Sunday, June 03, 2007

How to find an apartment on short notice

Scene: Chilltown, Portland, coveted neighborhood of my dreams. Memorial Day weekend. Saturday afternoon. Jay and I traipse for miles, seeking "For Rent" signs, having arrived in Portland with nothing but a dyslexic, outdated road map and a faint clue about neighborhoods I might like.

"Ooh! That girl just came out of those cute brick one-stories. Look at her dog! Do you think she's a renter?" I notice I am speaking unusually fast, perhaps because I've had three cups of coffee since we arrived.

"I don't know." At this point, after a madcap drive to P-town and several hours navigating a confusing street grid with my poor directions ("Go north! No, hold on, I didn't mean north. East! Maybe? Wait, where did that river come from, and why is it on our right instead of our left?"), I'm pretty sure Jay wishes I'd just affix my name to the nearest dumpster, squat in it for a few years, and let him move on with his life.

"Excuse me!" I dart up the walk to the woman, whose dog is relieving itself on the curb. She looks frightened, probably because I am sweating in the 85 degree heat. Or maybe it is because I am brandishing a pen. "Do you live in there?"

She looks down at her dog, which unfortunately is more interested in smelling my shoes than ripping me to pieces. "Erm...well, yes," she admits.

"Is it an apartment, or a condo? Do you know if there are any coming up this month?" I sound like a high school reporter on my first assignment.

"Well, it's an apartment," she says. "I'm not sure if there are any for rent, but the manager runs a few other buildings --"

"Do you have his number?"

She blinks. I'm pretty sure Jay's hiding behind a tree by now.

"I, um, yes, actually." She gives me the number, and I thank her before jogging off towards another interesting-looking building. Later that night, I will respond to our waitress's "How are you folks doing?" by saying, "I need to find an apartment by tomorrow afternoon. Do you live in a cool building?" She, too, will give me her landlord's number, which I mistakenly assume is a property management answering service and call at 10:00 pm, only to wake up a very confused manager. He actually agrees to show the place the next morning, proving that Portland people are one heck of a lot nicer than we native Seattleites, who are more likely to tell you that we don't want you in our city, ruining the atmosphere, so please go away before we subject you to baleful, intellectually superior stares.

The next day, on our way out of town, I remember the woman with the dog and call the number on a whim. Another very confused manager answers, wondering how exactly a random stranger found his unlisted number. I explain and ask if he has any rooms for rent. He mistakenly responds by saying, "Well, I'm on Xth street and Chilltown, but only until I empty out the laundry coins..." As luck would have it, we've just passed the street. Half an hour later, I've rented my new apartment.

Half a day later, I learn it is two blocks away from an all-ages club. Suddenly, I am grateful for the month-to-month lease.

Eh. There's only so much you can accomplish in 24 hours. Also, I love the place and am planning to wear earplugs for the next two years if that's what it takes to stay. Besides, I'm pretty sure my finely honed Northwestern glare can burn bass-bumping buildings to the ground.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... you have any tips for finding an apartment in NY while too poor to fly out from CA to look at them?

~ Desperate and Under Bar-Exam-Preparation-Induced Mania (formerly your Stanford Chum)