Sunday, July 2, 2017

Adventures in Slum Living. Episode 15 --the neighbors



16 Benson Street in Albany, New York was not the nicest place I’ve ever lived.
As stated –repeatedly, in fact—the landlord, Wayne Whitney, was (and presumably still is) a dishonest, selfish, irresponsible dipshit and the place was falling apart in disrepair to an extent that was almost comical. But the neighbors didn’t help either.
I first met the neighbors when I was moving in. A lanky looking guy with floppy, curly hair and dull eyes approached me as I was moving in and asked me where I worked. Harold wasn’t exactly White but he was one of those folks who is difficult to put a finger on if you are trying to guess their racial background.
And, of course, there's no point in asking others what race he was, because most people, if they sensed an ethnic or genetic commonality with him, would, most likely, for the good of the group, deny that any such commonality existed.
Harold asked me if I worked and where.  
I told him that I taught English as a Second Language, but I did not tell him where or for whom. (no need to share too much.)
He told me he was looking for work. I discussed job hunting  a bit with him.
He then told me he needed work, he wasn’t getting enough hours at his job, and he had just gotten out of jail. (I've just spent a bit of time trying to track down for what, exactly Harold was in jail. Although I can't state with certainty if it is the same person, there was a Harold with the same name who was incarcerated for failure to pay child support and violating an order of protection, and who then wrote a clueless letter to the editor of a newspaper claiming the entire situation was completely unfair. This Harold does have a child. He does not live with the child. Probably the same person.)
(Not really the neighbors, but close enough.) 

I didn’t ask for what but simply shared a few more job hunting leads.
This was Harold. Harold’s lived at 16 Benson Street for quite a while. He may still be there. I have no idea. No need to know and no need to check.
Next time I saw Harold, I was moving in. He was sitting on his second floor front porch with an overweight White woman who paid most or all of the rent on the place (I learned this from hearing their fights through the walls, more on this later) and was, more or less, supporting Harold. Harold saw me carrying stuff and offered to help. Harold, however, did not strike me as the kind of guy who I would either like to be indebted to or let into my apartment, so I just thanked him for the offer but let him know I didn’t really need any help.
Third time, I saw Harold he asked me for money. No reason given, no offer to repay, just “Can I have some money?”
I said “No.”
I then called Wayne. Now as mentioned, Wayne is not too bright. Nor does he know how to act right. If you wish to understand how Wayne will act in any given situation, analogies help, I offered one last time about a hungry, stray dog.  Sadly, he and I do have at least one friend in common.
I had made it very clear to Wayne that what I was looking for was a safe apartment.
And now I had a creep asking for money next door.

Which means that not only is Wayne selfish enough to ignore what others want, he's too stupid to look after his own self interests knowing that we had acquaintances in common and his actions would come back to haunt him.

But I still hadn't quite grasped Wayne's style of thinking and therefore called him to discuss things. He said that he’d been trying to get rid of these people for months and encouraged me to call the cops on them. He said his lawyer had advised him that he had no grounds to evict them (untrue if they had the same kind of lease I did) but he’d wanted to for some time. But he said that he would tell them not to ask other tenants for money or he would evict them. (Not sure if this happened, but last I heard they were still there.)
So those were the neighbors.
As you can see from the pictures, 16 Benson Street in Albany, New York, one of Wayne Whitney’s apartments, an apartment that he does not like to see called a “slum” nor does he like to see himself as a “slumlord,” is not the best maintained place around. The walls are thin.
Which meant I could hear these folks and get a glimpse of their lifestyle.
First, they had lots of noisy sex. Absurdly, ridiculously, noisy sex.
I’d be cooking and there would be Harold and the fat chick who paid his rent going on at it and the sounds were like something from a comedy movie depiction of a bad apartment.
“Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, yes, yeeesss, Yeeeessssss!!!!!” she would moan.
It was ridiculous. The only thing that could make it more surreal would be the characters from Seinfeld. 

Jerry: My, oh my. quite energetic aren't they?

George: Do you think maybe I could learn to do something like that? I mean think about it? Are there exercises of something you can get? Maybe motivational tapes that you could listen to in the car?

Jerry: You don't own a car.

George: I know, but if I did. I mean is it really that farfetched to think that I might someday listen to tapes in the car?

Jerry: Well, since you don't drive . . .

(Neighbors: Oh God, Oh God, yes, yes, yes. Oh God!!!!!!!!!)

George: Maybe it's a special diet. Do you think it's a special diet?

Kramer: Yo yo ma!!

George: They sound religious. Do you think being religious helps in the bedroom? Do you think it might help if I went to church sometimes?

Jerry: George, they're obviously faking.

George: Well, I fake it all the time. Just not that loudly.

etc. etc. etc.


And then, when they weren’t having sex, they’d fight.
She’d scream, complain about paying his rent, and then tell him to get out. He never did. After all he was getting free or reduced rent and lots of sex in this place and he obviously was not someone with sophisticated tastes or high expectations from life.

When I look back on my time at 16 Benson Street in Albany, New York, one of Wayne Whitney, (a man who does not like to be called “a slumlord”) ‘s apartments, it’s interesting to think about not just the physical surroundings but also the neighbors. 

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