I have a pet theory, one that I dreamed up during moments of great reflection –usually while sitting on the toilet or waiting for traffic lights to change. My theory is that this world is the spiritual equivalent of a rock tumbler. The rough, jagged gemstones are new souls: immature, wild and unaware of the damage they do to others.
Through the love and hardship of a thousand lifetimes the rough edges are worn smooth and we emerge from the other end as wiser, kinder old souls – polished gems – and we make our exit. I haven’t gotten as far as figuring out where the stones come from or go to but if you’re looking for hints I always recommend the “Three B’s” – Bible/Bhagavad Gita/Battlefield Earth.
The reason I mention this is because I recently moved apartments and with the hassle involved in moving this middle-class circus from one fairground to another I have decided that in my next life I want to be a Hermit Crab.
Imagine the simplicity – shells are abundant so you can house hunt wherever you like, rent is low because the water makes paper currency impractical and everywhere you go is oceanfront property. You’re mobile, too, so if those shiftless European Crabs move into the neighbourhood and let their yards go to seed because they’re busy playing dice or pitching woo at your women then you can just pick up and go without having to file a forest worth of paperwork.
Contrast that with moving from one apartment to another. First, you have to decide you want a different/bigger/smaller apartment. Then you need to start shopping for a place and hope that once you’ve found one you like, the owner/manager hasn’t established a set of prerequisites which weed you out right away: “We only rent to couples/single people/people with no children/an odd number of teeth/who dress in spandex and fight crime in the evenings.”
Once you’ve established that you are eligible for the privilege of paying them too much money in exchange for a place to live you fill out a number of forms which give the property management company permission to prod their finger up your background.
Remember, too, that you must do all of this at least one month in advance of when you intend to move. Two months is preferable. The machine-like precision of six months notice will curry you favour when robots wrest control of the world from man. Giving exact notice before you’ve even left the womb will assure that you’ll be the first one chosen to go back in time and kill John Connor.
When Nicky & I found an affordable two-bedroom apartment it was four days past the 30-day deadline set out in the rental agreement for our current apartment. I took our “Notice to Vacate” form to the property manager for our building, a perpetually frowning chubby woman prone to wearing cat sweaters and who looks, more or less, like a forlorn Care Bear. I saw then the appeal of rules to the mediocre.
“You’re four days late!” she said, puffing herself to appear more threatening, like a squirrel. I apologized and explained that our new apartment had more or less fallen into our lap and asked if she could simply backdate the forms. After all it was only four days, two of which were Saturday & Sunday. That appeal for clemency brought about a startling metamorphosis and this wan, rotund woman suddenly came alive with the possibility of delivering unto someone else a portion of the misery that was her life: “Late is late! Unless we can fill the apartment you will have to pay next month’s rent AND right now we’ve already got one apartment vacant, so finding someone for yours is VERY unlikely.”
My first attempt a failure I then tried to take the same tact at the office of the property management company. I understand the point of rules – despite what the anarchists say, most of us could not function without some kind of external control and without it would barely have time to smash Piggy’s glasses before the entire planet was reduced to a cinder. That said, rules need wiggle room because life as a human gets messy and rarely unfolds according to plan.
This argument was of zero interest to the woman behind the counter at the property management company:
“Sorry, but you’re four days past the 30-day window.”
“I know, but I thought maybe because we’re moving from one building managed by this company to another…”
“You’re four days past the 30-day window.”
“…and both buildings are owned by the same man…”
“You’re four days past the 30-day window”
“…and I’ve been a good tenant for the last four years…”
“ …that you might backdate the forms for me.”
“…past the 30-day window.”
I would have had better luck arguing with a calculator.
Then I was given a “Late Notice to Vacate Form” which except for the word “Late” was identical to the “Notice to Vacate” form I had brought with me.
So now we were on the hook for $830, one month’s rent, unless Texas Instruments and the Human Ottoman managed to fill not one but TWO apartments.Nicky & I decided that this was unacceptable and so embarked on an ad campaign that could have sold American flags to Ho Chi Minh.
This resulted in the building manager, to whom Nicky had given the Troll-esque nickname “Grumpy grogs”, spending so much time showing the two apartments that hundreds of Billy goats must have merrily trip-trapped across her unattended bridge.
After a week of this she found tenants that she couldn’t turn away and stopped by our apartment to tell us before tromping home to watch “Toddlers & Tiaras” with the blinds drawn. The look on her face was that of a chubby-cheeked child who has been denied the opportunity to fry ants with a magnifying glass:
“We found people to take your apartment so YOU can take the ad off Used Victoria.”
“That’s great news! We’ll take it off Craigs list too. And Facebook. Twitter. Google Wave. The bulletin board at Thrifty’s. Safeway. Fairways. Quality Foods….”
She walked away before I could start on the coffee shops. Or mention that this all could have been avoided had she just backdated the forms in the first place.
Or how I intend to avoid this issue in future by being a Hermit Crab.