This is an excerpt out of one of the books I’m working on… All comments are appreciated. Just don’t crush my soul or shatter my dreams. That’s my husband’s job. 😛 Just kidding honey… please don’t beat me tonight. I’ll be good, I swear! I am not sure what I’m gonna call this chapter yet. Many thanks go out to Karen who has been helping me with it. I don’t intend for “My First Monkey Cage” to be the actual title, but I wanted something that portrays exactly how I felt… this picture seemed to do it. Also, I love monkeys. 🙂
My first office as a landlord instilled a permanent case of claustrophobia in every new manager assigned to it. Yet, it never really occurred to me to feel ashamed of it. I was so happy to have my own space. It was mine and there was no one there to watch over my shoulder. I was independent; free to let my ADHD run rampant among the stacks of disorganized papers and folders for long periods of time and not have anyone else witness those unproductive hours. After years of receptionist jobs gone awry, things were finally looking up. I’d found my niche.
Day one had me christening my very own copy of the company’s hallowed primus key. Dollar symbols flashed before my eyes every time I used it due to the $250 fine they charged for losing it. As a scatter brain who misplaced small valuable objects on a daily basis, I lived in constant fear of this inevitable misfortune and in the beginning, often found myself wondering how many lost keys and large fines I could accrue before being fired with gusto.
I gripped this cursed yet sacred object and unlocked the door of this tiny office building that closely resembles a barn. My heart sinks as I make my way back to my chair. It all seems so ironic to me now because several of my residents did closely resemble barnyard animals. The anorexic looking bird girl in A that only ate soup and reeked of it. The two old turkeys in D that gobbled constantly about the malodorous pig man in C and his high strung cat lady wife.
The laundry room, maintenance shop and leasing office were all housed in less than 350 square feet. The office space was no larger than an oversized handicapped bathroom stall. Take away the toilet and replace it with the bulky leather office chair I’m sitting in that spins, squeaks, and is quite frankly, a bit overkill for an office this size. It has a lever on the bottom right that indicates it is adjustable. So I try to adjust it about ten times. Nothing happens.
It probably worked fine before my sandal wearing, toenail clipping, patchouli scented predecessor destroyed it by constantly leaning back in it and putting his feet up on the desk so any current or future resident would surely take pride in what their rent dollars were providing for them in terms of management. Professionally managed, indeed!
In front of me is a desk that has been carved and written on enough to make me feel like I really am in a bathroom stall. Only instead of phone numbers to call for a good time there are stick figures and smiley faces. Scratch the bathroom thing, I’m apparently in a cave. To my right is a smaller desk with a giant monitor from the cretaceous period covering the entire top surface and a computer tower at my feet. To my far left is a black commercial sized printer sitting on a dollar store shelf that has been hastily installed in the wall using shiny white brackets. The white shelves are supposed to be shiny too but fail miserably in that endeavor due to a quarter inch layer of dust.
On the wall adjacent to that is a large white marker board filled with crooked black tape lines and some gibberish calculations of my aforementioned predecessor. Staring the printer down from the opposing wall is an old green filing cabinet with a magnet on it. It’s a small picture of an old woman dressed like Madame Bovary on a yellow background. The caption reads “Hi. Thought you should know who you’ve been spilling your guts to in that filthy chat room.” On my last day in this office I steal this magnet and take it with me to every property I ever take over. This is my curse. I must steal one small meaningless object from every place I work. It’s usually a cup, switching to magnets is a big step for me.
The ink-guzzling fax machine on top of the filing cabinet has been flooded with faxes that are beginning to overflow into the floor. Two black waiting chairs sit snuggly beside it, directly across from my desk with only enough room for dwarves or people without legs to fit comfortably. Next to the chairs is the white wood entry door with a window that gives my office a country cottage feel.
As I contemplate rearranging the chairs and fail to come up with an executable plan of attack, I imagine only being able to rent to legless people. My furrowed brow betrays my contempt for them as I agonize over what this might do to my leasing bonuses in view of the severe “shortage” of legless people or dwarves looking for apartments in this area. Images with bold captions in fair housing paperwork come back to me and I wonder How can I target legless people and dwarves in my advertising without seeming biased against people of average height with legs?
Next there is the geriatric wall air conditioning unit. My glorified storage space doesn’t have the luxury of central air. Instead, mounted above the chairs where future residents will squeeze themselves like sardines into my torture chamber, the first window style air conditioner ever built looms over them. A wood paneled monster with a grill for a face and a chronic asthmatic breathing condition rivaling that of Darth Vader. I eventually grow so tired of it that I happily give up cool air in favor of peace and quiet.
Remember, I am a leasing professional. These minor inconveniences do not faze me. Lastly there is a small window to the outside world that looks right out onto the pool. I am forced to watch people laugh and frolic in the pool as I sit in silence, brooding over unpaid rent and unauthorized pets. I was there 9 months.