tales of a girl in the city

novembre 12, 2004

Rental Agents Are Spawned, Not Made

Once a week I cover rental buildings for my office. Uptown, Downtown, Eastside, Westside; three to four buildings, at least five superintendents, about sixty-some keys--forty percent of which are NOT labeled, and seventy-five percent of which do NOT work. Two tired feet. And three ringing cell phones.

That's three. Ringing. Cell phones.

Like this:

"Hello lea--can you hold on?"

*cell phone #2 rings*

Answering cell #2, "Hi l--hang on..."

*cell phone #2 registers call waiting, and cell phone #3 begins to ring as well*

Answering call waiting on cell #2, "Hi. Hold ple--"

Answering cell #3, "Hel--SHIT!!"

*drops cell phones #1 and #2 on the wet sidewalk. While leaning over to pick up dropped cell phones with neck still crammed to shoulder trying to keep cell #3 against ear, entire contents of purse dumps out onto pavement. Pens, change, tampons, and of course, all sixty keys fall in great, jangling heap onto wet pavement. Somewhere beneath now soggy tampons, cell phones #1 and #2 begin to ring again. Meanwhile, cell #3 beeps, indicating new voicemails.*

It is like that for eight hours, at the end of which, I am a bruised, cunty, sweaty, frazzled shell of my former self.

I'm not even cute.



People always ask me if I meet a lot of men doing rentals, and it makes me laugh.

First of all, the ball of fury that burns in my belly, getting warmer with each subsequent telephone call and stupid question, makes my upper lip sweat as though it is--with all its lippy might--attempting to finish a marathon.

My lip does this while I'm talking to people.

Meaning that I have to wipe my lip all the time with the back of my hand, "subtly."

Which, I promise you, is absolutely as attractive as it sounds.

Secondly, when I say that I would rather spend a lifetime chained to the bed of Satan than date a New York City rental agent, I mean it. In fact, as I'm typing, my soul is actually reverberating a little from the sheer force of the truth of that statement. Hear it? It sounds a little like that Carly Simon song from "Working Girl."

If you're a rental agent, and you're reading this, you shouldn't even try to hear my soul reverberating to the tune of Carly Simon. (Anyone else, knock yourselves out.)

And why should all rental agents not try to hear my Reverberating Carly Simon Soul?

Because I'm pretty sure you have to have a soul in order to hear someone else's make noise. Also, no one who is made of pure evil could sit through "Working Girl" all the way til the end when the song I'm talking about comes on. Mostly because you'd have passed out in the first fifteen minutes from cruel-laughing at Melanie Griffith's bangs.


So the agents are soulless and mean, and they have a hard time taking down basic information like square footage, availability, apartment number and address. They cannot be bothered, after all, with such minor details. What they want to know, is "Can I see it?"

Me: "What do you mean, can you see it?"

Agent: "Can I see it? Today. Now."

Me: "But it's a studio."

Agent: "Yeah. Fine. How do I get access?"

Me: "But, Sir, your client is looking for a three bedroom."

Agent: "So, is the key with the super?"

Me: "A three bedroom near Columbia. This is in SoHo. And it's a sixth floor walk up."

Agent: "Sounds perfect, my guy's in a wheelchair. When can I get in to take a look?"

You think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not.

And then there are the clients.

"Gosh. Um. It's so tiny. It's also way more than I'm willing to spend. Do you have anything bigger, cheaper and in a better neighborhood?"


Female Client: "God. 5E was so much nicer. 5E had that storage thing and that extra little do-hicky in the kitchen. Bob, wasn't 5E nicer?"

Bob: *grunts, then goes back to talking on his BlackBerry*

Me: "Well, Ma'am. I don't know what to tell you. 5E is gone, as you know. It went two months ago, right after you saw it and decided to wait to put in an application. And the new tenants are now happily moved in."

FC: "I know. I know. I'm sure they love the place. Especially with the way that one light fixture was in the living room. This apartment doesn't have that light fixture, does it? That light fixture that 5E had."

Me: "No, Ma'am. No, it doesn't. But this apartment, 6E, does have this great big closet in the bedroom that is unlike any other in the building. And this apartment is available, whereas 5E--as you know--has been taken."

FC: "Oh, I know. You must think I'm crazy. It's just that I loved that kitchen thing, and that one extra shelf in the bathroom cabinet. It just made such a difference, you know? Ugh, and that fixture that 5E had. That fixture just did it for me. It haunts us, that fixture--doesn't it Bob?"

Me: "Well, this is 6E. And though, as you've pointed out, there are some minor differences, this is the exact same layout as 5E. The exact size. Just one floor higher. Which, actually, means you have a better view than you would've had downstairs. And, of course, this apartment is available."

FC: "Oh, I don't know. I do like it, but I just don't know. We'll have to think about it for a few days, won't we Bob. And you're sure 5E won't be coming back on the market?"

Then she will return to her home, where, I suspect, she will devour her young.


So this was my day today.

It is my day most Fridays.

Only today, because David is in town, it was particularly hard.

And because David hasn't called, my temper was especially short.

And when the young woman came to see 4A, chirping, "It's the first apartment my boyfriend and I are sharing, so I want it to be perfect..."

I swear to God I wanted to light the place on fire.