Why I’m Looking for a House

This happened two weekends ago:

“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHNT” this wasn’t the simple klaxon of the fire alarm from within my apartment, the one that I associate with the celebration of preparing bacon. This was the shrill whine of “the building’s on fire”. I rose, grabbed a blanket, grabbed my phone, grabbed my keys, put on my slippers and descended two stories to the sidewalk. Nothing appeared to be on fire. Good.

I walked back inside, saw that the alarm control panel on the ground floor said “BASEMENT” and “GROUND FAULT” and called the landlord to call the emergency person to call the staff person to ask them to turn the alarm off.

Me: The alarm’s going off.
Landlord: Is anything on fire?
Me: No. (Good question though)
Landlord: I don’t have the passcode.
Me: Ok. Please call when you get it.

The fire department arrived. Asked if anything was on fire, I said nope and a gaggle of Irishmen looked about. While they were, a vagrant asked me for a dollar to buy a donut. I was arguably more disheveled than he but he asked anyway. I said no and he shuffled off.

The fire department left, giving me permission to go back inside. I smiled and said thank you. They sheepishly apologized for their powerlessness.

Every pass code I’ve encountered has been four digits. My building number is four digits. Hm? “4-0-1-4, enter, silence alarm, huh.” So that worked and the alarm went off. I went back to bed and 30 minutes later the alarm went off again. I entered the code again and this time the alarm stayed off for maybe 15 seconds. I entered it again when LBM (large black man), one of the people who works in the ground floor furniture store saw me entering the code and asked “You got a leak up there?” I said no and he said “something’s leaking through the ceiling and dripping onto the power box for the alarm system, setting off the ground fault. He knocked loudly on my downstairs neighbor’s door. He then knocked very loudly and no one came.

The alarm went off again and I showed the store below how to turn it off. On my way back up the stairs, my downstairs neighbor popped his head out of his door. “You!” I yelled. He looked at me. “You need to go downstairs and talk to the store, now. Something’s leaking.” He closed his door and I thought he’d come back out with shoes. He didn’t. I told LBM that he was there. He walked up the stairs knocked on the door, then hammered on the door. Downstairs neighbor opened the door a sliver *wham* LBM becomes ABM (angry black man) and throws the door open and charges through my downstairs neighbor’s seeming opium den. He comes back yells “YOUR BATHROOM IS FLOODED. WHY DID IT NOT OCCUR TO YOU THAT COULD BE A PROBLEM. YOU HAVE SET OFF THE FIRE ALARM AND DESTROYED MY CEILING. WHY WAS A FLOODED BATHROOM NOT SOMETHING YOU THOUGHT WAS A PROBLEM.” My downstairs neighbor’s response was….a blank stair. “CLEAN IT THE FUCK UP OR YOU WILL REPLACE MY CEILING”. I assumed he meant “would be responsible for paying to have it redone” but on reflection he may have meant “I will use your corpse as a cork”.

I almost enjoy scenarios like this. I get to show competence. I figured out how to contact the building super from frantic googling of our property manager’s parent company, I figured out the fire code, and helped write “Angry Black Man and the Downstairs Neighbor Whose Shit Flooded”. That said. The quietude of a place to myself would be quite nice. So the search continues.