Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “Manhattan

Signing On the Dotted Line

After we saw the fake one bed-room that’s perfect for a single girl’s first NYC apartment, we moved on. The assistant’s assistant broker pulled out his phone and sets up a walking GPS to direct us to the next apartment.

He should’ve given us the rundown of where we were going so we could mentally prepare. But instead, he gave us step by step instructions. When he said, “it’s just around the corner,” that translated to “many many more steps after we turn this corner, the first of which is pure hell.”

After walking from 190th to 188th, we turn the corner and see the tallest hill I’ve ever been forced to climb. The incline was so steep, so damn steep, that I could hold my head level and see the ground ahead of me only a few yards away.

My best friend and I were pissed.

So the three of us are walking up this awful hill, sweating and cursing under our breath. After about 100 steps, we were only halfway there. At this point, the cursing starts being out loud.

I wanted to maintain a professional  demeanor so I would come off like a serious potential renter. But by the time we got to the top of the hill, that demeanor was gone. Everything out my mouth was, “what the hell?!” and “am I being hazed?!”

My two dads were in a nice air conditioned car meeting us there. They didn’t get to see the first apartment, but since it a was a definite no, that was fine. They got the second apartment right after we did.

My father-in-law walked into the apartment building while my dad was looking for parking. He passed my best friend who was posted on a window ledge inside the building foyer. She let him know that the assistant’s assistant broker and I were up on the fourth floor.

As soon as he made it up the steps, he let me know that there was no way his son was going to be okay with staying in a fourth floor walkup. Then he looked out the window and saw the clotheslines strung between the walls. The building was setup with a faux-courtyard in the center, and the residents had set it up for laundry purposes.

My dad arrived just as we were taking a good look at the kitchen. He told me I broke my best friend. Then he took a look around the apartment and didn’t say much else. He took some pictures, but mostly just looked concerned. Then I called him into the kitchen.

I pointed out how there seemed to be a lot of cabinet space. But there was an issue with the cabinets over the kitchen sink. They seemed to slope downward towards the window. The shelves themselves has a slight downward slope.

My dad thought maybe I wasn’t seeing it right. So I closed the cabinet doors and he immediately saw I was correct because the cabinet doors looked like steps. Each door from the left to the right was about an inch lower than the previous one. That meant the left door of each cabinet didn’t cover the bottom and the right door didn’t cover the top. It was terrible.

We moved on.

I’ll skip the next couple of apartments. Just know they were varying versions of bad. They were also several blocks away. There was no way I was walking, so my dad just offered to take us all. So me, my best friend, my two dads, and the assistant’s assistant broker squeezed into the car for another hour and a half.

My best friend sat in the car, in the air conditioning, for the next couple of apartments. It was great for her because she got to feel better after the hell of climbing that hill. It was great for us because we didn’t have to find parking on any of these busy streets.

She joined us for the last apartment. And it was awful.

This apartment was the only one all four of us saw, so of course it had to be the worst by far.

The walls were red. And not like Big’s-bedroom-wall-in-Sex-and-the-City red. It was more like a-virgin-sacrifice-just-happened-here-and-this-was-the-color-of-her-blood red. The floors were jacked.

The windows had layers of dust on it. The closets were nonexistent. The bathroom was no more than 30 square feet.

I walked into the kitchen to check things out. Or rather, I tried to walk into the kitchen. I stepped on something that was blending into the floor and went sliding across the floor on one foot until I could stop myself.

I had stepped on a rack that was supposed to be in the refrigerator. I didn’t even bother looking at the rest of the kitchen. In my memory, I don’t really remember this place being that awful.

That’s probably why the next thing out of my mouth was, “I think we could make this one work!”

Everyone looked at me in disbelief, even the assistant’s assistant broker.

It was probably a combination of heat exhaustion, tiredness, and hunger that made me say that. Or maybe it was the virgin sacrifice apartment beginning to possess my mind and body.

Either way, we cleared out of there pretty quickly and were back in the car, headed toward midtown to drop of the assistant’s assistant broker.

We drove less than a block. Then the cops pulled us over.

None of the five of us in the car on seatbelts. I swear I always wear my seatbelt. I guess now I have to change that to almost always.

