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Posts Tagged ‘Slumlord Jim’

Trouble with plumbing

Posted by Lissa on July 9, 2009

Poor Shoothouse Barbie had a nasty episode with her new digs.  It reminded me of the troubles I had a few years ago. . .

Once upon a time Lissa lived under the rule of Slumlord Jim.  Now, I need to emphasize right off the bat that I don’t regret living in the Hobbit Hole for three years — it was cheap, it was safe, it was conveniently located, it had a private garage for my car, and there was laundry through an adjoining door in my bedroom.  (Which, yes, was irritating when folks woke me up Saturday mornings doing laundry, or that one time the water main broke and my entire bedroom went for a swim, but whatever.)  However, despite its great locale — a block away from a bar and three blocks away from the police station, hooray! — its flat utilities rate and its full-sized bathtub, there were a few little hangups that occasionally caused problems . . .

Like, oh, lemme think, having the toilet pipe run through the storage closet.  Which was located roughly four feet from my bed.

And, oh, hmmm, having said toilet pipe start . . . misbehaving.

Now, it wasn’t a Golgathan, thank goodness.  It’s just that, well, the pipe stopped really doing its job. Instead of carrying the water away down the pipe, it sort of just pooled around the base of said pipe.  In my storage closet.  Next to my bed.

Did I call Slumlord Jim?  Well, of course I did!  And then I ghetto-fabulously continued to deal with the thing in the three-plus months it took him to call the plumber.  “Dealing with it” meant picking up the bend of the pipe and then letting it fall back with a smack, which usually led to a sucking sound similar to a huge toilet being flushed and the water fleeing down the hole like it’s ‘sposed to.

Months later — I’m not kidding, MONTHS — after one feeble attempt by Slumlord Jim’s plumber to clean it out and tell me it was fixed, they took the whole pipe apart.  BOY was that fun — having my slumlord and his plumber traipsing through my bedroom and my storage closet taking apart a pipe habitually used to get rid of human waste.  Oh, the memories.

And to add insult to injury . . . Slumlord Jim informed me it was my fault because they had found a bunch of, er, feminine products clogging the pipe.

I informed him in no such terms that his problem predated me, his latest tenant, as I was very careful about such things.  (That goes back to the unmentionable incident with the Golgathan.  I’m still not telling that story, as it gives me the heebie-jeebies.)  Happily, the pipe stayed fixed for the rest of my stay there.

And now — pictures!  No, none are gross.  But d’ye see the bubbles around the pipe?  That’s from my shower!  Yes, the shower water built up in there too.

Futility (n): Taking a shower and scrubbing yourself clean, only to go to your storage closet and manhandle a pipe which carries away sh*t.

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Slumlord Jim takes out the trash

Posted by Lissa on January 6, 2009

As some of you know, I used to work the late shift at Ye Olde Financial Company. Well, the sort-of late shift, anyway; I worked 3 PM to 11 PM. (The really-late shift worked till midnight; the ridiculously-late-that-is-early-morning shift had to get rejiggered and absorbed when Ye Olde Financial Company reduced size.) Because I had student loans, and car loans, and I liked to do frivolous things (like “buy food” and “eat food”), I took a part-time job at the Dunkin Donuts in Jennyville for extra income.It was an interesting job, really it was. It was a great insight into the life of a customer service slave, and it gave me a chance to hang out with people I normally wouldn’t. Some of them were genuinely nice, good people who, like me, were working a part-time while going to school or doing something else. (Ahem – the “like me” only referred to part-time-while-doing-something-else. I’m not claiming to be one of those genuinely nice, good people – I put reindeer horns on my cat, let’s not forget!) I tried my best to gives folks who wanted it a little savings education – my Five Minute Roth IRA speech was MUCH in demand – but, when a person earns minimum wage but smokes a pack of cigarettes a day, well, there’s only so much you can do.

Despite the free coffee (BOINGBOINGBOINGBOING!!!!!!), I generally came home exhausted. I’d get home around 12:15 PM, eat a quick lunch and take a shower, then snag a half-hour nap before heading back to work at 2:30. I was tired, sure, but not nearly as tired as some of the folks I worked with – I didn’t start till seven, while the opener had to get there at four-thirty. And it’s not like I was toiling seventeen hours a day in a third-world country or anything. Plus – free coffee! (Bo-yoyoyoyoyoyoing!!!)

