February 19, 2011 § 3 Comments
It started with a notice.
On the wall next to the front door of our apartment, located at The Reserve at Columbia, is a clipboard where management posts announcements and such. They’re usually invitations to taco parties and stuff hosted by the apartment complex, so we usually ignore them. This one two weeks ago was different, however, so I took a minute to skim it before throwing it onto the table. They wanted us to know about renovations taking place in our apartment in the near future, which would take four days. I didn’t think much of it, and neither did my three other roommates.
Then came the second notice.
It was mostly in capital letters:
The second page gave more specific details on what was going to happen:
Day 1: Storage Tubs and vinyl flooring will be left in your apartment for storage use and acclamation.
Day 2: Precision Flooring will be in your apartment installing all wood style vinyl flooring int he entryway, kitchen, and bathrooms.
Day 3: Painting! The common area, kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms will get a full re-paint. This includes doors, trim, and ceilings. The accent wall will also be painted in your living room.
Day 4: All loner storage tubs will be picked up by our staff and taken to the next apartment.
My attention span got as far as Day 2, and I’d be surprised if any of you read through the entire thing. I mean, whatever they were planning couldn’t be that bad, right? I was actually kind of excited at the new floors because ours were kind of dirty, so at least we wouldn’t have to clean them!
The management then called my roommate Jenny and I to urge us to set up a meeting time with our other roommates and Matt, the community manager. We tried over Facebook, but all of us were too busy for our schedules to coincide, so it kind of just devolved into complaining about the impending changes.
I finally went back, read the notice again and realized that they were going to be painting all the walls in our apartment. This was weird because our walls were perfectly fine — I was completely satisfied with them. Also, I didn’t want people coming into my [messy] bedroom, and I really didn’t want the whole place stinking of paint. At the time, I didn’t realize that the smell would end up being the least of my worries.
On Monday the 14th, Sarah sent a formal objection to The Reserve, detailing exactly which parts of our lease were being violated by these renovations. An excerpt:
Renovations of the magnitude you are proposing preclude your ability to deliver on the above agreement, based on the understanding that four consecutive business days’ worth of hours is a significant enough portion of the contracted lease period (not to mention of a work week) that, when deleted from the time period during which I am able and paying to use my bedroom and other vital rooms in the apartment, is a violation of the lease I signed with you on Jan. 12, 2010.
They had probably already known our dissent by our lack of cooperation in finding a meeting time, but now we really had their attention. Jenny and Sarah went in to talk to Matt, and he reassured them that the actual process would only be two days. They were pressuring us because for some reason, they were only renovating a few apartments out of the hundreds here, one of which happened to be ours.
By this time, I could already hear them doing renovations in other apartments. Our apartment complex is situated so that all the stairs and such leading up to our front doors are outside, so there are no hallways, only balconies. My bedroom window opens to the same space as our front door, which means I can see anybody walking around outside our door. The view:
This also means that I could hear everything. The constructions workers walked back and forth, called to each other, pounded with hammers and power tools, all starting at 8AM. Unless you’re one of those unfortunate souls who has an 8 or 9AM class, there’s no way you’re going to be awake that early. I guarantee that at least 99% of the people who live in this apartment complex are college students. Why, then, did they have to start at such an ungodly hour?? I’m a light sleeper as well as a late sleeper, so I found the noise very bothersome.
I hadn’t talked to Jenny or Sarah about their meeting with Matt, but I hoped that with their complaints, perhaps the renovations would skip our apartment. But this was not to be.
When I got home on Wednesday night, large, dirty storage tubs had been placed in our living room. They stood ominously as a sign of changes we obviously could not control. Tired from a full day of school and meetings, I ignored them and trudged into my room. Homework kept me up until 3AM.
The next day at 8AM, they thumped on our door. I woke up immediately and cursed to myself. I lay in bed until I heard one of my roommates let them in, at which point I popped out of bed and got ready as quickly as I could, muttering angrily to myself. I wasn’t supposed to wake up until 10:30 — that’s 2.5 hours of sleep lost.
The construction workers did not skimp on the noise. One of them even brought a radio into our living room, blasting rock music to himself while I cursed The Reserve for forcing these renovations on us during midterms. As I was finishing up, someone knocked on my bedroom door, which I had bolted shut in paranoia.
“Just to let you know, I’m going to be going through here to get to your bathroom in about ten minutes,” the man said to me.
I hurried out of my apartment and felt temporarily evicted, which is basically what was going on. It simply wouldn’t be possible to reside normally inside my apartment while these major renovations occurred. The shuttle bus took me to campus, where I napped for an hour on a couch before going to class.
It was a bad start to a difficult day. Thursdays are my busiest days, and this one was the worst so far:
Class — 12:30-6PM
[sh]OUT magazine staff meeting — 6PM
AAA general body meeting — 7PM
MAASU SC meeting — 9PM
Midterm rough draft for my capstone due at 11:59PM
By 10PM, I was pretty weary. I had only written 1.5 out of the 6 necessary pages of my midterm paper, and I already knew that I was going to turn it in late. The problem was that I need a block of at least 5 hours to write a research paper, and that kind of time simply wasn’t available with my schedule, which was exacerbated by the early-morning renovations.
