Tag Archives: housing

Worst moments of 2022

31 Dec

The whole year was bad. Worse than 2021, which had bright spots, and despite constant work harassment, was one of my favorite times in my life. I loved quarantining with my family and working from home! 2022 was one of the worst years of my life. The only comparably bad years were: 1993 (had to switch classes bc of Courtney drama), 2005 (dealing with sociopathic Douche post break-up), 2007-08 (narcissistic discard at the Cabin-Mansion). I bought a book about how to deal with people who have personality disorders to hopefully prevent some of this in the future.

I know this list is long, so I’m going to make separate posts too. But we have to wait for DWMHT parts A-T and Quesion… 1-20 to finish posting. Anyway, on to this list of awfulness:

#15 Worst Moment

Our settlement from from 500 Move (Glendale, AZ) was $84 and contingent on an NDA

FUCK them. I’m going to tell the truth about them everywhere possible. My silence cannot be purchased for $84 measly dollars. That is literally not even 1.0% of the money wasted. This is only so low on the list, because after all this company’s $hit, I didn’t expect much in the first place.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/500-move-glendale

https://www.bbb.org/us/az/glendale/profile/moving-companies/500-move-llc-1126-4001288/complaints

#14 Worst Moment

We had tickets to see the Indigo Girls! We slogged through work, too excited to concentrate. We primped and got ready. Cool and I ate at a (terrible and overpriced) restaurant nearby. Then, we walked to the venue through the high humidity, sweating through our cute outfits. And nobody was around… Strange. There was no line. Were WE first? I walked up to the door of the venue, and a post-it was taped to the window: Indigo Girls was canceled. But we didn’t get the memo. So we walked back home. I guess somebody got Covid, but nobody had emailed us, or anything like that. And the event wasn’t rescheduled for 9 months so we were afraid it wouldn’t be…

#13 Worst Moment

Jogre was promoted to supervisor (insert LWYMMD, “What?!”)

I know for a fact that at least one other person filed an HR complaint against her. I literally have 49 pages (standard margins, font, etc…) of logged incidents (over 11 months) with date and time of bullying and harassment. HR and the EEOC both said the amount of micromanaging and communications she had with me was excessive. Yet, the company thought she needed a promotion. What nonsense. I hope I never have to deal with her again, but it is always a fear because we’re both still in the same department.

#12 Worst Moment

Cool got Covid during our moving ambush. 

While in our packing and calling frenzy, Cool got Covid. Before the move, we had been quarantining-getting everything delivered, going nowhere. In all the months Covid had been on the scene, she went inside one store, correctly wearing a mask–and got sick. Cool slept for 23 hours a day. She would try to get up and watch TV, and nod off in 20 min or less. She had a headache, aching legs, and a fever. She had a gray paler and couldn’t eat or think. For example, we keep Clorox wipes under the kitchen sink to clean the counters. While I was packing a box, I said, “Will you wipe off the counters?” And she said (after taking like a 3 min pause to think) “with what?” I about lost my mind. And she couldn’t help me with any of the moving logistics because she felt so run down. There was not enough time off from work for her to get her thinking straightened out, so she had to process claims in a Covid fog. It just exacerbated the stress of the situation. I can’t believe I didn’t catch it from her being inside the house (unventilated in winter) and sleeping in the same bed.

#11 Worst Moment

The fucking prices were bananas!

Sure, sure supply chain problems. But also corporate greed. Everybody out to make up for their two year losses, and demand from cooped up people remains high, so nothing has hemmed them in. I hate our extreme capitalism. Of course during our 1476 mile move, gas was in the $5 range. We are spending LESS than we did the last two and a half years, but struggling much more to stay financially afloat. Regular groceries jumped from about $200/mo to (same or less groceries) $800-it’s obnoxious.

#10 Worst Moment

Someone broke Jasmine’s window in our gated parking lot. 

So much for the security gate, I guess they either lived here or climbed it. And we never heard if anyone got caught–per the usual here. There was nothing to steal, actually, they took one thing. I had a mini Bath & Bodyworks hand sanitizer bottle in the driver’s side door. The lovely smelling B&B had long run out, but I had refilled it with generic hand sanitizer. And that had sat in the AZ heat plenty of times, so I’m not sure it was doing much. They took that. I hope they were disappointed. And I hope they touched their face with a germy hand.

But the window needed to be repaired. Unfortunately, this is a huge issue in the city so we were far from the only ones on the fix-it list. Safelight made us wait forever (Sept 13 to Oct 4) to repair the car window and we couldn’t drive the car in all that time. Then, when they finally put in a new pane, he couldn’t fix it completely. The window will not go back up if it’s ever opened. And shards of glass were left in the back of the car. To add insult to injury, we still had to pay our $85/mo parking fee.

#9 Worst Moment

My company skipped my raise when I went to a market that was desperate for help and again when I was advanced trained in that market.

It’s a slap in the face, because every meeting was all about how behind they were, and how the mandatory 10 hour/wk overtime was indefinite (and been in place for the last three years). It was difficult to find and train people for that market because it is on an entirely different platform than the rest of the company. Yet, they still shortchanged me. I had been emailing with HR, then they just dropped out of contact. HR ghosted me for a month! And when I emailed the head HR lady (I had her info from when we moved states) she said–it’s a lateral move to the same position. Which is egregious because we had to be trained from January to late March just to be able to adapt to the new system. She knows damn well that is a specialized position requiring more skill than the average analyst.

As for the advanced training raise, both Cool and I had gotten a pay increase every time we were further trained. Obviously, because our added skillset was valuable. But not in this new, desperate market. I was skipped over, and I knew it was a waste of breathe to even ask. But it sucks.

#8 Worst Moment

Someone broke the lock mechanisms off the doors in our apt storage units.

“Lock broken, slur spoken” indeed. I had felt safe because you have to have key fob access to get into the property, where there are cameras. And you have to scan at the door to get into the building, and pass through the lobby which has more cameras. You have to use your key fob a third time to get into the storage area. But apparently someone who lives here broke the actual lock fixtures off of the doors. All of our padlocks were locked and intact, but the doors were ripped apart. This person rifled thru every box. They climbed up to the top of our washer/dryer to open boxes stacked to the ceiling. I couldn’t get up there without a full size ladder because I was too heavy and was crushing things, so they must have been more petite than me. They unpacked things, putting them in other boxes, or in a different storage unit (sometimes one of ours, sometimes a random person’s). For example, they took socks out of the homemade draft protector box, and put them in the very back, 4 deep, bottom box in one of other storage units. It was disconcerting. They opened our snow shoes and put the bag in someone else’s unit, put the pole in the hallway, and apparently took the 2nd pole of out there because we never did find it. So many things were like that! They unpacked and mixed up nearly every box of every storage unit, strewing it around. But they also stole things. Weird things like one box fan, a window plastic kit, blackout curtains, shower curtains, and a security bar. But also things I will miss like my snowboard jacket, helmet, gloves, and heavy Sorel snow boots among other things.  They left Cool’s snowboard gear aside from goggles and gloves alone, and luckily didn’t take her nice waterproof jacket. We never found out if anyone was caught. It took the property manager a full month to fix any of the locks, and since we had put bicycle locks on our units, they skipped fixing ours. Not only did I lose valuble necessities, but I have to do another insurance claim. And I have to re-pack everything, which is a whole big thing.

#7 Worst Moment

I had to file the moving claims.

They intentionally make it as difficult as possible to discourage you from filing. It was time-consuming and retraumatized me every time I had to work on it. I honestly think I have PTSD over the whole situation. The whole thing took months to prepare! The moving company’s insurance would not accept emails, files, usb drives, discs, nothing–it HAD to be snail mail. And of course it was a lot of pages, with some colored pictures to convey the damage. Going to the UPS store was a disorganized nightmare, that took 4 times longer than it should and required me to go behind the counter in the back and help. It cost more to mail the claim ($100) than we were offered as a settlement ($84). Actual size of the finished claim components:

Surprisingly, only #6 Worst Moment

Gunfight right outside.

How can an actual gun fight (with automatic weapons) be in the middle of a worst-of list, you ask? That explains my 2022–it was one of my worst years ever. See my other post about how scary and weird the gun-fight was. And there are now actual bullet holes in my car, giving it a ghetto aesthetic. Here, are some comments from my community, which ranged from apathy, to unrealistic do-gooders, to gun-happy, to judgy.

#5.5 Worst Moment

My supervisor micromanaged my every click and berated me over hours

We did group work during the entire advanced training. So I was able to gauge that I was picking the information up the fastest, and doing the best of my team. The trainer also told me I was doing really well on the last day. The day after training reports went out (I’m assuming mine was good) codename MNarc started treating me dumb. She watched me process claims for 30 min one day and an hour on another day. It was more time than she spent watching my peers (according to them). And she was “helping” me with things I did not need help with–like reading the workflow. She kept saying I was getting ahead of myself in the workflow when I wasn’t and said that I needed to learn how to read them (I’ve been using workflows at this company for over 3 years). But also she was saying the workflow was wrong, couldn’t be trusted, and she never used it.

She was telling me things like not to take notes, and saying my personal claims tracker was a waste of time that I didn’t need. Even after I gave her 4 ways that the tracker helped, she didn’t want me using it. She also said not to open all the attachments, just one. She told me if the EOB was for a different member than the claim, just to say YES there is an EOB. She said not to read into boxes, just answer the question they write–is there an EOB, YES/NO? Which leads you to apply that coordination for the wrong person.

I’ve worked there for over 3 years, so I knew some of what she was telling me was bad advise. Her words were contradicting my training, my work over the years, Cool’s training, and everything Cool’s teams have told her. It was confusing, and I didn’t understand what had caused the major change in MNarc’s demeanor. I was afraid that I present myself as confused and flaky. Why else does this keep happening to me? Jogre and KDouche also treated me like I was stupid (despite having access to my production data, and my end of the year review, which was the highest you can get on every quantitative measure).

So I went to YouTube and asked why my boss thinks I’m dumb. In researching why, I found out MNarc, KDouche, Jogre, and my ex-mentor are narcissists. Everything fell into place (there will be many future posts on this topic)! But I also felt shock and had an impending sense of doom. Being targeted by yet another narcissist that was in a position of power over me made me maximally anxious, hopeless, and depressed. How could this be happening to me again??!

#5 Worst Moment

Processing Tests (slightly different/worse than the processing belligerence of before)

I had to process for an hour and a half and another hour in front of JFM under the guise of support. But each of the five of us on my team had to process on one screen instead of the normal two, while JFM watched silently, and took notes on what we did wrong. Leadership kept saying it wasn’t a test, it was help, yet they wouldn’t answer questions–they were just watching and noting. Which is exactly like an exam. As you remember from my Riverpoint days, I have major test anxiety, and adding the layer of narcissism over that made me nearly incapacitated by stress. But I used all of my best test-taking strategies. I took it slow, read every instruction carefully, and double checked my work. I did not change answers or second guess myself or overthink it. And I made sure to write things down, showing my work because that helps me not get lost (or forget the little things) if anxiety takes over. I even took a deep, cleansing breathe between every claim to calm down. It’s nerve-wracking to be watched. Once, I floundered, then got confused, and spiraled into anxiety and panic-confusion. But then I stopped myself, closed the claim entirely, breathed and started over. JFM kept insisting it wasn’t a test.

Except I guess my screen-sharing froze. On my side, it looked just as it had the entire 40+ minutes, and I hadn’t touched it or done anything different. I didn’t even know there was a problem until JFM said my screen was in the same place it had been for minutes. My screen said “stop sharing” which indicated it WAS sharing. But for some reason I think JFM thought I unshared on purpose? I don’t know what’s so hard to believe about technical difficulties at my job–we are constantly having them! But I think she tattled, because MNarc suddenly came into my meeting and her tone was so over the top annoyed that it was completely unprofessional. And she was condescending. She was like, “go to the top right and press share” but like in the shittiest voice possible. I said, “I did.” I tried to un-share and re-share, but that didn’t help. I don’t know why they thought I was too dumb to share, or was un-sharing (after 40 min) on purpose. When JFM had watched me do 8 claims over almost an hour. I could tell both of them blamed me for technical issues of my screen not sharing. I couldn’t stop ruminating about how rude and belligerent MNarc was. I was dreading the next session. I had no one to turn to. We know how last year turned out when I went to HR, the Director, then finally the EEOC. I felt hopeless. 