I’m merely saying that when, one fine summer day, I pulled up to the Hobbit Hole and found a note from the police on my door, I was really not in the mood.

“Dear Ms. ______,” the note read, “please contact Sergeant Jones at the Hobbit Hole Police Department IMMEDIATELY, as this is an URGENT MATTER.” And a phone number.


You may not believe it, but I’ve not had many run-ins with the law, and all have been mild (i.e. speeding tickets, busted parties in high school, etc.). I don’t do drugs, I don’t drive drunk – I turn into a psychotic Chinese leprechaun when I drink too much wine, but that’s not a crime once you’re of age 😉 So I literally had NO idea what I’d done to piss off the HH police department.

I called the nice Sergeant with my best Ye Olde Financial Company phone-reps voice (see nice Sergeant? I a good girl. Please not get me in trouble, kthxbye) and was told to STAY THERE as the Sergeant would be at my apartment in five minutes.

Pant, pant, pant.

So I’m standing there in my butt-ugly DD uniform, in my incredibly cluttered and crowded Hobbit Hole, when the Sergeant pulls up in his squad car. I invite him to have a seat, and he accepts. (Of course, he was six feet tall, so he couldn’t stand up straight without grazing the ceiling; that may have had something to do with it.)

“Miss,” he told me gravely, “there’s a rather serious problem and the Captain of the department is rather heated about it.”

I scanned frantically about for what the HELL I had done.

“You see, miss,” he told me severely, “we have found your trash in the dumpster across the street. Now, that building used to be the police department building and it still belongs to the city. Dumping private trash there is a serious offense and the Captain was thinking about bringing you in to speak to you about it. Now, I offered to come down here first and-”


“Um . . . miss?”


“Miss . . . he did what??”


I can’t say who was more dumbfounded, him or me. I was definitely the only pissed-off one, though.

“Well, Miss _____, that certainly changes things. You’re not in any trouble, but I’ll need you to fill out a witness report.”

Is anyone surprised that Slumlord Jim got me in trouble with the cops? For something that stupid? Anyone?? Yeah, me neither, but I was younger and more naïve then.

So, steaming, I wrote out a three-page, neatly-printed witness report explaining that I had been directly instructed by my landlord’s wife, when showing me the apartment, to dump my trash in the prohibited dumper. I tacked on a postscript saying I was very, very sorry for the inconvenience, and a second postscript recommending a public whipping and six hours in the stocks for the both of them.

Okay, the second postscript was a lie. But let me tell you – the idea of the police DIGGING THROUGH MY TRASH LOOKING FOR IDENTIFICATION SO THEY COULD TALK TO ME made me want to suggest beheading.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you never trust slumlords.

And also, why you always shred your mail!!!

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Of mice and women

Posted by Lissa on December 16, 2008

Many of you have read Breda’s inspirational post on will-to-live and self-defense.  If you haven’t, go read it now.  (But please come back!)

This, alas, is not so grand nor noble a story.  In fact, it’s kind of embarrassing.  But those are the stories you like best, aren’t they?

Many years ago, when I was young and innocent (snort), I lived in an apartment that we now call The Hobbit Hole.  The Hobbit Hole was a basement apartment in a house chopped up into several units; the washer-and-dryer were in a common room, accessed through a door in my bedroom; it was always kick in the butt when loud, chatty people decided to do laundry early on Saturday mornings (hiss).  The ceilings were just over six feet; I’m 5′ 3″ and I could easily reach the ceiling standing flat-footed.  Worst of all, as The Hobbit Hole was a basement apartment it was prone to house centipedes.  I’ve posted pix of those before.  (Nasty, skittering, creepy-crawly leggy disgusting little beasts . . . Excuse me while I go off and cry for a bit . . .)