I stayed at the library to write until 1:30AM with some friends, then came home to continue writing. Usually after I pull an all-nighter, I have the luxury of sleeping for a few hours before class. It’s absurd that I call it a luxury because truly, I have the right to sleep in my own bed in the apartment that my parents pay for, but after being rendered temporarily homeless by the management at The Reserve, I feel it is a luxury. Unfortunately, I knew that people would be coming in to paint at 8AM, so there was no comfort awaiting me.
After getting home, I took a shower to freshen my spirit, but it ended up making me feel more tired. I had no energy to work on my paper because all of my creative juices were directed in fury at The Reserve. I “liked” their Facebook page just so I could tag them in a scathing Facebook status, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy me. Also, our new floors were this awful wood-print vinyl, which is weird to find in a bathroom:
That afternoon, Brad Bootz [is that last name for real?] had sent my roommates and me an email about the scheduled painting along with instructions:
In order to make things go smoothly and to keep your personal items from potentially being damaged we ask that you follow these guidelines thoroughly:
-REMOVE All personal items on coffee tables, end tables, entertainment centers, dining tables, couches and chairs
-REMOVE All items in the living room closet, including the shelves
-REMOVE All items in the laundry room, including the shelves
-REMOVE All items on the kitchen counter tops, stove, top of fridge and within the pantry
-Within your bedroom, please remove all belongings and clothes within the closet and on the shelves
-REMOVE All items on top of the chest of drawers, desk, desk chair, window sill
-REMOVE All Items on your bathroom vanity and back of the toilet
Additionally, please remove any art including posters, shelves, word stickers, window treatments, mirrors and etc. from all walls and ceilings.
Basically, they were requiring us to completely move out of the apartment while still keeping our things in it. How this would be possible I couldn’t even fathom. I released some of my 3AM anger in an email response:
Frankly, I consider your requests to be unreasonable. I wonder if you truly realize the ridiculousness of what you have required. I can’t decide what’s more inconsiderate, forcing us to essentially pack up all of our belongings, forcibly ousting us from our homes at an hour that would be unreasonable even if we weren’t college students, or forcibly depriving us of privacy in our own homes for a prolonged period of time. Even the few days’ notice you gave was not sufficient enough to compensate for these unwarranted and unwanted renovations.
I find these events to be grievously rude and would like to know the thought process behind these decisions. After the hours I’ve spent packing my things and losing sleep in the past few days, I feel that I at least deserve that.
By 6AM, I only had four pages of my paper done, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to squeeze any more out of me. I love my capstone class and cringed at the thought of my professor reading such crappy work, but due to the events of the week, I simply couldn’t prioritize it. I sent in the shoddy draft and tried to clean my room. I didn’t even know where to begin. Clean out my entire closet? Remove everything from every available surface except my bed? Can you imagine if someone came in and forced you to do that so they could repaint your already well-painted walls? It’s impossible to justify. I also had to pack away my 32-inch TV by myself, which was heavy and not fun.
Grace, who lives in the apartment next to us, commented on my Facebook status while I was cleaning. Her apartment was also undergoing the renovations, but instead of being angry, she seemed placid as she wrote “it’ll all be over soon” and “it’s not that bad.” I was bewildered.
The painters started gathering outside our door at 7:30. My blinds were open very slightly, so I could both see and hear them hanging about like idle vultures, which was sincerely creepy. At 8AM, they started thumping on our door. My roommates and I were all awake and scrambling to finish packing, but we scattered back to our rooms and ignored the knocking. The banging got louder and more persistent.
On one hand, I obviously didn’t want them to come in. On the other hand, these painters were simply doing their jobs, and because the management had already indicated that they would force their way in if necessary, I didn’t want to anger the people who would be working in our apartment all day. It was a scary thought. So I let them in. I didn’t leave my room until 9AM, and even by then I wasn’t able to finish putting away everything. It simply was not possible.
Jenny said that she talked to some of the painters while they were here, and they also couldn’t understand why they were doing this job at this time. Something is clearly wrong with the management at this apartment.
Until now, I haven’t mentioned another very important detail: On Friday night, I was going to perform in Mizzou Idol, a singing competition hosted in the largest auditorium on campus. It was kind of a big deal; I had made it through two rounds of auditions to be one of the final 16 performing in the show. I didn’t want to be singing on zero sleep, but I didn’t really have a choice, did I? I wouldn’t even be able to come home and change or prepare before the show, so I literally had to haul my dress, heels, makeup and accessories around with me on campus the whole day.
I was exhausted. It didn’t help that due to my busyness, I had been eating nothing but junk food for three days. After class, I went to do soundcheck for Mizzou Idol. I crashed for two hours in a friend’s apartment and then for another two hours in another friend’s dorm room. The feeling of not being allowed to go home was ludicrous. Brad Bootz replied to my email with this reasoning:
The renovations are an attempt by us to meet and overcome the concerns expressed by our residents via survey; we feel the benefits of giving our residents an updated and much appreciated interior far outweighs the inconvenience imposed during the few days of renovation. The majority of our fellow Reserve residents have come to this mutual consensus; we do, however, realize that each individual will have different circumstances influencing their opinion on this matter. An early start was based upon the presumption that you would prefer to have your apartment back to original condition as early in the evening as possible, enabling you to move your belongings sooner than later to their respective locations.
Is he kidding us? Who asked for this?!?
After I got home at around midnight on Friday, my room was in total disarray:
I had to spend another hour clearing everything off my bed before I could crawl in and genuinely rest. This morning, as my roommates and I pick through our ravaged apartment, we are all extremely discontent.