Thursday, May 25, 2006

Fumes

Our landlord said, via his typical hand-written photocopied note slipped under everyone's doors, that his insurance company was making him paint the back porches, these somewhat slanted three-story regulation alternate exit stairs and landings, dusty and unused for the most part.

I was slightly glad, as they are greyed and still had bits of peely paint left from a previous owner's mistake of going over treated lumber.

He asked everyone to move their things off the porches, that he was going to be water-blasting, "which blows paint chips all over the place," he wrote. You could hear the irritation in his voice with having to inconvenience himself and all of us.

Then, the spraying it all with paint.

"The whole process should take about a week."

Let's all enjoy a collective laugh.

***********

Of course, that was several weeks ago, when the weather was chilly and damp at times. The paint removal took a week or so, and then there was the day when he was outside the windows mumbling curses under his breath, because anyone who's tried to use a paint sprayer knows how temperamental they can be.

That was primer, and that was weeks ago: the dampness, the rain, the fact that he never came over it seemed earlier than 3 p.m. . . . .

He's retired, I think, and a nice baby boomer who lived in Prairie Village, moved to Karnes Boulevard, then back to Johnson County, "because, you know, we have to think of retirement." No, I don't know, but I'm not going to ask.

I'll assume it has something to do with Kansas City's stupid taxes.

Generally, he's a good landlord, coming over on Sunday once when the front door lock on our apartment just kind of fell apart for no reason. We could have cared less how long it was busted. A night, anyway, was not going to put us in much danger of the school teacher, two nuns, single woman and happy-go-lucky 50-something odd-couple who barbecue a lot and have rowdy people over on their first floor porch. We might have feared for the snobby Chicagoland imports who have a lorikeet and seem cool but who are actually big jerks. They literally ignore people, never saying "hi" nor waiting to hold the outside door three seconds for a neighbor two steps behind.

No one likes them.

Our landlord is a decent sort of fellow, a man who fought in Vietnam but up until recently voted Republican. He is clean-cut, only turns off his emergency property management cell phone during church, and drives an older Ford SUV, the stubby kind that predated the glamorous aspect and Sport Unnecessary Vehicle explosion; I suspect he bought it for his work on the 18 units of apartments he owns in the Midtown area. For all I know he might have another car. I think he was trying for a boat, actually, as he and his wife journey to Florida for the winter. They didn't go last year, but I can't remember why.

Because of him, we have all-new windows, which replaced the wood and pulley crusty painted ones. That was inconvenient, sure, but it went quickly enough.

The defunct chimneys collect water sometimes, and since we live right under the roof layer, once when it had been raining for days, there was a bunch of seeping, dripping water on a couch and sogging up a whole 12x4' section of plaster wall, required much drying time and still showing some evidence of problems, though not on the new plaster section, on the ceiling on the other side of the interior wall.

So yesterday, I see Sister on my way out; she's wearing her usual anti-SARS-style facemask. She suffers from the typical bad fashion of a Catholic nun and very bad allergies. She was moving her car because the landlord had hired (finally) someone to come and spray the porches, and she didn't want to get any more white dots on her it (which is as old as mine, only a Honda and not a Toyota).

Oh.

I go drive to work and call the house to see if my husband, who's still at home, can close one of our windows that's two feet from the other building's porch, the one the landlord hadn't yet touched.

I had noticed him carrying big boards or something, but you never know what can happen when someone's painting. I freaked out and had to quit a job once because of a paint-related trauma.

When I got home, there's the now-ubiquitous odor of oil-based exterior primer, and the western two rooms, bedroom included, are darkened and hot as hell.

Dammit. There's cardboard over our windows. Still.

It was hot and horrible, and the sun didn't get to wake us up properly.

I was up until 3:30 a.m. as it was, up and down from midnight until then, restless, feeling my brain melt from the fumes, feeling my body melt from the lack of air flow.

There is no purpose to opening a window flanked with cardboard.

When I left today, they were going for Round 2. It's latex time, and I guess he figures most people have already turned on their air-conditioners anyhow.

In fact, I could hardly hear any usual household noise for the din from our one box fan, the two ceiling fans and the utter ├╝ber-hum of all the units outside in the city nearby.

You know, if we all just waited just a little bit longer, we might be able to tolerate it. But, when everyone starts spewing extra heat back out into the shining 90-degree day, the rest of us are dragged downstream with them. It's like watching the poor suckers waiting for buses downtown while traffic-jammed commuters lined up for the bridges cook the air around them and make being outdoors vile.

I'm having a hard time being anywhere right now.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Poor bug! I hope all the paint trauma is behind you guys by now. Sorry I've been out of pretty much every loop on earth - plus this summer I'm going to avoid the office as much as possible so will probably only be blogging about 2-3x/wk. Anyway I really feel for you with this paint mess and hope all's well now.... Aside: don't those anti-SARS-style :) masks remind the heck out of you of Japan??? They do me. loveloveloveS