It's Rookie Roosts Week 2012, and we're rolling out stories from first-time buyers whose housing hunts didn't go quite as they expected. At 1:30 p.m. the polls will open, and you'll get to vote for the story that's most horrific. That story will go on to compete on Curbed National with other regional winners for a chance to win a $2,500 home store gift card—standard contests rules apply). More than anything, though, let these stories be a lesson to you would-be first-time buyers out there. Our final entry:
My wife and I moved to Boston about three years ago for her new job. Her arrival preceded mine by a few months, during which time she located a rather charming rental on Beacon Hill. Her belongings were moved in and thoughtfully arranged, mine were thrown out when I wasn’t paying attention, and, like so many newlyweds, so began our co-habitation.
She worked weekends during our first year in the city, which meant that I was left to my own devices on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Initially, most of those afternoons were spent with my dog watching back-to-back (to back) episodes of The Wire. This hobby did little to impress my wife, and I was without any reasonable excuse to disagree with her eventual suggestion that perhaps my time might be better spent going to open houses.
Given my aversion to monogrammed whale pants, I decided to venture beyond Beacon Hill where our rental was located and concentrate the search on the South End. I located a penthouse unit on Union Park that was suitable only for the heartiest fans of the 1970s (read: orange bathtub and brown appliances). The redeeming feature, however, was a wall of windows spanning the entire 26-foot width of the building.
I arranged a showing with the listing agent for my wife. After humoring me for a full four seconds, and pointing out that the windows I liked so much were, quite literally, being held together with packing tape, my wife declared, “No way in hell are we buying this.”
If I’m anything, however, I’m occasionally persistent. After months of pestering, she eventually acceded to the idea of buying the fixer-upper. Naturally, after borrowing library books about hiring contractors, I didn’t read any of them and instead went with my gut instinct, which had heretofore only disappointed me and was thus long overdue for a breakout season. The result was that we overpaid for the apartment and ended up hiring an unresponsive killjoy to do the renovation. I solved these problems by appointing my wife as the general contractor and then blaming her when things went wrong.
Which brings me to the meat and potatoes of our homebuying story. In an effort to re-assert my money-saving skills, I scoured web for our new appliances. I located a suitable fridge, dishwasher, and range, and called the delivery company to explain that the appliances would need to be carried up five flights of stairs.
Delivery day arrived and, like any good husband, I went to work and left my wife alone to deal with everything. A few hours later I got a panicked phone call from her stating that two prison inmates had arrived and presently had the fridge lodged halfway up the common stairway. In the process, they had managed to remove a goodly sum of the plaster from the walls and ceiling.
Further exercising my excellent judgment, I told her not to worry and stated that I’d call the delivery company to sort this out. I reached an eminently helpful gentleman, who stated that he would immediately call the deliverymen and tell them to stop bashing the walls. I explained that this was a bad idea as the likely result was that the deliverymen would get mad at my wife for tattling on them. He said “Nonsense,” put me on hold, called the deliverymen, and then reported that everything was hunky-dory. This phone call was succeeded five minutes later by a call from my tearful wife stating that the deliverymen had yelled at her for tattling on them. In an effort to placate them, she went to the corner store to purchase them some cold drinks.
By the time she had returned, the fridge, and part of the hallway, had made its way into our apartment. The remaining appliances and plaster followed. The deliverymen then presented my wife with a delivery receipt indicating that the appliances arrived without a scratch and that the hallway was in pristine condition; because she is smarter than me and values her personal safety, she signed as instructed, locked up the apartment, and promptly left for work.
We went out of town that evening for a short summer vacation. Upon our return three days later, we soon discovered that it had been a mistake for my wife (see, all her fault) to leave the deliverymen alone in our apartment while she went to buy them drinks. Like any normal people in the business of customer service, they had capitalized on their time alone in our home by peeing into a box full of plumbing fixtures. Imagine a sauna in which steam is created not by pouring water over hot rocks, but rather by a fat guy urinating over copper pipes. This is what our entire condo smelled like.
That afternoon, I telephoned the helpful gentleman at the delivery company and explained the pee caper. He assured me that his upstanding employees would never do such a thing, insisting that the pee must have come from some other source. He then implied that I myself might have been the wellspring, an implication that might have been more reasonable had it been made while I was still in college. But, as went the spotted owl, so went my propensity to pee all over my room and not remember it the next day. When presented with this watertight rebuttal, I got my $200 delivery fee back.
Lesson 1: Don’t leave boxes of plumbing fixtures unattended in your home lest they be mistaken for toilets.
Lesson 2: Ignore Lesson 1 if you are looking for a surefire way to get a refund on appliance delivery charges.
· Rookie Roosts Week 2012 [Curbed Boston]