I went to IT right away, and they were able to see my shared screen. They could see it via chat, and within a meeting. And they said they would be able to tell if there had been problems on my end–and there hadn’t. IT said the issue must be on my leadership’s side of things. And I knew my leadership would not want to hear that. I didn’t know what to do.

When the make-up test was scheduled, my screen showed I was sharing, but JFM couldn’t ever see it. Again, MNarc came in to our session and sounded SO annoyed. I’m not just exaggerating, Cool sits across the desk from me, and works at the same job, different market–and she said it was really bad. This tone was not work appropriate. MNarc was insinuating that I was either doing something stupid or purposely not sharing my screen. So I sent screenshots of the “stop sharing” over the meeting chat to show that my system said it was sharing. She lost her shit when I sent pictures and roared, “Why are you sending pictures??! Talk! How can we help you if you won’t talk to us??!!” Looking back, I think MNarc was trying to paint me as insubordinate, but when I sent physical evidence that it was an IT issue, it foiled her plan and upset her. She abruptly hung up the call.

JFM didn’t say anything about it! I said, “I’m not used to being talked to that way.” There was the longest pause, and then she just said to go back to IT, because the problem was on my side. I even sent her the entire IT transcript from before, but since MNarc said the problem was me, JFM believed the problem was with me.

MNarc went on vacation, so I asked JFM to call me. I honestly wanted her advise on how best to deal with MNarc in order to not provoke her. JFM seemed to get along with her, so I hoped she could give me tips about what to do and what to avoid. JFM pretended there was no problem. I was like, “Are you really going to normalize what happened the other day?” JFM made excuses for MNarc. She said she’s just blunt. And frustrated. And really busy. On and on. And I told JFM she’s a mandatory reporter of harassment, yet she didn’t say or do anything. Then, JFM went from making excuses for the bad behavior to saying she hadn’t noticed anything–I was just oversensitive… I was so frustrated and disheartened I had no allies because this flying monkey was brainwashed or afraid or both!

#4 Worst Moment

My company gave me a 5% COL raise.

Except they took away our quarterly quality bonus. Without my reward for quality four times a year, it’s a $0.37/hr pay cut!!! But the company mailed us a candy bar, amIright?! It’s a slap in the face. When we complained in meetings they gaslighted us and told us that it WAS a raise. 

#3 Worst Moment

Our landlord ambushed us with 25% rent increase on renewal.

When we moved into the house in Dec of 2019, we hoped to be there awhile. And the landlord said, “I hope you stay for 10 years.” We are great tenants paying on time and in-full, not wrecking the place or upsetting the neighborhood. After all was said and done only $100 was taken off our deposit, and that was for the damage 500 Move had done, not us. I just couldn’t fix it, because our tools were packed in the truck along with everything else. Anyway, we had been planning to stay but couldn’t pay the extra $400/mo. He gave us 5 weeks notice.  being completely unprepared for a move, I negotiated 8 weeks with prorating bc we weren’t going to make it. Packing, moving, and logistics were chaos for months. I was not ready to leave Arizona. We hadn’t been to the Grand Canyon, Saguaro Park, or Four corners. We hadn’t really been anywhere, because as temps we got no time off work, then pretty much as soon as we were both permanent employees, Covid hit. We were pretty much home for the entire 3 years we lived in the state. Cool and I got to drive through Sedona on the way out, but had 4 cats in the car so couldn’t take advantage of it very much. The whole thing was horrible, and put us in a financial bind. Luckily, we had been saving to replace Cool’s car, or I don’t know what we would have done. I wish bad things for that landlord.

#2 Worst Moment

500 Move, 5555 N 51st Ave, Glendale, AZ

On loading day (March 11) the 500 Move foreman said the broker (who had not identified themselves as such) HOMESAFE TRANSIT put down “27 boxes” in order to artificially lower our estimate and secure our business.  We had more like 250 boxes, and the moving foreman said, “This is going to cost “thousands and thousands and thousands more”. When he said that, and when he berated me for a full 30 minutes, I knew this was a bait and switch scam.  But we were between a rock and a hard place. Our lease expired at that rental house the next day, and utilities were being shut off the 12th. If we weren’t in St. Louis in person on the 14th of March, our lease would be canceled and we’d lose that deposit. If we haggled or tried to negotiate, this foreman seemed like he was going to just take his crew and leave. I did not think I could find movers for that same day, or make accommodations to move all the items, my Rav4, and 4 cats to a different state within the time-frame.  In short, I knew that was scammy and a bad deal, sketchy contract, but felt I didn’t have any other options, so I regretfully signed.  I had to pay $5,000.00 that day in order for them to load our stuff.  And I paid $3797.00 to get them to deliver it.

We had carefully packed, for example, putting shoes in shoe boxes then tying yarn around the boxes so they would not open in transit.  The movers redundantly packed our boxes into larger boxes, taking no care at all with even the most delicate things.  For one example of many:  Cowboy hats were thrown into the bottom of 5 foot tall wardrobe boxes, and heavy furniture and boxes were thrown on top, crushing them.  I had staged all the boxes on the patio and in the living room, and even with their carelessness, it took the two movers 4 hours to load everything in their truck.

As I was going through the contract, I noticed it said the moving company had 45 days to deliver our belongings.  I said, “That’s not gonna work!  It doesn’t really take that long, does it?”  The foreman assured me they are a national company who works with Alaska and Hawaii so that timeline is for the longer trips.  He said ours would probably take 1-3 days (total lie).  I underlined the 1-3 days portion of the contract and initialed by that time-frame (instead of the provided line by 45 days) to indicate my expectations.  The contract asked when we were available to accept our delivery and we wrote we’d like them to be there on March 16th.The AZ foreman did not say that this date would not be guaranteed, or explain their process of storing, and combining our items with other jobs. Kenneth at Home Safe Transit had said we would just tell the movers the date we wanted our stuff delivered, and he promised we would have the cell phone number of “his” movers to allow frequent communication with the driver ( a lie). 

500 Move was completely uncommunicative. That was not the case. We kept calling to get a status on when the truck would be here and got the run-around from Lisa, the lady who answers the phone no matter what option you press on the phone tree.  Communication was nonexistent and atrocious, and Lisa just seemed annoyed when we kept asking for an ETA.  We were told (for the first time) that our items were being stored in a warehouse, on their property, until the truck was available. It had not been made known to us that our items would be stored, or combined with other moves.  Had I known this was their process I would have never used this company! 

Lisa was getting very ugly on the phone so I said, “We are paying more than double any other company, literally ten thousand dollars, and I would like to see better customer service.”  Lisa doubled-down on her rudeness telling me, “10,000, 30,000, 100,000 gets the same customer service!  She refused to tell us when our stuff would leave the AZ storage facility, and insisted that we wait for an email 24 hours prior to delivery.  I told her we had not received that email at pick up so how could I trust that we would receive it on delivery.  She hung up on us during any pause in the conversation.  We kept trying to find out why we were waiting so long for our belongings to be delivered.  Nobody ever explained the process to us, or why there was a delay.  Did they not own their own truck? Did they only have ONE truck???  We were promised 24 hours before delivery, but we had been promised that at pick up too, and it didn’t happen so I was not confident. 

We were in our new place with just what would fit in a Rav4 (not much). A comforter and pillows, jammies, workout clothes, and 2 outfits each. Our work laptops (but not the 2nd monitors). And the 4 cats and their carriers, bowls, food, litterboxes and that’s it. After a few days of sleeping on the concrete floor we went to Walmart and got an air mattress, a card table and kids folding chairs to work on, and a bed for the kitties. Remember, 500 Move had charged $10,000 which was pretty much all of our money and our credit card limit (I had to apply for a credit line increase to make it). We had to shop around the whole store for an extended time looking for the cheapest items. We finally got mini cutlery in the baby section. It was sparse.

On March 21st we got an email when the truck left AZ, but the next day we didn’t hear anything.  Our items had been in a storage unit in AZ for a full 10 days! We didn’t understand where the truck was, or why it was taking so long to get to us.  We called, and Lisa said they didn’t know where the truck was or how long before our delivery arrived.  500 Move kept us in the dark and would not reveal what was happening. We just waited, not knowing what was going on.

The driver said they would arrive Saturday, March 26 around 11 AM. But it was 1:30 PM and we hadn’t heard from them. Completely unprofessional and uncommunicative as usual. At around 2PM, the driver said he was 5 miles away and got pulled over by the police. They said he could not continue driving in this wind. The driver said they would be waylaid until tomorrow.

On March 27 (6 days after the truck left AZ, 16 days after packing day, a full 2 weeks later than we wrote on the contract) They were supposed to show up at 8AM. At 8:47 AM the driver called and said he just woke up [LATE,LATE,LATE]. He needed to have his coffee and go to the bathroom [TMI] then he would be along. OK… When the truck arrived at 9:37 AM, it was two men that looked over 50 ( if not 60) years old, both with obvious COPD (yet still smoking), and both terribly out of shape.  It took them about an hour (until 10:20 AM)  just to park the 18 wheeler, which was packed with six other customer’s items, as well (there had been one customer prior to us).  Before unloading, the driver demanded $75 more dollars, in cash for “75 foot long-carry,” which I felt was sketchy because we were paying for a 2nd floor move, but the building has an elevator, so I was paying for stairs already that they didn’t have to use. But like everything else, I just paid it because we had to have our stuff back.

Even though we had paid literally $10,075.00 for the moving service, I moved the majority of the 250 boxes and rubbermaid bins (probably 40% of all of our belongings). Since the movers took a 35 min lunch break, and a 20 min break, and they moved with no urgency, it took 6 hours to unload the truck (we finally finished at 4:30 PM). As items came in, Cool was doing inventory, checking box numbers off on a list provided by the company. When there were no more items in the truck, the sidewalk, the hall, lobby, or elevator, that checklist still had many boxes unaccounted for.  The driver brushed that off, and had us sign the original contract under the box count.  I told him their box count was different (240 vs 266) on different pages of their contract, and also didn’t match the box inventory that we had been marking in real time.  He said that was fine (another direct lie), but I had to sign.  I thought it was sketchy that he also asked for my carbon copies of the contract’s box count so we could both sign that. 

Many, many things were damaged by the moving company:

500 Move took no care at all with any items.  They also took no care with either rental upon packing up or delivering.  While loading, they wrenched the curtains by the sliding glass door so hard that the curtain bracket was ripped from the wall!  They bumped and left scrape marks on the walls of the loft while delivering.  Luckily, the floor of the loft is concrete or that would have been damaged the way they were dragging heavy items.

They had carelessly stacked very heavy items on top of these smaller boxes, instead of putting lighter items toward the top of the load. As a result, 7 medium sized rubbermaid boxes were cracked, broken, and unusable. A long, christmas tree rubbermaid storage box was broken to pieces, and those shards cut and sliced the contents inside of that box.

When the movers were staging all the items, I saw a Walmart 5 shelf bookcase in the apartment lobby that had the back piece folded in one corner, akin to the first fold of a paper airplane.  I was helping load items on the elevator and that fold was the only damage on that shelf by the time that shelf went in the elevator.  Some time between the elevator and the door to our loft (apparently 75 feet, according to our extra charge) the movers were so egregiously rough with that lightly damaged piece of furniture that it was literally ripped in half and unusable by the time it got to my door!

A large 5 shelf pantry was carried and stored upside down, and handled so roughly the back board became un-nailed along the entire top of the shelf.  Both of the cambers were ripped out and completely unattached at the top left side.  The bottom frame was completely ripped from the sides.  We tried to repair it, but the walls were now too wide to hold the shelves, and the damage caused the pantry to shift forward, dangerously.

