The life and times of an ethnically ambiguous little lady.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Eat Off My Floor!

I love my apartment. Sure it's about as sound proof as a homeless dude's cardboard box but I still love it. The nice sized bedrooms, the big living room with the view of the backyard we don't have access to, it's great.

But with every delightful renting space in NYC, there seems to be a catch. After almost 2 1/2 years of living in my apartment I've finally figured out the catch: my landlord. At first I thought it would be an added bonus having my landlord in the building. If there's a problem I can just run on down and let her know. And my frugal ass can save 39 cents on a stamp when it's time to pass along the rent.

Now, I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a delightful community that's just starting to ride the gentrification ship. It's a Polish neighborhood. A very Polish neighborhood. So Polish that if you don't speak it as a language, you can't get a job at one of the local stores.

I've observed some things about Polish people who have immigrated to the states, since I've lived here. For starters, they love meat products and they can do tantilizing things to potatoes. Secondly, Polish women are really attractive but the aging process definitley works against them. And most importantly, they are cleaning freaks. We're talking Hitleresque in their attempt to annhiliate anything that could be considered a germ. And in turn, if you don't adhere to this strict cleaning code, you become the enemy.

It was just around the time that my lease was expiring and my landlord and I had agreed to renew it for another year. My roommate had just moved in that day. The phone rings.

"Ah, hello, Emily? We need to talk about the lease," said my landlord. (Another thing I've noticed is that Polish people never make small talk).

"Right. My roommate just moved in. I'll bring her down to say hello," I said.

"Good. And listen, I'm only going to renew the lease for 6 months instead of a year."

"Ah, and why is that?" I asked, attempting to stay calm and pleasant.

"Well, there's a mouse in the building."

"I know."

"And I think it is your fault. We didn't have a mouse before you lived here."

I take a minute to compose myself. "Why would you think it's my doing? I mean, I've lived here for two years and there's never been a problem. Not to mention other people live in the building. And you're doing construction on the third floor and,well, we live in New York. There tend to be mice."

"No. It's you. So six month lease then?"

Now here's the thing. I've been told I can get a smidge worked-up. This especially comes out with cab drivers. (That's a whole other story.) But for once, I felt that this woman was out of her freaking mind. Perhaps it was too much time around the cleaning products, but this was making no sense.

"But we already agreed," I said. "If I'd known that I would have moved out."

"How about we have a training period? I can check up on you regularly and if the apartment is clean you can stay for a year."

Yeah. And maybe then I can take a butter knife and poke my eye out with it. How about that?I mean, if I wanted to have the cleaning regimen and discipline of the army, well, I would have joined the army.

And then began a long discussion with strong words and thinly veiled contempt on my part. But in the end, good reigned over evil and I'm in the apartment for another year. Granted, I may not scrub my floor with my toothbrush, but at least most of what I do makes sense, which brings to mind another interesting incident.

It was actually a few months after I'd moved into the building. One of the windows in my room is right over the garage, so there's a view of slooping roof. It was a Monday night around 11:30 p.m. and it was raining. All of a sudden I hear a noise coming from my window. So I go over and look and I see a pair of feet. Now granted, the guy looked like he was looking to climb a little higher, but still.

I did what anyone would do. I called my landlord.

"Hey there. So listen, there's a guy climbing up the roof. Think I should call the police or is this normal?"

"Hold on. I"ll check," my landlord said. I found it interesting that this could be a normal circumstance.

After that, I heard my landlord come out and lots of yelling in Polish in the hallway ensued. A minute later she comes to my door and gives me a nod. "It's okay," she says. "It is my sister's boyfriend. He forgot his keys."

The sister lives on the third floor. Had the man not thought to use the doorbell instead of climbing up the roof? Or maybe, I don't know, give her a call?

And if that's not a polish knock-knock [pun intended] joke, I don't know what is.


Blogger Will McKinley said...

How exactly are you "ethnically ambiguous" Miss Epstein?

And what happend to your picture?? Are you trying to be enigmatic?

4:35 PM

Blogger Emily Epstein said...

i get in a cab and the indian driver asks if i'm indian. i was in brazil and a guy asked me if i was originally from there. all i'm saying, is that if you don't know where i'm from, i can be quite the ethnic chamelion....

7:44 AM


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