My father got a ticket for driving without a seatbelt. When he told them we were there from out of town looking for an apartment for me and we had the broker in the car, they asked who the broker was.

My dad pointed him out and the cop opened the door next to his seat. He said, “we’re going to have to take you in. The rent prices are waay to high!”

The cops laughed. My dads laughed. The broker laughed.

I didn’t fucking laugh.

Maybe I’m just not a fan of cops.

There’s no maybe. I’m not a fan.

I didn’t laugh the last time a cop made a fake arrest joke in front of me either.

Cops seem to only show up when I don’t need them. Where are the cops when people are getting robbed and gunned down in the street? I know where they are. They’re off yelling at people for double parking and giving out seatbelt tickets to a car that hadn’t traveled 500 feet yet.

I got out with the broker for what he called an “exit interview.” It was really just the assistant broker giving me the hard sell.

I sat there, wondering if I should tell him to go suck an egg. I decided to play his game and told him I like the second apartment best. This is the apartment my father-in-law proclaimed the husband wouldn’t be okay living in.

That’s when he told me the apartment was $1450/month. I was furious because I thought I pretty clearly stated there was a $1400 ceiling. I let him know I had to check with my husband and then left. I was so over Manhattan.

When we got back to Staten Island, we had our debriefing. All the things my family thought were bad about the Brooklyn broker applied to the Manhattan people, but I was the only one who witnessed it.

I was just glad to be past it and glad I was certain I was getting the best available apartment for the time I’d spent searching.

Somehow, I managed to get to New York and find a great apartment, sign the lease, and move in with time to get settled before I had to start work.

Literally, I arrived late Sunday night, and I moved into my new apartment on Thursday evening. When the moving was done, I just wanted to chill with a glass of wine and relax.

But I’m not really done yet.

The husband is coming next Thursday with our stuff.

Yup, I’m living with the basics right now. I have clothes, shoes, toiletries, and a very comfortable air mattress.

I can’t wait until next Thursday. I’m over the pitying looks from waiters when they realize I’m dining alone.

And I really miss the husband.


Is Manhattan Better For Me Than Brooklyn?

In my post on Friday, I left off with the phone ringing. My broker was calling me back. It was my attempt at a cliffhanger. Did it work? No? Oh well.

When we left the broker’s office, we were expecting to hear from her at some point in the next day. My father had a plan for this. He wanted us to go start seeing the other apartments, and hopefully find one I could live in.

Then, when the broker called, I was supposed to let it go to voicemail. When she called back to say whether or not I’d gotten the apartment, I would take that information; compare it to the potential new place. And then we’d make a decision on where I was going to live.

All that sounded really complicated to me. I just wanted the nice 1 bedroom apartment in the Brooklyn brownstone. I wanted the place I had put a deposit down for.

But I also wanted to make sure I was getting the right place for me. And I wanted to be sure I would prefer Brooklyn over Manhattan. So we kept the appointment to go look at apartments in Manhattan.

Before we could keep this appointment though, the Brooklyn broker called me. I decided just to answer the phone since it was still the same day. She let me know the landlord had accepted my application. I didn’t know it was even possible for them to assess my financial status that quickly, but I really didn’t care.

No one except me cared for the broker. But everyone got a good vibe from the landlord, so it was nice to know the place was mine if I wanted it. As I was sitting there confused about how to proceed, she let know that the lease signing was going to be Wednesday at 4pm. It was still Monday at this point, so that worked just fine for me.

We would have time to look at the Manhattan apartments and make a firm decision before I’d have to sign the lease. So off we went to Manhattan. Driving from Staten Island to Manhattan is no simple task. Especially when there is constant construction everywhere.

So we took the Verrazano Bridge to Brooklyn, then took the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan. I don’t even want to think about how much all of that back and forth cost. The one good thing is the total distance traveled isn’t that much, so we only filled up on gas once that I know of.

The Manhattan broker’s office is in Midtown (think: Times Square), so there was nowhere to park. My dads dropped me and my best friend off and we headed upstairs to find out what apartments we were going to see that day.

