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Monday, November 07, 2011  

Two Doors Down

What with both my car and Bucky dying three Tuesdays ago and having to deal with all that fallout, it was a pretty unexpected day. The next day, Wednesday, five of us were traveling to New York for M. Edium's birthday trip. One expects the unexpected when traveling, especially when traveling with small children (his nine-year-old cousin Deniece was also with us), but this time we weren't the only ones who were surprised.

Getting everyone to the airport, on the plane, off the plane at LaGuardia, onto the Super Shuttle, and into Midtown where we were staying went mostly according to plan. We had booked a two-bedroom apartment to sublet through Airbnb.com. If you're not familiar with that, it's more or less Craigslist for home rentals, but with a less checkered reputation. People with available places can list them online, and people like us can rent them. It's not limited to New York, of course, but since that's where we were going, we figured a New York apartment would be our best bet. There have been stories, of course, of Airbnb deals going wrong, with people coming home to find their place vandalized, but since we were renting, not renting out, we weren't worried.

I want to be clear that what happened is in no way the fault of Airbnb, and having used it, I would recommend it unreservedly. But the particular place we rented also lists through a separate management company (which I do blame), and after the five of us and our luggage were dropped off on East 50th Street, it was my job to hike down to 45th street and several blocks west to actually pick up the keys from their office. There were going to be four adults staying in the place (Trash, Bitter, BuenaOnda coming in from Mexico to meet us later, and myself) in addition to M. Edium and Deniece, so I was glad to be able to get four sets of keys. Then I walked the 18 minutes back in the spitting rain to meet the others at the pizza place where they were waiting, and learned that Trash had lost her cell phone.

That's not the bad thing that happened, though, because Bitter called Super Shuttle and the van Trash had left her phone in was back in half an hour, with her phone still in it. The unexpected thing was when we went into the apartment building. Or rather when we tried to, because the key to the security door didn't work.

So imagine, if you will, three adults and two children under 10, all slightly damp and groaning under the weight of our jackets and luggage, crammed into the steamy vestibule of a Midtown New York City apartment building with a key that doesn't open the security door. No, make that two keys. No, four. No, eight, because we tried all eight. And I knew this was the correct address, because I'd gotten 10 e-mails with that address and had saved it on my phone. Which is an antique that brought me in for a lot of mocking over the course of the visit, but it does have the message drafts feature for storing important information as long as I don't accidentally erase it, which in this one rare case I hadn't.

Just as I was getting out that very phone to call the management company to shout a hearty WTF down the line, an actual resident came in and let us piggyback through the security door. We still weren't sure what was wrong, but I closed my phone for now, figuring that once we got into the apartment and offloaded our luggage we could figure it out.

So we all dragged ourselves and everything we'd brought with us up the stairs to number 2C, where the good news was that the other key definitely fit the lock on the apartment door. Better yet, it turned and unlocked it as well. So everything was mostly cool again.

Except you know how you look at pictures of a place online, and you get there and it looks completely different? Like you wonder how the photographer was able to take a picture through the wall, since that's the only way a picture could have made the place look that big? Well, imagine walking into your vacation apartment and it's totally different. Like, the wall colors, the decoration, the furniture, the layout…

…The dude sleeping on the couch…

We did not know what the hell was happening -- whether the place had been double-booked, or we were evicting a squatter, or what. After all, even if the security door key hadn't fit, the one to the apartment key did, so we assumed we were in the right place. Bitter explained to the guy we'd rousted that we were supposed to be subletting this apartment and he was like, uh, no you're not, because I live here. All the time.

So…back to the hallway. I was hitting redial really hard when Bitter happened to notice that one of the key rings had a faint address handwritten under the management company's label. A different address than the one we were at. Different from the address I had been sent multiple confirmation e-mails of, the one I had confirmed at the management office, and personally seen on their computer screen.

The good news -- the really good news -- is that the correct address was only two doors down, and not on 50th Street East or in Brooklyn or Manhattan, Kansas or something. So it was a relatively short haul to where we were supposed to be, where both keys worked and we soon found ourselves inside a different 2C. An apartment that, aside from the colors on some of the walls, looked exactly like the one we'd seen online. Best of all, both living room couches were totally unoccupied by humans of any variety.

So it really wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been, at least not for us. The person I feel is the dude who was rudely awakened to the fact that two doors down on his very block is an apartment with the same number whose key also opens his place. Good luck finishing your nap after that.

posted by M. Giant 8:28 PM 1 comments


Wow. Is it legal to demand the locks be changed if you're the tenant? Because if I were couch-sleeping dude I'd be down there first thing and banging on their door until they did it. Sheesh.

By Anonymous lsn, at November 21, 2011 at 12:43 AM  

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