>> Monday, May 18, 2015
I worked at an apartment complex that had a giant stocked fishing pond in the center. We didn't always have the best tenants, and I never was able to get approval to restock the pond, so we used to joke that the only thing that pond was actually stocked with was used syringes and dumped guns with the serial numbers rubbed off (thereby giving the pond the loving nickname of "The Swamp").
Well, we often had people come to lease that seemed just great and completely normal. After a few weeks of residency (and that's being generous), the crazy would start to come out.
We referred to this as the Swamp Gas Effect.
(Erin's Note: I feel at this point we need to insert the theme song to my favorite childhood cartoon)
So, this one guy - we'll call him Cray - first shows up with his mother, takes notes, asks all the right questions, and explains that he is on a housing voucher due to some down-on-his-luck times and some medical expenses that just set him back.
His mother was lovely, he was lovely, and I couldn't wait to sign a lease with him.
My favorite part of this job is helping people, and I really thought this was one of those times.
Everything starts out great. Cray comes by the office to tell us how wonderful we are. Cray waves as he walks by. The neighbors love Cray. And then Cray snaps. Cray comes running into the office screaming, "I'VE BEEN ROBBED! I'VE BEEN ROBBED!" Never you mind that this is a very busy day with move-ins. I have 7 new tenants sitting in a circle like we're about to break out in Kumbaya at summer camp while we review the lease together. I politely ask him to have a seat in my private office, and I would be in there in a moment. I give a nervous smile to the new tenants, who are now terrified, and ask them to hold on just a moment. Cray is pacing in my office like he had the flippin' hope diamond get ripped from his arms by the Pink Panthers.
Cray: "I went to the bathroom, and when I came back out EVERYTHING was gone!!! I only peed. I wasn't even in there that long."
Me: "Uh huh. Okay. And have you called the police?"
Cray: "No, I ran straight up here! It's EVERYTHING. My furniture, my clothes, my carpet, my appliances, EVERYTHING is gone!"
Me: Hold up, did he just say his carpet? His appliances? What kind of robbery was this? "And did you hear anything?"
Cray: "Nope, not a thing. I don't know how they did it so fast. And now my front door won't lock. I tried to lock it on my way up here. I'd had some trouble getting in earlier. In fact, I had to go through my window and unlock it from the inside."
Now, I won't pretend like we never had break-ins. I won't pretend like some weird things were never stolen (e.g. once, everything was stolen from a tenant's refrigerator, but their blank money orders for the rent were still sitting right there beside the refrigerator).
But THIS. This was new.
Me: "Cray, I'm going to come down with the master copy of your key and take a look and call the police with you. I just need you to sit tight while I finish up here so I can lock up the office."
Much to my surprise, all of my new tenants were still sitting there ready to move-in. WINNING! We wrap up, I collect Cray, and we cruise on down to his apartment. As I start to walk to his door he goes, "That's not my apartment!! I'm next door."
"No Cray, this is your apartment. I promise you. I know all 700 of my tenants by face, name, and apartment number. This is where you live." ....blank stares... "Cray, is this the apartment you were in?"
"Cray... did you break into someone else's apartment by mistake?"
Turns out, Mr. Looney Tunes had crawled through the window of an apartment that was under renovation. Somehow, he had managed to walk through and get to the bathroom without noticing the lack of carpet, etc, but immediately noticed it upon his exit from the bathroom. This certainly explained the insanely quick abilities of these "thieves." I just shake my head and leave. I call all of my new tenants to explain there was a "bit of confusion" to calm their nerves. I call his mother to let her know that Cray might not be feeling well and she may want to check in on him.
I consider buying a respirator to keep the swamp gas from getting to me.
Thank you Lauren B. for sharing!
Now, one more time everybody....
Yes, I realize this will be stuck in your head the rest of the day.
Swamp thing...dun-nun...you make my heart....