Drive to work, do office work, drive to house, do handyman work, drive home, sleep, **repeat everyday for a month**. My full-time job didn’t really allow for several weeks of “apartment reconstruction” vacation time, so I spent every day from 7pm to midnight working on a host of repairs in my recently destroyed apartment. From installing a new toilet to wiring and installing new baseboard heaters without pulverizing myself, my to-do list was extensive and expensive! Luckily, with the help of a few good friends who helped me remove trash from the apartment and repaint several bedrooms, I was able to get a lot of work done in record timing. A month and a half later, the place was good to go once again, but I still didn’t have a tenant.
One day, I posted a simple ad on craigslist and within 24 hours I had over 50 people who were eager to view the unit. Since I didn’t a lot of time to show the apartment each day, I scheduled every prospective tenant for either 6:30pm or 6:45pm. Then I spent 6:30-7pm giving tours of the apartment while reciting my speech and carefully crafted choreography.
Most of the apartment showings were relatively mundane, until Sammy. Sammy called me to view the apartment, but couldn’t speak English very well. Somehow he understood the times that I was showing the unit and he came over on his bike…drunk. It was amazing to see how he was able to keep his balance as he rode down the middle of the street with a few cars following behind him—he must have had a lot of practice. He took two steps into the apartment and muttered “itakeit!” I said, “excuse me?” He said, “I like it. I take it.” I was confused about how he decided that he liked the place without even seeing a single bedroom, but I decided to humor him. I gave him an application and told him to bring it back tomorrow with the application fee if he’s serious. He took the application and said “I take it” and stood there. I think that he wanted to move into the place immediately. I said “you need an application to take it! He said “yes. I take it.” I didn’t know what else to say to him. I told him once again to take the application and come back tomorrow.” He finally left, stumbled down the steps, and struggled to get on his bike for about two minutes before he finally mounted it and rode away all zig-zaggily. He then proceeded to call me back everyday at 6:07pm saying “I take it” and nothing else.
After almost two months, I narrowed the list of applicants down to two families that I extensively screened. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get burned with a bad tenant again, so I required more information than ever before. I requested the application, a credit check, a lock of their firstborn child’s hair, a copy of their third and sixth grade report cards, and a single drop of blood. One applicant passed every single test and had highly favorable references so I offered the place to them and they enthusiastically accepted. Finally!!!! I found a new [hopefully wonderful] tenant that ended this trilogy of stress!
Throughout these challenging months, I learned a lot of lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life:
– Difficult situations are inevitable and you can’t control them, but you can control your response to them. Your response to those situations will determine if you’re a winner or a winer.
– In difficult times, we fly our true colors. Otherwise calm people freak out after an accident. Nice people turn ugly when confronted. Braggarts shrink in the face of danger. You’re not made in a crisis…you’re revealed.
– Sometimes it takes stressful situations and adversity to create success.
– It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill, as long as you don’t lose your cow!
I gained more experience and learned more life lessons over those months than any other 8 month period in my life! Although it wasn’t fun to go through challenges in several different areas of life concurrently, I know that I’m a better, stronger person as a result of it (even if it means that I grew a few gray hairs in the process)!