500 Move Dug into Our Secured Boxes to Steal:

I had a paperwork box and tucked inside the bottom was a wallet.  Tightly inside the clear pocket of the wallet was my spare car key.  When I opened the box after delivery, the wallet was at the top of the box and that car key had fallen to the bottom of the box. The box labeled “Wii” had no tape at all on it anymore.  The box labeled “computer games” had tape but a round rip was near the center of the box as if someone put their hand through. A box labeled “mail” was missing a new book of stamps. I had a clear rubbermaid packed full of shampoo, body wash, and lotion.  When I packed it it was so full I had to strategically move things around in order to fit everything.  Upon delivery, things in that box were loose and rolling around because so many things had been removed. A small shoe box sized rubbermaid contained bar soaps, bath salts, etc…  was packed so tightly that nothing moved.  Upon delivery, the box was half empty!

The company does not seem interested in finding the items. We called at least 7 days in a row from the delivery date to report more and more missing items and ask for an update on the status of the search for any lost things.  The receptionist, Lisa and dispatcher, Stephanie, seem annoyed that we keep calling.  On the 4th day we called they said they still hadn’t talked to the driver (even though the driver called headquarters prior to and immediately after our delivery) and couldn’t get ahold of the customer who was right after us.  They keep telling us to just file a claim, but we actually want them to finish the delivery that we paid them to do and give our items back. They declined to give us any contact information for the elderly lady immediately after us in Nebraska, or any of the other customers who delivered before and after us. 500 Move stated they looked for the items in their truck and warehouse and called all the other customers that had been loaded on the truck with us, and no one could find anything.  That doesn’t make sense to me, because I saw the rubbermaid containing the items we were now missing on the sidewalk in front of our complex on unloading day.  If we don’t have it, none of the following customers got it, and it wasn’t held back on the truck–where did it go?  I suspect they are not making an effort to track down our remaining items, and I would like to motivate them to do their due diligence so we can rescue our items.

We were not getting anywhere by calling or writing 500 Move, or via all our complaints against the company.  So my mom, tried to call 500 Move to get information and try to get them to give all of our belongings back.  She did not have success either.  She was unable to get much more information, and Lisa would not allow her to escalate the call to the owner.  My mom was able to find out that 500 Move had not yet entered their warehouse (10 days after notification) to search for any of our things!  Lisa said the warehouse was too crowded and it was difficult to find anything in there, so nobody had been sent to look.

And just to show the kind of sketchy company 500 Move is, here’s a random call we got from them 10 days after delivery:

4/5/22 @ 2:38 PM:

Cool:  Hello?

Caller:  Long pause

Cool:  Hello

Caller:  Sound of typing 

Caller:  Is Charles there?

Cool:  You have the wrong #

Caller:  Oh OK well Just so you know here’s the story of what happened. somebody named Charles asked for moving quotes from AZ to WI and wrote down a number one digit off so you might get several calls.

Cool:  That’s funny bc I just moved and had called for quotes–What company are you with?

Caller:  500 Move

 Cool:  That’s who we used. But we’re having a bit of a problem with some missing items.

Caller:  Oh I’m really sorry to hear about that. Stephanie our office manager usually handles that. She’s on lunch right now but I’ll give you her ext so you can call her.

Caller:  Stephanie 8775006683 & ext219

Cool:  And who am I speaking to?

Caller:  Anthony at 6023317010 “cold called” for 500 Move

Caller:  Who am I talking to?

Cool: gives name

I still don’t know what they were phishing for, but the call, was NOT random. They were up to something, and it was weird and unprofessional.

We’ve contacted the BBB, FTC, Move Rescue police for both AZ and MO, the Glendale non-emergency police line, the FCMSA, the Attorneys General of Missouri and Arizona, Mark Kelly (AZ Senator), 6 members of congress on the housing or transportation committees, and abc15’s Let Joe Know. We really don’t know what to do to get those items back at this point.  Everyone we’ve spoken to indicates this business and contract seem sketchy, and scammy, but nothing they’ve done is illegal.  That needs to change!  This whole situation is egregious and needs more regulation.  This has been the most stressful, horrible experience, and it seems like no one is able to help us.

#1 Worst Moment

The kittens opened the bathroom drawers locking the bathroom door closed.

The day 500 Move was finally supposed to deliver our stuff, after 14 days of camping. One of us got up for the morning and headed to the bathroom to pee. The door would only open a teeny crack. The kittens have always slept in the bathroom so that the senior cats can eat, sleep, and go potty undisturbed. Goose is underweight and blind and needs full access to food at night. And Bison tends to bully C.L. for fun, so it works out better to have them separate while we sleep. It has always worked out fine, the kittens have their beds, water, 2 litterboxes, and it’s their habit.

But in the night (the 15th night we lived in the loft) the kittens had opened all the drawers of the bathroom vanity. Unfortunately, some idiot had built the bathroom cabinets so that the drawers opened immediately next to the door. Even more unfortunately, the bathroom door opens IN to the bathroom, with the hinges on the inside of the bathroom.

The door would hardly open at all. I couldn’t get my hand through. The kittens were purring and nuzzling, but obviously couldn’t help the situation. When Cool wedged herself against the wall across from the bathroom door, and pushed on the door with her feet, it would open just enough for the broom handle to be pushed through. But there was such tension on the door, that the broom handle broke in half.

We have to pee first thing in the morning. And have been living in this empty apartment for 14 days–none of our stuff is there. We have no tools, and even if we did they wouldn’t have helped. I didn’t know what to do. And it was urgent, not only because I had to pee really bad, but because now two live animals were trapped. There was no way to even put food in there, let alone water. I was panic-stricken. What were we going to do if we couldn’t get into the bathroom before the movers arrived??! We had 2 cats locked inside, and 2 cats out in the apartment. The door is nearly flush to the floor so we couldn’t reach under.

I said fuck the deposit I guess, and started kicking the door hard, hoping to break the drawers and get in. The drawers were too strong. I tried to use the broken broom handle to force the drawer back in so we could open the door. But because you had to push the door open in order to get the opening large enough for the handle, it put tension on the drawer, and it sat diagonally on it’s track, unable to slide. Since the drawer was askew on the rails, and there was pressure on just one side, it would not slide.

This was BAD, and I didn’t know what we (or anyone) could do. It was Sunday at 5AM so there was nobody to call. We had to get the door open before the movers came!

I have no idea how I got my hand through. It was pure desperation. I shoved it through and it pinched and scraped my skin off and hurt. It was squeezed so tight and I could barely move it. But somehow through the crack that even a broom handle barely fit when pushing the door in, I got my whole hand and arm through. I had pure adrenaline so I don’t remember the details of how I jimmied that wedged, open drawer in order to close it. After 45 minutes we were able to close the drawer to open the door!

My hand and arm were scraped and bruised, the broom was broken, the drawer is completely bent on one side, and the drawers don’t slide properly on their tracks anymore. But we got to let the kittens out and finally pee that morning. And we needn’t have worried about the time, because of course the movers were an hour late, and it took them a full hour to park.

P.S. We took all the drawers out and put them in the closet, because even if we got child locks to keep them closed I would have been paranoid. That can NEVER happen again!

All News Stories Mentioning the Gun Fight in Front of Our Loft

5 Oct

I scoured the news to try to find out what happened at our lofts. There was one article and 4 peripheral mentions of the gun fight at our lofts.

Here is my story of what I observed that night for comparison:

St. Louis hopes solution to summer crime is combo of enforcement, youth programs

ST. LOUIS — City officials on Thursday outlined a plan to combine enforcement and funding to deter crime in the summer months.

The city will devote $1 million in Community Development Block Grants to provide summer programming for children and teens, including camps, pop-up events and three meals a day, officials said at an event with community partners at the O’Fallon Park Rec Complex YMCA.

At the same time, police patrols are being increased, said Heather Taylor, deputy director for the Department of Public Safety. The police department will use data to determine when and where officers should patrol to help reduce crime downtown and in the Downtown West neighborhood.

The dual tactics come amid concerns about an uptick in crime in the downtown area recently and as students are wrapping up classes ahead of summer. Taylor said keeping kids engaged and providing them resources is critical in creating a safer city and a better future. “I actually grew up in St. Louis city, and rec centers are why I’m here,” Taylor said. “… I grew up in the ’90s where homicides were at their highest in the city of St. Louis. If it wasn’t for rec centers, having that outlet and those resources available to me, I wouldn’t be a college graduate.”

The city and St. Louis Public Schools worked together to create Summer Fun STL, a series of youth camps, programs and pop-up events that will take place at seven locations from June 6 through July 29. The offerings also will include three meals a day for kids ages 5 to 17. City officials hope to serve about 700 kids with the programs. The locations are: Nance Elementary, Oak Hill Elementary, Ashland Elementary, Walbridge Elementary, Patrick Henry Downtown, Yeatman Middle School and Peabody Elementary School.

The Gateway Region YMCA also will provide programming with funding from the Prop S Youth at Risk Program. More information on the city’s youth summer programs is available at www.stlouis-mo.gov.

Paired with the new programming, the city is boosting police enforcement efforts. Officers will work 12-hour shifts on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. And during peak crime hours — 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. — the city will increase traffic enforcement, air support, specialized units, park rangers and deputy marshals. A collaboration with the St. Louis Sheriff’s Office also will provide an increased police presence on Washington Avenue and Market Street.

The city began increased patrols of downtown about a month ago, and this week announced they have worked with rentable electric scooter companies to shut down the service at 7 p.m. in the downtown area after residents complained of safety hazards created by the scooters.

Additionally, Lt. Col. Michael Sack announced the city’s public safety department has developed an incident mass notification system in partnership with federal authorities, highway patrol and local agencies, to help the city investigate large-scale violence and mass shootings. Sack is the commander of the Bureau of Community Policing but will take over as interim police chief next month when Chief John Hayden retires.

6.) https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/st-louis-hopes-solution-to-summer-crime-is-combo-of-enforcement-youth-programs/article_b50b0c28-9379-582a-afff-77077a3d8763.html

Downtown ambassadors in St. Louis act as ‘eyes and ears’ to spot trouble, offer help

ST. LOUIS — On a warm June night in downtown St. Louis, a woman walked frantically around Kiener Plaza. She spotted two men in bright orange vests, ran up to them and asked if they’d seen a man with two small children. The kids were her godchildren, she explained, and the man had called to say they were stranded downtown, with no car. His phone had then died. The men in the vests, part of the Downtown Youth Ambassadors, had been paying attention. One asked if a child in the group had curly hair and a grayish shirt. Yes, the woman replied, in relief. “I think I saw them that way, but I’ll keep a lookout,” said the ambassador, pointing west toward Citygarden. When asked by a reporter if similar situations happen often, he nodded. “All the time,” he said, as he and his orange-vested partner continued walking throughout downtown.

The Youth Ambassadors program was created a year ago through the Downtown St. Louis Community Improvement District, a special taxing district that pays for cleaning, security and other services in the city’s entertainment and employment hub. A group of ambassadors, who are mostly school resource officers, patrol the streets every weekend to help visitors, answer questions and spot trouble. One of the primary objectives of the program was to help address mayhem and crimes that have occurred downtown, especially among teens. The ambassadors’ roles drew heightened attention this spring, as large groups of juveniles roamed the streets on electric scooters, with some occasionally breaking into fights. On the first Saturday in June, two teen girls were wounded when gunfire erupted as two groups of juveniles began fighting around 8 p.m. In 2022, at least one teen has been injured by gunfire in downtown every month.

On some nights, the ambassadors witness the aftermath of shootings and fights. Sometimes they rush to help victims of violence. They communicate with police, even when they just sense trouble may be brewing. They also serve as deterrents, stepping in to talk with teens, some of whom they recognize, before mischief turns more serious. Other days are much calmer. Ambassadors will give out directions to visitors trying to find their hotels after sightseeing near the Gateway Arch, or dish out restaurant recommendations to Cardinals fans. “We’re just eyes and ears here to make sure everything is going OK,” said Janice Dickerson, one of the ambassadors.

