death becomes the dryer (oh please dear god!)

Cheapskate. Tightwad. Niggard. Skinflint.

However it’s written, it’s certain. When it comes to repairs, landlord Larry would squeeze the last drop of copper out of a penny if it meant he got to keep it.

Duct tape is his best friend. I venture that if you toured every apartment of the building, you’d find it — around a pipe, covering a crack, bonding two pieces of something together.

His mechanical fixes, well, let’s just say that a chimp with a peeled banana in one hand could do as well.

Take the washers and dryers. Please. I’m pleading.

By virtue of my residence in the old maid’s quarters in the basement, I’m at an advantage and a disadvantage concerning the laundry room.

When something goes awry, and it frequently does, I see and hear it.

Take now for instance.

The dryer’s emitting a loud and high-pitched metal-on-metal grinding noise that legally should be audible only to canines.

It quivers and rumbles and shakes in exhausted efforts to dry clothes.

Some 45 minutes and 75 cents later, they’re still damp.

This has been ongoing intermittently for months.

“Oh, we can fix that,” I can hear Larry saying in his languid droll.

And he does. Or pretends to. Odds are duct tape is involved.

Eventually the problem returns.

And the washer. Oh the washer!

Once there was this aged machine that wouldn’t drain during the rinse cycle. It’d try. It’d give its all to spin that basket and drain liquid from waterlogged fabrics.

After 10 seconds, it’d come to a dead halt and sound the loud buzz alerting it was out of balance.

I’d stand in front of that machine during the cycle. Wait as it spun 10 seconds. Stop. Buzz. Lift lid. Shift clothes. Shut lid. Spin. Buzz. Lift lid. Shift a shirt. Shut lid. Spin. Buzz. Shift. Shut lid. Spin. Until the the spin-rinse cycle completed.

That’s how I sometimes did laundry when the good washer was taken.

That machine, one of two, remained in place limping along for at least a year.

Finally for reasons mysterious landlord Larry opened up his wallet and extracted a few hundred dollars from his hundreds of thousands (or more). A brand-spankin’ new unit appeared in the place of the disabled beast (RIP).

He’s probably still kicking himself that his duct tape fix didn’t work.

It’s not only the screaming dryer and bleeding ears and cheapskate landlord rubbing me wrong today.

It’s the residents.

Long have I observed that whenever there’s a problem with a machine, which is frequent, the response of residents is:

Do nothing. Say nothing.

Say nothing to the landlord. Leave no note.

A magical elf will whisper it into his ear.

Say nothing to the residents. Leave no note.

Just walk away. Just walk away.

Fellow residents losing money in machines that aren’t working. Not your problem.

Fellow residents pulling half-wet clothes from a dryer. Not your problem.

Just. Walk. Away.

Me, I leave notes.

I leave notes firstly because the landlord needs to know when there’s a problem. If no one informs him, how will he know?

I leave notes because it’s part of my responsibility in the tenant-landlord relationship.

I leave notes because it’s thoughtful and considerate of my fellow residents.

What’s achieved by saying nothing? The problem only continues and is passed on to the next resident and the next to lose money and have their laundry sit stalled in a washer or damp in a dryer. Where’s the solution in that? Or the good?

And I’m leaving a note whether I’m trespassing 12 flights of stairs to a top-floor apartment or 12 steps down the hall. I’m gettin’ that paper and pen and tape for landlord and fellow residents.

Evidently I’m a dying breed.

If not nearing extinction.

Not unlike the screeching ear-bleeding dryer!


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lexiemom
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 18:29:29

    Everytime I read one of your posts about your run-down apartment building, I think, “there but by the grace of God…”
    I have been fortunate in myadult life to never reside in a place as pitiable as yours sounds. My first place was a tiny apartment just off campus of a major state University. It was a HUGE complex, and it had a seperate laundry building, right next to mine. It had a dozen or so washers & dryers, and there was never anybody in there. Considering it probably 85% college students, I think most of the residents just took their clothes home for mom to wash on the weekend. My next apt was also tiny, but managed to squeeze in a small stacked washer/dryer combo. Then I moved to a not-so-tiny apartment, and it was in another huge complex, so there were several laundry buildings that were fairly large, and there were always plenty of working appliances. Plus, its “landlord” was a property management company, and they had an on site staff, so they were always up to code. Then I lived in a rented house (full laundry room!); then another house (same); then a condo (laundry closet in kitchen) and finally I married & we bought our current house with a big laundry room in the basement. So, I’ve been blessed. I hope with your move you are soon equally blessed with at least working appliances and decent neighbors!


    • allycatadventures
      Jun 18, 2011 @ 19:03:23

      @Lexiemom – I certainly didn’t mean to give the impression that I live in a ghetto! The building’s nice. Grand in its time, it retains much of its charms and character from when it was erected in 1914. The apartments are nice – spacious, wood floors, windows that let in the light. Or the grayed light as the case may be. 🙂

      My apartment, as the old maid’s quarters, is the exception. It’s much smaller and darker than the others, and of course comes with pets (rats in the ceiling). The landlords (a team of father and son-in-law) are what you’d call a semi-slumlords. They’re attentive and maintain the building and grounds sufficiently and with minimum $ outlay. For example, though they could afford it and it’s the right thing to do, they refuse to hire an exterminator and instead make halfhearted efforts to fix the problem themselves.

      Nice enough folks but … well … you’ve read the blog so you know! 🙂

      I chuckled when you ticked off your residences! If I made the attempt, it’d read like a thick book!

      Thanks for visiting and your comment. Always appreciated. 🙂


  2. Karyn @ kloppenmum
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 18:39:10

    Duct tape should never be anywhere near the vicinity of men who think they can fix things. Or my sons…Metal on metal screeching is certainly one of the least pleasant sounds known to humankind. So pleased you’re moving soon.


    • allycatadventures
      Jun 18, 2011 @ 19:13:38

      @klopp – High pitches — the sort emitted by some children and women and malfunctioning dryers — are very distressing to me and ears … and much more so than, say, the roar of jet engines, explosions or other sounds heavy in bass. I’ve been known to flee public spaces with hands over hears to stop the bleeding on the pitch of a child’s scream. So yeah, I won’t miss that dryer! Or the lazy thoughtlessness of fellow residents. 🙂


  3. longeyesamurai
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 06:18:39

    Never underestimate the power of duct tape. 🙂

    Have to admit that I’Ve seen my share of wonky diagnostics, here at the coop. “Bathroom ceiling has a huge bubble that feels wet to the touch?” Probably because I did not use the fan, as it’s only a coincidence that it ooccured at the same time the tenants above overflowed the tub.

    “Ceiling fixtures have a bad habit of shorting out?” Well it’s probably because I don’t use the right wattage. Now I’m no Home Improvement guru (more of a agnostic) but I do know some basics.

    The only positive I see from this guy is that he’s too lazy to use duct tape!


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