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The Worst Apartment

The economy's tight right now, so in the process of apartment hunting the first thing that comes to mind is price. Why pay any extra $100 if you don't have to? I was recently in such a position. The rent at my current apartment was reasonable, but I thought I could do better, all things considered. After sifting through ads for boarding houses and shared bathroom Single Room Occupancy listings, I thought I found a good deal. Decent location (at least geographically speaking), private bath, private kitchen, and a significantly lower price. I didn't depend on it, but I thought that it couldn't hurt to schedule a visit. Thus began the experience I have come to call, "Visiting the Worst Apartment in My City". Now, I've seen bad apartments before, so I think I have a pretty thick skin about these things. I've toured the likes of a dump in Ohio with ancient, rubbery linoleum floors, cracked walls and light fixtures that were being held up with little more than a rusty nail and a daily prayer. But the apartment in this story was downright criminal. First, let's talk about neighborhoods. An apartment's proximity to a good neighborhood does not necessarily place it in one. True, the apartment I saw was literally just a few blocks from a very nice part of town. The neighborhood in which the building was actually located was the type of place where even the pigeons are afraid to be outside after hours. The combination of dilapidated industrial sites and smelly seafood markets weren't exactly what I would call "charm", but maybe that's just me. As for the building itself, it was an old converted hotel. Not a nice hotel, but the type of place where 19th century immigrants stayed because they got off the boat with a single bag and a pocket full of bread crumbs. When the property manager showed me to the actual apartment, he insisted we take the stairs... To the fourth floor. His reasoning? The one elevator in the building is dangerously old and so slow that walking is both safer and faster. I began to understand what kind of place I was in when I saw that there wasn't even six inches of wall between the doors of two separate apartments. After struggling with the lock, the manager showed me into the room. And that's all it was, a tiny box that sat on the border between "closet" and "room". Two and a half steps past the doorframe and I had ventured as far as one could go into this particular domicile. It only took one step to be overcome by the smell. It was as if someone had coated the walls with an antique and now illegal cleaning product. That's not to say the place seemed clean at all. To say the floor tiles were old is like saying the ocean is a little wet or a bonfire is a touch on the warm side. They had gathered more dirt and grime than any floor younger than half a century could possibly manage. The "kitchen" of which the ad spoke consisted of an electric hotplate sitting on the sill of the one window the wall could support while still remaining structurally sound. Beside it, a squat refrigerator hummed, though I don't know why. It was warm on the inside despite being plugged in. The bathroom was indeed private. It was so private, in fact, that one occupant could shower while the other used the toilet without actually occupying the same relative space. The facility was so small, the bathroom had to be split into two parts just to be connected to the plumbing. It was obviously retrofitted from an earlier model that didn't include one or both of its key features. As for the shower space itself, it was so small that an occupant's bed (laying in the only place it could possibly fit) would get wet every time the shower was used. The funniest part? The property manager was certain that my biggest concern was going to be the view. Granted, staring out at a wall isn't ideal, but it wouldn't have mattered to me if the place had been decent in any conceivable way. When the manager asked me what I thought, I decided to be honest with him. I told him I would probably be renewing at my current apartment.