Boy, do I have some good stories for you.
You see, I spent 14 years in property management. Most renters do not understand everything that goes into running a property. When I entered the business, I was “between” jobs. Meaning, I quit one job and didn’t have anything else lined up.
When I graduated college in 2004, I didn’t really have a plan for what I was going to do with my life. I have a degree in speech communication, so I had a broad arena for where I could get a job. I wasn’t pigeonholed into one field, which was good and bad. I almost had too many options.
I thought advertising would be cool, so I sat down with the yellow pages and started calling every advertising company in the Denver metro area to see if they were hiring. We had the internet back then, but it wasn’t widely used as a search engine, so that left very few options to find a job. I started with the “As” and called every single advertising agency until I landed on Soloman Friedman Promotions. The receptionist told me they were hiring and gave me the fax number to send my resumé over.
I was so excited! I prepared for my interview and arrived early. I interviewed with the vice president and felt like this would be my dream job. All they did was work with major movie studios and promote their movies. Um, go to the movies for a living? What could be better?
I left the interview feeling hopeful, and a few days later, I was offered the job of junior account executive.
Before you get too excited, let me tell you that the title sounds way fancier than it was. The duties of the job included cold-calling local business to see if they’d like free movie tickets to an advanced screening of whatever movies we were promoting, attending the screenings, attending press junkets, waking up at 3 a.m. on Fridays to cut newspaper articles out to send to the studios and sending free merchandise to anyone who wanted it. OK, when I put it this way, it does sound fancy.
They were long days because we had to be in the office by the time the New York studios opened, typically 9 a.m. EST, which is two hours ahead of my time zone. Then, all the screenings were at night, and there were many times I had to screen the same movie multiple times.
It wasn’t hard work, and getting paid to watch movies was fun. But it got old fast, and I quit after seven months because I couldn’t get along with my boss. Seems stupid, but I was young and didn’t know any better.
I screened movies like “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Garden State,” “I Heart Huckabees,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Spanglish” and “Dodgeball.” By the time I quit, I had hundreds of T-shirts, pens, cups, CDs and other useless swag from each movie we promoted. I made good friends and learned a lot about working in the corporate world.
After I quit, I was lost. I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be. My best friend lived in an apartment community, and she was friends with the leasing agent who had just been promoted to assistant manager and was being transferred. My friend mentioned the opening, and I figured, why not? Leasing sounded like fun and seemed easy enough. I was offered the job and started in February of 2005.
The manager was going on maternity leave in August, so I had a lot to learn before she left for three months. I would be running the property by myself, minus a part-time leasing agent. The property had 216 units, which meant at least 216 people lived there, but it was probably closer to 400.
All of them were special in their own way. I quickly learned that people are very protective of where they live, and they should be!
I took my job very seriously, and my mindset was always that these were people’s homes, the place they went to get away from the craziness of the world. I was quickly promoted to assistant manager, then decided to pursue a different company and a different community for more pay.
The new community had 444 units, and my new manager, coincidentally, was also going to be going out on maternity leave shortly after I started. I was in charge, again. I had 14 team members and had to run a new community with a new company.
This property had Section 8 renters, which means they received housing assistance from the county. You would think that people who are receiving help would be grateful. Not even a little bit. They were almost more particular than the renters who were paying 100 percent of their rent by themselves.
One lady came charging at me with a bat because her apartment flooded, but she didn’t want anyone entering her apartment. One guy stalked me and created a video game character in my likeness. One of my maintenance supervisors had a meth lab in his apartment. Several residents died from alcoholism, drug overdoses and suicide. One lady tried to hang herself from her ceiling fan, but it broke, and she tried to sue us for the faulty ceiling fan. I was on call 24/7, and it seemed like every emergency happened as soon as I sat down to eat dinner.
After a few years at that property, I was promoted to manager of a 108 unit community. Again, it was Section 8 and comprised mostly of Russian residents. That meant I needed to learn Russian.
