Wednesday, January 18, 2006

You tell the angels in heaven... never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man you pay rent to.

That was from True Romance (a classic, by the way), in the scene where Christopher Walken shoots Dennis Hopper in the head, except that he actually says "...of the man who killed you". A small, almost unnoticeable difference, considering that handing over $542.50 of hard-earned money every month to someone for a small piece of living space is practically equivalent to taking one to the brain -- figuratively speaking, of course.

In the 2-going-on-3 years I've spent living in Isla Vista, I've lived on the properties of two landlords, both polar opposites of each other, but both terrible in their own right. I can classify them, and quite possibly all other landlords in the world, into 2 categories: those who don't give a fuck, and those that do give a fuck. For simplicity, we'll call 'em the "don't-fucks" and the "do-fucks". Provoked by an encounter with my current landlord this past weekend, I have decided to break down the differences between the two. This is not a competition, mainly because landlords always win, and tenants always lose. Draw your own conclusions from this, but let one of those conclusions be the following: to be a landlord, you don't necessarily have to have no soul, but it helps.

Your typical "don't-fuck" is likely to own many pieces of property, such as community-reknowned don't-fuck Wolfe & Associates, which owned the places I stayed at for sophomore and junior year. Owning a lot of property works perfectly for the psyche of the don't-fuck, as they've got plenty of other people to not give a fuck about, so why would they bother giving a fuck about you? They're too busy trying to figure out how to fit in time to NOT give a fuck about you. Don't-fucks are notoriously mysterious and rarely seen, such as Wolfe & Ass. figurehead/namesake Ronald L. Wolfe, who has yet to actually be seen by any of his tenants that I've ever known. For all we know, he doesn't actually exist -- a Google search of his name presented the following possibilities, none of which appear to be the supposed IV slumlord (though I'm thoroughly frightened by homeboy in the last picture). Placing calls for repairs and other home issues will result in encounters with various repairmen, none of whom you'll likely see more than once in your life; it's almost as if don't-fucks own machines which birth out-of-shape, middle-aged white dudes whose tasks are to arrive to residence late, perform a single repair, and then be destroyed. The only thing that don't-fucks DO give a fuck about is their money -- late rent checks, as well as rent checks delivered on the last due date, are rewarded with eviction notices taped to front doors. House work that is not even asked to be done will be done just so that it can be charged for. One specific lesson I can take from living under a don't-fuck for so long is that it costs $90 to replace fire extinguisher glass (which no one in house was responsible for breaking, either), so the next time you smell smoke, remember to weigh the costs first.

Your typical "do-fuck" is likely to own very little property, such as my current landlord, who only owns the 2 units of my building. Often retired guys, they've secured themselves a nice little nest egg from whatever career they previously held, and have used their night-class real-estate education to gain a little extra income. Considering the free time on their hands, they'll stop by on occasion to mow the lawn and check on the house, then remind you in person to keep the house in order, then send you e-mails reminding you to keep the house in good shape, and so on and so forth. They'll feel compelled to request that you do things that either they themselves should be doing (Buy kitty litter to pour over the leaked oil in the garage? Come again?), or request that you reorganize your living arrangements to their liking, because, you know, they facetiously live there too. The extra attention is appreciated, even welcomed, at first, but after a while, the reaction to that 1960-something bright-orange pick-up blasting talk radio as it pulls into the drive-way becomes, "Ahh fuck, Wendel's here, hide the [insert paraphrenalia you wouldn't want your landlord to see]!" After the umpteenth visit, you start to notice shit about them -- the number of gray hairs in their beard, the awkward tilt to the left when they walk -- that makes you miss how rarely the don't-fucks ever stopped by. Dropping off the rent check to their spacious two-story house once a month becomes a Mission Impossible-type quest, trying to approach quietly, leave it on the porch, and zoom the fuck back to your car without being seen so you don't have to stop and chat with 'em about how clean you're keeping their property.

In conclusion, there's nothing good about living on someone else's property. Let that be inspiration to all my fellow college students to strive for the best, get that high-paying job and buy your own humble abode. Or live with your mom all your life. But let me know in advance if you go for option A... then, I'll go live with your mom.