Thursday, July 9, 2009



As I wrote in a previous post, my roommate Nick and I have made the decision to move from the hood to the beach in lovely San Diego. This transition was supposed to take place this week, in order to be fully acclimated for a weekend full of pirate costumes and crawling between bars. However, as the week has progressed, we've experienced a number of issues that are causing the entire moving process to become considerably more complicated.

First and foremost among the complications is the timely disappearance of our new landlord. After dealing with a faceless company over the last few years, Nick and I were looking forward to dealing with a single owner. We thought that it would lead to a more personal touch in apartment management, with small issues being more easily addressed than with our current landlords. If, for instance, a crazy person sprayed a fire extinguisher into one of our bedroom windows, we could turn to a landlord that had more of a vested interest in the issue.

I will refer to our new landlord as Howard, which is, coincidentally, his actual name. We also have taken to calling him "How How" or "The Strauss!" when we have become particularly agitated in the last couple of days. When we initially toured the apartment, Howard was there to show us around the complex. He said that he was planning to do some additional maintenance work in a couple of areas, and that the apartment was open for us any time after the 1st of July.

Nick returned from the glorious state of Minnesota on the 6th, and we quickly made plans to have everything moved in on Friday the 10th. We reserved a moving truck, started packing boxes, and called the cable company for an appointment. We called Howard to let him know about the move, and to set up a time to get the keys and do a final inspection of the apartment.

The first call was on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday evening, I made another call. And again on Wednesday. Nick called on Wednesday as well. Each time, we received a pleasant voicemail from Mrs. Strauss, but could not manage to reach a live person. For the first time, I began to understand my grandmother's annoyance with answering machines. I wanted to start saying things like, "If you're there, pick up the phone... I'll stay on the line.... No? Are you there?!? I know you're there!!!"

By the second call on Wednesday, Nick and I decided to drive by the apartment, just to see if Howard happened to be there. We loaded up our cars with boxes and arrived just as the sun started to dip below the horizon. We didn't find How How, but we did discover that the apartment door was unlocked. There was a copy of the key in one of the kitchen drawers, and we decided to unload our first shipment into the living room.

Ignoring the flea-ridden cat that was darting in and out of the front door (not a great sign, by the way) we finished bringing in the last of the boxes just as the last light of the day disappeared. In the time between agreeing to rent the apartment and Wednesday evening, a period of approximately three weeks, The Strauss!!! had failed to notify the electric company of his upcoming tenants. While the water was functioning, the electricity was not, further increasing the annoyance factor for both Nick and I.

In addition, the improvements that How How had discussed with us while first touring the apartment had not been performed. The broken light and exposed wiring in the kitchen still existed, the quarter's counter had a broken tile that was being held together with Scotch tape, there was a crack in the siding on one of the family room walls, and the beetle that had greeted Nick in his new bedroom was still hanging around. All in all, we were not pleased with was waiting for us, or not waiting for us (in Howard's case), in our new residence.

We woke up on Thursday, called Howard once again, and realized that we were going to have to make some tough decisions. We had a truck reserved to move the rest of our apartment, as well as an appointment with the cable installation company, for mid-morning on Friday. Although we had managed to discover the key a day earlier, life in the apartment was going to be difficult without functioning lights and outlets.

We concluded that switching over the electricity must have been a responsibility bestowed upon us by Howard, even though it had never explicitly been stated. Nick made a call to San Diego Gas & Electric, finding that they would not be able to provide any service until Tuesday of the following week. Even though we were legally entitled to be in the apartment from the 1st of July, due to Howard's disappearance, it would not be livable for 14 days into the month.

The Strauss!!!!!!

Sorry for the moment of frustration. Reading over the situation in print caused me to yell his name out loud, and in the text, concurrently.

Facing an absent landlord, Nick and I were forced to push the moving truck back to next Monday, the electricity for Tuesday, and the cable/internet for Wednesday. Hopefully, by that time, How How will have gotten back to one of us.

I must admit that throughout the week, I've had some fleeting thoughts of being subject to a well executed scam. Maybe Howard was just hanging around the apartment, waiting for some unsuspecting idiots to inquire about its availability. He could have easily created a rental agreement and requested a damage deposit and first month's rent prior to the idiot's move-in date. Then he, and Mrs. Strauss, could have taken our cash down to Old Mexico to live like royalty for a couple of months. I keep telling myself that these are stupid thoughts to have, but with each passing day, they are growing stronger and stronger.

Stranger things have happened since moving to Southern California. That's all I'm saying.

-More to come...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mysterious Ways


During each evening that I have off from work, around 10 pm, I start having visions of Twix bars dancing around my head, softly whispering sweet mentions of caramel and cookie centers. As hard as I try, I am powerless to resist its urges, often leading to late night visits to the local gas station to fulfill my sugar-laden cravings.

