decide to hold the potluck dinner party I’d originally been thinking of for this month - I would have had to cancel, which would have been somewhat mortifying.

In the meantime, I guess it’s leftovers and takeout…but I did find the cat food, so no anchovy pizzas for him.