Monday, August 31, 2009

The more I learn...

...the faster I want out of this place.

My apartment complex has a front end and a back end. I live in the back. In the front, living the main road, there are usually people hanging out every night. They sit on the low brick walls lining the complex, seemingly just chatting it up...as long as you don't approach them. If you did, you'd learn that the people hanging out are drug dealers, or prostitutes, or people made homeless by the management here, and hoping an old friend still living here will pass and offer then a couch for the night. I mind my business when I pass them. "Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil."

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking back into the complex parking lot, chatting it up with one of the other unfortunate souls living here, when she mentioned a dead body had been found near the front gate of the forward part of the property. Due to a lack of detail, I said, "Oh, lovely. Well, I'm glad I'm getting out of here soon."

Yesterday, I learned more about that corpse. It wasn't "just a body." That makes it sound as if someone was on their way out, suffered a heart attack, and fell over dead. No, this person had been shot. And not just shot. Someone had opened fire on this person with a 9 mm. semi-automatic and emptied a clip on him. Of the 15 or so shots fired, four hit him. Police found all of the other bullets or bullet casings in the area. Someone wanted this guy VERY dead.

This is like a cherry at the top of a crap sundae. This place has become more and more of a nightmare since I moved in. It was bad then, so you can only imagine what "worse" means.

During the fifth month I was living here, I awoke to the police pounding on my door. They just wanted to ask me a few simple questions, but they have a habit of knocking in such a way that is sure to get your attention. Thus, after being startled awake, they asked me if I'd heard anything during the night. And why did they want to know? Because a cab driver had been shot in the back of the head, and his wife was in critical condition at the nearest hospital. She died days later. A double homicide in the central parking lot.

Yeah...that was fun.

Many of the residents here are clients of the same mental health case management that I use. I was sitting at my computer a few years ago, doing whatever it was I was doing, when I heard the shattering of glass. I looked out my door, and saw that in an apartment across the way, a piece of furniture had broken the window. I dismissed it as someone moving some things around their apartment, and that it was merely an accident. This changed when I heard a loud BANG about a half an hour later. Again, I looked out the door to see what on Earth was going on, and saw a number of cops taking up tactical positions. One of them ordered me back inside, and I quickly locked myself in. Within the hour, I was escorted from my apartment by the SWAT team behind one of those massive riot shields. It turns out that the broken window resulted from a guy off his meds barricading himself in his apartment, and he was armed with a gun.

That was fun, too.

Then there was the shooting on the floor just above mine. Not sure if it was over drugs or what, but a guy came by demanding his money from someone living one floor up and several doors over. Well, whatever happened verbally soon turned to violence, when someone in the apartment fired a few shots at the guy looking for money. Even though the guy ran, he still took a hit...in the neck...and died in the parking lot of the market near the complex.

Not all of the bodies coming out of this place are results of murder. The guy who used to live upstairs and one door over just died from illness. He wasn't that much older than me, and avoided a lot of the necessary medical attention he needed. He went to take a nap one day, and simply died in his sleep.

Aside from murder most foul, this place is declining on a constant basis. I'd been wondering why it was like this for a long time. I mean, new management took over years ago, and this place went from bad to worse, and I just couldn't understand what was happening. I received my answer months ago when I went to the office to ask if I could leave a month early. One of the owners was on site, teaching a new leasing agent the ropes. On the criminal background check they run for potential residents, there is one, and only one reason why they would deny someone the opportunity to live here: a criminal record of sexual offense. Murder, prostitution, drug dealing...those are okay. Sexual offenders? Nope...no place for you here.

Then there's the "care" management gives this place. My apartment is literally coming apart. Does management care? Nope. Their maintenance crews move as slowly as possible, doing as little as possible, avoiding experts whenever they can. My bathroom spent a year with incomplete repairs after the maintenance men spent a day tearing it apart, leaving grease stains all over the walls.

Then there's the "crawl factor." A few weeks ago, my next door neighbor moved out. Well, now her roaches have nothing to eat there, so they're invading my apartment. It's easy access for them, coming in through the pipes and my front door, with its lack of proper weather sealing. Since she moved out, I've had roaches crawling across my computer desk! What does management have to say about this? "Oh, we'll add your apartment to the list to be sprayed." With what, exactly? The same ineffective stuff that's been used since they took over? Honestly, I don't think they come in to lay down poison; I think they spray the apartments with roach food.

And so I have begun going through my possessions, gathering trash to take out. I reached for a pile the other day, and insects SWARMED from all of the papers. It was grotesque and absurd. How did this place get this bad?!?

Well, I'm on the case. The bags I'm packing are being sprayed with an insect killer that is SO strong that I've watched it kill roaches with just a small shot of the stuff. None of my furniture is coming along, and while I'm tempted to sell everything, it's all probably infested. Thus, whatever I can leave behind, I am. What's more, I'm leaving it for management to clear out. I can't lift any of this stuff, and I don't have friends to do it for me. A couple of bags, a few boxes, my computer, and a television set...that's all that's coming with me. The rest they can keep.

As for my security deposit...? Well, I never expected to get that back. The management here is money hungry. Even if there wasn't damage from my occupying this apartment for five years - if I left this place looking brand spanking new - they'd find a way to keep the money.

Speaking of money...September, with any luck at all, will be the last month I have to turn to my friends for help. A new State awaits, with a true friend taking me in, working with me in such a way that I may actually be able to save money! (From my mouth to G-d's ears!) I'm hoping that, when I arrive at my new home, I will stop existing and start LIVING again.

Meanwhile, I'm not going to wait for the last minute to ask for help. I always need it, so it makes little sense in holding off. What's more, I may have an extra expense or three this month, as I'm going to have to make some purchases that are...well, off the charts in terms of expenses. "Golly, Rob...What are you planning on buying that has you so worried?" Medications. Three of my prescriptions can't have refills because they are narcotics. And while I will have a fresh month's supply as I move out, there's no guaranty that I'll have secondary medical insurance within the month I move out of Arizona, nor that I'll find a doctor in that time. To be truly comfortable, I'd want a three-month supply of all my meds, but that's not going to happen. The best I can hope for is two months. So, my friends, I'm going to start asking for help now, and hope that you all remain understanding for just one more month. Then...Well, let us pray that the secondary insurance comes through swiftly, and that I don't need to ask for help in the future.

I...I just can't thank all of you enough. Really. People have been helping me survive for years, and it's astounding that I have such wonderful friends. It's more than the money. Much more. It;s the guy who offers to pick me up at the airport when I'm landing at midnight to get to my dying brother. It's the person who volunteers to drive from TX to AZ to rescue my cat. It's the one who says, "Your family doesn't want you? Well, *I* want you, so you can come live under my roof." It's the one who answers my plea for a working vacuum. For these reasons, I am blessed beyond measure, and thank so many of you all at once for being the most wondrous people on the planet.

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