Friday, March 20, 2009

How the other half lives

They live like slobs, I'll tell you that right off the bat.

I went to look at a house the other night that was currently being rented. There was a big 'ol beat-up sofa sitting in the backyard. The owner explained that it had been there all winter; he had asked the tenants to remove it, but they hadn't "got around to it yet". Maybe it's me, but it would drive me absolutely insane to look out my window every day and see a beat-up sofa sitting in my yard. I'd set FIRE to the damn thing before I let it sit there. Indoor furniture belongs indoors, and outdoor furniture belongs outdoors, and never the twain shall meet.

Looking at houses has not been my first experience in seeing how strangers live. Back a few years ago, I helped out a couple of relatives by going door-to-door with them and notarizing signatures on a petition they were trying to get signed for a business they wanted to open. (No, it wasn't a strip club; it was a motorcycle repair shop, which is evidently just as bad in some people's eyes. "OMG! Bikers! Run for your lives!!")

Because these relatives knew most of the people whose doors we were knocking on, we got invited into a lot of houses. And you would not believe the mess. Front porches so full of boxes of crap you had to squeeze through just to get to the front door. Sinks and counters full of filthy dishes. Pet-hair-encrusted furniture. You get the picture.

The poor people were not the worst. Maybe they just didn't own enough stuff for it to accumulate and become dirt-covered. It was the low-middle-income people who lived like they had only recently been introduced to indoor plumbing.

Living in an apartment building, I'm always amazed that I've never gotten cockroaches courtesy of my neighbors. My one former neighbor, Bill, had an apartment so full of crap you could literally barely walk through it. He once left on vacation for two weeks and left behind a sink full of filthy dishes soaking in filthy water. (I used to pet sit; that's how I know.) His stove was so grease-encrusted that, oh boy, I don't even know how to tell this one - let's just say that he didn't clean it before he moved out, and the guy who moved in after him didn't bother to clean it either, and shortly after the new guy moved in, he went to use the stove one night, and the stove itself actually caught on fire, the entire stove, thanks to the grease buildup.

And let's not even talk about bathrooms, shall we? Oh heck, let's. The first time I met my (now-ex-) father-in-law, I was visiting his home and went to use the bathroom. Suffice it to say, this was my very first experience with the "if it's yellow, let it mellow" doctrine, and I was horrified. People, flush the damn toilet. If you're having plumbing problems, GET IT FIXED. This is not something you can let slide, for f*ck's sake.

Wow. Sorry. I guess I'm a little sensitive about toilet hygiene.

Now, I am no Suzy Homemaker, and if you run your finger across any surface in my apartment, you will probably come up with some dust. I'm fairly certain there may be a scary thing or two in the crisper drawer of my fridge.

But some of the things I've seen in other people's houses frighten me.


listie said...

Here in CollegeTown, sofas on the front porch are a must-have for all college renters - the better to view the beer pong table in the front yard.

Of course, in the country, the porch seating of preference is the back seat of a minivan.

kitkat said...

Ugh. Do you ever watch How Clean Is Your House on BCC America? I don't understand how people live that way. I get irritated because my lamp shades attract cat hair and I can't get it off. A toilet that won't flush? That wouldn't last a day in my house. Of course, I had to throw out some moldy food from my fridge just a moment ago :)

FightAgainstRedTape said...

Ah, How Clean is Your House. I love it. Manky, stupid people living in years and years worth of muck - makes me, with only some dust present in my house, jump up and scrub out the fridge, wash all my ornamental stuff and get rid of that dust.

NEVER will there be a toilet that won't flush in my house!