Forming the program, recruiting ambassadors

The Youth Ambassador program is similar to one started years ago by the Downtown St. Louis CID, but the new version was crafted by Ron Johnson, a retired Missouri Highway Patrol captain. Johnson was appointed by then-Gov. Jay Nixon to head security in Ferguson after the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014. He retired in 2018 after three decades in law enforcement and launched a security consulting firm. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner hired Johnson’s firm in 2019 on a one-year contract to serve as a liaison between her office and police.

Kelli McCrary, executive director for Downtown St. Louis CID, brought on Johnson’s firm to help improve safety downtown.

The neighborhood organization has allocated about $100,000 to the Downtown Youth Ambassador program. McCrary says there may be room to grow the program in the future.

Last summer, Johnson drove around for nearly eight weeks and spotted a trend: large groups, sometimes 30 or more youths, on Washington Avenue and along the grassy park areas along Market Street, from Memorial Plaza to Kiener Plaza. His next step, he said, was trying to address how to break up the “youthful” large crowds, which he noted sometimes included older teens and young adults. “I didn’t take the approach ‘Well how do we stop our youth from coming downtown?’” he said. “I didn’t take the approach of ‘Well how do we arrest ourselves out of an issue? But how do we make sure that we can all exist and enjoy the treasures of downtown?’”

Johnson met with Kelvin Adams, superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, to ask for recommendations from the district’s resource officers, who are trained in de-escalation and crisis intervention, and to help form the team of ambassadors.

Today, most of the ambassadors are resource officers who roam school hallways with students and often recognize those students while working downtown. There are also a few other school employees and retired police officers in the program. “I just love kids. You just have to for this job,” said Cortez Ward, one of the program’s supervisors and a resource officer at Gateway Middle School. Ward is one of about 40 ambassadors working part time on weekends.

The ambassadors are instructed not to disarm people, and they do not have authority to make arrests. They are equipped with vests and radios — and their experience working with youths. “When the kids can see themselves in you, that’s how you form a relationship with them,” Johnson said. “You see them and they see you, and they can begin to put themselves maybe in their position. And when you’re trying to talk to him or her, that’s a better opportunity for them to listen.”

‘You can’t stop everything’

Ambassadors believe they can earn the trust of youths and other residents. Nancy James, an ambassador and former police detective, says some kids will come up to her to warn of trouble. “They’ll point out who has a gun or who is starting a fight,” James said. When trouble does hit, the ambassadors often have to intervene.

One night in May, James took cover when shots rang out near Kiener Plaza. She then calmed a young girl who had a graze wound on her back. James said she connected to police by radio and helped get in contact with the injured girl’s mother.

The ambassadors say that parents have a role to play, pointing out, for example, that they’ve seen adults drop off large groups of kids and then drive off. Police and city officials in recent weeks have pleaded with parents to supervise kids more carefully downtown; some ambassadors say those pleas may help explain why downtown on recent weekends has been calmer.

Others say the city’s ban on scooters downtown has sent a message to kids that they should avoid the area.

Johnson, the program director, says the youths heading downtown are not coming from just one neighborhood, or even just the city. He believes regional leaders, from across St. Louis County and the Metro East, need to work together to establish activities and events for youths on weekends.

One ambassador, Carole Dent, a former police officer and currently a parole officer for the Department of Corrections, says some “terrible” incidents have overshadowed the downtown experience. Dent says a small group of “bad actors” is usually at the center of trouble, with most other teens just running around scared. But she added that she has just as many good memories as bad, recalling teens taking prom pictures downtown in the spring. “You can’t stop everything,” she said. “You don’t know how much we’ve stopped either.”

7.) https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/downtown-ambassadors-in-st-louis-act-as-eyes-and-ears-to-spot-trouble-offer-help/article_bdd90261-0d06-52d4-a51f-96ae414cf2bd.html

100 Shots Fired Between Downtown St. Louis Rentals

It’s not the first shooting at a downtown short-term rental this year

By Benjamin Simon on Wed, Jul 20, 2022 at 3:04 pm

Short-term renters fired up to 100 shots at each other Wednesday morning. Nearly 100 shots were fired during a shootout between short-term renters early Wednesday morning, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Around 1 a.m. in the Downtown West neighborhood, an argument broke out between parties staying on the 1900 block of Washington Avenue and on the 400 block of North 20th Street. Shortly after, a nearby resident told KSDK that they’d heard shots similar to “machine fire” for two to three minutes.

Initially, witnesses stated to police that the shooting took place between separate Airbnb renters. They have since clarified their statement to say that the shooting took place between “short-term rentals.” An Airbnb spokesperson confirmed to RFT there are no active or recent reservations at either property on 1920 Washington or 411 N. 20th Street.

Two people were injured, according to the police’s incident report. The police noted that they arrested two suspects and seized “a large quantity” of narcotics and firearms in one of the rental units. This is the most recent incident in a slew of deadly shootings this year at short-term rental units in the downtown area.

In early March, a 16-year-old was shot and killed in the Ely Walker Lofts. A few weeks later, two teenagers were killed at a birthday party at Cupples Station Loft Apartments. Both were thought to happen at short-term rentals.

During the police department’s weekly crime update on Wednesday morning, Lieutenant Angela Dickerson said she doesn’t believe there’s an “ongoing problem” with violence in downtown-area short-term rental units. Police spokeswoman Evita Caldwell said the violence stems from a few “bad actors” who are “doing things they aren’t supposed to do or doing things they are not disclosing to [short-term rental] owners.”

In March, LaShana Lewis, chair of the St. Louis Downtown Neighborhood Association, told KMOV that the area was looking into restrictions on downtown rentals. “Given recent events … people seem to be now making sure that we have some sort of wrap-around [for] requirements for having [short-term rentals], especially in downtown,” Lewis said.

This story has been updated to remove all references to Airbnb on July 21 at 11:57 a.m.

1.) https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.riverfronttimes.com/news/100-shots-fired-between-downtown-st-louis-rentals-38139252%3Fmedia%3DAMP%2BHTML

Police: 100 shots fired in Downtown West neighborhood, 2 injured

One resident said the shots sounded like a machine gun and lasted for as long as two or three minutes.

Author: Alex Fees (KSDK), Elyse Schoenig

Published: 8:07 AM CDT July 20, 2022

Updated: 5:40 PM CDT July 20, 2022

ST. LOUIS — Dozens of shots were fired in St. Louis’ Downtown West neighborhood early Wednesday morning. One resident said the shots sounded like a machine gun and lasted for as long as two or three minutes.

Police said the shootings happened at around 12:30 a.m. near 20th Street and Washington Avenue. Police said their mobile reserve units reported hearing “a hundred” gunshots. Officers believe there were groups at separate parties involved and people were feuding and shooting at each other. 

Police said a 20-year-old woman was found in the area of 20th Street and Washington Avenue. Police said she was a passenger in a car that was hit by gunfire near the scene of the shooting. She was taken to the hospital for treatment. The driver was not injured.

Officers found another victim with a gunshot wound to his foot. He was also taken to a hospital for treatment. Police said he was also one of the suspects in the shooting.

5 On Your Side spoke to several people in the area who say they’re at the point of wanting to move out. “This honestly has to stop,” area business owner Nicole Jenkins said. “I grew up in the City of St. Louis and I’ve never seen it like this.” Jenkins’s concerns were echoed by many of the other area business owners. “It’s disheartening because you want your customers to feel safe,” Ashanti Moorehead said. Jenkins said she wants more action, like increased police presence, and more surveillance. “I think there needs to be officers on feet for what needs to take place and occur here,” Jenkins said. At the end of the day, she said her passion is serving her clients. She said if her safety and theirs are at risk, it’s time to take her passion and move it somewhere else.

“I caution the investigation is very preliminary at this juncture,” said St. Louis Police Lt. Mathew Karnoski. “There were two groups of individuals shooting at each other. We are in the midst of recovering dozens and dozens of shell casings and so far, we have recovered three firearms and arrested two people.”

Police said witnesses said the parties were hosted at Airbnb rentals.

A spokesperson for Airbnb noted there were no active listings or reservations at either property.

Karknoski said two handguns were recovered at the scene.  “One has been outfitted with a device to make it a fully automatic weapon, and we’ve also recovered a 223 AR-style pistol,” he said.

Police also seized a “large quantity” of suspected narcotics from the scene.

Downtown resident Dale Carney lives at the intersection. “I was almost asleep and heard the gunfire,” said Carney. “I basically dove under the bed. I called 911 right away and got through in a second, luckily. I told the lady 20th and Washington, gunfire. Lots of gunfire. When I was talking to them, it was still going off, so I’m sure they probably heard it over my phone.”

9.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/shots-fired-shooting-airbnb-downtown-west-st-louis/63-116543b2-253b-488f-86d6-42599cf2f3cd

This is our police report:

There are literally 13 people aressted for our incident, ages ranging from 16 to 47!

Here’s some pictures where I marked where we were (mostly circles) in relation to where the most major shooting occured (the line on the sidewalk 4′ under our window and the x’s and *):

And I think the spaces between demographics and heading of “State of Missouri” in that police report means an officer (“special victim”) might have been involved.

From what I saw, it was probably cross fire, because the police were not close during the actual altercation. I think it would be plausible that one of the gunmen with his back to our loft, and shooting across our parking lot an another young person (also armed and shooting) may have clipped a police car or something like that.

The “x” are where police cars finally came to, after the shooting was mostly over. Maybe 1-3 shots happened after I saw police.

This is how Saint Louis news described our gun fight involving 13 people and possibly an officer:

It’s weird that a whole-ass, multi-person gun fight is being framed as cars being shot??! The one article (the ONLY one that talks specifically of the gun fight we witnessed) directly addressing 7-13 people shooting automatic weapons was reduced to ballistic damage on 15 cars. It is hardly accurate or reflective of what actually went on–and nobody cared to gather information or report what actually occurred.

I’ll post the Reddit chain about our gun fight in a different entry.

2.) https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/15-vehicles-damaged-overnight-during-rapid-gunfire-in-st-louis/

a “special victim” is defined as:

Downtown violence, 12-hour shifts, dwindling roster stressing St. Louis police

Some commanders have shared their feelings about the current state of affairs in memos obtained by 5 On Your Side.

Author: Christine Byers (KSDK)

Published: 5:56 PM CDT August 1, 2022

Updated: 6:26 PM CDT August 1, 2022

ST. LOUIS — Hundreds of shots fired, two innocent people caught in the crossfire, bullet holes in multiple cars and buildings downtown this past weekend.

All of it comes at a time when the city is forcing officers to work 12-hour overtime shifts, which have led to impassioned memos from commanders scrambling to fill cars as the police union estimates 102 officers have left the force so far this year.

Mayor Tishaura Jones stood with Maj. Renee Kriesmann during a weekly downtown safety briefing Monday, and cited a December 2020 study paid for by the Regional Business Commission when asked what her plan is to retain and recruit officers.

“(The study) showed St. Louis actually has enough officers, they just need to deploy them in the right way,” Jones said. “And so we have been looking at our deployment strategies, along with the Center for Policing Equity, to make sure that we can deploy our officers in a smarter way and also making sure that we’re deploying our alternative responses. “So we have Cops and Clinicians, we have a diversion program that takes a little bit of that burden off of officers responding to every call.” She also said St. Louis isn’t alone in its struggle to find officers, which she found out while attending an event sponsored by the National League of Cities. “There wasn’t one mayor at the table who also isn’t experiencing an officer shortage,” she said. “So it was not just St. Louis, it’s Tacoma, Washington, it’s Jackson, Mississippi, it’s Union, Georgia, it’s Savannah, Georgia, it’s Montgomery, Alabama. “These are all cities, including more that are experiencing an officer shortage in the midst of a nationwide labor shortage.” Maj. Renee Kriesmann outlined the weekend’s violence, and added: “It’s not a big secret that we are short some officers, however, what we’re trying to do is use the officers that we have to keep them visible.”