When we got upstairs, there was a lot of waiting. I filled out the paperwork so they could get me in the system, then they proceeded to tell me that my broker was running late. This was after leaving me sitting there for ten minutes saying she would be right with me.

When they finally me back, there was this oil slick (but rather good-looking) man who said he was her assistant and would help me because she was running late.

It was just so weird the way everyone described her lateness. It wasn’t like she was out showing apartments to someone else. Their tone, facial expressions, and demeanor had me writing a backstory for this woman who was quite awful.

In my head, she was on her way to work, but then got a “you busy?” text from her drug dealer/f*^k buddy. She immediately hopped off the subway and went to his place downtown. They thought she was on her way to work but she took and 8-ball detour.

I know that’s crazy, but their tone was crazy. They made it seem like she just dipped off before they could come up with a good cover story why she wasn’t there and no one could be bothered to give any of the reasonable excuses: something came up, she’s showing apartments, she got called into and impromptu meeting. Something, you know?

Either way, I’m there and I’m giving the guy my information about what type of apartment I’m looking for. Information that I’d already given to the lady broker I was there to see. I give him my price point, which is painfully low for Manhattan (no more than $1400/month).

He asks if it’s negotiable, and I tell him no. The husband has a firm ceiling on what type of rent we’ll pay. When a woman looking for apartments mentions a husband that’s not there who has a firm ceiling, I would think that would make them stick to the ceiling. He didn’t question it anymore and we moved on.

He calls over this other man and hands him a list he’s just printed off. The list has several apartments available in my price range. They are pretty much all in Washington Heights, which sucked because I at least wanted to see some part of Harlem. But that day, there wasn’t anything in Harlem I could afford.

He lets me know we’re going to hop on the train and go look at the first place. It was all the way by the 191st Street exit. I called my dads to let them know we were getting on the train and gave them the address to meet us there.

We missed the train because these tourists were occupying all the metro card purchasing machines. When we finally get to the platform, the train that’s supposed to come every 10 minutes didn’t come for over 20 minutes. And it was so hot!

Did I mention there was a serious heat wave this whole week? It was pretty much all over the country so you all know how crazy it was with the heat. Imagine a heat index of 100 degrees. Now put that heat underground with trains generating more heat. Now turn off the air conditioning. Yeah, it was like that.

So the train finally comes, and we’re sitting there hot as hell. No AC on this train car. After about two minutes, we move to the next car. No AC there either.

Both my best friend and the broker man are telling me that they’ve both only ever encountered a train with no AC once before in NYC. We got off at the next stop and waited for the next train which came almost immediately. Thankfully, this one was well conditioned, and practically empty since it was so close behind another train.

The ride up to 191st was quite far, but we made it there. Then we had a lot of walking to do. At this point, it basically high noon, and we’re walking back and forth up the street looking for this address that doesn’t properly correspond to the addresses around it.

We found the apartment building entrance and head up to the apartment on the elevator. We walked in and the place was pretty nice. There are a ton of cabinets in the kitchen and the appliances are all brand new. The bedroom is huge and the bathroom is pretty spacious as well.

As I looked around, I realized I was planning for how I would live in this space. It seemed really nice and a place I could really make a home in. I was trying to figure out if I could really pick this place over my already-beloved Brooklyn brownstone.

Then it hit. This apartment was a glorified studio. The reason the bedroom was so large is because there was basically only the bedroom. The living area, actually, the “living area” was basically a foyer. I’d have to go to Ikea to get one of those funky pieced together seating things. But realistically, the only thing that could fit in there is a coat rack and an umbrella rack.

After that, I didn’t have to worry. It was easy to say no to an apartment with no separate spaces. I’m going to be working nights once I’m off training and I’m married to a musician. I need to be in a separate space so I can sleep while he practices during the day.

If they cut the bedroom in half, they could’ve made a reasonable sized living room. But they didn’t. So we moved on.

In my next post, I’ll talk about the rest of the Manhattan apartments. There was the apartment with the clothesline, the one with the crooked cabinets, the one where the lady yelled at us the second we walked in, the one that screamed please-rob-me. Oh, and the one we couldn’t even get into.

My apartment hunt was intense y’all. But we’re almost through it.