Friday, October 4, 2013

OMG!

So although Hudson has become decidedly trendy, and we're attracting new residents and visitors from all over, there's still, as in every city, things that go on beneath the shiny veneer.

My building is one of the few on Warren with a front lawn, and, as a result, we're always picking up street litter that blows into our yard.  So one morning not long ago, I'm coming into the office and spot a yellow ShopRite bag wedged between the hedges, tucked away up against the building.  It was in a hard spot to reach, but since it was bright yellow and made the place look trashy, I sighed and went over to pick it up.  As I went to lift it, I noticed it felt very heavy for something that blew into the yard.  So I peeked inside.  There was another black bag inside of the yellow one, with something wrapped up in it.  It was still too heavy for a discarded sandwich, but I still I couldn't see what the thing was.  So I pushed that bag around to find yet a third black wrapper.  Now I was really curious.  Opening the innermost wrapper I spotted a gun! A real, live handgun, which I've only seen before either on the hip of some cop or on TV!  I called the police, stood guard over it until they came, and they took it away.  All the time I'm waiting for the cops, I'm picturing the jerk who planted it looking at me from some nearby hidey-hole, watching his gun go bye-bye.

But here's my real question:  why would some idiot, who obviously carefully wrapped and left that gun there for another idiot to pick up, put the yellow bag on the outside where it would be noticed, when he obviously had more subtle bag colors to choose from?  

They should give IQ tests before they let just anyone have illegal handguns.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Redundancy

I've come to realize that, for the last twenty years, more so in the last five, I've been sleeping in Claverack, but living in Hudson.  It's Hudson where neighbors recognize me, where I eat out, where I walk the main street, where long-made business connections exist.  Claverack, on the other hand, is where I sleep, bathe, sometimes eat, and get in my car to go elsewhere.  So, despite the incredible prices Hudson buildings are bringing, the thought of selling our last remaining building, the old crack house where my office is located, leaves me extremely conflicted.  I've been trying to figure out a way to both sell (to eliminate the work The Man has to do, not because of the money) and yet stay.

I made a deal with The Man.  Well, it was actually a one-sided deal.  We would sell our Claverack house, live on the lake for the summer, and move to Hudson for the winter, interspersed with trips to warmer climes. Since I was the only one who thought that was a good idea, The Man has been less than enthusiastic about both selling the house he built and we've lived in for 35 years, or moving to Hudson.  He's a boy from the Bronx who's really country at heart.  

So yesterday I went to see the Armory Houses, as they've been dubbed.  A developer has been buying and fixing up tons of buildings.  One particular house has always caught The Man's eye, so I drove by to see how things were progressing.  Even though the thought of going from landlord to tenant makes me feel unsettled, it might be a way to ease his transition into city living if we can buy or lease it when it's done.

Two men who obviously had something to do with the work were talking outside, so I asked if I could go on the porch to peek in the windows.  Probably without realizing it himself, he quickly scanned me, and then politely told me that he would prefer I wouldn't, because it was a construction zone, and he had to think of safety.

At that instant I realized that, to them, I looked like an old woman who they had to worry about. I myself have caught sight of that stranger, usually reflected on a store window as I walked by.  But the person I am, the one they didn't see standing before them yesterday, is the capable, sure-footed person who spent her career crawling around job sites.

The Brits have a good word for it:  redundant.  Hell, not without a fight.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Walk on Warren

Today, taking my constitutional, I stopped at the thrift store.  It's about at the halfway mark, and a nice reward for walking.  There, browsing, or should I say, nervously twitching amidst the merchandise, was Ed, an old tenant.  Ed lived in one of our buildings for years, until we sold it.  His apartment was spotless, and, despite being under the long-term care of Mental Health, never disturbed anyone.  But Ed had one weird habit:  he cross-dressed.  No, not like a drag queen, more like a disheveled old bag lady.  Today's outfit consisted of a printed skirt and top, but two completely different prints, accessorized by a ratty purse straight out of somebody's grandmother's closet -- the top shelf, rear, where it hadn't been seen since 1950.  He also sported a full, straggly beard, long stringy hair, and hairy legs shod in size 12 sneakers - no socks - hanging out below the hemline.  He looked like an aging '80s rocker who crash-landed into grandma's closet.  Yes, he was quite the vision.

There was a group of three people near the cashier, and, as Ed nervously made his way past them, one commented loudly "What the hell was that?".  Not content to leave it at that, they went outside to watch and laugh as he made his way up the street.  Well, I would've let their first rude remark go, but when they went outside for a better look, and to continue mocking, I spoke up.  I told them that Ed was a nice guy, I'd known him for 20 years, and he was dressing that way before it was fashionable.  I also pointedly told them that everyone has problems, but some are more visible than others.  With that they all shut up.

But here's the best part:  with the nearest food store over two miles away, they nonchalantly picked up their grocery cart, which had been curiously standing outside the store, and proceeded up fashionable Warren Street pushing it like three homeless bag ladies--correction:  2 bag ladies and 1 bag man -- sharing!

Seriously?  And they were laughing?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Deja Vu All Over Again

Some days I think I'm better at getting rid of applicants than I am at actually renting my apartments. I already knew on the phone that I wasn't going to rent to this girl.  She had all the right answers:  yes, I have good credit and rental history.  My income is from SSD & my child gets survivor's benefits because her father died.  But something was being left unsaid.  Still, without a concrete reason to deny her, I agreed to an appointment to see the apartment.

When she came (with her mother) she elaborated:  she'd been living for the past 2 years with her mother in Austerlitz, but she didn't have a car, and wanted to move somewhere that she could get around and "have fun" without one. I lived in Austerlitz, coincidentally on the same road as they do.  Nobody lives there without a car.  Even George the Hermit had an old Jeep!

I told her that it would be hard to get through the screening, because she hasn't rented anywhere in the past 2 years, and her sources of income are protected -- in other words, if she didn't pay her rent, it would be impossible to get the money from her social security checks.  Her mother offered to co-sign -- said she was a professor in NYC for 20-plus years.

Things that made me go "hmmmmmm":
1.  Austerlitz.  No car.  Hmmmmm.
2.  Why was mamma so quick to offer to co-sign, effectively getting rid of her "disabled" daughter & granddaughter, hmmm?
3.  She had no visible disability -- she was an attractive, late 20s girl with all her fingers and toes;
4.  Getting social security money garnished if she wigged out & didn't pay would be impossible;
5.  Her mother actually got the check in her behalf.  (Why wasn't she in charge of her own finances at 28?)  Hmmmm, hmmmm, and hmmmm.

But the weirdest thing was that, about 20 years ago, I had an almost identical situation in the very same apartment!

In that case the mother was a lawyer, they lived not far from these people today, the girl had no car, mom offered to co-sign, and stepdad had her things on the back of the truck the same afternoon.  I lived to regret taking her, as she was a big druggie who got back in the groove when she moved to Hudson.  It was a short and tumultuous tenancy.

So today, as I was making polite small talk, a loud voice in my head was shouting:  DRUGS! DRUGS!  DRUGS!  Still crazy after all these years. (Sorry, Paul.)  And I may have to get a shaman to cleanse the place now.

P.S.  Is the Chatham/Spencertown/Austerlitz area the place that parents bring their children to dry out?  And do they really think Hudson is the place to re-introduce them into society?