Let’s See, How Do I Put This or Propelene Glycol is a Wonderful Name for a Small Marsupial

The last couple of weeks have been completely consumed with the ordeal of moving, and I thought that I would take a moment to briefly chronicle the deal with that whole thing. I’m going to try to be as objective as I can possibly be in how I describe things. So here’s how this went down:

When we first started renting the apartment, we loved it. It was a beautifully restored Victorian bungalow, converted into an up-and-down duplex with hardwood floors and immense windows. We were in the lower aparmtent, which was the larger one. The ceilings were high, and the walls were different colors in each room, which added a nice touch of diversity to the atmosphere. There was a washer and dryer, a garage, and heat was included (kind of a big deal in Minnesota!)

The couple who owned and managed the property seemed nice enough at first, and, to be honest, we really didn’t have many options at the time. I had been in rehab for a year, and was about to begin going to school full time. I didn’t have a job, and neither did my wife (she had needed to quit hers in order to stay home with the kids after she checked me into a long-term residential treatment facility a year earlier.) Not many people are willing to rent out a property to someone without any income, but we had found someone who was willing to do so, and we considered it to be a very fortunate circumstance.

The trouble started as soon as the apartment above us was rented out the following month. It was a man and his teenage son, and they were mild mannered enough, but the man smoked in the house to such an extent that we were able to smell it in our own unit. My wife is allergic to cigarette smoke, so I had to report it. They had also been keeping a dog up there, and allowing it to relieve itself all over the yard without cleaning it up, so when the landlord came to have a look at what was going on, he immediately evicted the guy, and I felt a bit bad about it. All we’d wanted was for him to stop smoking in the house, and to clean up after the dog (although the dog wasn’t allowed as per the lease.)

The second tenant was a young lady who lived alone. Things were quiet up there for a while, and we were relieved, as our confidence in the landlord’s ability to screen applicants had been shaken just a teeny bit after the last incident. Soon, however, a man began living upstairs as well, off the lease, and something seemed very odd about him. He was very loud upstairs late and night, and we inquired about the insulation between the units only to find that it had been removed while the house was being restored because the landlord did not see the purpose of it. It turns out that he is partially deaf, and was unaware of how loud a person of any substantial girth sounded when moving about overhead.

At one point, I noticed the strange man’s name on a piece of mail that had fallen to the ground in the front entryway, and I recognized it. Suddenly it made sense why he had seemed odd to me in the first place, and why I hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that I recognized him from somewhere. He had been a regular at one of the coffee shops I had worked at downtown Minneapolis, and his face had shown up on a police flyer one day, pinned to our bulliten board. It turned out that he had a habit of cornering young women in dark alleys late at night, and of conducting himself in a lewd and inappropriate manner at several of the other places of business in the area, which behavior had gotten him tresspassed off of those properties, and had succeeded in gaining the attention of the local police, who were requesting anyone who saw the man to kindly let them know immediately.

I relayed the information to my landlord, and some time later he ended up evicting her as well. We spoke about it afterward, and it turned out that he had run the man’s name and turned up a laundry list of criminal activity dating back to his adolescence. He said something that troubled me a bit, though, and that was that he had called both of our references a second time, to check up on us, because he “didn’t know who to believe.” Basically, despite the fact that this woman had a fugitive vagrant living in the house off-lease, she had concocted some sort of counter argument to my claims, and he had been hard pressed to decide which one of us was telling the truth. Apparently, her references had not known who he was talking about when he called them the second time, whereas ours said exactly the same things as they had said when he called them initially.

We were quite a bit more than slightly disheartened at this point, and weren’t sure what to expect going forward. In retrospect, I should have found us something different right then and there. Live and learn.

A couple of weeks later, a woman came to look at the apartment upstairs. It was summer, and we had the windows open and the shades drawn, and I noticed that while she was upstairs taking the tour, a man was sitting in her car out front. I felt that it was clear, just from the look of things, that the guy was also going to be moving in with her if she got the place, and wondered why he had not gone upstairs to view the apartment. Later, when she had left, the landlord came down and said, “Good news! We just interviewed a lady, and we think she is going to be a perfect fit.”

“Oh?” I asked, feeling apprehensive.

“Yes. She’s an older lady, and it will just be her and her daughter. She seems very nice, and she’s worked at the same place for like twelve years, so she’s very relaxed and stable…”

Right off the bat, I wondered, “Did they not notice the guy sitting outside in the car?” But then I thought that I needed to stop being paranoid and just believe the best about people, and all of that.

Shortly after she moved in, the man moved in as well, of course, and it really would have been fine if it had stopped there, but a lot of other people began coming and going in addition to the woman, the man, and the daughter, and some activity began happening that was clearly drug related.

I suppose the most obvious part was how it smelled like weed so badly in the front and back entryway at times that it was possible to catch a contact buzz just walking through. Another thing was the way cars would pull up, someone would come downstairs, take something from the driver, run back upstairs, come back down moments later, get in the car and leave, only to come walking back up the street minutes afterward, and other such variations of like shenangians.

I went upstairs to ask them to please not smoke pot in the house on several occasions, but they acted like they didn’t know what I was talking about. Not a huge surprise there, but I am not the type of person to be indirect about things, so I had to say something to them before taking further measures. When I began telling the landlord about the problems, he acted as though I were making everything up. I would explain that there were extra people living upstairs, and that the entryways smelled like weed a lot, and his response would be something along the lines of, “Okay, so I talked to the people upstairs, and they say that [insert particular issue here] isn’t happening, so I’m getting two different stories here, and I don’t know who to believe.”

