Monday, April 25, 2011

Less Intense, Perhaps More Bitter

So we've been all moved and stuff for about a week now, and while we're still kind of settling in, it's really nice to be out of the old place. Quite a relief.

Remember this? Of course you don't. But that's okay. I'd've forgotten it myself by now if it hadn't been a constant thorn in our sides since then.

The crazy thing is that somehow all the anger and frustration that I've been forced to bottle up for the past (almost) year has somehow dissipated. I really have no idea what happened . . . for months now I've been looking forward to the moment I could finally let go and rant on and on and on and have everyone tell me what a tragic little martyr I've been - or what a whiny little brat, as the case may be - but now that I can, the need for the catharsis is gone. Heaven knows I'm not complaining, but I am a bit confused.

Anyway, while the anger is gone there is still a fair amount of bitterness and resentment, so I'm hoping that one big, albeit milder than planned, purging will get rid of what remains. Feel free to tell me what a martyr/and/or/brat I am anyway. :-)

Anyway. As some of you know, the biggest reason we moved is because we couldn't stand the management at the old place anymore. Everything I said in the other blog? Completely true. 100% We had to get out.

What with hindsight and all that, I'm kicking myself just a little bit, because it was obvious within days of our taking over maintenance duties that it had been a bad idea. First there was the griping from the manager to me about the previous couple and things they'd done she didn't like while we were checking people in and out of apartments. It struck me as odd, but I just figured that sometimes people need to vent. Then there was the fire - and this seriously bugged me that night, and has ever since. When I called her to tell her about the fire the first thing she said - perfectly calmly - was to call the fire department. By then the first two fire departments were there . . . I really don't know how she didn't hear the sirens. When I told her they were there though, her tone completely changed. Short, a little snippy even. "Well. I guess I'll be there as soon as I can, then." It confused me a little at the time - I couldn't figure out why the conversation had gone that way. Did she think we were stupid, that calling 911 wouldn't occur to anyone in the entire complex? Or did she honestly think I'd called to get permission to call 911 . . . that we should have gotten permission first? Looking back that's what I find myself believing. We usurped her authority - it's ridiculously petty, but I can't think of any other reason for such an immediate change in tone.

Then the next day both the manager and the owner of the building chose not to cancel their (independent) plans to go out of town. Frankly, I still find this pretty unforgivable. They were both there the night before, they both knew that there would be lots of people around Saturday morning investigating and officials wanting to talk to people in charge and questions to be answered. But they still chose not only to leave the county, but to not answer their phones. Which left Luke and me having to pretend to be in charge. It wasn't too terrible, especially since Luke had been the first person on the scene and everything, but it still struck us both as irresponsible at the very least. Especially when the manager's phone must have been ringing off the hook all day . . . I think at one point there were five of us taking turns calling her. As soon as one person got her voice mail another person would start calling - and still, no answer until late afternoon. The building you're in charge of managing was on fire 12 hours ago and you go off to Salt Lake for the day and let your phone ring? I'm sorry, what?

That pretty much set the tone for our entire tenure as maintenance people - whenever we needed to reach her, she wasn't reachable . . . but we were expected to be on call constantly. A couple of months ago she called me to ask if I'd received an email she'd sent yet. I hadn't, so I asked when she'd sent it - ten minutes ago. The matter in the email wasn't urgent, and she asked us to call when we got it, but apparently we were supposed be checking our email every couple of minutes.

It was actually our inability to reach her when we needed her that was the last straw. My first blog came after the "mailbox debacle." The apartments had mailboxes that I'm pretty sure were the originals . . . and it showed. They were banged up, dented, and just in generally terrible shape. There were a couple of boxes that wouldn't close at all because of the damage. Every time someone would complain about not being able to lock their mailbox the manager would send us an email asking Luke to try and fix it, which he couldn't, as he told her every time. Finally the owner agreed to pony up the money for new boxes, and due to the constant problem of door keys and mail keys walking off (due to a non-existent key collecting system) they thankfully took our suggestion to have only one key per apartment. So the new boxes were installed, but they didn't have the main locks from the post office yet, those would be coming in a couple of days because it was Friday and the post office didn't have the locks ready. So it was arranged that we would keep using the old boxes until the post office locks were put in, then we would give out the keys to the new ones, and then the old ones would be removed.

