The apartment building I managed had been taken hostage by a tagger with poor grammar and a Sharpie.
Profanity, vulgar artwork and nonsensical symbols had been scrawled all over the washing machines, the gym equipment, sidewalks, vacant units, my car… As soon as we painted over one tag—another would show up somewhere else.
This went on for months.
So when I saw the kid from apartment 16A hauling a defaced nightstand out to the dumpster, I grabbed my binoculars (what, you don’t keep a pair on your desk?) to get a better look. From my post, the scribbles on the nightstand appeared similar to what I had just scrubbed off the carports.
I dashed over to the maintenance closet, discovered the stepstool had been stolen, again, and grabbed the three-times-my-size ladder instead. I set the ladder up next to the dumpster, took a gander inside and, wouldn’t you know it, the nightstand was covered with the same symbols, artwork and accompanying profanity.
Tagger may have won the 233 battles I had to paint over, but I had just won the war.
I snapped a picture. Wrote the Notice to Vacate. Gave it to my husband to serve, and went back to the office to wait for the backlash.
Rule number 422 of property management—there’s always backlash.
Roughly twenty minutes later, in came Tagger with his two barely-there-facial-haired friends. He was going for intimidation, but I stood firm—mostly.
Tagger was mad. Felt my kicking him out was unwarranted. His argument? “I haven’t tagged in a few days, though.”
His buddies all nodded to confirm this was in fact true.
When I assured him the statue of limitations was longer than forty-eight hours, he rolled his eyes and said, “It’s not that big of a deal. Calm down.”
Side note: Telling the person who spent an hour cleaning off the butthole and F-word you drew on the maintenance garage to calm down will only fan the flame.
Next, in came Tagger’s mom. She told me, “My son is a good kid. He really is. He just has ADD, and that is why he has to tag. I tell him to go across the street to do it, but sometimes he doesn’t listen.”
Palm, meet forehead.
After I threatened to press charges, Mom finally gave up, called me the devil, and stormed home to write a bad Yelp review.
Shaking, and on the verge of tears, I Googled “apartment manager therapy group” only to find there was no such thing. I then clicked over to Blogger and created The Apartment Manager’s Blog, wrote my tale of The Tagger and hit publish.
The following day, I wrote about the homeless man I caught taking a shower in a vacant unit, and the time a drug-addicted ex-resident broke into my apartment, and the resident who hoarded VHS tapes, and woman who asked me to make the rain stop so she could sleep, and the skinny dippers I kicked out of the pool, and the screamer, and the nudist, and the guy who ate his mail.
I began using the blog as an outlet, purposely finding the humor in the craziness that was my job and writing it down, anonymously, for the few readers I had.
Then something amazing happened—people began to read, comment and share my posts. I had created the therapy group I’d been searching for and became a blogger in the process.
Years later, furnished with a wealth of inspiration, I began writing a fictional tale about a funny onsite apartment manager and the cast of crazy residents she dealt with on the daily.
And you better believe I signed that publishing contract with a Fine Point Sharpie.
I believe that’s what they call a full circle.
You can buy that book here.