Monday, September 20, 2010


Everyone knows there are certain real estate terms that, shall we say, are used to sweeten reality.  But some bear repeating, and I may even use a few on this blog.

Garden Apartment is an apartment which is mostly underground.  It serves as a bellweather for your plumbing, since any backup will first happen first in its bathtub.  Also, the “garden” part is because many species of insects will find their way in, since the dampness inherent in a below-grade apartment makes it ripe for chewing bugs.  A bonus is that you can garden just by opening your living room window, without even having to bend over.  Sometimes advertised as “great for night workers”.  Since it is usually cheaper on utilities, it's sometimes called "green", "energy-efficient", or "earth-bermed". 

Energy-efficient means the central heating went years ago, and instead of replacing the furnace, the landlord put space heaters in each apartment, so the tenants can pay the heat.  It's more energy-efficient because 1.  it's saving the landlord money, and 2. it's a proven fact that people use 30% less energy when they're paying for it themselves. 

Green is another word for wood stove. 

Cute is a euphemism for closet.

Partial River Views means your roommate has to hold your ankles while you lean so far out your window, some other tenant calls 911 thinking you’re trying to commit suicide.  Since the river can only be viewed, via the method described above, from the bathroom window, which is invariably in the shower, the bonus is that you can  shower with a friend and enjoy the view at the same time.

City Views means you’re looking onto someone else’s brick wall, 6” away.

Air Conditioned means there’s not enough real air coming through that 6" between your window and that brick wall, so the landlord threw in a 20-year-old window unit.

Charming City Views means you're looking at other people's rooftops, garbage cans, and clotheslines.

Charming means nothing’s been updated in 40 years.

Character is a euphemism for charming.

The (Blank) You Deserve.  This phrase, while not exactly a euphemism, was started by personal injury lawyers and their ilk, played on the Lotto mentality of the masses, and gave rise to the idea of entitlement.  Now it’s used for everything from regular bowel movements to housing we can’t afford, but somehow “deserve” anyway.  The concepts of entitlement and Client are just steps further along that road.

Client is actually agency-speak, and needs clarification.  Unlike business, where a client brings something of value to the table, social service agency clients bring nothing except a job for the agency worker.  Recipient is a more accurate term.

DSS Sponsored Client is a new one.  It attempts to elevate the recipient's stature even more than "client" does.  It means Social Services is paying to find the person a new apartment, because it's cheaper than housing him in the welfare motel.

I think on many levels, these last two euphemisms and the entitlement mentality behind them, do a great disservice to the people receiving benefits.

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