Internally, some commanders have shared their feelings about the current state of affairs in memos obtained by 5 On Your Side.

On July 13, Lieutenant Michael McAteer wrote to the Technological Solutions & Investigations staff, letting them know he would be calling on as many as 10 of them to return to the streets. The unit typically works at headquarters on technology-based policing at the Real Time Crime Center, monitoring cameras during incidents, ShotSpotter calls and other intelligence-based investigations. “I am afraid that I must ask your help in making some extremely difficult decisions as we move forward,” he wrote. “As a good supervisor, I am sure each of you has paid attention to the agency’s staffing crisis, and have anticipated the potential impact this might eventually have upon our division. What comes next cannot be of any great surprise at this point.”

He told his staff he met with Interim Chief Michael Sack during the first week in July.

“He was quite candid in sharing staffing issues: 124 officers removed from the manning table last year; down another 140 officers from there, minus another 75 on various forms of long-term leave/sick/limited duty. Altogether, it can be safely estimated approximately 340 fewer cops than the Department fielded just seven years ago. Sadly, I cannot say that we have reached bottom. As other agencies step up their recruitment efforts and fill their vacancies, it is only common sense that they would seek out seasoned officers from the St. Louis Police Department. Unfortunately, even with mandatory staffing requirements, the districts continue to struggle with properly staffing patrol vehicles. In essence, this staffing issue has now become an officer safety concern.” He assured his officers he argued to keep the staffing level in the Intelligence Unit as is, arguing the unit provides a high-tech approach to crime strategies, moving officers out of the unit will cost the department specialized training and experience and the unit’s stats speak for themselves. “While these arguments have prevailed in helping us avoid cuts in past situations, the scope of the department’s existing crisis most certainly overpowers everything,” he wrote.

Sack wrote to a memo to sergeants and officers Friday, in which he talked about crime summaries officers read every day. “What they don’t contain is equally important. That is, they don’t note the efforts each of you takes to serve. Incidents seem to pile up, one upon another. Call, followed by call, followed by report writing, maybe a booking and an email to the (Circuit Attorney’s Office) mailbox. Each day you come to work and go through your shift. Some shifts may seem like a repeat of the previous day. I know this is difficult for you. I know the 12-hour shifts are a strain – not only on you, but your families as well. We watch each week as our officer-peers leave for other agencies or retire. We encounter challenging situations and endure it all with professionalism and compassion. Our Department is not unlike others. Other agencies struggle to retain and attract officers. While we may not be able to control retention, we can control our response to the challenges we face each day. This is a difficult time for law enforcement. Please know that I appreciate your efforts and that what you do makes a difference in the lives of many in our community…I humbly ask you to continue to carry on as best you can, to work hard and do the right thing. The community is counting on each of us. Please keep focused on your service and perform your duties proudly and safely. Thank you for what you have done, and what you will continue to do as we serve in this challenging time.”

Barely more than 24 hours after that memo went out, officers at Central Patrol reported hearing about 100 gunshots just past 2 a.m. Saturday. Calls then came into 911 soon after reporting shots fired near the Architect Stunning Lofts in the 700 block of N. 21st Street. There, police found 15 cars damaged by gunfire and 50 shell casings.

A few hours later, two people were dropped off at a hospital with gunshot wounds, and police believe they were involved in the shooting.

At 3:14 a.m. Sunday, a 78-year-old woman and a 55-year-old man were struck by gunfire in the 1300 block of Convention. Both survived their injuries, but police found 100 shell casings at the scene along with nine apartment windows and five cars damaged by gunfire.

Police also reported between 200 to 300 juveniles congregated in and around a new event space called The Den in the 1300 block of Convention around that time.

When asked whether the 12-hour mandatory overtime shifts may continue in the fall months, she said department leaders evaluate that question every week. So do the officers.

3.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/local/st-louis-downtown-violence-police-department/63-927ca100-a7c5-40a9-b47a-6055745d9d8d

Cool’s Interview:

4.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/01/downtown-west-residents-asking-city-leaders-police-intervention-after-violent-weekend/

Teen shot, killed inside transit station on Monday in St. Louis

“It’s just so scary to think that this happened inside a bus and train station where so many people were,” said a woman whose brother tried to buy a ticket.

Author: Robert Townsend

Published: 5:30 AM CDT August 2, 2022

Updated: 5:30 AM CDT August 2, 2022

ST. LOUIS — “It’s scary to think that this would happen in a station like this where it’s really business,” said a concerned woman, who asked that her identity be released.

Witnesses told police in mid-afternoon Monday a mask and hoodie-wearing, young guy stormed through the front entrance at the St. Louis Gateway Transportation Center at south 15th and Poplar Streets near Enterprise Center. Within moments witnesses said the gunman shot a teenage boy in his head and killed him.

Police say the boy was sitting in the lobby.

“It was just so crazy. We saw the young man’s body just lying there on the floor. That could have been one of my family members. It’s just sickening,” the woman told 5 On Your Side’s Robert Townsend.

Multiple police officers rushed to the scene, put up crime scene tape and started talking to witnesses. The station was packed with dozens of travelers at the time. The woman, who spoke with 5 On Your Side, says her brother was trying to buy a train ticket just minutes before. She asked that her name not be revealed. “The witnesses said the young man who was murdered was sitting in a seat in the lobby. The guy came in the building, stood behind him and said ‘what’s up now,’ pulled a revolver out of his pants and shot him” said the woman.

Greyhound and Amtrak operate out of the station. Customers say ticket counters for both companies temporarily shut down after the deadly shooting.

It happened after a violent weekend in St. Louis.

Police say early Saturday morning two innocent people were caught in the crossfire when hundreds of gunshots were fired near north 21st Street.

Back at the St. Louis Gateway Transportation Center a frustrated Jhordy Sanchez couldn’t buy a bus ticket to Columbia. “I’m just going to go to the airport and catch a shuttle bus. This is such a big inconvenience It’s bad publicity for Greyhound and bad publicity for St. Louis,” said Sanchez.

Nobody else was hurt. Police quickly took a teenager into custody thanks to eagle-eyed witnesses. “These people were very helpful that when they saw that, they remembered and provided us with a lot of information,” said Major Ryan Cousins with the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department. 

However, that’s little comfort for this weary woman. “I’m tired of the violence and I’m ready to get my family out of town and move,” she said.

Hours after the shooting, both Greyhound and Amtrak were once again selling tickets and running again.

5.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/teen-shot-killed-inside-greyhound-station-st-louis-missouri/63-f9ee95fa-dd35-49ae-a77c-8ad9d4fc2cb7

Downtown leaders to city: Spend more to make downtown St. Louis safe

ST. LOUIS — Downtown business leaders want City Hall to spend more money making the area safer. And they say if that doesn’t happen, the whole city could suffer.

Officials with Greater St. Louis Inc., the region’s business development organization, said Thursday they want city leaders to use part of an unprecedented haul of federal aid to put up more surveillance cameras, upgrade street lights and take steps to slow down traffic on roads like Fourth Street, Broadway and Tucker Boulevard.

The request follows more than a year of problems with high-profile shootings, drag racing and late-night mayhem that has at times fostered a sense of lawlessness in the heart of the region. Residents have complained they can’t sleep at night. Some business owners have worried the bad headlines will scare clientele away, and others have considered relocating themselves.

“A catalytic infrastructure investment from our city government is critical to restoring confidence,” said Jason Hall, Greater St. Louis Inc.’s CEO.

A spokesman for Mayor Tishaura O. Jones was noncommittal Thursday. “We will absolutely take a look at their recommendations,” said the spokesman, Nick Desideri. “Our administration remains committed to improving public safety in downtown St. Louis.”

The city has worked to dampen downtown troubles: It shut down a troublesome nightspot on Washington Avenue last summer, reassigned more police to the area in the fall, and banned electric scooters in June after reports of roving bands of unsupervised youths. Jones also convened a public safety task force with city officials and business executives to monitor progress downtown and respond to problems.

But on Thursday, some of those same executives were asking for more.

Hall spent the first part of a press conference Thursday talking up downtown’s strengths as a hub for high-income employment and tourism, with a growing residential population and plenty of redevelopment potential. He also noted reasons for optimism: The new MLS stadium. The plan to revive the vacant Butler Brothers building. A tech startup’s announcement Wednesday it’s opening an office on troubled Washington Avenue for more than 200 employees.

But Hall also conceded the pandemic took a hefty toll. The number of jobs downtown has dwindled. Office vacancy rates are up. Sidewalks are crumbling, graffiti is covering buildings and high-voltage wiring is hanging out of light poles, Hall said. “We cannot compete as a global city if we allow this to be our front door,” he said.

8.) https://www.stltoday.com/business/local/downtown-leaders-to-city-spend-more-to-make-downtown-st-louis-safe/article_459821d7-5e58-510d-b9e7-9ec3a4bf398c.html

Police investigate after man was shot near Downtown St. Louis

By Kelsee Ward

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 6:12 AM CDT

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – Police are investigating after a man was shot near Downtown St. Louis early Monday morning.

The shooting happened near Washington Avenue and North 18th Street at around 3:14 a.m. Police said the man was shot in the chest when they arrived on the scene.

The investigation is ongoing.

Copyright 2022 KMOV. All rights reserved.

11.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/15/police-investigate-after-man-was-shot-near-downtown-st-louis/

St. Louis City police, public safety leaders address recent uptick in homicides

By Gabriela Vidal

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 8:46 PM CDT

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – As summer winds down, the City of St. Louis Is facing a growing crime trend in homicides. “Unfortunately, we were slightly ahead of where we were last year,” said Public Safety Director Dr. Dan Isom. The City of St. Louis currently has 129 homicides. At this same time last year, the city recorded 121 homicides. The last four happened on Sunday night in a span of five hours. “Any homicide, any loss of life is distressing, but when it happens in such a short period of time, [it] is certainly cause for concern,” said Isom. “Also, in addition to the fact that we don’t find any connection between the four.” Isom said St. Louis police believe the homicide that happened off Grand and Broadway was the result of an altercation between several people, and police have some potential leads on who the suspects could be.

During Monday’s downtown public safety briefing, Isom addressed questions as to why St. Louis is experiencing an uptick in violent crime, he attributed it to several factors. “One, we’ve had a serious explosion in these stolen KIAs and Hyundai’s, which I think offer availability for mobile crimes, and they are being used in certain violent crimes,” said Isom. “This is one issue that has changed and accelerated in the last month or so.” Two, he says it could also be the rise in dangerous weapons on the street. “Meaning guns that can be transitioned to fully automatic. Of course, a gun that is fully automatic is going to be way more lethal than one that’s not,” said Isom. “I think our primary focus right now is enforcement in trying to slow down the violence that’s happening in this community through physical presence, through intelligence, through trying to close these cases as quickly as possible to hold people accountable.”

As of August 20, only 54 percent of homicides have been solved in the City of St. Louis.

“It has been reported that our numbers are down somewhat significantly from last year as well in terms of officers,” said Isom. “However, we have been doing the 12 hour shifts to compensate for that.”

News 4 checked in with the St. Louis Police Officers Association on what they think has contributed to the rise in recent violent crime. President Jay Schroder believes the ongoing shortage of police officers is among the issues that has taken a toll on the community. Right now, he says the department is about 300 positions short. “We’re drastically underpaid compared to departments all around. We used to be one of the better paying departments and now we’re $20,000 dollars behind our people in St. Louis County, so we’re not competitive. We’re not keeping up with the rest of the folks around us,” said Schroder. “It’s going to be a team effort for everyone. it’s going to have to be the police department and the city, they’re going to have to get behind their policemen, to pay their policemen. And they’re going to have to show the guys that ride the streets every day that people actually care.”

