I’ve been struggling how to write this blog for weeks now. I’m straddling how to not complain, but at the same time stay authentic to the experience and share that it completely sucked at times. I have been giving myself a hard time for focusing on the negative because there was actually so much positive included. I also realized I couldn’t tell the story without a little whammy of both. Because, after all, this is the house where sh*t most certainly hit the fan.
LOCATION AND LENGTH: In Clarksville / Old West Austin near Austin Java on Lamar and Enfield. 1 month and 1/2.
PART 1: SH*T HITS THE FAN
I have to preface this by explaining 4 things so below makes sense: 1) This was our 11th home in about 8 months in Austin. 2) This was the high end of our monthly budget range that we’d kept, but was absolutely within the same budget as many others. 3) We’ve lived in this neighborhood multiple times before. 4) Every home has provided – at the minimum – the basic kitchen and toiletry needs (ie: toilet paper, soap, paper towels, etc.) and what a hotel would offer: everything from a welcome guide to high-end bedding. In short…we’ve extensively experienced the market based on price, location, size, and quality.
Let me set the stage: Cary arrives a day before me late at night. He’s totally exhausted and ready to crawl into bed. He cannot find where the parking spot is or which condo unit is ours because the managers didn’t provide this info properly. He had to pull out the photos online and search all of the balcony’s furniture to find a match. He enters to find no sheets on the bed, but a comforter with staines all over it – it felt like the kind you buy when you go off to college, along with those cheap flimsy pillows. The white furniture (in the photos) were definitely white no more. After begrudgingly making the bed with the less than stellar sheets, he wanted to check his email. The internet password had been provided, but no network. At a condo in downtown, you have to go through a long list for trial and error.
The house had no soap, the recycling hadn’t been taken out, no trash bags were provided, one very disgusting, falling apart sponge was provided, towels were visibly old and ratty, the back windows had no blinds, the shower curtain had mold on it, the bathroom door wouldn’t fully close, the heater wasn’t working (it was still cold then) and a window wouldn’t lock – which was large enough for someone to very easily climb in through.
After a couple days of fuming and going and buying some of this stuff ourselves, we realized we had to say something. That same day, I come home to jump on a conference call and I find 2 random men in my house, the walls and floor covered in plastic, and the ceiling being painted. This is what it looked like.
…Only then did it hit the fan.
It turns out that the painting was a complete misunderstanding. Earlier that day, the manager delivered some new towels and replaced the bedding with something without stains (still terrible quality, but a step up), and put a work order in. They requested that their construction team come back to repaint the ceiling, but there was miscommunication on when. I did my best to be understanding of the situation and thankful for the items and work order to fix the others things. I think I held it under control pretty well all things considered. A small comp was offered for our troubles and I figured that all the bad experiences were behind us. I’d just deal with the low quality bedding and dirty furniture. [They actually didn’t provide that small comp refund or our safety deposit until we reminded them 2 times. Finally, more than 30 days after our stay ended, we received it.]
Unfortunately, that was the start to our problems. They seemed to keep coming. The promised washer and dryer didn’t work, causing me to spend non-peak times at the community one (now, that’s a fun Friday night). Cockroaches enjoyed playing peek-a-boo. Ants literally started falling from the light fixture and landing on the bed next to our pillow. Most were dead, but not all – as if this makes it much better. We think they were frying inside the light. I would wake with a pile of about 5 dead bugs on me every morning. Rise and shine!
It took 2 weeks to get the bathroom door fixed. We couldn’t fully close our bathroom door without getting stuck inside. Come on! Then the AC stopped working. Two weeks in, there were maintenance people in the house almost half of those days.
We had tried to roll with the punches, but it finally started piling on. We considered breaking the lease to move, but that could be a headache in itself and we loved the neighborhood. I didn’t want to uproot our little kitty and finding a place takes some time.
Finally, we decided to send an email recapping the experience and a request for a discount in rate to match a more fair trade. 9 days went by with no response. Crickets even after following up. Finally, a response was sent and our request was denied with the explanation that the they made efforts to fix the AC, door, washer, and eventually did. I almost threw my computer against the wall. The idea that a business owner thought them “making effort” was acceptable enough, fueled me. You don’t walk into a restaurant, find a bug in your food, have the server remove the bug and they say, “well, it’s fixed now. See, no bug!”
I was literally exhausted of focusing on the negatives in this experience. During this entire time, the incredible experiences were overshadowed by frustration and feeling like I was taken advantage of. I’ve always been someone to keep my mouth shut until it really needs to be opened. Usually I’m pretty good at picking my battles. When someone does something I consider unfair, it hits a nerve. I felt like this nerve was being pricked every day and I let it eat away at me.
Yes, this was not a fair trade in my opinion. Yes, I feel like they did me wrong. And yes, I will write a review to warn others. I don’t ever want to lose the ability to stand up for myself and be loud and proud, but I don’t want to let it cloud my happiness and the happiness of those around me. I want to be able to “fight” for what I think is right, but be able to walk away unharmed.
Sometimes it takes things getting so bad for you to open your eyes. It took this experience with my eyes open in a completely different way in this LifeVenture for me to see this about myself. I vowed to focus on the positives the remaining time, and more importantly, in life moving forward. I want to focus on the positive and not let the negative overtake me.
PART 2: IT WAS ACTUALLY QUITE AMAZING AFTER ALL THAT. 🙂
Here are highlights of the month 1/2 stay:
- A real community: I walked almost everyday and it felt like a real neighborhood: some white picket fences, modest (but very nice) homes, people sitting on patios with friends drinking wine in the afternoon, adorable restaurants and bars in walking distance…There is something pretty great about being able to walk out your front door and experience that community-feel without driving.
- Austin’ Graffiti Park (also known as Hope Outdoor Gallery): Taken from the Only in Austin blog, “It is a cluster of urban ruins consisting of broken walls and concrete foundations that are completely covered in graffiti art. The park is a public space that is open to any and all graffiti artists who want to make their mark on Austin, and it is a safe haven for them to create without the threat of the law.” It’s very Austin, and strangely enough, I had never been. I knew it was a big deal, but I didn’t know how popular it truly was. There were always about 10-30 people there at any given time. I’m not a huge fan of graffiti, but I love the idea and it is always changing everyday.
- View of the Capital and a great patio: I can’t tell you how many times I said, “I can see the Capital from the bed!” I know it was just a partial view, but I thought that was so cool. Plus, the patio was quite nice, sans the dirty furniture and loads of pollen. Combine the patio with Sangria from Zocala and I’m a happy girl.
- Kept a promise to myself: My mornings are typically my busiest time of the day and I’m not a morning person, so I don’t ever have time to enjoy the mornings. I promised myself I would wake up early enough to really enjoy a morning at least once. It took me a while to do it, but I made it happen: One morning, I got out an old backpack and plopped my computer in it and walked to the Coffee shop super early. I worked outside at and watched Austin wake up. Everyone was so happy! I worked so efficiently that I was able to, by 1o am, plop myself down in a nearby park, lay down in the grass, and simply stare at the sky and enjoy it. It might seem silly to you morning folks, but I was super proud of myself for making that happen.
- Actually saw the sun rise (another promise to self met): On our last day, we woke up at 5:30 am, had a real breakfast nearby, engaged with each other without cell phones sending us constant notifications, and saw the sunrise over downtown.
Until next time, -Cierra