Thursday, October 18, 2007

Apartment Saga, full circle.

Sooooooooo. We got evicted today, what'd you do?

That's right, our lovely, law-abiding landlord bypassed a few hundred legal permits to build our VERY cool looking apartments but missed a few-too-many major permits to be overlooked by the fuzz. Which ones? The biggie: fire escapes. A big no-no for post 9-11 builders.

Our apartments are located in the middle of the building. We have a window but it is just large enough for Frodo Baggins so sneak out of in case of an emergency. That would be fine if Frodo were also Spiderman because once you get outside the window there isn't any cotton-pickn' thing to climb on to flee the licking flames.

The whole window thing in our apartment is a little hard to explain... Just imagine a building. In the middle of that building someone took a 6X6 square out of it straight to the ground. Our window faces that. So anyways...

A little thing called the "fire chief" showed up yesterday and slapped a good old-fashioned eviction notice on our door. After he told me that our Landlord is unbelievably arrogant for thinking he could bypass ALLLLLL the permits and get away with it, he told me that he couldn't believe how different-looking our building was.

Apparently, it was housed by the Devil and his legions because it was notorious throughout NYC with the police and fire dept. He said he came to our building once because someone called and said there was a guy in a bunk that was sick and couldn't get up. He said when they arrived, the found the guy on the top bunk while three other tenants in the room played cards. You know what's coming next... The "sick" man on the bunk was deader than Abe Lincoln's toenail. Not only that, he'd been dead for THREE WHOLE days. I guess his buddies were gonna test-drive that old Jewish wives-tale and decided not to risk the stench on the fourth day. So they called the fire department to say that he was sick and wouldn't wake up, even after they shook and screamed. “And strangely, Mr. fireman, he just stares at this one place on the ceiling.”

So I could tell the fire chief was torn. On one hand, he was pissed the landlord gave us and four other tenants rooms that are truly classified as "death traps" and on the other hand, he was amazed to see that the landlord had turned a big smelly turd of a building into a pretty darn up-scale looking apartment. Oh well.

Back to the eviction at hand. This is where the story gets better. Not, as in “worse” better but as in “better” better.

I called the landlord el-pronto. I said to the landlord, who was at that moment being sued by every other tenant in the building except us, that we weren't going to sue. I wanted to say: “Merry Christmas you lucky bastard.” Instead, I kindly noted that the apartment down the hall, the one that we were originally supposed to get was fortuitously vacant, followed by the words “I want it now.” Then, “It would also be quite nice to get it for the price that we were paying for the death trap.” He agreed, and last night, we moved in. I love Just War theory.

So it only took the Lord one and a half months to set that right. Shoot, I had just chalked that up as a big boil on my ass that I would have to be thankful for.

But who knows what tomorrow will bring in this here City. We may be evicted.... again. New boils may arise on the rump with no ointment in sight. But now, more than ever, I am convinced that God will work it out. Sounds so hackneyed I know. But if you are the one saying it, and meaning it, it is as fresh as a towel right out of the dryer. I am not my own. I belong to somebody who's a lot better at running the universe and my fate than me. Thanks be to God. (Cue priest singing chant.)


MamasBoy said...

now that is a story.

Chaotic Hammer said...


He agreed, and last night, we moved in.

Moved in, as in hauled 100% of your stuff from the Hobbit Hole to the new Hobbit Haven? Did you have trouble with the big stuff, or did you have help?

Seth Ward said...

Oh, forgot...

About 3 workers showed up and helped us. Another sign that landlord isn't a TOTAL crook.

Went from the Hobbit Hole to the Tajmahole. Still a hole, but 2X bigger than the last, with bigger appliances and a view of the city.

Chaotic Hammer said...

Mmmmm. View of the City.

[Cue Chaotic Hammer staring off into space, daydreaming about the future, when he will be returning to New York City...]

kddub said...

wow... crazy story, really glad it worked out well, or perfectly.

euphrony said...

Maybe you should get evicted more often?

Glad it all worked out so nicely. Enjoy the city-view!

Seth Ward said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I may make it sound rosier than it is or was, but God did take care of us. That was all Him. Continued prayers are coveted.

I did talk to a friend of mine last night that said that if we get evicted again, it's the stuff lawyers stay awake at night and dream about.

Okay... so here is an ethical question. And not one of those "Hypotheticals" that we Christians like to stand atop the mountain and say "I shalt not do!" but when it comes down to the wire, we do it, because it makes sense... like, birth control... anyways, here we go.

So all the tenants are getting together in this building because the landlord really did do us pretty dirty. Won't go into all the details but lets just say... there are people coming to check asbestos levels tomorrow...

They told me that all I have to do is sign on the dotted line, no court appearance, no nothing and I could be in on a serious settlement. If there has been asbestos, it could be millions, if not, the payout could go into 25-30 grand a tenant.

The bible says don't sue. So... let's talk about suing.... maybe this calls for another blog...

