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Landlords Like This Really Burn Us Up

, , , , , , , | Working | February 27, 2023

When I am in college, I eventually move from the dorms to my own apartment. About six months into the year, the fire alarm over the wall AC unit starts chirping. (I have two fire alarms: one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom over the wall AC unit.)

I email the landlord. He says to replace the batteries, so I do.

It keeps chirping. I email the landlord again.

Me: “I’ve replaced the batteries, but it’s still chirping. Can I get maintenance over here?”

He doesn’t reply, initially, and I wind up sleeping in the IMU (The Iowa Memorial Union) because the chirping is too loud for me to sleep through.

The next day, the landlord replies:

Landlord: “I’m not your dad. Figure it out yourself.”

I shrug and take the batteries out entirely. It continues to chirp. I go online and look for solutions. The recommended solution is to replace the fire alarm.

I go to the hardware store, pick out a fire alarm, and take the current one off of the wall. It’s wired into the electrical system. I’m not an electrician, and that’s a bridge too far for me.

I email the landlord with my findings and request a maintenance person to fix the fire alarm.

Landlord: “Just take the batteries out.”

Me: “No, I already tried that, and it didn’t work.”

Landlord: “Leave it. I’ll deal with it during break.”

Me: “That’s months away, and I literally cannot sleep in the room with it.”

Landlord: “Just solve it yourself. I don’t care how.”

So, I called the fire marshall. They sent someone over to do an inspection and said that it was, indeed, not livable and that the fire alarm unit was expired. I also showed them my email chain.

A couple of days later, a maintenance guy came by and replaced the fire alarm.

The landlord was all, “You didn’t have to get the fire marshall involved,” and, “Just so you know, I’m going to take your deposit for this,” and, “Couldn’t we have worked this out like adults?”

We did work it out like adults. And part of working it out like adults is going to the authorities when necessary.

Read The Room… And Stay Out Of It!

, , , , | Working | February 20, 2023

I’m a female living alone. It’s a cold December afternoon when my doorbell rings. I open the door and there is an older man standing there.

Man: “Hi! I’m going to come in because it’s cold out. You don’t mind, do you?”

I can just make out the logo on his jacket from the service company that my housing association usually employs, which tells me he is not some random idiot just willy-nilly inviting himself into my house, but still, I am quite stunned by the audacity. I can barely get an “Ummmm?” out when he’s suddenly standing in my hallway and closing the door behind him. 

Man: “Right. So, if all is in order, you had a letter sent to you informing you that you can apply for a survey of your apartment to make it more energy efficient, correct?” 

Me: “Yes, I received that letter. What about it?”

Man: “Have you made an appointment for that yet? I’m just going door-to-door to make sure people get their appointments in. It’s important, you know!” 

Me: “I’m sorry, I haven’t had the time yet.”

Man: “Ha! Didn’t have the time to pick up the phone and book an appointment? It takes less than a minute!”

Me: “It wasn’t really a priority for me at the moment…”

Man: “How can it not be a priority? There is an energy crisis going on, and I’m sure you are eager to see where you can save money. I’m not leaving until you promise me to book that appointment.”

He smiles as if it’s supposed to come across endearingly. I’m still too stunned to form a proper response, and honestly, I’m quite intimidated. I just want him out of my hair, and I’m trying to be polite about it. (Why I am still polite I have no idea… Self-protection, I guess.) 

Me: “I will book that appointment as soon as possible, then. I’m sorry, I just haven’t gotten around to it.”

Man: “No. You were just lazy about it.”

For those who speak Dutch, he used the word “laks”. That could be translated as “lazy” but is more in the line of “lacking/failing to”. You know, just to add to the weight of the rudeness.

Man: “It’s a good thing I came to remind you! Have a good day now.”

He proceeds to show himself back out. I stand there stunned for a good minute, and finally, my brain sends me the words I really should have said.

Me: “No, I will not have you set foot in my house without permission, and I can do without the rudeness, thank you very much!”

Alas, my closed door doesn’t take heed of that.

Thinking Outside The (Definitely Not Leaking) Box

, , , , , , , , | Working | February 6, 2023

In 1962, the bathroom in our apartment had a toilet with a wooden box above it; one pulled a chain attached to that box to flush it. The box began to leak, so I called the landlord, who sent over a plumber. The plumber walked in with a hat on and, without doing anything, proceeded to tell me the box didn’t leak.

Me: *Angrily* “Take off your hat, sit on the toilet, pull the chain, and tell me again that it doesn’t leak.”

He refused, so I closed and locked the door from the outside.

Me: “Let me know when you’ve done what I asked.”

I left for work. Later, I got a call from my roommate who said she had been awakened by pounding from the inside of the bathroom and had let the person out.

Then, my landlord called me.

Landlord: “[Plumber] refuses to come back, but he assured me that the box doesn’t leak.”

Me: “Do you really think I would waste your time and mine by calling if the box didn’t really leak?”

My landlord paused for a moment.

Landlord: “I’m sending over another plumber with a new box.”

Me: “Thank you!”

Every Party Has A Pooper; That’s Why We Invited You, Part 2

, , , , , , | Friendly | January 10, 2023

I live in an apartment complex. Rather than one huge tower or block, it’s a series of one- and two-floor buildings each with twelve to fourteen apartments depending on the size and configuration. Some of the rules make sense and some less so; one of the rules is that people aren’t allowed to use outdoor grills at all. Right next to the buildings where it could be a fire hazard is understandable, but there are open fields and yards between the buildings where it should be safe. Still, no grills.

