500 Words At A Time: One Door, 100 Keys

500 Words should be slowing down to one post a day. I got the initial rush out. How valuable is your sense of privacy and security? I am going to guess pretty high on your list. What would you think if I told you that I live in a place where not only do I have keys to my front door, but so does the manager, the maintenance staff, the internet technicians, and pretty much anyone else who “needs” access to our apartment? We, meaning Barb and I, were once told by a previous manager, that they could enter our place at anytime for any reason.

Sounds outrageous, but there seems to be some truth to this. I have had maintenance and internet support staff walk-in without knocking or ringing the doorbell while I was in the shower. This is also why, like some sort of paranoid shut-in, my front door is locked and chained at all times while home. You may have a key, but you can only open the door so far. I have come home and found evidence that someone has been in our place. How do I know, because when maintenance staff leave a room they shut off the lights-sometimes with you in it, which is funny. I leave the lights on when I leave the house and come home to find lights off where they went.

Having lived in apartments my entire life I can understand the need for the maintenance staff to have a key. I can even understand them having to come into the apartment when I am not home as our apartment has the box for the internet for our section of apartments. I have zero idea why the manager has access to our keys, especially given the rapid rotation of managers, so far always students. None of the managers has any special training in management or training in repair or inspection, thus no real reason to enter an apartment when the resident is gone.

Unless you count the once a semester “Health and Safety Check.” Once a semester, housing announces that a manager will visit to inspect your apartment for “Health and Safety.” Or spying. None of the managers have any training in what constitutes a health issue. As for safety some of them activate the fire alarms, which are wired into the place, thus no battery issues. Some of them look to see if you have flammable material near the water heater. None of them have exhibited any consistency other than wandering around our place looking at everything at the same time nothing at all.

When they are done with their inspection, they hand you a piece of paper letting you know you passed or if they will be back. Why can they be back, because your floors are dirty (yes, this happened to one family we know) or the manager found something else to complain about, such as the pile of boxes I had in one corner or the time I had some stuff on my stove. In the manager’s words, “I have a thing about stuff on stoves.” What the fuck is that all about? The manager’s personal issue is not a baseline for health or safety.

The real reason behind the “Health & Saftey” checks, beyond the two legitimate reasons-fire alarm and water heater, is to catch residents doing “something.” This was told to me by several of the managers and during my interview to become a manager. The hope, desire, or intention is to catch residents with drugs, weapons, or other contraband lying about. I have no idea if this works, I was told that it does, but really seems like a bad way to go about it and makes the residents distrustful.

It would be one thing if the managers had training in health concerns and safety issues. I am pretty sure the residents would get behind that. While the manager is doing an inspection, took and followed through on resident issues, such as faulty equipment. However, that has not happened with any sense of reliability.

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