It's been almost a month now since we moved... it'll be a month officially on Monday. Damian and I are both finding, I think, that the shiny newness and sense of "adventure" in all this is wearing off and the grim reality is setting in.
For Damian, the reality is that he's still the "new kid" in school. The friends he's known since kindergarten are miles away and aside from one or two of them, they have not bothered to contact him since we moved despite the fact that he handed out his e-mail address and phone number pretty freely during his last week of class. The kids in his new school, apparently, do not realize that he's extremely popular, nor do they seem to catch on to the fact that everything out of his mouth belongs on Comedy Central. To say that this has been a rough adjustment for him is something of an understatement. He was a brave, adventurous, tough guy for the first few weeks, but now that it has become clear that we are in an entirely different ball game now, he's starting to fall apart. His teacher e-mailed me to let me know that he has cried after lunch the last two days in a row saying that he was homesick, and I just came from his bedroom where he was lying in bed crying again after I had tucked him in the first time. He told me he wanted to move back to Molalla.
If only that were possible.
I don't hate it here. I actually quite like it most of the time. My stress levels, however, which used to be pretty much nil, have gone through the roof. There's something about realizing that your housing is completely dependent upon your job and that if you ever lose your job you'll have 24 hours to vacate your home that makes you really want to do well. Throw on top of that the fact that it's a completely new industry for me with a zillion and five new skills to master, give or take seven, most of which I'm learning as I go through the day-to-day stuff that comes up. And believe you me, stuff comes up. I feel like I'm still trying to play catch-up on situations that started before my arrival, plus dealing with the brand new ones, some of which are so weird that we have to call the whole crew together to figure out how to handle them.
Humanity, with all its foibles and flaws, is landing on my doorstep on a regular basis. I'm now finishing my second week as full-time manager here, and I'm already remembering why working fast food made me sort of start hating humans. I had theorized previously that maybe humans were just at their worst when they were hungry. Now I'm modifying my theory to state that an awful lot of people are just at their worst whether they're hungry or not.
And don't get me wrong... I've already got a couple of tenants that I know will brighten my day every time I talk to them. Then there are a few more that, even though I wouldn't necessarily choose to socialize with them outside of work, are so delightfully quirky that I sort of have to smile while they talk anyway. And then there's that last group... the group that every time I see their phone numbers on the caller ID or their shadows darkening my doorway, I start wondering where I might be able to disappear to. Because I know whatever they're gonna say is going to be stupid, whiny, or both, and that nothing I can do or say will satisfy them.
Here are a few great truths I have learned in the last two weeks:
1) Refrigerators do not leak. Small dogs, however, do. When a tenant complains of a leaky refrigerator, check the dog. (This apparently applies equally to sliding glass doors.)
2) Get it in writing. "It" can be anything from "we want to keep the carpet like it is" to "oh, it's totally okay if you take out an apartment in your name and let your cousin live there". (The latter statement someone is claiming was uttered by one of my predecessors, when in fact the word "fraud" has been tossed about the office in reference to the situation.) Whatever it is, it doesn't mean anything if you can't get it written down and signed.
3) Windows in extremely warm rooms, when the outside temperature is much, much colder, tend to form condensation. This is not termed as "leaking", and replacing your window will not fix it. However, turning the heat down or cracking your window open half an inch might solve the problem.
4) When the company cell phone rings, you answer. No matter what you're doing. Showering? Answer the phone. In church? Answer the phone. Sleeping? Answer the phone.
5) I need more pockets. Given the fact that I am expected to carry a wad of keys that would make a janitor look on in envy, plus the company cell phone, plus any of my own personal keys/possessions on my person at all times, I have begun to wonder if maybe I should have stolen a teacher's apron from my last job and given it new life here. However, I am expected to dress "professionally" and still somehow carry all this stuff around... this is not even slightly practical. However, I have also learned that practicality and logic have little use here.
6) Become a robot. Seriously. With as many repetitive tasks and functions as I am expected to perform exactly the same way each time, plus the fact that I am expected to treat everyone who comes through the office door exactly the same way and say more or less exactly the same thing (lest someone should accuse me of discrimination), I might as well just remove my brain and replace it with a computer program. However, such a program probably would have come up with at least two "blue screen of death" errors this week alone when circumstances arose that were completely outside of the scope of its programming. Some stuff you just can't predict.
7) Someone put a hex on our hot water heaters. I've had four die in the last two days. 3 of them the permanent sort of death that requires removing them entirely and replacing them with a different hot water heater. Soon the maintenance guy is going to stop answering his phone when I call. I'll be able to just text him a unit number and he can go swap out the water heater.
8) Seemingly, the terms "work order" and "money order" work well in Spanish sentences.
9) My "grown-up" Spanish is a little rusty. For the last three years I've been doing most of my conversing in Spanish with three and four year olds.
10) Nobody expects the white girl to speak Spanish.
Okay, I already knew the last one.