Earlier this June, SLMPD institute 12-hour mandatory shifts on the weekends for police across the city to address some of the growing crime trends over the summer, but that policy is expected to end at the end of the month. However, Isom says the city’s focus will still be having police presence in high crime areas. “We will continue to look at personnel and our manpower and try to adjust it to the areas we think will have the most impact,” said Isom. “We have worked officers very hard for the last couple of months working 12-hour shifts, and it certainly has helped, but we have to recognize that we have to give officers a break as well.”

“I’m really hoping that in St. Louis we’re able to say from this point on, we will begin to scale up what works, because we can get out in front of this,” said James Clark, Vice President of Public Safety for the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. Clark tells News 4 that for years he has been saying the solution is prioritizing education and outreach in communities and homes where the crime is taking place. “It starts with the neighborhoods, and it starts with resources in the neighborhood,” said Clark.

Yet, amid violence this past weekend, there was a new symbol of hope on display in the city. A peace sign is now up on display on the wall off 4230 Manchester Avenue in the Grove. Kyle Holbrook, a Miami-based muralist who created the artwork, tells News 4 this is part of an anti-gun violence initiative he started over a year ago. “It’s bringing awareness to the issue, an epidemic that we are in as a city and as a country of gun violence, but it’s not anti-gun,” said Holbrook. St. Louis marks the 42nd city he’s been to in the country to create one of these murals, and he hopes to reach all 50 states by sometime next year. It is especially important to him after losing 46 friends to gun violence over the course of his life. “And the intent is families will know and friends of lost loved ones will know that this is done with their lost loved one in mind,” said Holbrook.

Copyright 2022 KMOV. All rights reserved.

10.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/23/st-louis-city-police-public-safety-leaders-address-recent-uptick-homicides/

Article Weblinks:

1.) https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.riverfronttimes.com/news/100-shots-fired-between-downtown-st-louis-rentals-38139252%3Fmedia%3DAMP%2BHTML

2.) https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/15-vehicles-damaged-overnight-during-rapid-gunfire-in-st-louis/

3.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/local/st-louis-downtown-violence-police-department/63-927ca100-a7c5-40a9-b47a-6055745d9d8d

4.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/01/downtown-west-residents-asking-city-leaders-police-intervention-after-violent-weekend/

5.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/teen-shot-killed-inside-greyhound-station-st-louis-missouri/63-f9ee95fa-dd35-49ae-a77c-8ad9d4fc2cb7

6.) https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/st-louis-hopes-solution-to-summer-crime-is-combo-of-enforcement-youth-programs/article_b50b0c28-9379-582a-afff-77077a3d8763.html

7.) https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/downtown-ambassadors-in-st-louis-act-as-eyes-and-ears-to-spot-trouble-offer-help/article_bdd90261-0d06-52d4-a51f-96ae414cf2bd.html

8.) https://www.stltoday.com/business/local/downtown-leaders-to-city-spend-more-to-make-downtown-st-louis-safe/article_459821d7-5e58-510d-b9e7-9ec3a4bf398c.html

9.) 9.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/shots-fired-shooting-airbnb-downtown-west-st-louis/63-116543b2-253b-488f-86d6-42599cf2f3cd

10.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/23/st-louis-city-police-public-safety-leaders-address-recent-uptick-homicides/

11.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/15/police-investigate-after-man-was-shot-near-downtown-st-louis/

Gun Fight Timeline of Landlord Action

4 Oct

Sat, July 30, around 2 AM (time of gun fight):

I sent this right after I spoke with 911, the shooting was still happening as I wrote and sent this text:

(13 hours and 39 min after gun fight) I didn’t hear back at all so at 3:39 PM I sent some questions to the landlord.

No response.

Sat, July 30, 11:56 AM (10 hours after gun fight):

I didn’t hear anything back by text. I thought I should get it in more formal writing so I sent the landlord an email detailing the event and asking for an update as well as action:

He never responded to me, personally. So we have no idea what happened, what caused a shooting, if anyone of the shooters lived, or rented an Airbnb at our loft, if the shooters were still around…. We don’t know how good the camera footage was, if it was turned over to police, or even if anyone cared enough to do an investigation.

Wed, Aug 3, 2022 (4 days after the gun fight):

We could see a lot of papers on a door down our hallway. But we weren’t brave enough to go read what they said. As you can see, that door is between 2 other apartments. And it’s past the stairwell, where you don’t need to ever go, as it dead-ends. So if we crept over there someone might see us being nosy and there wouldn’t really be a plausible explanation for being over there.

But the orange color made me think it’s possibly an eviction notice.

Silence from the landlord for 6 days following the gun fight right outside our windows.

Friday, Aug 5, 2022 (6 days after the gun fight):

This is the first we’ve heard from the landlord after a major incident

Same day:

Mon, Aug 8, 2022 (9 days after gun fight):

The voice sounded so angry and possibly violent that she left the full trash bag out in the hallway and went back inside our locked loft!

Thurs, Aug 11, 2022 (12 days after the gun fight):

The landing was full of trash and furniture. It looked like someone cleaned out their apartment. Did one of the shooters live right on our floor? The apartment that had the orange sign on the door was open and maintenance was in there cleaning.

AirBnB

13 Aug

After the gunfight under our windows I wondered if someone might have an errant AirBnB renter that had a party that went south. It had never occurred to me before to even think residential apartments might offer up short-term rentals. Because we’re renters. No lease I’ve ever signed allows subletting, which is what short-term rentals technically would be. But the news talked about over 100 shots fired down the street from here, and said the culprits were 2 warring AirBnB parties. Like, parties as in groups of people having fun, not parties in the court of law sense. So I looked on the website, and boy did I find out our lofts have an AirBnB situation! I could tell each listing that was definitely from our loft building because we have distinct orange-colored kitchen cabinets.

At first I thought the landlord must not know about these residents gone rouge. OUR lease is very specific that we are the only 2 allowed to live in our apartment. It limits guests to family and limits the amount of time they can stay here. There is no subleasing permitted on the lease we signed. And I just assumed it was like that for everyone in the lofts… Because what a liability! If something happened, the landlord could ultimately be responsible since he owns the building. It would cause a legal entanglement to evict a resident for something their AirBnB subtenant did.

After the gunfight I emailed and texted the landlord asking if any of the participants lived in our lofts or rented one of the many Airbnbs listed.

positions of me (circle) and people with modified weapons

He ghosted me.

July 31st I counted 10 listings that showed the building’s distinct orange kitchens (note how many guests each ad has listed for one loft):

In regards to the number of guests allowed for each individual loft, you can see that parties are actively encouraged by the hosts. This is not exclusively a high end vacationer thing-though at these price-points, it’s that too. These hosts have 6 guests listed frequently, which is NOT the size of any loft in this building. They are trying to solicit partiers to split the high cost, knowing damn well the nuisance and risk parties will introduce to the building.

As you can see, this is not a new thing. There were many “super-hosts” among those offering up units for short-term rental. And it wasn’t a seldom occurrence, as many of the hosts had 30-40-50 reviews from people who had already stayed in our building.

Annnd you can see in the above examples (not exhaustive) that there are actual businesses offering up our loft’s units on AirBnB. In my opinion, a lot of the hosts looked like they had their units professionally staged and the photos were magazine quality. If an individual did that, then I guess they are in the right business. But also, maybe this is big-business since travel companies were sometimes listed as host. How does that even occur? The landlord HAS to be in on it if businesses are using the building. He is absolutely taking extra deposits, or higher rental fees, or a direct cut of the AirBnB profits to allow that.

You can also see the money being made on these AirBnB stays. For the 10 listings of our address, the average per night stay cost $140! I couldn’t even believe it. So that’s precisely why we could afford to live in such a nice building: Crime + the real money is being made on all of the AirBnBs.

On Aug 9 there were 14 listings, including 4 new listings (one of the listings was for 2 different apt) from “J.C.”

And I noticed the pictures on these listings were the exact same pictures that were on apartments.com and renters.com etc, etc… Like the landlord was in on it.

And of course he would have to be, because we have gates and the doors and elevator requires a key fob to get in. How would all these AirBnB people be getting around the property if the landlord wasn’t assisting the host? Ooohhhh, all those things hanging on the gate are a means of entry! UPS and Amazon and other frequent people use them to come in without the key fob. So the literal 17 on outside gates are for the AirBnB people to get in also.

So if 15 units are posted on AirBnB for short-term rentals that means 23% of the units in our lofts are hosting AirBnb!

At first I was mad. Because that’s egregious. And it endangers all of us with actual leases since AirBnB does not do background checks. Also, it renders are gated property and key-fob entry useless. Random people are trapesing in and out of here every weekend. And one legitimate AirBnB can invite 60 friends into the building, and no one’s checking these people in any way. We need a door man checking badges and IDs and confiscating weapons and drugs! It’s really not safe for current leasors, and it’s very unethical to draw people here from outside the community who don’t know what they’re stepping into. These people are just on vacation, a lot of them, and some have kids and stuff. They’re just walking around unaware that a whole ass gunfight broke out. Right on the property. And last weekend. There really should be some kind of mandatory disclosures. Landlords should be required to inform tenants of the scope of AirBnBs allowed. The AirBnB landlords should be required to disclose safety concerns to potential short-term leasers.

Then, I thought about buying a building in a rough area of town. An area that is trying to revitalize, that has many empty warehouses, construction, drag racing, people gathering, and random gunfights. The locals probably know to stay away, so it must be difficult to fill all of the units in the building. And what a waste to have a quarter of the building sit empty! So I can understand trying to recoup some money and get people into those units.

Saint Louis isn’t really doing anything to crack down on AirBnBs, and the property owner is obviously making money from it, so I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon. I didn’t realize that’s yet another thing I need to research when looking for housing–are AirBnBs listed for that property??!

Literal Gun Fight at our Loft

31 Jul

Went to bed early to fully enjoy the weekend. It seems like we’re always tired and fatigued so we don’t do much. But…

Awoke to a bang. Goose is 16 years old and doesn’t see well anymore, especially in the dark so I thought he stumbled on his rubbermaid ladder getting on the bed, as he sometimes does. Heard another crash and glass. I thought- Goddammit what did the cats knock over?! thinking the commotion was inside the loft. Then there was loud persistent bangs (bang bang bang bang bang bang bang, I think 7 initially?) and my first thought was, what the fuck?! Someone is banging on our window. Again?!

This had happened to us in Utah. Someone repeatedly came to the space behind our apartment and banged on our bedroom window with their fist, scaring the wits out of us. Was it a meth-head, just a passerby? But it wasn’t a one-time thing either. The person came back and knocked on the back window a second time. Did they plan to rob us? To rape us? Kill? We didn’t know, but it felt targeted because none of the other neighbors had the problem. When the person returned, we thought that was really unhinged and I was too terrified to open the curtains and look who it was. So I knocked back from the inside, thinking it might be a cat or something, or if the person knew we were home it would scare them away. This brazen person knocked right back with more force, so we knew they had no fear or qualms that we were inside. Anyway, that was a big part of the reason we didn’t renew that lease even though the location was really ideal.

Back to yesterday. So I thought some mofo had gotten some implement and was striking our window. We’re on the 2nd floor, with only storage units beneath us, so the sidewalk between the parking lot and our unit isn’t all that far above (it might as will be 1st floor on the North side). I thought they were using a broom or rake or something. The B in the pic is where our bed is and the line is where the loud noise was coming from-probably 3-5 feet under our window is the front sidewalk.

Cool was up first and peeking out the blinds. She said, “Hit the deck!” Which seems like a funny thing to say now. But I was disoriented and wanted to get my bearings, so I peeked out the blinds too. What I saw was two approximately 20 year old black men shooting back and fourth across the parking lot with automatic guns. There have been all kinds of car break-ins, stolen catalytic converters, and an armed gang of teens stealing Kias in Saint Louis, and I think across the country. So I thought- Oh great they got into the security gate and are going to break-in, and possibly steal our cars. What a headache!

