18 March 2006

Is Stink the New Clean?

Home alone on another Saturday night...and I'm not complaining. I took a raincheck on the rockabilly show tonight and opted to do my taxes instead. It needed to be done and I'm past the point where I can stay up late in a smoky barroom and function at work the next day. At this point, the money is more important to me than feeling tired the next day. Combine that with my on-going cross stitch project and I truly sound like a retired old cat lady. Meow. When the boys came by to pick up their gear, I got a little song and dance by Bloodshot Bill about "filling out forms on a Saturday night!" - it made me smile. You can make anything fun with a song and dance, even taxes!

Lately, our neighbours have been an issue with us. Since this is the first time on my own, I haven't honestly had to deal with problematic neighbours. They keep out of our way, generally speaking. They don't make late night noise, they don't have parties, they don't have noisy apartment building sex. However, they are complete and utter slobs with no respect for their living space. It's disgusting.

Since they moved in, the neighbour next to us has piled a pyramid of garbage bags right in front of our living room window. The pyramid has been the victim to hungry raccoons, so needless to say there is scattered garbage torn from the bags. French fries, chicken bones, you name it. The upstairs neighbour (they are all friends, apparently) has taken to the same habit on their wee and unstable balcony. Not only that, they have been lazy enough to not take their pitbulls (which is another issue for me) for walks. There are chunks of dog shit in front of our window as well. I'm sure it will be lovely, when springs rears it's head and heats up the garbage and the feces.

We noticed early last week that there is one big ol' dump of fecal matter on our side of the patio. Clearly, we do not own dogs nor do we take dumps on our patio. This was the last straw. We talked to the "caretaker" and written notes sent along with the rent cheque for months. The caretaker said to us, "Well, you have bikes on your side". Um, bicycles and a couple of lawn chairs are a little different than heaps of crap. "It's his patio, and he can do what he wants with it". There's a big difference between doing what you want and creating a health hazzard/haven for rats, roaches, and raccoons. What we thought was the last straw wasn't. We then discovered that the fire escape is clogged with tossed garbage bags. I thought my partner was exaggerating when he said "waist deep" - he was not! It's literally waist deep of garbage bags that we would have to climb over and squeeze through, in case of emergency. Nice.

The city housing inspector came by on Thursday morning to examine this situation and she did not seem impressed. The right word would be appalled, especially when she saw the fire escape. Unfortunately, I could not explain to her what I wanted and had to strongly say. There was such a language barrier between us, it was embarrassing. I was left on my own to deal with it and I felt like the biggest dummy. I was already nervous because of the potential tense situation that could happen in our building, but I was going over French phrases and words in my head to explain myself. I bombed. However, in my pathetic defense, I do find it odd that someone holding a position such as hers should know a little bit of English. I'm not asking anyone to bow down to my Anglo ways - it would just help to get my point across successfully if she understood even the simplest of words I was using. Maybe I was just nervous and paranoid, as I couldn't tell if her expression was stone-cold indifference of being a city inspector or one of complete misunderstanding my English to her French. After she took photographs and went upstairs to serve warnings, I felt as though I have failed. I know have to learn French and I take full blame for still being unilingual after a year and half of living here. I was scared before which morphed into stubborness - BUT I do feel a bigger sense of drive this year to get things done, whether it be learning French or discovering paths to daily happiness or finally taking up the old-timey piano (which would be so much more thrilling than French lessons).

After the inspector left, the upstairs neighbours proceeded to violently bang and slam things around. I may sound like a jittery feline, easily alarmed by the slightest sound. It was as if they repeatedly picked up a couch and slammed it on the floor. It was no stomping around or slamming a door. It was violent sounding and upsetting to my already shot nerves. It's been quite some time since I wanted to have a big anxiety attack but that did it. I was shaking, absolutely queesy, teary-eyed, and out of breath. I didn't want to be home alone with this. Surrounded by dog shit is one thing, but sensing someone is pissed off and it's directed at me (even though it's not my fault) is another thing. I just wanted to go home or be with friends or in my partner's arms. Thankfully, after a good half hour the banging and slamming about stopped. My partner came home. And I was off to work - for once, I was truly happy to be distracted by work.

They have until Monday to have it cleaned up. They have yet to attempt this, at least not the garbage before our window. Believe it or not, this is their second warning! The first one came from the people who live in the building next to us. The neighbours we affectionately call, "The Imbred Neighbours". They too own a large dog and do not walk it, so if we look down from our bedroom window we see more piles of crap. I suppose they too had enough of our neighbours garbage bags falling down from their balcony into their back yard. And you know, it has to mean something when slobs file a report about someone filthier.

I've had just enough of sketchy landlords and being surrounded by feces and leaky faucets. I'd like out sooner or later. Hopefully, we can work towards this goal for summer. I think it would be a good idea, nonetheless.

At work, the stink lurks as well. It's bad enough that certain people choose to take their "morning constitution" in our small working quarters and proceed to mask it with headache inducing "fruit spray". I can, somewhat, live with that even though I would never do that myself at work. However, some of the new staff at work clearly have an issue with body odour. Is stink the new clean? I wonder that, whenever they work. I understand that some people might be worse off and I respect that. However, I think that there shouldn't be an issue with hygiene when you own some brand name clothes, live with mom and dad, and go to college. Bohemian wool sweaters need to be washed once in a while! Hair does too! Somedays, work just stinks like hippy - b.o and greasy hair. Proper air circulation at call centres are not a high priority in the first place, so imagine that with stuffy winter heating in a smaller work environment. Sadly, I'd rather take the aroma of the dumps-masked-with-fruit-scent over stinky 18 year olds in funky unwashed wool sweaters and greasy art school hair. Here's a performance art rock show for you to do - take a fucking shower. It's not a good sign when you work in an office environment and feel like you need to take a shower at the end of the day, as though you worked a long day of hard labour. Count my blessings though, at least they don't cover it up with patchouli. I proposed the idea that they should hand out work bonuses of sticks of deodorant for every ten completed calls. Good idea?

All this talk about stink, makes me want to take a bath. That's the rest of my evening's itinerary - hot bath, good book (Portnoy's Choice by Philip Roth), a little cross stitching, and The Darkness.

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