I had a 72-year-old leasing agent who worked part-time. Diane was great, but very old school. The previous manager was a good friend of hers until she ran away with Diane’s husband. The residents all loved Diane and treated her like she was their grandmother.
Most of the residents who lived there had been living there for years. The property was undergoing full renovations, and each resident was either kicked out or rehomed to a new apartment. They used their dishwashers as washing machines. They flushed baby wipes down the toilet. They hung creepy dolls by their necks on their patio. They sold drugs and got their apartments raided by the cops. We lived on-site – they all knew where we lived – and they never hesitated to show up and knock on our door to complain at all hours of the day and night.
I didn’t like the company I was working for, so, again, it was time to move on. My previous company was looking for a manager and offered me the job. The new property had 232 units, and it was a high-class property. My first complaint when I got there was from a guy who was mad because the landscapers got grass on his clean truck, and he demanded that I pay for a new car wash. It was quite different than working with Section 8 renters. These people paid more for their rent and, therefore, demanded more, and they were wildly unreasonable.
The property was across the street from a community college and for some reason attracted residents from Qatar. And they had more money than they knew what to do with.
They would purchase fast, loud cars and drag race them through the parking lots. They converted the toilets into bidets and would sit in circles on the floor of their apartment, smoking hookah. They generally don’t have carpet in Qatar, and the smoking circles are a cultural norm, but the carpet would need to be replaced after they moved out because of the hookah burns.
One guy wanted to purchase the building he lived in. Another resident turned his heat off before he left for a month to go home to Qatar for Christmas break. As soon as the pipes in his apartment thawed, there was an enormous flood, which affected five additional units. And he refused to pay for the damage.
The ending of Ramadan meant huge, loud parties. Generally, though, they were all very nice and very respectful. Nice, but high maintenance.
From there, I moved to the property where I worked the longest. It was with a national company, and it was close to my house. It was extremely challenging to go from a “mom and pop” company that was flexible with the rules, to a national company that was very black and white. Again, this community was high-end, and the residents were very demanding. There were 324 units and two retail spots. At any given point in time, we were managing 500+ residents.
Residents would storm in and out of the office for various reasons. One gentleman that we nick-named “Manchild” got mad at us because homeless people were sleeping on the sidewalk behind his apartment. It wasn’t the community sidewalk. It belonged to the city, but he was mad at us nonetheless.
We hosted monthly dinners, and the residents would get mad when they showed up late and the food was gone. There was hell to pay if the swimming pool wasn’t 72 degrees year-round, even in the winter. This community also had its fair share of deaths, resident squabbles, drinkers and drug users. The only difference was that they had money.
The property had a very strict parking policy because space was limited. One resident that we dubbed as “Roid Rage” was mad at us because his one-night stand got a ticket for parking in the lot without a permit. We had to evict a lady because her pedophilic husband was living with her, but she neglected to reveal that information upon move in. “Drunk Rick” stole an appliance dolly from our appliance delivery company and refused to give it back. He would also get mad if we asked him to park in a parking space, rather than behind other residents’ garages.
Within a year, I was promoted to senior manager and oversaw two properties at once. I had the one with Roid Rage, Manchild and Drunk Rick, plus another one about eight miles south of that property. The new one was a doozy.
We had just acquired it from another company. On the day of the takeover, I walked in, the previous employees handed me the keys, and walked out. I thought it was weird that they were so relieved to be leaving until my first interaction with a resident.
We called her “Bed Bug Lady.” I think I’d been at the property for all of 10 minutes when she walked in the front door and put a bag of what she thought were bed bugs on my desk. I looked down, looked up at her, looked down again, looked back at her. For the life of me, I couldn’t find the supposed bed bugs. I saw plenty of lint and dirt but no bed bugs.
