So after 119 apartment tours, 20 interviews with rocket scientists, sorority girls and aging hippies and 98 “I’m sorry, someone else got the apartment,” I am now living in the Tenderloin. I saw the apartment at noon the day before I flew home for Christmas, faxed my application and proof of employment at 2pm and two days later I was approved to live in a studio whose interiors I could barely remember.
In fact, it’s probably fair to say I had an idealized version of the apartment in my head.
“It’s not in the best neighborhood, but the building and apartment are really nice,” I told my mom.
“I think it’s as big as your apartment,” I told my brother and his fiancé who live in a one-bedroom.
“They did a criminal background screening before accepting me, so I’m assuming all of the residents are like me,” I told my dad.
Then came moving day.
As I climbed the Everest peak that is my staircase to the fourth floor, I noticed the scuffed yellow walls were disintegrating into little piles of plaster along the way. There was a gaping hole in one wall where a careless maintenance person had bumped (or slammed) his tool case into it, some of the corners were whittled and shaved from consistent rubbing, and a stench of decay floated from the trash rooms on every floor.
OK, so maybe it wasn’t exactly the palace I had created in my head, but at least my apartment was nice and big.
When my friend and I opened the door and stepped into the main room, he turned to me and said, “It’ll look bigger with furniture in it.” Right.
To add to the disillusionment, the only people we saw other than little old Asian ladies (and there were a lot of these), were an angry ex-military man with a dangerous looking dog and a young, pudgy guy who swore that all his best friends lived on my floor. Having seen no one other than the little old Asian ladies exiting on “4”, I wondered about him.
I have since noticed that he wears the same fedora and hockey jersey every single day and hangs out with angry ex-military guy….who, it turns out, lives on my floor and has a sign on his balcony that reads, “911, Not Forgiven, Not Forgotten.” I’ve tried saying “hi,” but all he ever does is nod and grunt in my direction.
So that’s my building.
Oh, and the best part is that our “on-site” manager, who lives in some vague direction of “around the corner”, is a tattooed, mohawked bartender who shows up at your apartment hammered if you call him after 5pm.
He’s seems super friendly though.