That was what was supposed to happen. What really happened though . . . the next day (Friday) I came home from work and saw that the old boxes were gone. We weren't supposed to start using the new boxes until Tuesday, so I was rather confused - as was the mailman, who spent about an hour in the parking lot on the phone because, as it turned out, the locks weren't in the new boxes yet. And I think it might have been slightly illegal to put mail in boxes that weren't secure. But eventually he put the mail in there, having no choice, and people started wanting their mail. We weren't sure what to do, so I spent about 4 hours trying to call the manager. Not only did she not answer the office phone, she also wouldn't answer the emergency number . . . which kind of begs the question of why would you have a separate number for emergencies if you're not going to answer it. Eventually we had to take matters into our own hands and guess at what she would say, so we gave the keys out and I emailed her explaining the situation and how we'd tried and failed to reach her. The reply was a lecture about not doing things without permission and that if something like that happened again to call her. It went back and forth for a while, me explaining that I tried to call her but never got an answer (or even a return call . . . I'm not even sure she listened to the voice mails I left) and that we'd had to make a guess about what to do. To which she replied, essentially, "next time, call me."


The kicker? The person who removed the boxes was her husband. I'm all for nepotism, seeing as it's the only reason I have a job and all, but this place was Nepotism Nirvana. I think we were the only people she had doing anything around the apartments who were not related to her. Anyway, I don't know if she told him to take the boxes down or he just decided to do it without knowing we still needed them, but the plain fact is that he screwed up, she went missing (again), and we ended up paying for it.

By this point Luke and I were both seething. It was the proverbial straw on the back of a camel that had six months' worth of minor annoyances piled high. That's when we decided we were moving . . . except our lease wasn't up until May. Luke was almost ready to break it and just leave, but in the end we decided to suck it up and take what discounted rent we could get for six more months and save up for what would probably be a more expensive place. (and don't get me wrong, we both really appreciated the whole rent-reduction thing . . . the working conditions just sucked.)

There were a million other little things that happened that I'd planned on complaining about.

Like the time in January that the girl in the apartment next to the laundry room came and told us her bathroom was inexplicably flooding. Turned out it was a pipe in a water heater closet in the laundry room. Just 3 inches of pipe coming out of the wall, attached to nothing as far as we could see and merrily gushing forth water. The manager actually answered that time, which surprised me to speechlessness and she almost hung up. I explained the situation, and how we couldn't turn it off because there was no shut-off valve. She made some calls, then called me back saying her brother was one his way and that "he'll be able to shut it off." Oh, to have seen the look on her face when he told her there was no shut-off valve. Turns out it was on overflow pipe from an upper water heater that was malfunctioning.

Or the time in August that we had a knock on our door at 10:15 PM wanting to check in to his apartment. Didn't know which one he was going in to, didn't know if he'd signed all the paper work needed for us to be allowed to give him the keys had he known which apartment. Turns out he knew he would be getting into town late that night and got permission from the manager to come to us that late because she figured "when my husband and I were newlyweds we were always up late so I figured you would be too." Okay, ummmm . . .

1) I was taught that common courtesy says you don't knock on doors that late unless it's an emergency. Is that rule now as outdated as rotary phones or something?

2) You knew he would be coming to our door and didn't think it necessary to tell us? What if we hadn't been there?

3) I don't know what you and your husband were doing on those late nights, but if we're up that late there are about half a dozen things we might be doing and we don't appreciate any of them being interrupted.

Then there's the fact that if you go on maternity leave, and you leave five people in charge of covering one aspect of your job while you're gone . . . well, if those five people working together can't figure out how your system works, the problem is probably not them. And it's your own fault that you get calls every single day you're gone.

I have dozens of other stories of frustrations and grievances . . . but these are the only ones that still bug me, and the annoyance is even fading for them. It's odd, but I'm glad. And, I will admit, a little disappointed - you know how I love my rants! :-) But anyway . . . I've got the little bit of anger that's left off my chest, and now I think I can eventually forget about it. That's good, right?

P. ost S. cript
Of course there is no way in Hades this would ever happen . . . but it would be awesome. And if it does, you'll wake up to a full report Friday morning. Yes, I am getting up 4:00 in the morning . . . I'm probably going to regret it, but I'm going to do it!


  1. Suggestion for next time(because there will be more people like this in your life):
    Crucial Conversations or Crucial Confrontations
    by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

  2. Thanks! I sooooo do not do confrontation . . .

  3. Congrats on finally getting out and moved and on to greener pastures!

  4. I hope your new place will be much better! :)

    You deserve it... after all you've put up with at the old place, you're a Saint in my book.

  5. So far it's been MUCH better. Of course, all it really took was having a washer and dryer instead of a coin-op laundry room to share with 70 other people. It could be the biggest hole in the world with worse management and that one fact would still have us over the moon! :-)