Rental Dementia: The Other Side of the Coin

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The weather has finally turned nasty and it’s bad out there. You would have worn thermals but they make your thighs look fat, which is a little weird as this story applies to both genders, but it’s New York and no one is going to accuse you of being vain, only stupid, which you can live with, as stupid and good looking will get you a lot further in this town than smart and chunky ever will. You’re standing on a corner in Midtown and wondering where the fuck your idiot broker is, thinking this is not the neighborhood you want to live in, and starting to wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to just stay in your current place despite what your significant other thinks.

You’ve never met the “late broker” in person, but only made the mistake of calling on his particular apartment, which he seemed to know very little about. He’s 15 minutes late and half of your lunch break is already wasted. You start to wonder, who cares that they say no self-respecting-up-and-coming-what-ever-the-hell-you-do would live in a walk up studio on 96th and York. You’re paying $1,200 a month and that suits you fine. So why double the rent on a one bedroom in midtown, which is as far downtown as you can afford right now? I mean what the hell do they know? They still live with their parents on Long Island, but would still have you go through the entire headache of a move only to make their weekends more enjoyable, and your about to fall for it.

It dawns on you how much the prospect of moving completely sucks and you start back to the office when a wild eyed little guy in dress pants and sneakers grabs your hand and asks, “Waiting for a broker?” He’s wearing mufflers, a scarf and a coat two sizes too big for him, and although you have, in fact, been patiently waiting for a broker, you still hesitate for a second and think, “I should say no, trust my instincts and run.”

But you don’t. You say yes, even though you’re already positive that there is nothing in the world that this guy could help you with … ever. He hands you a business card and proceeds to walk you into the warmth of a doorman building with a huge sign above the entrance. It reads “NO-FEE APARTMENTS FOR RENT.” It’s not twenty feet from where you were standing and you’re starting to feel really stupid, but it’s not entirely your fault. You were looking for a broker not a building, and all because he wouldn’t give you the silly address over the phone.

You’re not in the lobby two seconds when he hands you a sheet of paper to sign, which basically obliges you to pay a 15 percent commission on any apartment the little bastard shows you. If you were a real prick you’d tell him to fuck off, tear up the paper and walk straight into the sales office on your own. You’re still pissed about waiting on the corner for 20 freezing minutes when you could just as easily have met him here, but truthfully you’re not that big of a prick, so you sign the goddamned paper and hope for the best.

He says, “Man it sure is cold out there,” and you want to smack him because it would be more humiliating than punching him. The ad with the picture of the open views said one bedroom for $2,400, but the woman in the sales office doesn’t know anything about it. The cheapest one bedroom she has is $2,600, on the second floor, and faces the courtyard. Your broker sheepishly smiles, feigns disappointment, and says, “Well, we’re here anyway …”

You agree, because to walk away now would be a shameful waste of time instead of a complete waste of time. You go to the apartment, passing more than a ton of old people in the hallways and elevator. You ask about the basic demographic and they,

in unison, reply, “Mixed.” The sales chick knocks on the apartment door and says, “It’s occupied.”

A young guy lazily opens up without a word and goes back to the couch to play Halo. The apartment is dark, filthy and smells like bad feet and stale bong water. You’d seen enough, but the anxious broker tells you to take a good look. You stand still and nod, but he pushes, “Let’s see the bedroom.”

You’re embarrassed. Again, you’re instincts say run. And this time you finally obey, all the way back to the office, and on an empty stomach. Your partner calls to see how it went. You tell them fine, but you might need some space this weekend. You’ll hate real estate agents for the rest of your life and no one will ever be able to convince you otherwise. Who could blame you?

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