Friday, January 05, 2007

Locked in an apartment in Harlem

Here's a little New York apartment-hunting tale for you.

I'm on a serious mission trying to find a permanent home - well, as permanent as a NYC renter can be - so that I can finally move my stuff up from Atlanta and sleep on my own sweet bed. I'm looking on my own but also with a broker, because that's what everybody says I should do.

Melissa, my broker, seems really nice - not at all like the one I tried to work with back in April. We scheduled a two-apartment go-see for Wednesday lunchtime. I grabbed Boss Lady's assistant, Lisa, since she's a native New Yorker and might have a more genuine take on things than yours truly. (OK, that, plus the Boss Lady's in St. John's right now and won't miss Lisa in the middle of the day.)

The first apartment we looked at was OK, but weirdly arranged, as NYC apartments are wont to be. So, no.

Next we ventured 'way, 'way up into Harlem - sorta mid-to-east Harlem, but farther up than I'd been. Now, I'm open to to Harlem, friends. East Harlem and Spanish Harlem - as long as we keep it under, say, 120th Street - is OK with me. This place, however, was at the corner of 125th and Park - a very interesting 'hood.

A street vendor had James Brown music blaring (no complaints from me, baby - I love JB's music) and was selling all sorts of memorabilia. There was a new Body Shop across the street (always a good sign). The building itself, however, was totally, frighteningly ugly. Still, why not give the place a look, eh?

Well, the actual apartment was lovely - lots of light, big windows, huge kitchen, beautiful real inlaid parquet floors. Bathroom was fine. Only one closet - major problem, but plenty of room for storage units in the kitchen. Oh. And the rent was extremely reasonable. However, I was sure I wouldn't take the place, with the neighborhood and building being so iffy.

Lisa, Melissa, and I start to leave, and lo! and behold, the front doorknob wouldn't budge! We could lock and unlock the deadbolt, but the knob itself had a lock as well that seemed glued shut. We had the keys with us, but there was no way for us to unlock with the key from the inside. We were, in short, locked in. Each of us gave the knob a try, to no avail.

Melissa called the landlord and several others to see if they could let us in from the outside. A flurry of phone calls. The guys on the other end of the line throught, of course, that we were just three dumb broads who couldn't figure out a doorknob! They took their sweet time coming to our rescue - over an hour, in fact.

We cooled our heels in the apartment and listened to James Brown telling us how good he felt from the street below the front windows. Having just lived through my Twilight Zone marathon, I was convinced this was a Rod Serling experience, and that when we finally opened the front door, it would be 1945 or something.

Finally, the landlord came, and we showed him the problem . He couldn't turn the knob from the inside, either, so nyeh, nyeh, nyeh. When we stepped outside after our Harlem lock-in, it was 2007, not 1945 (or was it????), so the Twilight Zone theory was shot.

The New York adventure continues . . .


Rhea said...

How fun! New York City, as you have already found out, is full of adventures! I grew up 45 min. from there.

Liz said...

The apartment must have taken a shine to you! I used to have a toilet like that, that wouldn't let people out.

Hope you find something to settle into soon.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Nothing surprises me about New York apartments Mary. One of my daughters lived there for several years...fresh out of college. I've heard a lot of strange stories about the adventures of living in The Big Apple. I think you've got what it takes to survive it all....and with a smile.

Anna said...

We were locked in a house with an agent when we were last house-hunting, too! Gets me wondering whether it isn't an estate-agent's trick to make you look really close at the house. Do they think it will grow on you the longer you're there?

MaryB said...

Anna, we were wondering the same thing. Being locked in did give me time to figure out how I'd arrange the furniture!

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