The circle is our North window, and the 2 Xs are where the shooters in the parking lot were:

But they seemed to have no interest in the cars, only shooting each other. So I knew it wasn’t the car thieves after all.

I got on the floor and called 911. It was the first time I had ever called.

Because in 2005, when our crazy landlord literally broke the front door down to show the house to potential renters, it was my roommate at the time, Eileen, who called. I just hid in the closet and cried with her (I was 22 and terrified).

Back to Saturday: And I was on hold. I would have been surprised and appalled, but I had seen true crime where 911 had put them on hold for like 20 min in some short-staffed, high crime area. And at that time I didn’t even know that was a thing! I thought the whole point of 911 was immediacy for emergencies. But I worked though my shock and disgust when I watched whatever show, so when it happened to me I thought- That checks out. While I was on hold the recording kept loudly saying wait on the line or something like that every few seconds. Heaven help you if you’re trying to quietly hide from an attacker or something.

While I was waiting, the shooting outside had been continuing the entire time, but now I also heard commotion in our 2nd floor hallway. I think I heard exclusively female voices (I can’t be sure there were no men, but I don’t remember any) all loudly and excitedly chattering. I didn’t know if neighbors woke up or if people had run inside to hide, or if the shooters had gained entry. I was afraid to get close to the hallway door because my 911 message was loud, and also I didn’t know if any of the gunmen were inside the building. I half expected banging or shooting at our apartment door at any moment and didn’t know what I would do in that scenario.

I was still holding for 911 and went more to the interior of the loft, but Cool was still in the studio area and had called 911 (after me) and was already talking to someone. I didn’t want my loud recorded message to make her call unclear. She was describing the scene to 911 and saying there were many people outside in masks and head-coverings, all with automatic guns with silencers and some long extended attachment. I hadn’t realized there were many people out there.

After what felt like 10 min, I walked to the living area and someone answered my call saying it was 911 this is (something that started with a C, I don’t remember now). I thought it was weird they didn’t ask for my address like they always do on television shows, but proactively provided it first thing. I was also surprised that I remembered the address correctly and without thinking while under stress, bc we move so much. We have only lived in Saint Louis for 4 months.

I said there was shooting and the operator wanted to know how many shots had been fired. I hadn’t been counting but it would be like 7 rapid-fire shots at a time, then like 2 one-offs, but continuously since we woke up, so I really didn’t know. I said, probably 80, I’ve been on hold and they’ve been shooting this whole time. He must have asked how many shots 3 times! While he was on speaker phone, another burst of shots rang out right next to the wall where I was standing (pic below: the star is 7-12 shots and the K is where I was. The C is where Cool was) and he said- We’ll send someone right over. Before he hung up on me I said, Please hurry, our apartments are completely lined with windows!

It felt like a lot of waiting on hold for 911, but I guess time was weird because of the stress of continuous shooting and the fear.

Right after the call to 911, I texted the landlord saying there were 7(?) shooters with automatic guns who had been shooting for the last 20 minutes, and informed him 911 had been called. No response.

We keep the blinds in the living room partially open all the time. Because the cats want to look out the windows even when we’re sleeping and they’ll ruin the rental blinds if they’re not raised taller than a cat. As such, I had a clear view of the area in front of the loft’s main entrance, and could see a portion of the stairway.

The marks are where I was looking out and where the people were kinda standing and planning their next move. The X closest to the door was a masked boy, probably 16, carrying a long, automatic gun. The next X was a maybe 20-22 year old girl, no mask, no gun, just standing as if no shooting was occuring. The the biggest X was a husky guy in a mask also carrying a big automatic gun that I estimated to be no more than 23 years old.

They all looked relaxed, and non-chalant. None had angry expressions. They didn’t look like hardened professionals, or gang members. They were sort of standing around. I considered taking a picture or video since I had such a clear view and it was dark in my loft so I don’t think they were really looking up at me. My camera takes shitty pictures in low light if the case is on my phone, so I didn’t want to stand there removing my phone case, and knew the quality would be bad if I didn’t. My impression was that these were dumb kids who didn’t understand the consequences of their actions. Nobody looked like they were out to be a murderer. Nobody looked scared in the least bit. I didn’t think they looked like hardened criminals, just 16-23 year olds without developed brains, but with automatic weapons.

As the shooting continued, and we waited for the police to show up, I looked out the North window, sat on the treadmill, looked out the West window, back to the North window… I finally saw two police SUVs on the street outside the property. But they left. I was afraid because it went quiet that the police would say it was over and just leave without intervening. I went back to the West windows and when I did I counted (in case I needed to be a witness) 7 people go from the entrance, up the stairs. I quickly went to the North side windows to get a look at the group.

At the North side an unmarked truck pulled up and parked in the middle of the aisle. A regular, ununiformed guy got out and I didn’t know who it was, but they didn’t seem like police. He was heading toward the stairs to the loft entrance. Right toward the big group that had been shooting for the last 15-20 minutes. I was concerned that he was alone, and expected some sort of altercation.

There was no fuss. I don’t know who he was or if he engaged with the group. They just continued on their way. I was struck how casually they were all walking. Just slow, regular pace, in a group. I thought they must be trying to play it off like they were just innocent passersby. But at least 2 of the guys still had masks and face-coverings on. All 5 gals looked to be in club attire. No masks, booty shorts, mini skirts, heels, and flip flops. Cool said one of the gals was carrying a to-go box from a restaurant. They gals had been outside most of the time of the shooting looking just casual, as if a gunfight wasn’t happening. Anyway, at no time did any of the shooters or gals looked stressed, angry, perturbed. It was creepy how calm and casual everyone was.

I noticed two sets of police lights, but they were pretty far from the action. In the pic: The X on that corner of the intersection, but further North, halfway up the next block. Later, I saw a car driving along the street behind our parking lot, and they had to change lanes. So I knew there must be a police car right at my X with its lights off. The group of gunmen were at my circle in the pic, heading toward the carrot demarking the pedestrian gate. A few minutes later a police car sped down the street with another following soon after (the small Xs).

But because of the landscaping (it’s much more established and thicker than in this pic) I couldn’t see what happened. I didn’t know if the shooters casually walked away or if they were arrested. There was no altercation inside the gates.

Police strolled slowly and pretty calmly on foot, and sort of stood in front of the building. Soon a group of police were walking through the parking lot, standing, people were going outside, there were gals in skirts standing around, 2 random people left on the sidewalk as if a half hour gun battle had not just taken place. I saw 2 puppies off leash! Everyone kinda standing around chatting like this just happens every day, yawn. It was fucking bizarre.

Everything sort of settled down and we went back to bed. Sleeping nervously with much paranoia. Would they come back? Later in the morning I looked everywhere I could think online to find out what happened. No news story. No neighbors talking about it on the Nextdoor app. I looked up our complex name on there. And 47 weeks ago someone said they lived here and it was terrible, especially at the pool, because there were a whole bunch of units being used for AirBnB.

I looked up our address, and sure enough there were literally 10 listings for units within our building, 3 of them superhosts with 47-ish reviews each. So it’s a major thing. And I don’t know if people are breaking our lease, which does not allow subletting, or if they’re paying the landlord extra or something for the privilege. I can’t imaging a building owner would want to take on the liability, or mess with that potential legal entanglement–but some people only care about money.

No word on Twitter or Reddit either. I couldn’t find anything on the police blotter. It’s as if a half hour shoot out with automatic guns and at least 12 people weren’t armed and around our loft! One stray bullet could have easily broken our windows and killed us. Even sleeping in bed we are right next to the window and could have been shot. Nobody cared? It was the biggest, most dangerous thing we ever lived through in any place we ever lived, and it was just quiet and over.

I strained to overhear conversations of the other residents as they entered the complex (remember our windows right by the door). Some lady said she called 911 because she has a 6 month old, and was irate about being on hold. She said there were people driving and randomly shooting. Which I knew firsthand was false, because I had front row view to the entire thing. It was planned because they were wearing masks and head coverings. They weren’t random because they were contemplating how to get in the key-fobbed entrance of the building. So I don’t know if she jumped to conclusions or heard some mom-story that minimized their culpability. But I knew that was not what happened. I also didn’t know if the shooters lived here, if someone was followed home from the club and victimized, or if it was a crazy AirBnB altercation. Another lady walking by mentioned she was a nurse (phew, file that away for the future–reassuring) and said this place is ghetto now and hadn’t been last year.

The landlord who will text us about towing aberrant cars at the drop of a hat, and who griped at everyone via text about chicken fingers in the pool–didn’t say shit! Can you believe the landlord did not reprimand or reassure, or inform us what happened? He didn’t give a fuck. It was fucking weird and delinquent.

I thought there was a small chance the police had asked the owner not to say anything because of an investigation or something. So I emailed him a description of what happened in case legal action is necessary so there’s a record. I wanted to know if anyone was arrested, if the cameras were checked, and if we needed to make statements as probably the best witnesses to the whole scene. I also wanted to know if this was an AirBnB situation, and if he was in on it or clueless. Mostly, I just wanted to hear from the dude. In part, I said:

We couldn’t see if any arrests were made for the 7-12 people involved. As such, we don’t know if there will be a continuing problem. Did the cameras show if the gunfight was someone who lives here or one of the many units listed on Airbnb for this complex? We don’t know how afraid to be.  Can you tell me what safety & prevention measures are being implemented?

Nothing. No response. A fucking shooting popped off and no word from the asshole. So we’re trying not to panic. It might be a one-time thing. But we’re also not locked on Saint Louis or Missouri. With the major flooding and major violence right on our doorstep in one week, it seems like a good time to open our minds at least to moving. Even though I still have major moving-PTSD and DO NOT WANT TO MOVE ALL OF OUR BELONGINGS ANY TIME SOON. Also, money. It’s expensive to move, and I don’t know where we can afford to go, or if it will be any better. So we’re on standby. How many traumas do we have to endure in 2022?!

The Security Breach

24 Oct

We had to move to our apartment (in a new state) sight-unseen.  We have 2 cats.  And a strict budget–especially at that time, b/c moving is expensive!  No one called us back in Salt Lake City.  Everyone who responded at all, never even read our out-of-state situation, and invited us to a showing.  When we couldn’t make a showing “tomorrow” they just didn’t correspond with us.  It was everyone.  How nice for realtor’s in SLC that it’s a seller’s market.

Bottom line:  We pretty much had to take what we could get.

It was OK.  The apartment was a little larger and better then what we had in Spokompton.  The neighborhood was quiet, but had tons of potential.  The park across the street was not like the ghetto-homeless situation of Mission Park near our apt in WA-state, but largely empty.  And quiet.  And they did lawn maint like 4 times a week.

But recently things have slowly started to change.

Every once and again there will be a homeless person sleeping it off under a tree in the park.  Someone parked their shopping cart 5 blocks up on the sidewalk next to the main street.  Nothing big.

The change from quiet to icky came with this homeless family.  A man, woman, toddler, and dog lived in their car.  And parked the car in our complex’s parking lot.  Like, every night.  Nobody seemed to notice, and they stayed under the radar for 5-6 weeks.  Everything started sliding downhill after that:

8/17/2016:  Wrote in the apartment portal that homeless people were living in the car in our parking lot.

9/2/16:  Texted the manager that the homeless people were still parking/living in our apartment’s parking lot.  Was informed the manager was out of town and instructed to call police about it.

9/13/16:  We came back from an out-of-state week-long trip and suddenly the homeless family in the car weren’t around anymore.

Wed Sept 28:  A knock on the bedroom window at 11 PM.  Cool had turned on the bedroom light to change for bed, and the knock came.  Then there was the sound of some tool trying to pry open the window frame.  She didn’t want to call 911 only to find it was a squirrel not an emergency (and she was still a little manic) so she she ran out of the apartment, to the entrance of the back alley.  She held up the flashlight app on her phone, but our window is toward the 300W street-side more, so the person she saw was not detailed.  She DID see a person in black clothing, holding something red (a cigarette or a pen light?) and at our window!  She called 911 and they sent 6 police officers and a dog.  They did an official sweep of the apartment, holding up guns, and calling for intruders.

