Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Times When Ignorance Might Just Have Been The Better Path

Strange things occasionally happen in my apartment building, and Bob isn't the most proactive landlord, so I know that if anything goes awry, I must make the effort to call him, maybe more than once, and specifically request the fix. If there are two problems-- say, hall lights are out AND the intercom/ door buzzer thingie isn't letting people in-- you can't just ask him to come and fix the intercom and assume that he'll notice that the repair is taking place in a dark hallway and change the bulbs, too. But if you ask him to fix something, he eventually fixes it. In fact, he's usually fairly prompt about that stuff, once you tell him.

Last night, I opened the door to the building and my nose wrinkled in disgust. It smelled like... oh, I don't know... sewage? No, not quite. Garbage? No, not quite. The best description I could come up with was that it smelled like a grey water leak that soaked a carpet and no one bothered to clean it up, so now it's getting all moldy and germy. Ash, upon his arrival, pronounced it to be a "big, musty dog" smell. It was overpowering in the stairwell, but once the apartment door was shut, it wasn't noticeable. We went to bed and Ash sailed off to the Land of Nod almost immediately, but I kept catching whiffs of the smell and it woke me up. Then I'd have to pee. So I got up and went to the bathroom, crawling back into bed in hopes of joining Ash in Dreamland, only to have the cycle repeat itself. Finally, at 3 a.m., I moved to the couch, hoping that my usual insomnia cure would work its magic. The cat planted herself on my chest and her purring eventually lulled me to sleep.

This morning, I called Bob as soon as I got to work.

"Hey, Bob, it's Katze from Amanger Street. Listen, there's a very strange smell in the building."

"Yeah, I know, the guy in #8 died."


"Oh my God! You're kidding! That's terrible!"

"Yeah. He didn't pay his rent last month, and that's just not like him, so I thought I better check on things and I found him dead yesterday. I guess he'd been there for the past three weeks or so. I had the guys lock up the back stairwell after the paramedics left yesterday."

Locked up the... because apparently, smells can't travel through locked doors?

"Um, well, last night I went downstairs to see if a pipe had backed up or something, and you can't really smell it down there, but it's really, really bad up on the second and third floors."

"Oh? In the main stairwell?"

"Yeah. And in my apartment."

"Hmm. I'll get the guys over today to open up the stairwell windows. Actually, could you just open up those windows right now?"

"Actually, I'm already at work. I was going to do it last night, but the stairwell lights are out again, so I couldn't see to get them."

"Again? There must be something... Well, anyway, I'll have the guys take a look at it."

So, apparently Bob thinks that the maintenance men are going to open the windows, maybe swab around with some Pine-Sol and Clorox, and that's going to take care of it. Boy, is Bob in for a very rude surprise. See, as some of you know, I used to work for a company that does, among other things, death scene cleanup. And as such, I've gained more familiarity than the average person with the things that have to be done once a dead body has been lying undiscovered in a home.

All day long, I have been so utterly skeeved out. I just keep thinking to myself "Dead man. That smell was dead man. Little bitty pieces of dead man are in your nose and lungs." Because I've seen one too many episodes of NOVA and I know how the sense of smell works. I kind of never want to go home again.

UPDATE: After work, I drove home and decided to just go inside. I could check my mail and my messages, feed the cat (poor, poor thing!), and maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all. HA. Apparently, Bob had the guys crack the stairwell windows and spray Febreeze around. They were, however, kind enough to leave the can on top of the mailboxes so that we can spray a little more. So now it smells like dead man and peonies.


At 7:34 AM , Blogger Catherine Martin said...


At 12:31 PM , Blogger M-Dad said...

Is it weird that I think the whole situation is really cool? You should match the air freshener scent to the deceased's personality. Was he sporty? more of an Old Spice guy? Smoker?



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