Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Out in all that sunshine, waiting to derail.

I wrote this a while ago for another site I write for, but as I imagine little crossover between that site and this one, I'm now posting it here. It's just that good. Or actually, I'm just that lazy.

Ok, so here’s a “crazy neighbor” story for you. (Come on, we all have them.)

Shortly after 9/11, my roommate at the time and I decided to take advantage of the sharp decline in rent prices and move into what was, for us, a dream apartment. Highlights included lots of light, a dishwasher, and a blissfully central location. Did I mention a dishwasher? It was love at first sight. We raced to sign the lease, and began to count the days until we could move in.

When that day finally arrived, we hauled our asses over to U-haul (and man is that another story for another day), picked up our truck, loaded it up, and began the tedious trips up and down the stairs to our new fourth-floor walkup, carrying all of our belongings.

So far, so good. My roommate’s parents had come to help out (along with an army of our most devoted friends) and they were suitably impressed with the apartment, the building, and the location. I could tell they were pretty thrilled that their little girl (my roommate, not me) seemed to be moving up in the world. (Our previous neighborhood had been a bit, um, colorful.)

So at one point, she and her dad were carrying a piece of furniture up the narrow staircase, and as they reached the second floor landing, he bumped into the door of one of the second-floor apartments. These things happen. Doors get bumped into, right? No big deal. Only this particular door, at the touch of my roommate’s father, fell off its hinges and into the apartment. That is, it fell about as far into the apartment as it could, given the fact that this was not so much an apartment as an in-house garbage dump. Piled wall to wall, floor to ceiling with what looked like several decades’ worth of refuse and god knows what else.

Luckily, our new neighbor didn't seem to be home at the time (and no one could imagine how he could ever actually be home in that apartment), so the roomie’s dad simply leaned the door back on the frame as he had found it, and we continued our schlep.

And little by little, as time went on, we got to know the crazy inhabitant of apartment 2R. Perhaps understandably (given the state of his apartment), he seemed to spend more time in the hallways than in his mess of a home. Often in his underwear. And frequently searching through the building’s trash, which was stored on the ground floor until garbage collection day.

We noticed that our building’s management (no shining examples of humanity themselves) had clearly made several attempts to evict him, to no avail. What’s more, they seemed to blame every problem that ever occurred in the building on this man’s presence in it. What, you have no heat? It must be crazy man’s fault. No hot water? Damn crazy man. Some strange odor emanating from your fireplace? Crazy man, of course.

And without realizing it, we too began to subscribe to this way of thinking. Hate your job? Crazy man. Personal life less than satisfying? Crazy man strikes again. Haven’t gotten laid in a while? Maybe if crazy man would stay out of the hallways...

So in time we moved on and moved out. But oh crazy man, how I miss your shiny red underwear and the vacant look always plastered across your face.

Never underestimate the power of having a scapegoat for all of life’s many ills.

3 Comments:

Blogger Robo's Drone said...

See. What I never understand about stories like these is that I'm always left wondering, 'Who ARE these people?!' (i.e., Who are these people that can afford NY's crazy rent and seemingly not work at all and live like hermit lunatics??).

Same deal with this story of an obese woman who didn't leave her couch for six years and eventually dies from immobility: How on earth did she make money to pay her rent?

I'm an able-bodied person who has to KILL myself to afford rent. Damn crazy man's fault, I suppose.

10:57 AM  
Blogger P/O said...

feels good, right? :)

2:23 PM  
Blogger Clipgirl said...

I'm going to start blaming all my problems on crazy man. I like it!

9:54 PM  

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