To top off the many charms of my very first apartment, it was owned by a guy named Slumlord Jim.  This charming piece of work had that unmistakable distilled flavor of a used car dealer; every time I talked to him I had a feverish urge to scrub my hands with bleach and hot water.  Nothing EVER got done on time; he was incredibly disorganized and, also, didn’t give a sh*t about his tenants.  He would assure me greasily that he’d get my plumbing fixed, oh, absolutely, I’ll call the guy tomorrow, of course . . . and we’d repeat that cycle every week for a month or so before I saw a plumber.  He once asked me to send him a replacement check for a month’s rent that he hadn’t received; when I did, he then tried to cash BOTH checks.  (Luckily, I’d stopped the first check before sending the second.  His excuse was that he’d intended to cash both checks and then tell me not to send a check for the NEXT month’s rent.  Dude, my first apartment and my first job; do you think I had an extra month’s-worth of rent just sitting around in my checking account?  Not freaking likely!)

So, these were the circumstances under which I lived.  And you know what?  It was really okay.  I lived two blocks from a police station, so it was a safe neighborhood; I had my own garage, so I didn’t have to shovel out my car during the winter; and the rent was $620 a month, including utilities.  It was a very good deal and a wise choice for my first apartment.  I’m not complaining; I’m just laying out the atmosphere. 

Because without knowing the background, you might assume that, if my apartment had a family of mice move in, that it would be the landlord’s problem to deal with.  You might assume that he would quickly exterminate the little pests, since it was in his interests at least as much as mine.  Of course, we all know what happens when you assume.

You might also assume that, being a devoted cat-lover and shameless cat-blogger, that my cat would take care of the problem for me.  Sadly, that was not the case; I did indeed have a cat, but poor little Jolie was just getting sick.  (She died about two weeks later, of FIP.  She was five months old.  She was a good kitty.)

So it fell to me to rid myself of the little buggers.   A disclaimer: I am not at all fond of mice or rats.  I’ve seen people that keep rats as pets; I’ve got no problem with that.  But I volunteered for two years at the Carolina Raptor Center; any initial fondness I may have had for rodents (and that’s iffy, y’all) was drummed out of me RIGHT quick.  (“Let’s see . . . 24 red-tailed hawks . . . each hawk needs 1/3 of a rat, to be chopped apart with dull scissors and the innards dosed with meds . . . “) 

To get right to the point . . . I set out glue traps, and I caught a mouse.  A fat little brown-furred mouse. 

I stared at the mouse.  The mouse stared back.

“Oh, sh*t.  NOW what?”

Now, I’m not COMPLETELY without compassion when it comes to nasty rodent-things.  I have a friend who, when he caught mice in glue traps, used to just toss the trap, with its live mouse, into the garbage.  I didn’t want the mouse to suffer like that, but I was so NOT going to bonk it on the head.  (My hand-to-eye coordination is BEYOND terrible; without a doubt, I would have broken a finger, cut myself open and just grazed the mouse.  I’m not kidding.) 

As I muttered feeble euthanasia plans to myself, I tried to make the mouse more comfortable.  I gingerly picked up the trap and placed it in a Ziploc disposable plastic container.  I then cut a large slab of cheddar cheese and placed it close to the mouse so that it could have a last meal.  Stupidly, I even tried to pet it a little.

And that mouse reared up and bit the ever-living SH*T out of my thumb.

Sorry, mouse-lovers, but no happily-ever-after was in store for the mouse.  After discarding a number of hare-brained plans, I put the cover on the container and suffocated the little creature.  I like to think that she passed away full of cheddar and righteousness; she took a bit of my blood with her, after all.  As Breda pointed out, that’s more than some human victims manage.


JENNY:  “So, you called the doctor, right?”
ME: “No, why?”
JENNY: “Lissa . . . you got bit by a MOUSE.  That eats GARBAGE and probably lives in a SEWER.  You need a tetanus shot.”
ME: “Dude, I washed it out with soap and water.  Isn’t that good enough?”
JENNY:  “Um . . . . NO.  Why, NO, it’s not.  GO TO THE F*CKING DOCTOR ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!?!?”
ME:  “Oh.  Okay.”

And a note for the ladies below, in white; highlight to read.  (But ONLY if you’re a girl.)

I had a physical last week and was able to tell the doc the exact month in which I last had a tetanus shot, thanks to the story above.  The physical also included a pap smear.  The next time I hear a guy complain about the “turn-your-head-and-cough” routine, I’m going to kick him squarely in the crotch.

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