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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

So You Want To Be A Landlord

This is going to sound outrageous, but here goes: I’ve seen a lot worse.

I renovated things of one sort or another for a living for a long time.  That rental house was no picnic, don’t get me wrong, but there were no corpses left in it for a while. You never forget that smell, no matter how long you live, believe you me.

I’ve painted apartments that were occupied by people who did nothing but smoke cigarettes for thirty years, never cleaned. We had to scrape and peel the resin off the walls with a drywall knife. It peeled off in big sheets, like nicotine wallpaper. I’ve seen animals slaughtered for a ritual and thrown under a bed. Straight-up hoarders barely merit a mention. Neatly stacked newsprint and egg cartons are a breeze to lug out, no matter how much of it there is.

Back to the subject at hand. It’s plenty bad. Why would anyone act like that?

I’m going to rule out “crazy.” The term is entirely misused these days. I’ll accept that the person in the house was “acting crazy,” but acting crazy isn’t the same as being crazy. You’ll notice that the person was obviously fastidious about their own clothes, hanging neatly in the closet. They were fussy about what they were eating, after a fashion. A truly insane person would eat sand or the shrubs, and be as likely to wear a trash bag as a turtleneck. They’d listen to the moonmen through their molar fillings, not watch cable TV. The person in the house was acting badly, and knew it, but didn’t care anymore. We call any kid that fidgets in class autistic nowadays, so I’m sure there will be a lot of takers to explain that house as mental illness, but like I said: I’m not buying.

The person went feral. Back into a state of nature. It’s the hunter-gatherer Eden ruined by Western Civilization that we’re told we need to go back to that’s on display here. She was living off the land. When the land is covered with stripmalls, pizza and Diet Pepsi represents the nuts and berries. She grazed, and discarded the hulls right where she stood, just like all our neolithic ancestors might. Slept in a nest. Pooped in one spot. When finally challenged for possession of her particular midden, located by the sylvan glade of Pizza Hut and the 7-11, by a member of a more prominent tribe — the landlords — she went off to make a nest somewhere else.

She wasn’t crazy. The landlord’s crazy. He could be put in jail for allowing his tenants to live in squalor. His jailer would pay that woman to live like that. The world is like that now.

She knew someone else would have to clean it up, and that she’d move on to a new paradise. This is civilization, when the veneer is stripped off, and the particle board shows. 

13 Responses

  1. There is a very thin line between civilization and barbarity. If you don't believe you were made in the image of God…well, feral is the right word.

  2. Wow. She definitely wasn't a hoarder; in my experience, hoarders generally can't bear to leave their stuff behind.

    This lady, I think you've nailed it. Feral. Just straight up didn't care that she was living in filth. Maybe not crazy, but I cannot begin to comprehend the mindset behind that bathroom. Just the thought of the smell is enough to make me want to gag.

  3. I'll comment anonymously this time.

    I clean out my neighbor's trailer every couple of weeks. It would get almost like that if I didn't intervene. I gave him three large trashcans and I empty them out. The food, newspaper, the spoiled milk on the counter… same deal, as this woman but not as deep. I plumbed in his toilet and he uses that and he has no pets. So it COULD BE WORSE. The newspaper is a huge part of the mess but I think he uses it for litter, you know, lay down a new layer every now and then.

    He's been doing this for years. There's a string of trailers on his property in different stages of decay.

    Nice fellow, not crazy. Gets upset if he can't shower daily.

    Feral best describes it.

  4. The wife is a housing inspector for a municipality. There is more and more of this sort of thing, and she trains other inspectors on how to deal with such houses and their residents.

    This is a hazmat situation. The landlord is brave; I've done cleanups on places like this and I wouldn't go in without a mask, goggles and a Tyvek suit.

    Ten-yard dumpster, minimum. And the bathroom and kitchen waste would probably have to be treated as hazardous.

  5. I'm amazed that the landlord was able to keep a cool head about him while filming this mess. My language would have been on a par with the mess.


  6. As a landlord myself, I have to agree with JWM: my language would have matched the "decor".

    Wow… what a nightmare. 40-yard dumpster easily.

  7. I have been emptying out my own mess. I am a woodworker. I saw wood from trees. Much labor is involved. Over the last decade I filled several utility sheds with boards, blocks, chunks and slices.

    Now I am donating it to wood carvers, burning the scrap and refusing to listen to anyone who tells me about a "free" tree over yonder. The cost and the burden are just too great.

    Good news is have winnowed down the hoard (and I hate to use that word) to a pile of the best wood and, I hope, just the right amount to last as long as I work. If I run out, I can get more.

    But other than the raw materials, both of my houses are pretty good – animals and I all like a tidy, well lighted place. But dang, sheds – they sure can hold some stuff…

  8. I've cleaned out places like that, for some reason the person who saved every sandwich bag clip they ever used, and every tin top from a juice can comes to mind. What would you ever do with fifty million sandwich bag clips? I think of her sometimes when I could use one. I think it's sometimes depression era mentality, sometimes just depression. We cleaned one where they left half drunk glass of orange juice on the counter when they moved out.

  9. Hi there

    I literally just stumbled across your blog and viewed the video.

    In my humble, uneducated opinion I get a sense that this poor lady is severely mentally ill.

    This, from your comment of having seen one of the bedrooms before with the books etc, is in the context of what seems a major change of behaviour as you hadn't seen this hoarding before. (you do have my sympathies though…very expensive clean up on your hands).

    Ah well…thanks for the vid, very interesting.

    I'm a 'limey' by the way and a lot of this goes on here too…

    P.S. Do look up 'Diogenes Syndrome'.


  10. I loved viewing houses that where soiled with human waste etc at auction as I'm a firm believer in "where there's muck there's brass" along with my mothers "you'll eat a ton of dirt before you die" I made a living from it.

  11. Thankfully that yellow nicotine wallpaper over the half-exposed double shiplap is becoming less common in the property management trade these days.

    I think you've struck the nail on the head citing feral rather than 'crazy' to describe an only slightly exaggerated case of the human condition. It's a very mild debris field the annoying young landlord felt the need to share with the world. Archeology depends on behavior like this, and pictures were enough without his puerile color commentary.

    But his crazy "cat lady" remark did immediately bring to mind a disturbing report, gone mildly viral, so to speak, appearing in Atlantic magazine online, "How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy," by Kathleen McAuliffe.

    Let's just say the more intelligent writers of the zombie genre in motion pictures and television finally have a small kernel of science around which to wrap suspension of disbelief.

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