Friday, November 17, 2006

the case of the twisted shower curtain

In response to this post on Keltie's blog:

Years ago, when I was young and foolish, I lived in an apartment building from hell in the annex (just before moving into the hippie flophouse with Roro - I was on a bad-housing streak). During my tenancy, my super decided to use my apartment as the "show" apartment, the unit he would bring prospective tenants to in hopes of wowing them with my spectacular furnishings (a piquant mixture of goodwill and ikea) and suckering them into signing a lease on the spot - WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. That's right, my habit being to go to work Monday through Friday, 8:30-5:30 or so, meant I was the perfect absentee tenant to use in his diabolical scheme.

Except it sort of back-fired on him.

You see, when you live alone, you pretty much know what to expect when you walk in the door of your apartment - you see your pyjamas on the corner of the couch and remember "oh yeah, that's where I flung them this morning in my mad dash to get to work on time", or the basket of laundry waiting to be folded at the foot of your bed, or the pen sitting on the top row of your keyboard keys, and these things are all comfortable and familiar friends, friends you EXPECT to see in your apartment because you invited them in.

But then one day I came home and went to the bathroom to wash the TTC off my hands, and my shower curtain was....wrong. It was pushed to one side and hanging outside of the tub, and for a minute there, I questioned my sanity. Did I forget? Did I break my lifelong habit of closing the shower curtain after showering so that it will dry and not get mildewy? Is it possible I didn't notice that this morning? And however unlikely (I ALWAYS close the curtain), the first time this happened, I convinced myself that I was crazy, that OBVIOUSLY it must have been me who did it. I lived alone - someone else would have had to be in my apartment, and that same someone would have had to touch my shower curtain. While I wasn't there. That's CRAZY TALK.

But strange things kept happening over the next week - the shower curtain was a regular victim, the door to my patio would be unlocked and sometimes open, my curtains would be opened/closed, lights left off would be on when I returned, papers left on my kitchen table were pushed aside into a pile. Finally, after returning home to find my BED MADE, I decided I wasn't crazy, that something very strange was going on, and I called the police. That's right, the police.

They took me seriously, thankfully, and sent over a pair of nice officers to talk to me about it. I walked them through my suspicions and showed them my "evidence". They told me that I should try to "booby trap" my apartment to find out for sure if someone was entering while I wasn't home - they showed me tricks like closing my bedroom and bathroom doors and wedging a tiny piece of paper in the door frame, so that if I came home and the pieces of paper were on the floor, I would know someone else had opened them. They told me that if my traps proved successful, to call them.

So, embarking upon what is retrospectively a hilarious scheme, I booby-trapped my apartment. I put the paper in the doors, I put shoes in the way so whoever walked through my entrance hall would have to kick them aside, I taped the bottom of my patio door so the tape would be broken by the next person to open it....and then I went to work and waited anxiously for 4:30, wishing I had Doctor Watson handy to keep me company, or at the very least that I was allowed to smoke a pipe at my desk.

I got home, and sure enough - every single one of my traps was sprung. I was totally furious by this time, because even though nothing was being taken, it had to be someone with a key, which was freaking me out. So I called my pals the police officers who told me something very interesting - the reason they had paid so much attention to my call was because the year before, the previous landlord in my building had been arrested for burglary because he was systematically stealing electronic equipment from tenants, entering their apartments while the tenants were not at work, and that older apartment buildings are always a problem, because the locks aren't changed frequently enough and there could be spare keys floating around the city. WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST TELL ME THAT TO BEGIN WITH?!?

(by request, the end of the story: the landlord was reprimanded by the police, and I called a locksmith - and gave notice)


Anonymous roro said...

Oh my god. I totally remember this story from when it actually happened; it's way funnier NOW but at the time, NOT FUNNY AT ALL. You were very classy to give notice. I would have left a flaming bag of dog turd as my notice.

11:38 AM  

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