Sethie tempted by lots o' dolla's in the pocket... me hoping someone looks up Greek for sue and somehow finds me a loophole... We Protestants are good at that. Like "well Kepha (Peter) REALLLY means, "little Rock"

mmMMMMmmm dollars good.

Super Churchlady said...

If you're looking for a loophole - I'm your gal.

This may sound legalistic (I AM a lawyer afterall) but... doesn't Corinthians say we shouldn't sue "one another" As in..."other Christians??" I'm thinking your landlord in NYC is probably NOT Christian given all you've said about him.

OK, I'm being glib and this is probably worthy of serious discussion, but I'm not in the serious mood.

klk said...

Ok, an off the cuff, not very well thought out response to the suing question....
I think suing can be justified when something has actually been lost or damaged and the offending party isn't willing to make retribution. It seems that most frivilous lawsuits are built on the pretense that something "might" have happened or "might" have been a contributing factor to the problem (i.e. suing McDonalds for making you fat). From what I gather no actual harm has been done to your property or person (though quiet a bit of inconveinence has occurred), while others in the building my have had actual damage. And it seems like your landlord has tried to make ammends where possible. But I don't know all the gorey details.
It's a hard call, especially when there are $ in the eyes. Showing grace and Christlikeness to this landlord could be a major step on His road to salvation. And for others in your building as they witness your interactions.
This is a good discussion and I'm anxious to see what others say.

euphrony said...

Seth, I asked some of the same questions recently on my blog - here and here.

Chaotic Hammer said...

Ooh, good question.

I believe that 1 Cornithians 6 is one of the commonly used Scripture verses in dealing with this question. And if I understand the context correctly, Churchlady is correct -- Paul is basically scolding believers for taking other believers to court, over matters that they had ought to be able to settle between brothers, with the wise counsel and help of other members of the church.

However, I don't take that to automatically mean that if the other party is an unbeliever, then this verse does not apply, or more accurately perhaps, that the principal does not apply. In other words, I don't think that we bring glory to God by this behavior.

I'll be honest, and say that I don't believe that Jesus wants us to live like the world. I think that if we want to live radically as His disciples, we are to live by a totally different standard than everyone else.

A personal testimony here: Last year, Nanx was sitting at a traffic light, and a drunk driver plowed into the side of our car. This guy had been driving so erratically through town that several people had already called the cops before the accident even happened. Nanx was very shaken, but seemed to be okay physically. She had a little neck and shoulder soreness for a few days, probably because of the jolt, and from tensing up at the moment of impact.

The other driver had the same insurance company we did, and within a few days, we started getting calls from the insurance company trying to urge us to sue and get an automatic settlement for something like $15 thousand. It was more or less a formality, and they seem to settle like that as an almost normal part of a claim.

After thinking about it and praying about it, we decided not to take the money. There was no "pain and suffering" really involved. Nanx was fine. The insurance restored our car to the same condition it was before the accident, at no cost to us. Nothing lost, nothing gained.

We did not want to be part of what I consider "ill-gotten gain", even though it was there in front of us, ours for the taking. It's something built right into our legal system as an almost automatic payoff, and yet I couldn't accept it with a clear conscience.

And if we had taken it, it would have been easy to justify -- for example, suppose we took the money and gave all of it, every last penny, to some worthy cause like Compassion International? Surely taking money from a big rich American corporation to give it to the poor and starving is a good thing, right? But the problem is, we didn't feel like it was rightfully ours to take, regardless of what we did with it.

Vengeance and justice belong to God, not to us. I would recommend that whatever decision you make, you make with a clear conscience. You must be convinced between you and the Lord that you have done the right thing. I see that you have testified here in the comments that God is taking care of you, and while it's often easier to say that in theory than it is to believe it in practice, I think that you are correct about it.

This one is the clincher for me. Selah.

The Devil's Advocate said...

Strictly speaking, I don't think it would warrant condemnation from others if you were letting the legal system run its normal course in rectifying wrongs committed.

NYC is a tough place, with a lot of tough, cut-throat people. Many people there, if they can take advantage of you and walk all over you, will not hesitate to do that. Your landlord may be a "crook", or he may be a "businessman just trying to get ahead". It may be a fine line separating those, depending on who you ask.

It's possible that even if you are the only person in your building who doesn't "sign on" with the lawsuit, and you try talking to your landlord person-to-person, you still may not ever get a chance to give your testimony or declare your love for Jesus. The landlord may just think you're a sucker for behaving a certain way based on your creeds and beliefs, and will proceed to screw you over anyway.

Seth Ward said...

klk, welcome! True, true. Dollars are in the eyeballs. I won't deny that.

Super Church, your cut is in the mail.

C-ham, I never thought about the car-wreck claims bit, but I LIKE it. Thank God Nancy is okay.

I'm thinkin' D.A. is speaking some mighty fine rhetoric, however I am getting closer to a decision. All and any opinions are welcome and needed.

This one's sorta got me stumped.

I can't stop thinking about that Amish man who wouldn't accept the 3 million dollars from the trucking company that killed his wife hitting their buggy...

MamasBoy said...

