“Do you think he’s gone yet?”

Jared whispers so quietly that it takes me several seconds to figure out what he’s saying. Jared and I had hidden away in one of the rooms in my house, hoping that if we denied human contact to my landlord he would finally leave.
I knew this would happen two days earlier when Jared pointed at the sink and said “Water doesn’t go down the drain anymore. You need to call the landlord and get it fixed.”

Look, I’m no stranger to landlord issues. For crying out loud, the house where I lived in D.C. had the affectionate moniker Manor of the Slumlord. The owner “installed a sink” in the bathroom by carrying a sink into the shower and propping it up against the wall with a shovel. He tried to fix appliances by texting tenants that the appliances were fixed and hoping the tenants didn’t notice that he hadn’t done anything. I have had landlords levy unexpected charges, sell me on imaginary basement laundry machines, and steal my underwear. So, on the whole, my current landlord is pretty normal.

But he does this thing with my maintenance requests. I try to time it so I am not at the house while he does maintenance, but he seems to time it so that I am at the house while he does the maintenance. In practice, this results in me calling him as little as possible. On days when I do need to call him, I try to leave as early as I can and come home as late as I can. On this night, we had come home at 8:30 PM. We found my landlord lounging in one of my kitchen chairs, staring at my sink.

“I’ve almost got it, I think. Could I stay just a bit longer?”

If denying a person human contact seems harsh to you, please consider that the landlord did not give me peace in my house until 9:00 PM. “I’ll bring a stronger chemical tomorrow,” he noted. “I should be all done here by the time you get home.”

The next night, Jared and I put off going home until 9:00 PM. This involved hanging around at work, then trying to turn dinner at a bar into not-bar-food (the chicken sandwich please, grilled, no bun, no bacon, no mayo, broccoli instead of fries, no breading on the onions please), then camping out in a gelato place until the gelato place closed. We had an elaborate plan to sneak down the alleyway behind my house, peer over the fence into my kitchen window, and see if the light was on before going inside. On the walk home, we trashed the plan.

“Whether the light is on or not, is that going to change our behavior? Like, are we really going to stay out here if that light is on?”

Jared sighed. “No.”

“Then forget the plan. Let’s just go in the house.”

Jared is currently my roommate. Last month he got the opportunity to transfer to Atlanta and help kick off a new office. So he subletted his place and hightailed it down…only to realize that Atlanta doesn’t have work to do yet. So he hightailed it back up to Chicago. However, one cannot un-sublet an apartment, so now he is staying at mine.

From now on, he says he will take care of any maintenance tasks to prevent further reasons for the landlord to hang out in my house.

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