This went on for weeks. She would come in every day with a new baggie of “bed bugs,” put it on my desk, then walk out. Pest control would come once a week to spray for bed bugs but her apartment was never properly prepped. She had been given a list of requirements by the pest company to be able to perform the treatment, but she was never ready.
I received a phone call one night that one of the apartments was on fire. I drove down to the property and was greeted by the fire department. Apparently, the residents of that apartment decided to dump burning charcoal into a trash can on their patio, and then they left their apartment. Thankfully, their apartment was the only one affected. When they walked into the office the next day, they acted like nothing had happened and that it wasn’t their fault.
We also had a guy who fought us on carpet charges because there was urine in the carpet. He claimed he urinated on it, and that it wasn’t his dog, therefore we shouldn’t have charged him. Also, he claimed he was drunk when he did it, and, therefore, it wasn’t his fault. He also didn’t want us to charge him for the blood that was all over the carpet, nor the doors that he removed from the apartment and couldn’t find. His dad ended up paying for everything and was very nonchalant about the whole thing, claiming “kids will be kids.”
The residents of that community would argue that the sky isn’t blue, gravity is fake and that the sun doesn’t come up every day. It was an interesting time.
If you are currently renting an apartment, please be nice to the office and maintenance team. They’re often dealing with more than you know, and they’re not just sitting around, waiting for you to send a mean email or charge through the doors so that you can yell at them.
I made lifelong friends with several of my team members and had the best group of people working for me. Through all the crazy residents, deaths, evictions and drama, we survived.
And speaking of survival, let’s talk about some football.
Jen’s Week 13 Friday Night Insights
Here we are in Week 13. It feels weird because Week 12 ended on Wednesday, and there wasn’t a Thursday night game this week. And who all had Tyreek Hill on their roster? I’m one of the lucky few who did, and I feel bad for everyone who played me last week.
How are we going to survive the rest of the season? Thin waiver wires, trade deadlines that have passed and injuries are plaguing all of us right now.
One problem I’m working on right now is that I have quarterback Tom Brady on bye, QB Cam Newton in my Super Flex spot and QB Nick Foles sitting on the bench while Mitchell Trubisky plays in his spot. I’m going to move Newton into my starting QB position and put wide receiver, Danny Amendola in my flex position. Sad, I know.
Danny Amendola (WR, Detroit Lions)
Danny Amendola hasn’t had a monster year. The 35-year-old vet has certainly seen better days; however, I expect he’ll have a decent game against the Chicago Bears. If fellow wide receiver Kenny Golladay sits out another week, Amendola will split targets with the Marvins (Hall and Jones).
A long, long time ago, back in Week 1, Amendola managed 81 receiving yards from five receptions against the Bears. As long as QB Matthew Stafford can throw the ball with a partial-torn ligament in his right thumb, his receivers should have a good day. Let’s hope the firing of head coach Matt Patricia gives the locker room a boost of enthusiasm.
Devontae Booker (RB, Las Vegas Raiders)
Devontae Booker looks to be the Raiders’ No. 1 back this week. With Josh Jacobs sitting out with a sprained ankle, Booker will take the majority of the snap share as the Raiders take on the New York Jets. In his last successful performance against the Denver Broncos, Booker had 81 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Against a terrible Jets team, the Raiders could have some fun experimenting with plays, and Booker could prove himself worthy again.
I always end my columns with a game day drink, and this week is no different.
I’m here to join the conversation, drink in hand and watch this crazy COVID-19 year unfold. Cheers!
Game Day Drink Recipe for the Week:
Jamaican Me Crazy
- 1 oz light rum
- 1 oz coconut rum
- 2 oz cranberry juice
- 2 oz pineapple juice
- 1 oz grenadine
- Combine rums and juices in a shaker with ice and shake for 30 seconds.
- Strain and pour over ice in a tall glass, pour grenadine on top
- Garnish with an orange slice.
Thanks for reading and follow me on Twitter for more motherly and fantasy sports advice @JenPolvogt.