I had grown restless without a place to call home.
Saturday was our move in day, which couldn't have been better timing because our hotel reservation finished on the same day. Kenz and I thought to ourselves that maybe the tide was beginning to turn in our favor - things would begin to settle down. After all the consternation about applying for school in the first place, applying for visas, listening to the various opinions about what we were doing, actually travelling, riots, differences - all of it - we were finally going to exhale and begin to build a little nest on Havil Street. We are checking out of the hotel room and checking into our new home - how sweet.
We had seen our place, paid 6 months rent (because we hadn't had a bank account yet), and were ready to move in. I mean ready to move in. I was getting excited - our place was better than I expected on all fronts - bigger, nicer, and better location than I could have hoped for.
When we signed the paperwork, we only had two conditions for the realtors:
1. Turn on the electricity.
2. Clean the apartment.
Simple enough, yea? They seemed to think so, "No problem, Mr. Ethier, we'll have it all ready for you by Saturday."
I get a call at 9:30am on Saturday morning:
"Mr. Ethier, we have yet to be able to clean the house because what we thought was a surplus on the electricity key was actually a debt. The cleaners couldn't hoover or clean in the flat because there was no electricity, but it should be fine. We will get the electricity on today."
The two things I asked for have not been done, but I still have to move out of this hotel room.
"I'll be down to the office in a minute and we can go there together."
I arrive at the apartment with the realtor. We walk around the flat and I am appalled. For some reason, I didn't see how dirty it was the first time we looked at it. It's disgusting - there's food refuse in the refrigerator, trash in every room, and mouse turds on the kitchen floor. I turn on my disappointed consumer face:
"You can't expect me to move in today. This is unacceptable."
This apartment has an "electricity key," which is a physical key one takes to the local gas station. A deposit is made on the key, and that is the amount of electricity you can use back at the house. You just plug it into the box back at home, and voila - you've got power until the money runs out. Apparently the cleaners couldn't work because there was no money on the key, yet they took the key with them. So - not only is the place disgusting, but there is no electricity or the potential for it because the key's gone!
The realtor gets on the phone and feigns anger at whoever is on the other side.
I'm sitting on the ratty couch, wondring where the hell we're going to sleep tonight. My face is changing into a deeper hue of red with each passing moment. I recognize the irony, though, of me getting angry as a consumer: I've never been one to cause a scene within the customer service industry. I think there are two types of people in the world: upon arrival of the wrong meal at a restaurant, those who send it back and those who just eat it quietly (hoping nobody else notices). I am the latter.
However, I've been trying to change into the type of person who will at least be assertive enough to send the food back, much less tell the realtor that I'd like the mouse shit cleaned before I move in. But I still get scared I'm a) causing a scene b) being an asshole and c) that I just deserve whatever I get and better keep my mouth shut. I know it's crazy, but it doesn't change the way I feel.
The realtor assures me she will have something figured out by later that afternoon, and we should go ahead and move our stuff in. We had enough stuff to justify a cab ride from our hotel to the flat. Kenz got the hotel to call a cab driver, though (because none of the cliche black cabs drive through this part of town!). Ten minutes later, the oldest man in south London shows up in his personal car, looking higher than my nephew's SAT score.
Maybe our luck hadn't turned around.
We dump our stuff and head out for the day.
Later in the afternoon, we get a call - the realty company is gracious enough to let us stay in a different flat over the weekend - they won't be able to get ours cleaned until Monday. So, we pack enough stuff to last us the next few days and move again.
A few have mentioned comments - I disabled comments on purpose. If you want to get in touch with us, feel free to use our emails:
Me: dbethier [at] gmail [dot] com
Kenz: c.mckenzie.gibson [at] gmail [dot] com
We have a phone number that is a local call for Americans - if you want it, email us. We also have skype.
I'll continue to try and improve frequency of posts - however, I think the best I'll do is every other day. Sorry!