Wednesday, October 1, 2008

i am working in crack town

So I'm sitting here at my desk at the real estate office where I am currently temping (thank you Charles Foster), and while it's pretty sweet to get paid a decent wage for answering phones (I try to channel my inner Pam Beesley), making copies (biggest accomplishment to date- I learned how to fix a paper jam-not an easy task), faxing things, and spending a great deal of time pretending to be busy while really playing on the internet, I have to say that the weirdness quotient in my life has gone up a great deal since I started here last week. Sometimes I feel like I'm in my own zany workplace sitcome where everyone is a capital C character, and I'm just helplessly flailing around in the middle. The office is like a small house, with a front area where I am-ready to greet tenants and prospects and leads (see, I'm already picking up on the real estate lingo), a conference room, and three large offices. The occupants of those three offices? Well that's where things get interesting. There's the Property Manager, I'll call her R, a loud, boisterous woman in her early 40s, who cusses like a sailor and who from my first hour here has kept me updated on the ups and downs of her dating life. Rhonda has been her one month and she is in constant fear of losing her job. This is because the owners of this business terrorize her, or at least the female owner, let's call her L. L is a small blonde woman who walks briskly around the office when she is here, usually back and forth from her own office to R's office. I have been here four days and I have seen maybe two interactions between R and L, when L is not lecturing/yelling at/pretending to smile while really passively agressively attacking R. When L is here, R seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown. When L is not here, R is usually talking to me about how L makes her feel like she is going to have a nervous breakdown. Meanwhile, I sit helplessly at my desk, trying to commiserate with this woman while also trying not to agree too much with her, because well, L terrifies me too and heaven forbid she somehow overhear me sharing in the smack talk. Yet L hasn't really done anything too scary to me directly. However, I am in constant fear of pissing her or her husband off. Much of this fear is due to R's 757 rules set down for me on how not to piss them off. Rule #1: never and I mean never enter their offices unless I am bleeding profusely from the head or the building is on fire, and maybe not even then if their doors are closed. Yet there have been times when L has asked me to make copies of something and return them to her, or someone calls and asks directly for L. So I have to stand awkwardly at the edge of the office, calling out to them like some kind of lunatic. Rule #2: always look busy. Yet Rule #2 conflicts with Rule #3 which is never bother L with any kind of request. Because often I have been without anything to do and R is unavaible, so the only way to have something to do would be to ask L. Yet for fear that she will eat me if I dare ask her for a task, I have to sit at my desk and find some way to look busy, even if that means moving objects around my desk in an attempt to look like I am doing some long overdue and very important desk organization project. Again I end up looking like a lunatic or someone with OCD. Yet I cannot imagine breaking the rules, because according to R, the consequences would be so dire it might as well be me getting chased out of the office by a firearm brandishing L. But I have no idea if R is just insane or if the rules are in place for a reason. Because she does seem to have a point about L just based on how L treats R. I feel really bad for the woman, because she literally can seem to do no right. Everything ends up being met by a lecture. And the tension between these two ladies was just out of control today. There were doors slammed, heated arguments, behind the back eye rolls. All very much in my presence. I just tried to duck my head and avoid getting caught in the crossfire. Who knew the real estate business was so catty?

So the women I work for are insane, and that's not even getting started on the tenants from the three different complexes managed from this office. I'm at the front desk so I deal with them first, and let me tell you, deal with them I do. There's Ms. P, an older woman who is about four feet tall, who comes into the office maybe 5 times a day to complain about the vending machine, to inquire as to why the housekeeper took away her neighbors mat, etc. and etc. She is the quintessential nosy neighbor. She wants to know everyone's business and she wants everyone to know her's. For example, I already know that Ms. P is diabetic and likes to get her chocolate fix on once a day with a candy bar from the vending machine. She is very upset that the vending machine has not been fixed as promised, because if she doesn't get candy from the machine then she has to go out and buy it and that means she will eat a lot of candy and since she apparently has no will power she will eat it all, fall into a diabetic coma, and die. This is all the fault of the broken vending machine you see. Ms. P is also very anxious about the whereabouts of her across the street neighbor's doormat, because she saw our housekeeping lady Freddie take it and instead of assuming that Freddie was going to wash it, she assumed the Freddue stole it and that her poor neighbors would be robbed of their colorful door mat. I swear this woman is a piece of work. I've noticed that when she comes up to our front door, both R and L scatter in opposite directions and hide, leaving me, of course, to deal with it. There are tenants who come in and tell me their life stories, their sob stories, people who can't pay rent and seem to think that by telling me all about their problems they won't have to pay rent. There are tenants who barely talk and others who have a seat and talk my ear off for a good half hour. If I've learned nothing else since I started here, I have learned that to be a landlord or a property manager of any kind you have got to have the ability to be bombarded on a daily basis by all types of insanity. People are weird. And my life has gotten so much weirder since I'e been here.

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