I don’t know what his thinking was behind approaching the situation this way, and I am no longer interested in finding out. It’s over now, and I’m glad to be done with having to deal with the guy, but let me just finish up with the story.

One of the men living upstairs had a habit of doing yardwork for upwards of four hours at a time on the same 10 by 10 square of lawn while obviously high on meth (face twisting and contorting into all kinds of weird shapes, etc.) One time he was out there spraying the sidewalk around the house with a hose for so long that the basement had begun to flood, and I had to go out there and ask him to turn it off. Again, the landlord’s response was to ask the people upstairs if they were doing meth, and, since their answer was no, he didn’t know who to believe.

At one point, two officers with bulletproof vests and badges around their necks came to the door to attempt to arrest one of the guys who had been living upstairs for a while. He hadn’t been living there since a few weeks prior, but the older guy who lived upstairs said “Oh, yeah, he hasn’t been around here for a while, and we don’t want him around here. He was selling drugs! He’s an idiot!”

I spoke to the landlord and said that I had been right there in the middle of the conversation when the guy had admitted to the officers that drugs had indeed been getting sold out of the house, but he apparently still didn’t know whether I was telling the truth, which really puzzled me.

Fast forward a year. Similar things kept happening. There would be loud activity upstairs late at night, the stench of heavy weed smoke in the house, and little kids running around up there while this was going on. At one point, I saw someone bring a kid out front crying and screaming (probably freaking out as a result of catching a contact high) and then hit the kid in the face.

Through an  unending series of unfortunate coincidences, though, never one time when I called the police did they actually arrive in time to bear witness to any of the activities that I was reporting. Case in point: the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The guy who the police had been at the house trying to arrest a year earlier had been back again, living upstairs, about 30 lbs lighter, and a whole lot freakier. He had literally been jumping up and down in the middle of the street, hooping and hollering the night before the events I’m about to describe.

So my son and I were headed out the front door to drive to the Chinese place and pick up some take out. The guy had been out front for maybe half an hour or so, walking up and down the street between a few different cars that had parked at varying intervals, here and there on the block. We got in the car and were about to pull away when two younger methed out looking guys pulled up in the middle of the street and hollered over to him, “HEY, MAN, YOU GOT?”

He hollered back over, “Yeah, man! Sixty! Best you ever had! You wanna get it now, though!!”

He came walking over to the car, and they proceeded to discuss the various details of what all needed to happen in order for the two guys to acquire “sixty” so that they could “get it now.”

I pulled around the corner and called the cops, then called the landlord.

A couple of hours later, after we had arrived back home (I had been sure to stay gone for about fourty five minutes, just to make sure I didn’t need to be there for any of what happened while the police were around) I got a call from the landlord.

“Yeah, so, I came down there, and the police were there, and it sounds like it was all just a misunderstanding? Yeah…Daniel (the man in question) grew up in the neighborhood, and so he knows a lot of people, and they come over and talk to him, and some girl owed him sixty dollars, so you might have seen money exchange hands…”

At this point I resigned myself to the pure and simple fact that I was speaking to a moron, and tried to end the conversation as gracefully as possible.

A couple more things happened after that. I witnessed one more incident of drugs being sold, and when I reported it, my landlord finally blew up. He called me ranting and raving about how he had very reliable sources who had confirmed that the things that I was saying weren’t true, and he became even more enraged when I told him very gently that, whoever his sources were, they were lying to him. He complained that every time I called the police, it counted against him, and that eventually he would lose his renter’s license, and then I would have to move out, too. He told me that he had been down to the police station and gotten a report of all of the calls that had been made to the house over the past year, and that two of them had been to my unit, and that I had some explaining to do, as he felt that I wasn’t being truthful with him.

Not intending to hide anything, I responded by explaining exactly what had happened that had resulted in the police being called to my house. I told him that my wife had left me this summer, and that I had not been doing very well for a couple of weeks afterward. I told him that I had gotten drunk and had been posting things on social media about hurting myself, and that someone had called the police to perform a welfare check, out of concern for my safety. I said that I would be completely honest with him, and that I always had been.

Twenty-four hours later, I received a notice in my email stating that he would not be renewing my lease, and that I would need to move out.

Before we actually did move out, though, there was one more thing that happened. I was in the kitchen making a sandwich, Abby was on the couch in the front room, watching TV, and Luke was (thankfully) somewhere else in the house. I heard a thud and then glass all over the floor, and ran into the front room to see what had happened. I saw glass everywhere.

“What fell?” I asked.

“Um, NOTHING, fell. Somebody threw a BRICK through the front window!” Abby replied, in her usual “I’m fourteen, and you’re a complete and total idiot” tone of voice (I love her.)

I called the police, then called the landlord. When I went outside, one of the girls who lived upstairs was on the phone crying and yelling about “Why would you do this,” etc. The older woman who lived upstairs was out there, too, and I gathered from the conversation that they were having with the police that it had been Daniel, the guy who I had basically seen selling meth out in the front yard a couple of days prior, who had thrown the brick.

When the landlord came over, all he was concerned about was collecting evidence of the damages for insurance purposes. He made no apologies, and said nothing whatsoever. No, “I’m sorry this happened,” no, “Wow, I guess that guy is bad news after all,” nothing.

So, long story short, it was a miserable experience and it’s over now, and I’m glad. For the life of me, I can’t understand how the man could have been so clueless (he once told me that he would have probably decided to be a cop if he hadn’t gone into being a landlord, and I thought, “this is what is wrong with the world.”)

At any rate, though, it’s over.


By Ben Wolf

It's a secret!

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