We gambled on finding a new tenant to rent our studio basement apartment. We actually thought we hit it big with Bryan*- a nice young man from a good family just trying to move out of his noisy frat home with too many people. He wanted a quiet home with privacy. Score! That’s us: nice, boring, quiet family environment and we will never invade your space in the basement.
In retrospect he seemed too good to be true. His parents, both highly educated professionals, were rooting for him and trying to help him out. He had dropped out of a respected university to do blue collar work and seemed to be a hard working young man. He was trying to figure out his next step in life. His parents gave him some rent money, groceries, meals, a new X-Box, an Audi convertible, a weekly maid service. Perhaps a bit spoiled, but hey, more power to him.
They’d go outside to the park to smoke – out of respect for our family, Bryan said. Still, the strong marijuana smell came on quickly and stayed around just about every day. Our out of town visitors one weekend got a contact high and migraines just from watching TV in our living room. The soundtrack to all this included a puppy in the basement that cried all day because they kept him in a crate. Our neighbors started reporting strange nighttime activity around our house.
We scrambled to review the lease. Should we speak to him? Lay down the rules again? Call his mom? Ban … what? Our lives were upside down and it had been exactly FOUR DAYS.
“It’s just not working out,” my husband said when we sat down to talk to Bryan on the fifth day. We offered to call it a wash and return all his rent and deposit if he could just find another place to live.
“Oh… wow,” he said.
We blamed it on the smoking that was not permitted in the lease.
“We don’t smoke, you can go down right now and see,” he said.
“Glad you’re not smoking now, but we smell marijuana every day. Maybe your friends?”
“We don’t smoke, I told everyone not to smoke inside because there are kids.”
Then Bryan paused and for a split second a light bulb appeared above his head.
“I do smoke outside, so I guess the smell stays on my clothes. OK, when do you want me out?”
When he moved out two days later with his guys helping him there was a big commotion, lots of banging, opening of windows to air out the place, a wet-dry vacuum and a fan. Bryan probably agreed to leave so quickly because he figured out that despite not smoking the pot, the fact that they were probably** processing it in some way is enough to make the strong odors rise up the central A/C and heating system into the whole house. Amateur move, thank God for us.
We all played off the exchange and his exit very politely, though with a lot of tension.
I kept waiting for his mom to call and ask what happened. I was going to tell her the girls made too much noise for him. But she never called. She probably knows the truth already.
The crew left behind a giant roll of green bubble wrap that we used to make monster hands for Halloween. They are fun and scary for the kids, and a reminder of how for a week we didn’t know exactly what activities lurked in our home.
*Real name hidden so we don’t have to think about him anymore.
**We really don’t know what happened down there. We’d need warrants and a wiretap to figure this all out.