Despite this, I have to say that one of my favorite things about living here is the SMELLS. There are a lot of people from a lot of cultural and ethnic heritages — in my building, at least — and smelling all the different types of cooking and inspiring me to try more has probably contributed to my weight gain in recent years.

It also inspired someone else to organize a potluck between the whole building and the one next to ours! One Saturday, we all got together, set out tables, and brought unique dishes. You didn’t have to bring food to participate, but the organizer did ask folks to bring their own drinks and some way to label their dishes so folks had half an idea what they were grabbing.

There were bowls and crockpots and serving platters; Indian, German, Mexican, Southeast Asian, South American, Middle Eastern, and African — I think the only inhabited continent/area we didn’t have represented was Australia; snacks and appetizers and soups and entrees and desserts. Everyone was trying mostly everything, folks were getting to know each other, and a good time was had by all.

Then, SHE arrived. This woman came huffing and puffing her way across the street from another building. There may as well have been thunderclouds billowing above her head.

I was unfortunate enough to be part of the group that was closest to her.

Woman: “What the f*** do you all think you’re doing?!”

Neighbor #1: “Having a party?”


Me: “Nnnno? I mean, if you wanna join us, we’ve got plenty, but—”


From this point forward, she never talks in less than a bellow.

Neighbor #2: “All of us, potluck!”


Me: “No grill, lady. We cooked these in our houses.”


And just like that, this tornado of rage spun around and marched back home, leaving everyone baffled. Much laughter was shared over the novel concept of “moving food from where you cooked it”.

Then, ten or fifteen minutes later, a couple of police cars rolled up with their lights blazing. I conspicuously noticed a few neighbors disappear; whether they had actual issues or just didn’t want to get involved, who knows? But the organizer and I were front and center as the police got out.

Officer: “Good afternoon. We’re here because of complaints that you all had an open fire pit going on.”

It’s usually not a good idea to laugh in a police officer’s face, but I really couldn’t help it. After a brief discussion and showing of what was going on — we didn’t even have anything playing music, which was also part of the complaint — the officers headed off. Thankfully, nothing else happened that day, but occasionally, I’d spot an angry face peering from a window to which I’d give a cheeky wave.

And no, nobody got evicted, but a new rule was put into place: any planned outdoor gatherings of more than two apartments need to be communicated with the main office. Thanks, [Woman], for adding bureaucracy to a friendly get-together!

Every Party Has A Pooper; That’s Why We Invited You

Must’ve Had His Heart Surgically Removed

, , , , , , , , , , | Working | December 30, 2022

CONTENT WARNING: Surgery Details


In my early twenties, I am married to a software engineering student who is attending a college that offers married and family housing, where we live for three years. When I am twenty-one — and receiving AMAZING medical and long-term disability benefits from my job in a call center — I have surgery to correct a major birth defect in my chest called pectus excavatum, otherwise known as sunken chest syndrome.

The surgery involves a thoracic surgeon making a roughly fourteen-inch incision under my breasts and literally dissecting and reassembling my sternum with Kevlar mesh and plastic pins. The surgery is really awful to watch and leaves a very nasty-looking incision plus severe bruising on my chest immediately after surgery.

About two weeks after the surgery, I am in my bathroom doing a bandage change and cleaning the surgery site when I am suddenly startled by a maintenance man opening the bathroom door! The guy didn’t knock or announce himself, so I haven’t had time to make myself “decent”.

Instead of being apologetic…

Maintenance Man: “Why the h*** is your top off?! What happened to your chest?! It looks disgusting! Didn’t you get the message that we were going to be doing routine maintenance on the plumbing this week? I wouldn’t have accepted this job if I knew that I was going to see things this disgusting!”

Maintenance had sent out a message, but they didn’t specify the specific time or day that they were going to be at my apartment.

Me: “Why the h*** did you enter my apartment without announcing yourself? You know that this is family housing, so anyone could be home when you were doing your maintenance! My chest looks like this because I just had major surgery to correct a very painful birth defect that my poverty-stricken parents couldn’t afford to fix! What, I don’t have the right to change my bandages in my own apartment?”

One of the maintenance supervisors (whom I know quite well) hears the whole exchange from the stairwell.

Supervisor: *To the maintenance man* “What is wrong with you? Your training told you that you are supposed to knock five times and loudly announce yourself when you enter living quarters! I heard you just walk right into Mrs. [My Name]’s apartment!” 

Maintenance Man: “But I’m maintenance! I have the right to enter any living quarters that I want to! You should report her to Housing because she shouldn’t be doing something that disgusting in her apartment! I never expected to see disgusting things when I took this job!”

Supervisor: “So, you took a job on a college campus that has somewhat of a reputation for being a party school and you didn’t expect to see anything gross? Man, you are sheltered! I went to unclog a drain in a dorm last week, and I found several students having a sex party! And guess what? They didn’t even stop the whole time I was in there! Someone cleaning a surgical incision is the least of your problems!”

Maintenance Man: “College is for learning, not partying and doing gross things like what [My Name] was doing! I am going to report her to Housing for what she was doing!”

Supervisor: “Are you an idiot? You walk into an apartment without announcing yourself and actually enter the bathroom, and you are offended that a resident is cleaning a surgical incision? I am telling the maintenance manager about what you just did! He isn’t going to be happy!”

Maintenance ended up leaving for the day. I was contacted by the maintenance manager an hour later, and he was very apologetic about the whole incident.

I later found out from [Supervisor] that [Maintenance Man] was fired after he started ranting to the manager about how people shouldn’t expect privacy in on-campus housing and how people with medical needs shouldn’t be allowed to live on campus!