Twenty. That’s at least how many families have been paraded through my bedroom over the weekend. I’ve lived in this house for a year and a half; my roommate has been here much longer than that. The landlord has just filed bankruptcy, however, which puts my living situation in jeopardy. A trustee takes over the property and hires a real estate agent, who then proceeds to book appointments at her leisure, unconcerned by the fact that at least one person actually works out of this house.
And that’s unfortunate for her. I wouldn’t even give the real estate agent in question a name if I didn’t plan on including dialogue. It’s hard to write a conversation without a character having a name though, so I’ll settle for saying it rhymes with Janet Webster.
See, I am not in any way the beneficiary of a quick sale of this house. I like it here and, unless the new owners are simply buying it as a rental, I will have to leave once the transaction is complete. I’ve never tried to sell property – I’ve never tried to sell anything really – but I would imagine that like most sales people, realtors are heartless sacks of no-soul that are pretty much just after their six percent as quickly as they can get to it.
This one is anyway.
* * *
I came home on Friday to find the front door unlocked, the curtains over my bed slung haphazardly to the side, my shower door open, and my sandals kicked under my bed. Apparently the house was shown to a family of drunken ogres. I kind of wish I’d been there to see it. Instead, I got to come home and clean up after them. I called Janet to express my unease at having people go through my things and to see if we could somehow work out a showing schedule that allowed me to be there when strangers were wandering through my house.
“I do not have to ask your permission to do anything,” she said.
“Excuse me?” I replied. “I live here.”
“For now. I’m in charge of selling the house though, and you can’t stop me from showing it.”
“I’m not trying to stop you. I’m trying to work out a better arrangement.”
“I don’t think you understand,” she said. “I can show the house anytime I want to until eight o’clock at night and you’re going to have to deal with it. And when it sells? You and your roommate are going to have to move, most likely on very, very short notice.”
“Ma’am, I wasn’t starting a fight. What if I slow it down for you? I just… don’t want people… here… unless I am.”
“I am not going to be talked to like a child –“
“Then stop acting like one.”
“- and I will not be dictated to by some, some, arrogant tenant who–“
“You’re acting like a child again, Janet.”
“I am showing that house whether you’re there or not.”
“Well, now I don’t think you understand. I live here. I can be here all day if I need to be, and now it looks like I need to be. I was trying to work this out, but I can be a difficult motherfucker to try to show a house around if I’m not in the mood to play nice. So here’s what I suggest. I suggest you take your wittle bitty sign and you wittle wock box wit the key in it, and stop acting like an uppity bitch.”
“I am not going to be talked to like that!”
“Yes you will. Look, see? I’m doing it right now.”
Then I immediately dialed her boss.
“I have never been so insulted in all of my life,” I said. “She told me that I couldn’t stop her, and if I tried to call someone and complain she would say that I said all kinds of horrible things. I’m not like that! This really, really hurt my feelings.”
“I’m sorry sir. She can be brash sometimes, but that is totally unacceptable. I apologize on behalf of our company for her –“
“It’s not your fault. I look forward to an apology from her. Thank you so much for your time.”
* * *
The doorbell started ringing at noon yesterday, as I expected it would. I ignored it. If they’re going to come in anyway, I might as well not do anymore than I have to. I sat with my feet up on my desk, a cup of coffee in front of me, and Rage Against the Machine cranked as loud as my stereo could manage. My bedroom was going to be an uncomfortable place to hang out.
From over my shoulder I heard a voice yell. “Can we see this room!?!?”
I glanced backward to see an Asian couple and what must have been two or three of their friends following the real estate agent. I immediately changed songs as I waved them in. As they crossed my room to the bathroom, Blue Oyster Cult erupted from the speakers.
Oh no, there goes Tokyo!
The agent snapped her head at me and I took another swig of coffee.
The pattern continued through the afternoon, the doorbell ringing and me causing what havoc I could. One couple was cautioned not to open the pantry door because I didn’t want the rat to get out before I could set a trap. Why couldn’t I turn down the music? Because I was making an old school mix tape, that’s why. Later in the day a middle aged woman walked in with another agent. “Is that the hooker?’ I asked. “You know I don’t like them that old. Take her to the back though, I suppose. I’ll get to her in a minute.”
A half hour later my phone rang. “What do you think you’re doing?” Janet yelled through the phone.
“Exactly what I said I would do.”
“You don’t have the right –“
“I do have the right. Until it sells I maintain all the rights that my lease provides me, including the right to the ‘quiet enjoyment’ of my property, and just so you’re aware Janet, I’m enjoying this very much.”
“Can we talk about this?”
“Nope. We could have talked about this yesterday, but someone didn’t want to have a conversation. Remember? So I am going to spend my day the way I want to, and that way doesn’t include a bathroom full of Japanese people.”
* * *
There are more appointments today and I’m not feeling too thrilled about it. My days are meant to be spent with caffeine and music in perfect solitude. These are my days. And while I inevitably can’t do much to stop the sale if it happens, I can take whatever lemons life gives me and throw them at this Realtor’s car.
I think I just heard the doorbell…