Apartment living is cool--compared to living with your parents or in the dorm. But the second time around, after you've owned a home, it is deja rue. Parking
Gas may be $4 a gallon but you can't beat the convenience of getting charcoal briquettes, kitty litter or a bag of ice from the supermarket door to yours in seven minutes. Except for apartment dwellers who often need a shuttle--and a visa--to get from the building's parking to their front door. And that's not counting apartments with no off street parking to begin with whose tenants' have a second job known as circling the block.
Thanks to sublets, no security deposit offers and the elastic definition of friends, the exact denizens of an apartment complex are always changing. And so are the security risks as front doors are left open for Vinnie the dealer's delivery. Still there's something worse than the unsavory neighbors above and next door to you with their smoke and 24/7 music: the unsavory neighbor who also has a key to your apartment known as the building super.
Take the cascade of ad circulars that arrive daily as junk mail, multiply it by 50, add the assorted door hangers for free pizza delivery and cut-rate tune-ups and 30 phones books and you have the contents of the average apartment building's mail tray/recycling bin. How secure is any package with value in this environment? How likely are you to find the Attempt-To-Deliver notice meant for you when eight have been grease taped to the door? Why is the only locked and safe mail compartment five inches by two inches?
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The only thing worse than the "coin-op" washers and driers in the catacombs known as the laundry room is finding them broken or not having quarters. Then there's the fixed settings which boil your clothes during the wash cycle and barely kiss them with heat in the drier--the better for you to contemplate the outsized and past retirement garments in the lost and found box, hoping to never knowingly meet their owners.
No one has cockroaches. But apartment dwellers put up with their share of water bugs and palmetto bugs (the winged apparition called the "State Bird" in Louisiana and Florida.) The only thing worse than seeing dead cockroaches when you view an apartment is seeing live ones--or finding either in the refrigerator. "Honest" building manager who admit they spray for the bug problem should fool no one. That just means you'll have resistant bugs and pesticide fumes every month.
After once residing at 18 Cherry Lane, it can be humiliating to have to write "Apt. 207" for a return address--or "Apt. 1803 South B rear." One recent returnee to apartment living tried to disguise her dwelling demotion by writing suite 1803 South B rear for a return address. Unfortunately a salesman selling phone systems for businesses showed up at her door.
Martha Rosenberg is a cartoonist for the Evanston Roundtable in Evanston, Illinois.