November 1998
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Apartment Life Ain't What it Seems!

by Jeanie Collitte

Okay, okay, so I've been meaning to write about my experience of living away from home for the first time. Well, here it is: Living in an apartment has got to be the greatest freedom a nineteen-year-old girl could have (Especially considering the living the former living arrangements, in my own happy hellhole in Macedonia Ohio).

Dorm life also sucked considering, I had no privacy. Hey, it doesn't matter if I'm changing, or trying to get something done. Or better yet, having "alone time." In the dorms, it is just so uncalled for, it was weird. I'm sorry I guess I'm, just abnormal like that. I wanted some more freedom, instead of having high school life all over again.

In my apartment, I can have friends over anytime I want, plan as many parties as I can, and don't forget- I can actually burn candles!! Although trust me, not everything that went into getting the apartment was peachy keen.

My best advice for a happy escape of parental roles, is to be careful when purchasing. Last year when Laura (my roommate) and I went looking for apartments, the search seemed endless. On Mondays and Wednesdays after English class we went searching through the classified ads. We eventually came across this ad for a place called "The Housing Placement Center." We set up a interview and went to see a couple of the houses mentioned in the ad. Some of the places you could really tell were dumps, but others you had to be more cautious. One in particular that I remember as being a dump had pipes hanging down from the ceiling. It was a basement apartment, so it was also kind of musty. Not to mention, I think the fuzzy stuff on the pipes was asbestos. Yum, Yum give me some type of disease!

Laura and I came across the apartment we liked, and we asked our parents to come check it out. We really liked the place, so we decided that we would get it! It seemed to be clean, and they also told us that certain repairs would be completed for us when we moved in. I was supposed to get new carpet in my room, and they also said they were going to do some improvements in the bathroom. Needless to say, nothing prepared us for what would happen a week after we moved in. My carpet was not replaced, and for the first time we got the polyester taste of our cheap landlord. The problems started with minor things that could easily be repaired, but were not repaired right away- such as the heating element in our oven, the furnace buttons, and my closet door dry-rotting off the hinges the first time I opened it. Oh yeah it was a blast, having to call the maintenance guy all the time. Not to mention the fact that we didn't find out until a week later that our freezer leaked onto our food in the fridge. So to this day we have to keep a bucket underneath to collect all of the water.

Now you may think these are big problems, oh no, these are petty things that can be fixed easily. What Laura and I had to put up with for a week was terrible. It all started with the fact that our toilet wouldn't stop running. Then when it did it stop running, we got the added bonus of it backing up. Finally, the worst case of luck struck us. See we live in the back of the house, just the two of us, and nine people live above, and three girls in front. So everything that filters through the pipes goes through our pipes before leaving the entire apartment. Well with having the problem of the toilet backing up the waste from upstairs had no where to go else to go. Thus we had our own little "poop fountain" shooting up from our shower drain. It was so gross, and no matter how much you cleaned up the fecal matter, as soon as someone went potty upstairs Mount Poop-more violently erupted everywhere. I felt like I was working in a barn when I had to go in to the bathroom with a pair of boots, a mop, and dustpan. Nothing like shoveling shit, to make me really feel for zookeepers!

We had the drain snaked five times, but that didn't matter. It sill came up, and every time we called the maintenance guy he seemed a little bit more annoyed. But what we learned was that you have to be persistent, otherwise nothing will get done. Laura took pictures of the mess, just in case we had no satisfaction with our fixes. We also found out why the minor repairs in our apt, weren't getting fixed. Kevin (the dreamy maintenance guy) told us that our landlord is a real tight-ass. Basically, the landlord told the housing placement people to only fix the bare necessities. It was really quite upsetting! Especially considering the fact that Laura and I both paid up front for this year's rent in full. Where does $6,000 go? Couldn't some of that money go towards repairs? Well you would think so, but God only knows what they do with the money.

Finding places to shower was also a pain in the ass. How does that song by Jimmy Buffet go? " I don't know, I don't know, oh I don't know where I'm going to go when the volcano blows".

I tried using the shower a couple of times after they snaked it, but every time it was just a matter of time before our shower was filled with brown murky water. Luckily, we have really nice people living in the house, so they offered to let us use their facilities anytime we needed. I also went to my friend Christy's dorm once, I'm not sure what was worse- ice cold water that made hair stand up on every part of my body, or showering in poop!

Probably showering in poop.

Well, the time finally came when the housing placement people realized we could no longer live like this. So the day before our health inspection, our toilet was replaced. Coincidence? I think not!! It wasn't exactly a new toilet, but it did the trick. We haven't had to deal with the shower, or toilet, backing up for quite some time.

So my best advice is to be extremely picky about where you're planning to live, and be as persistent as possible. It is a tool that can get you far in life! Looks can be very deceiving, so can cheap-ass landlords.

One good thing did come out of this whole experience, however. We got to know Kevin the Maintenence guy really well!

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