Last night, as I rounded the corner of the AM/PM parking lot, I was greeted by a string of profanity-laced insults that were infused with enough anger and venom to make me stop in my tracks. I looked around the filling locations, noticing that all eyes were turned to a black Cadillac that was sitting in front of the gas station entrance. Within the vehicle, a woman was tearing into the person sitting in the passenger seat, who was blocked from my view as I approached the front doors.

Here are a couple of snippets from their constructive conversation (swear words have been abbreviated).

-"I hate looking at your f-ing face! It makes me want to f-ing throw up every time I f-ing see it!"
-"I am wasting my f-ing life with you. You are f-ing worthless!"
-"Don't say a f-ing word! I don't want to hear the f-ing sound of your f-ing voice!"
-"F you. F you. F you. F you, you f-ing piece of sh**"

This last one was shot out of the car windows as I rounded the rear bumper of the car and made my way into the store. Just as I was opening the door, I managed to catch a glimpse of the person on the receiving end of the conversation. He looked defeated, downcast, and was slumping as far as possible in the passenger side seat of the Cadillac. With every obsenity, I could see him cowarding a little further within the confines of his chair.

In the gas staition, I wandered through the candy aisles, keeping a close eye on the confrontation. Even through the glass walls, you could hear most of what was being said, which was decidely one-sided at that point. The woman would yell something at the guy, wait for him to open his mouth, and then cut him off with another string of obsenities.

As I approched the counter, the attendant asked whether I knew what was occurring in the car. I replied that I didn't. He said that he was supposed to put a stop to it, but was too scared to interfere at that point. I told him that I thought that this was a good idea, and we continued to watch their interactions as he rang in my Twix bar.

I eventually decided to leave the building and headed back to my apartment. I walked through the parking lot, hearing the woman continue to tear apart the guy, limb from limb. Just as I was turning into the alleyway, I saw a police car approach the Cadillac. Deciding that I needed to see the conclusion to the story, I stopped to watch the police officers pull each of the culprits out of the car.

The man, completely torn apart at this point, calmly put his hands on the hood of the car while one of the officers patted him down. The woman, on the other hand, was still feeling the coursing adrenaline within her veins. She turned her anger from the defeated man, to the officer that was trying to ask her questions.

"Don't f-ing touch me, you f-ing pig! We didn't do anything wrong! There's no reason for you to be here."

To his credit, the officer managed to calm her down for a bit, and started to ask her questions. I was too far away to hear their interactions and nearly turned to go home at this point. Luckily, I stayed just long enough to see the defeated man being handcuffed by the other officer and lead into the back of the squad car.

I believe that the police officers were just trying to seperate the two people in order to hear both sides of the story, but the frantic woman did not see it this way. She immediately transitioned from her relatively calm state, to the overly aggresive level, that she had held as I first approached the gas station. Only this time, instead of trying to melt the defeated man's face with her words, she became apologetic. She couldn't understand why the officers were taking him away, yelling obsenities in their direction. "F**k" was replaced with repeated "I'm sorry"'s in anything that she said to the man. Again, here are some brief snippits:

To police officers: "That's my husband! He didn't do anything wrong you motherf-ers!"
To the defeated man: "I'm sorry baby! This is all my fault. I'm so sorry!"

The officers managed to calm her down once again, probably explaining why they had put her husband in the back of the car. After watching her sob for a few minutes, I decided to head back to my apartment and attempt to recreate the situation to my roommate and on this blog.

Initially I could only laugh about what I had witnessed, chalking it up to life in the hood and interactions between a couple of crazies. However, as I started to really think about it, it seemed less and less extreme. Everyone that has been involved in a relationship has experienced one or two of these moments of insanity loss. There are times, in the heat of an argument, when things are said that a rationale human being would never let come out of their mouth.

But, in a relationship, both parties are a little bit crazy. Maybe not to the point of the couple that I saw last night, but crazy nonetheless. The smallest issues in a relationship can manifest themselves, over time, into a much larger point of contention between two people. Maybe it's the volume at which your partner watches TV, or the seven varieties of ice cream in the freezer, or how they choose to eat chicken wings.

Regardless of the situation, it can, occasionally, lead to an all-out cussfest. While it may seem rationale and justified to you at the time, to an outside party, these type of arguments are located centrally within crazy town. I think the key to any successful relationship is being able to recognize these insanity landmines and being able to apologize for any variety of names or swear words that you may have said during the madness.

I don't think that any relationship is immune to these moments, however, hopefully for most of us, these moments won't result in a large gathering of spectators and eventual police intervention.

-More to come...