Sunday, November 29, 2009

What I've learned in the last months

Things I learned from my month long dalliance with real estate and accompanying anonymous examples:

"garden unit" means basement...but the property owners will go to pains to stress how great the lighting and maximum 4 windows are.
When I started off there was a very quick and rather defensive introduction into how business was done there. This included getting me used to apartment euphemisms. The first one was describing the dingy basement we were embedded in. "this is a garden unit". Where's the garden? "that's not the point. It has windows. See? You get light". Wait, people live in apartments like this? "yeah. Didn't I mention the windows?!?"

Saying that you will let your landlord charge you $10 to change the filters on your radiator is ridiculous. Do it yourself; it's not hard.
People, I can't tell you how many times we got calls from people wanting us to change their light bulbs or furnace filters. Y'all, your landlords will charge you whenEVER they can, and you are told this. You are big boys and girls (no matter how deep in the Southport Corridor you live) and you can change your own stuff. Go to the store, stand on a chair, get it done.

You will never get the full deposit back--ever.
Sorry. They'll find any reason to keep it. I have come to think that the cleaner it is at departure, the more scrutiny it will come under. Take heart though, my friends, this means you can be all kinds of lazy when you move out! If it's immaculate, you'll be slapped with a charge for those hooks you put up to hang your plants--even if you took them down and left the tiniest of holes. And, no, the girl on the phone can't help you with that.

That neighbor you suspect is saying terrible things about you behind your back--she is, but don't worry, your landlords generally know she's crazy.

One person decided that I was the person to call about their East African neighbors, who may or may not (but probably may..."I watch the news. I know what's going on") be using voodoo. They said they noticed the demographic change recently and was fine with it, but would we recommend they use Holy Water? S/he kept talking about their drumming, so I said we would "get on the problem" and I called the apartment about which s/he was complaining with the purpose in mind of telling them to keep the drums quiet, but no one answered, so I left it there. Perhaps I wasn't being a very good employee, but I considered it a mitzvah to help teach them a lesson about cultural understanding...that's it!

Calling the city won't get your personal problems with the building fixed any faster. In fact, it will result in a lot of extraneous work being done on the facade of your building that will just get in your way.

I get that everyone thinks their problems are the biggest you could ever imagine, and we have to drop all we're doing and help, and when that doesn't happen for whatever reason, I know it's frustrating, but here's what happens when you tattle to the city of Chicago: someone will come by when you're not home, so they probably won't see the problem. The city of Chicago, however, can't come away empty handed, so they'll find exterior problems you neither noticed nor cared about, and they'll write citations for that, so you'll get crews to your apartment, but not for any reason you want, and they won't be very eager to fix whatever interior problem you're having. So unless the complaint is clearly visible from the exterior, just don't bother.

Don't ask too many questions about the mystery smell that we "took care of" for you. It is probably nastier than you think.
It's a city, and rats are just smart enough to get behind your stove or in your drains. That's all I'll say on that.

4 drops of water is not "gushing" and a caved in roof is not "a slight problem."
I only once dealt with a whole roof cave in, and it was pretty funny, because the young lady in question didn't really raise flags. She described a large leak and about 30 seconds later she admitted she could see the sky through her roof. This is a BIG problem, and you shouldn't be timid to explain it. I was pretty close to panic, but I am pretty proud of how I handled it. I was suddenly a front line dispatcher, calling people to tarp the roof, then getting contractors lined up to patch it up, and though it looked like a scene from the Muppets for about 10 minutes, but I took care of it.
Conversely, I know plenty of folks who lost their minds over a few drops of water. I'd ask them the accumulation, and they would say a cup a day. That ain't no cave in, so just breathe for a second, folks.

If you don't treat your employees well, don't be shocked when they leave.
It is shady as sin to have them working 7 hour shifts so you're getting around the obligations for full time employees. Don't get me wrong, I was glad for the work, but when I heard the other office girl complain that after some years of working there they wouldn't fork out for a better headset or a trip to the doctors for her neck pain, I thought "yup, not stayin here". Also, if you like to brag about how a later season is so much more traumatic and crazy, don't be shocked when said employee doesn't want to stick around to see when the stuff hits the fan.

There aren't many good places to bring a little kid with swine flu, but taking Junior to work....bad choice by and large.
My religious use of hand sanitizer (actually, my pastors use it right before communion, so it kind of is religious) and a general fear of small humans is the only thing that saved me. My colleagues were not as lucky, and for about a week I was working in the office of the living dead, and when that happened, and I was the only living person around, I had to deal with really cranky people who would snap from time to time, and I had to pick up the slack, as it were. It amazed me that a creature as small as that kid could cause that much damage.

When the landlord tells you the work that's been done on your place, it's a lot more complicated than that.
The favorite phrase of my boss, when he would ape a Jersey accent, was "dey gotta know wha dey gotta know," so rather than telling people that the wax ring on their toilets had to be replaced, or that we blew the lines on their sinks, or even explaining in simple terms the step by step on what had happened, I found myself saying "we made some adjustments" or worse yet, "some work was done". Sometimes even that was an overshare, and I'd get hollered at. If you want to know exactly the work that was done, know then that you will have to ask specifically. If your land lord is any good, even if your super did the work, s/he will know.

Your uggs are not worth $150, and we sure as heck won't reimburse you if they are soaked because you fell asleep with the sink on.
They are a silly pair of shoes, not practical for anything whatsoever, and they are not chic. Your stoner neighbor accidentally did you a favor by leaving his sink running while he had a sleep, so update your wardrobe and move on, because "that girl on the phone" sure as all heck doesn't want to hear you whine about something she has no power to do anything about.

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