Trade Offer: You Get One Deadly Virus, I Get One Rent Freeze

For me, the worst part of COVID was closing my business. For some, including a few people I know, the worst part was an order of magnitude more awful: the death of a loved one. And for others, it was being sentenced to eighteen months of confinement with loved ones they merely wished would die.

The best part of COVID? There were a ton of positive things! Stimmy checks, student loan postponement, the normalization of work-from-home, less traffic and thereby lower emissions, and a boon to the heretofore-lagging sweatpant industry.

I really enjoyed one thing above all of those, namely because I live in a bougie part of an expensive metropolitan area. My favorite part of COVID was rent concessions. In a world where rent always goes up, ours did not for two years.

“Now see, this is why I bought a house!” you might say because you’re an unempathetic douchebag who thinks your experience equals a generalizable one.

“Fuck you,” I might say because I have a hair-trigger temper and a massive chip on my shoulder, especially toward hypothetical people I just made up. What’s he going to do, hypothetically punch me? I purposefully invented him to be much smaller than me for this very reason.

Alas, I’m at a place in my financial trajectory where my landlord keeping my rent the same for a few years is a pretty exciting proposition.

In March of 2020, just as COVID started, I moved into a fancy-pants building. The apartment complex had recently been completed and was seeking tenants in a suddenly tough market. To wit, they offered two months free for new residents. Free is so much better than not free!

As COVID went on, our lease renewal date approached. The world was still wearing masks and working remotely, and our building was still under-occupied. To our surprise, our lease renewal came with no increase AND another free month. We quickly re-upped.

Then, through a little science and a lot of good ol’ American “fuck this shit,” COVID was miraculously completely over! SHHHHH! Stop yelling, the people convalescing in the COVID wards need peace and quiet to recover.

The days of frozen, affordable rent came to an end. Our second renewal letter came with a whopping $800-a-month increase. Our response was delivered in the form of our four collective middle fingers stretched upward.

Of course, the bird flippage meant we’d have to find a better deal and then move. I like finding better deals. I fucking hate moving. Hate it. Least favorite thing on earth.

Well, I guess technically I hate it slightly less than paying an extra $800 a month.

A little looking around, a few tours, and we found a spot that was a slam dunk. It was a little smaller, and the layout was suboptimal. But, it was less than a mile away, and the price was way cheaper than our original rent. Done!

One small problem:

My partner is on a long-term assignment elsewhere in the universe. It’s technically on this planet, too, though barely. And “the universe” includes this planet, so I’m not wrong. She’s somewhere in the universe, just not in Virginia.

That means I would be left to my least favorite devices of all: my own.

It’s not the lack of help, to be honest. It’s the lack of direction and motivation I garner from my partner, for whom moving is an exciting adventure. For me, it’s up there with chewing on aluminum foil. So, leaving me unsupervised is a recipe for the whole process being disorganized as fuck and taking much, much longer.

After about six weeks of packing and a few dozen trips back and forth, we paid way too much to have some “professionals” move the heavy stuff.

I got everything Tetrised into the new place just in time to hop several flights across both the Prime Meridian AND the Equator, en route to spend some much-needed time with my love.

I’ve always made it a point to clean my surroundings well before departing for a trip. I’m not particularly anal about keeping tidy, in general. In fact, some might say I am a human tornado, flinging belongings in every direction as I pass through my environs. “Some” is code for “every woman I’ve ever dated.” That being said, I really dislike coming home from a trip to a mess. So, I try to be uncharacteristically forward-thinking in this one simple way. I try.

That didn’t work this time.

After an amazing trip and a few days of jet-lagged travel home, I opened the door to a completely unpredictable situation: everything was exactly as I had left it. Such bullshit.

My dog, Lemmy, was in total agreement. He expressed his agreement by lashing out at the obvious perpetrator of all this unfairness: the doorframe.

He was understandably very proud of his work.

Lem Lem has never been one for separation anxiety. He’s generally glad to see me leave, because it means I will take a break from grabbing his face, kissing him, and telling him what a good boy and beautiful dog he is. He is a very good and beautiful boy, in my defense.

However, the combination of a new place, new smells, and—wholly unacceptably—other dogs making noises in the hallway on occasion all added up to OH MY GOD I HAVE TO GNAW MY WAY THROUGH THIS SOLID WALL TO SEE WHAT’S GOING ON!

FOMO is hard for everyone. It’s especially hard when you have a walnut for a brain.

“Eating the wall” was actually his second strategy, as it so often is. His first was more successful: he just let himself out. Seeing as Lemmy is a deadbeat with no marketable skills, I left to go work one morning. Li’l Bubs waited a second to ensure I was truly gone. A quick paw-to-the-door-handle, and the furry inmate was sprung.

Given the danger of a wild North American Dingus just out a-walkin’ around, I had to thwart that trick with the utmost quickness. So, I slapped a clever toddler-proof doohickey on the door. Lemmy is 49 years old in dog years, but thankfully, he has the abysmal digital dexterity of a 2-year-old. Plus the general lack of thumbs of a dog, so there’s that.

But as they say in Dog World, when the humans outsmart you, just eat the fucking doorframe. That’ll show ‘em.

Okay, so he’ll let himself out, he’ll eat the doorframe…hmm…oh, I know! I’ll put up a baby gate!

Amazon Prime. $90. Delivered. Installed. Adjusted. Tested. Good to go.

Lemmy, however, disagreed with the placement and general aesthetics of the baby gate, and expressed his disagreement in his now-familiar “I’m gonna gnaw through the wall” manner. The gate prevented him from continuing his gnawage on the first spot, so naturally, he began a new one.

I admit, I did not ask him for his input on the matter, and that’s on me.

A month or so has passed, and I’ve unpacked a non-zero number of boxes. Lemmy is showing fewer beaver-like tendencies with each passing day. We’ve paid the much cheaper rent twice, and in a dozen or so more payments, we will come out ahead versus the cost of movers, a baby gate, and two walls worth of stress-induced damage.

My sincerest hope is that, by the time renewal comes around, another deadly pandemic will sweep the land, destroy the economy, and save me from an inevitable rent hike. Then we can really get ahead!

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Want to read more right now? Try Narcissist Flailing Terribly: The Story Of Trump Digital Trading Cards. Or how about Look, How About You Save Your Daylight For Someone Who Actually Cares? Or maybe you’ll enjoy The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Hunter Biden.

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