Growing up, a couple houses I lived in had asbestos spackling on the ceilings and asbestos siding (the easiest siding in the history of mankind to maintain). The university that I attended had asbestos insulation that except for being painted over was fairly well exposed around old steam pipe heaters in every classroom of the engineering building. Currently, I live in a house where over 1/3rd of the flooring is asbestos tile.

As a general rule, as long as you aren't inhaling/ingesting the stuff, there is no danger to your health. Odds are, even if there was asbestos in the building, that your health was not at risk.

The asbestos litigation industry is a racket. Several high profile/high $$$/high "victim" count cases have been exposed as fraudulent.


Seth Ward said...

That's interesting MB that you mention that...

Well, if there has been asbestos, we certainly have been exposed, not to mention whatever is hanging out on the brick wall that was never properly washed.

Sometimes the air was quite thick with dust when we enetered the building.

BUT, I did take a Geology class in undergrad and had this very intense professor. My final assignement was a paper on Asbestos. I learned that there are three types of Asbestos, and that only one is really harmful. But that doesn't matter, to the gov, all Asbestos is potentially harmful.

I don't know where I stand on the issue, but I would prefer not to inhale any whatsoever. Hopefully the landlord will let us stay in the apartment we are in for the remainder of our lease, at the same rate as our other apartment, considering he got us evicted.

I really don't want to sue. But I might at this point if we get evicted or if he raises the rates.

Chaotic Hammer said...

I really don't want to sue. But I might at this point if we get evicted or if he raises the rates.

Did you sign a new lease when you moved into the bigger apartment, or did you only get a verbal agreement from the landlord to give it to you for the same rate as the smaller place? I would definitely recommend that you insist on signing a new lease if you haven't gotten the original lease rewritten to reflect your new agreement.

I would think that a lease should also specify that the landlord is responsible to keep the place up to codes, and give some sort of remedy if he fails to uphold his end of things (such as paying for your moving expenses and security deposit if you have to move to another place suddenly because of his failure to fulfill his end of the contract).

As far as asbestos... when I was in the Army, I was in housing at Fort Ord that they referred to as "sub-standard housing". They would put all the lower-ranking enlisted folks with families there, because there was no way you could afford to live in that part of California on military pay.

Anyway, when they closed down the base, the local communities were suggesting that they reuse the housing as low-income housing or even to shelter the homeless. Seemed like a reasonable idea... but when they went in and did a study of these houses, they found that they were considered "unsuitable for human habitation", and they were condemned (and eventually torn down to make room for huge, fancy million-dollar homes, once the military turned the land over to a neighboring city...but I digress...)

So naturally, you can imagine how that made all of us military folks feel. We had lived in those houses with our families for all those years, and they were considered suitable for us, but not suitable for "human habitation". I'd heard that asbestos was the primary offense there, but apparently there were other concerns like structural integrity and other code violations (it was earthquake country, after all...).

MamasBoy said...

Now that this thread has died down...

"Okay... so here is an ethical question. And not one of those "Hypotheticals" that we Christians like to stand atop the mountain and say "I shalt not do!" but when it comes down to the wire, we do it, because it makes sense... like, birth control... anyways, here we go."

Actually, there are many Protestants who also have a problem with contraception, if only for the unBiblical attitude toward children that it often promotes. There are 5 couples in my life that I have considered as role models for myself in marriage and raising kids. Most of them are Protestant and all but one never contracepted or greatly regretted their decision to get a vasectomy. The last couple, I cannot speak of beliefs either way, because the topic hasn't come up with them. The reason I respect those 5 couples so much is the amazing success they have had in raising their children and the loving relationship they have had with each other for 30+ years. There are probably more people out there who question BC than you realize (or I was just raised around really rare wierdo Protestants who by blind luck did a kickass job raising kids).

Speaking out of my own experience, I was raised in a very pro-BC household, as long as the method chosen didn't have an abortifacient mechanism as one of the ways that the literature says it works (e.g., depo, norplant, the pill, the patch and many other hormonal contraceptives).

When my wife and I were engaged, we had some serious struggles being chaste. We didn't go all the way, but we weren't living lives of holiness in our physical interactions. Then one day I went to confession got a talking to by a priest. Two days later, I went to a talk by Chris West and had the Catholic teaching on marriage (and contraception) explained to me for the first time. It was so amazingly freeing. All my life I had been told to wait until marriage, with the implicit/explicit assumption that after the knot is tied anything goes. For the first time in my life, I saw a continuity in the Christian teaching on sex before marriage and after. The effect on my relationship with my fiance (now wife) was nothing short of miraculous. Literally, overnight we overcame our deep struggles, and the Holy Spirit gifted us with the last few months of our engagement being the most chaste (when they are often the most difficult). It was not that we loved each other any less, but that we were able to express our love in ways that valued the other person instead of the self-centered, lust-filled ways we had grown accustomed to even as committed Christians. I have known too many people who have experienced a similar change in the quality of their relationship due to a change in perspective on contraception to think that it is just a coincidence. I would encourage you to consider the possibilities.