I wasn’t too, too concerned though.  Because I thought it was probably a crime of opportunity.  There is an apartment on 300 W, and its parking lot is behind their building.  It ajuts to the end of our (dark, abandoned) fire alley.  They must have had problems with prowlers because they no longer park cars behind the building, favoring the side of the building, which is visible to the street.  They also installed a bright light in back.  The light illuminates a portion of our fire alley, but the first window in the dark is ours.  So I figured someone just went to the first dark window they saw.  And the person must have been dumb or not sober.  Because Cool had just turned on the light when she heard a knock–and who breaks into an apartment when the light is on, meaning someone is home?!  And a bunch of cops came in about 5 minutes, so I figured whoever it was went along their way.  And would never be back.

Fri/Sat, Sept 30:  The next door neighbor fixed the hole in the fence between the dark parking lot behind the next apartment and our fire alley.

Sat Oct 1:  I closed the black-out curtains, tucking them between the dresser and the wall.  We are watching a movie in the living room, and there are a lot of people outside their apartments talking, smoking, and drinking.  I hear what I think is Goose fussing with the curtains, trying to get in the window sill to look outside (it’s his fave thing to do).  Thinking he might pull the whole suspension bar holding the curtains down (and holding my dinner at the time) I ask Cool to go in the bedroom and check on him.  She reports someone is knocking on the back window.  I’m scared–who comes back a second time?!  I was too scared to open the curtains and see who it was.  I would be face-to-face with them, and that’s too much!  My adrenaline was pumping from the fear and I banged (3+ times) on the inside of the window with my fist, hoping to scare the would-be intruder away.  I banged a 2nd time (3 loud knocking sounds), while Cool was on the phone with 911.  Whoever was on the other side of the window. . .  Didn’t startle away–they knocked again.  This told me about their frame of mind and made me even more afraid.  I knocked on the thin wall of our bedroom, hoping to get help from the neighbor.

Bronco ran out to the fire alley, but all was quiet.  A police officer arrived about 20 min after our call, and stayed a long time, hearing our story, the neighbor’s opinions, and offering suggestions:  Lights in the alley.  Remove the abandoned/broke-down cars b/c they are a thief/vagrant attractant (and a fire hazard).  Put razor wire along the top of the fence surrounding the alley.  The police officer did not seem impatient or eager to leave.  I could hear calls on his radio on a busy Saturday night, but he made sure to get the whole story and he made sure he answered all of our questions.

We were afraid all the time at this point.  It felt like we were waiting with dreaded anticipation for someone to come back and try to get in.  I was afraid to open the windows.  I didn’t want to shower when I was home.  I was afraid to sleep and let my guard down, in case someone tried to break in.  I checked every noise to make sure it wasn’t someone trying to get in the apartment.  Every time the cats jumped in or out of the window, I was alarmed.  I listened for footsteps in the alley.  I felt stressed and unsafe.  Cool became crazy.  She started hearing things.  She wouldn’t go to sleep when I wasn’t home.  When I finally coerced her to sleep so that she could make it to work in the day, she wouldn’t sleep in the bedroom.  She had all the lights in the apartment turned on all the time–even while she was sleeping.  She started bothering the neighbors, asking them to check the alley.  We were scared in our apartment.

Sun Oct 2:  We were also scared about being away from the apartment for 11 hours, because someone could get inside.  So I took 1.5 hours of vacation and left early (forfeiting some of my weekend double-time) to go guard the house.  We bought a bat, a strong flashlight, and strong, locking bars to block the window and the door closed.  After work at 6:30 PM we inspected the fire alley (carrying the bat) and saw a broken bench was propped up on the chain link fence.  It looked like maybe someone had attempted to throw it away at the dumpster across the parking lot–just my theory.  And someone else came along and dragged it over to use as a step-stool over our fence.  We pushed it away from the fence and it folded in half, making a crunching/squeaking sound.  It ended up about 2 feet away from our fence and folded sort of in half (because it had already been broken).

Mon Oct 3, 1 AM:  I awoke to hear that same bench being moved.  It happened only briefly.  No one came to our window.  In the daylight I checked, and the bench was still away from the chain link fence.  I wasn’t going to mention it to Cool, because she was already freaked, and I wasn’t 100% certain (just 98%), but Cool mentioned she had heard it, so I know it happened, b/c we had both heard it.

Wed Oct 5 a pack of stray cats were eating from our bird feeder and making a tapping sound on the window.  Cool thought it sounded like the knocking of before so she knocked on our neighbor’s wall.  We absolutely know the first 2 incidents were a person though b/c the first time Cool had run outside and actually seen a person.  And the 2nd time, I had banged HARD on the window.  Hard enough that my knuckles were bruised the next day-and I never bruise.  No animal would have sat there for that banging.  And I had done it multiple times, twice.  It would have startled away any animal.  And after I had banged, someone knocked back at me.

Thurs Oct 6, 12:30 PM:  A man was sitting in Bronco and Cough’s parking spot, which is directly across from my living room window.  My curtains had been open.  I took a pic, but his head was down.  He stood and looked into my apartment so I called the non-emergency police line, but before I could complete the call, the man meandered to 300 W.  I asked for police patrol.

11PM:  heard walking in the fire alley and a quiet jangling (like keys in a pocket).

10-6-16:  Texted the apartment manager asking when any safety measures will be taken–never got a response.

10-6-16:  Wrote in official apartment portal-

Someone tried to break into the bedroom window this last Wednesday (9/28) at 10 PM. On that occasion, a person knocked on the window, then used some sort of tool to try to pry the window frame apart. Luckily one of us was home and called 911. We also reported the incident to management the next day, but so far no additional security has been completed. Saturday (10/1) at 8 PM, someone came back to the bedroom window and knocked. I pounded the window to scare them off–and they tapped again. We called 911 a second time, and the officer gave us some tips: 1) The cars on the side of the building are an attractant to burglars and homeless people. Some are also in violation of fire code. 2) Get a motion sensor light. 3) Put razor wire along the top of the entire fence, because someone is probably climbing over. 4) Consider a gate on the back side of the fire alley. I need to feel safe in my apt–please make some changes soon so we don t have to move.

Sat Oct 8, 5 AM:  Saw flashlight through blackout curtains (through sleep mask while sleeping).  But for certain.

Sat Oct 8, 5:10 AM:  Thud on bedroom window.  Goose ran behind curtains and stayed, so it may have been a cat.

Sun 11 PM:  tromping in fire alley (may have been police patrol).

Mon 1:40 PM-police drove by front of apt.

Tues 10/11, 3 PM:  marked police car was sitting on the street next to the park.

Wed, 1 AM-ish:  I got home from work, and the homeless car was parked street-side at our apartments.

Wed 3:15 PM:  the same man that had been sitting in front of the window last Thursday slowly walked past our window toward 300W.  He was with another guy, and they walked slowly, looking in the apartment.  The neighbor also came outside and commented how the two guys had been leering into his apartment–so it wasn’t just me that noticed.  I called the police just to make a report.

Wed 4 PM:  The apartment manager (Royal) was leaving and we caught him.  He has been on the job 4 days Bryson left in Sept?, a woman took over for a week, Dusty was with us for a week or 2, now this guy.  We asked for locks or lighting or safety measures and he said the management company couldn’t do anything–it was all up to the owner.  He was defensive and scoffed in our faces as if we were being hysterical and unreasonable.  He kept saying they are not the police and cannot have 24/7 security.  I tried to tell him there were things that could be done–such as the police suggestions.  Lights for starters.  I also said we were coming from a place of frustration, b/c we were living in fear, and no one from the apartments had even acknowledged our requests/complaints.  And no action had been taken.  He told us he/the management company couldn’t do anything because everything was up to the owner.  We don’t have contact info for the owner.   Royal said the owner wouldn’t do anything–and didn’t have to.  He also told us the housing association doesn’t regulate apartment owners.  The conversation escalated to a confrontation for sure.

Wed 4:30 PM:  The police called back to get a full report of all the incidents.  I recounted the 4 incidents we called about and offered the other 2 that I thought/hoped were the police.

10-13-16, 12:45 AM:  Noticed homeless car parked street-side at our apt as I got home from work.

Oct 15-16:  Started looking for a new apt.  Contacted several options located around work.

10-16-16, 1 AM:  Someone moved the bench.  We then heard footsteps in the back alley.  After an hour, finally called the non-emergency police line to report it.  While on the phone with the dispatcher, flashlight shined in the bedroom.

10/16, 2 AM:  2nd flashlight swept across bedroom–assumed/hoped it was the police.

10/17/16:  Went and looked at a unit in a different apartment complex.  Turned in our application for it.

10/17/16, 2:30 PM:  A homeless man and woman with a bike and a sleeping bag were on the walkway directly above our apartment waiting for the neighbor to get home.

10/17, 12AM:  Possibly homeless car parked street-side by our complex.  Looks slightly different than the homeless car that I remember before, but still the same size and color.  A woman was outside of the car, and stuff was on the complex lawn outside the passenger side.

10/17, 12:35 AM:  Flashlight through bedroom window and footsteps, assumed/hoped it was the police.

10/18/16:  Application for new apartment approved.  The new landlord just needs a reference from our current apartment.  She calls and calls, but cannot get through.  Cool makes a dozen phone calls to random places because our management company has no evident contact information, and we never had contact info for the apartment owner.  Finally, a different complex managed by the same company gets in contact with the regional office who gets in contact with Royal, our apartment manager.  He is annoyed anyone is contacting him.  When Cool asks him to contact this new apartment landlord, Royal off-handedly mentions how our current owner contacted him and said they didn’t want to renew our lease.  We are out at the end of December.  Also, his demeanor on the phone was annoyed/rude.

So I’m not sure,

  1. why, out-of-the-blue the owner (with whom we’ve had ZERO contact) would terminate our “lease.”
  2. I’m suspicious our confrontation with the new manager, Royal, where we asked for ANY security such as lights or removal of concrete blocks and broke-down cars from the fire-alley had everything to do with this given the timing.
  3. We don’t have a lease until December.  The only lease we ever signed for this current complex was the first one when we moved here.  It was for 6 months, and ended October 2015.  That lease specifies that if no other lease is signed, it defaults to a month-to-month arrangement.  And month-to-month is an additional $100/month.  I’m sure we just slipped through the cracks, because it’s been a full year since our original lease expired and no one asked us to sign another lease–or raised our rent price.
  4. I am concerned about an eviction.  I don’t want it on my rental history.  And WHY?  We just passed on info from the police about amping up security.  We’ve paid all our rent, have been quiet, and clean.  We’re actually great tenants.  We just demand things like hot water, flushing toilets, and ask for ANY security measures.
  5. I’m SUPER concerned once they find out we don’t actually have a lease through December, they will put us out in 15 days, without cause, per our original lease conditions.  That’s October 30.  Our new apartment isn’t vacated and available to us until Nov 15. . .  And that’s before any carpet replacement or painting that they will surely do, driving the date back.
  6. We had to band over backwards to contact the manager–and he had already known about our non-lease renewal–when was he going to mention this to us??!
  7. I’m so, so, so glad we were all but in a new apartment at that point, because this news would have REALLY flipped me out if we had to start from scratch.  It’s not always easy to get into a new apartment.  Especially with cats–and he have a price range that can’t budge b/c we had absolutely no notice or time to plan/save.

later that day (10/18/16) I typed up a formal notice of termination for the current apartment.  It asked that we get a walk-though in order to redeem our deposit, and that we leave last day of December (or mid-Dec if they are willing to pro-rate rent).  And I typed it into the apartment portal online.  There is no formal address to mail it to, and that makes me nervous.

10/19/16:  Dropped formal leaving letter off where we drop rent, since we have no contact info for the management or owner, and there is no formal office for anything, and we can’t even send it certified mail.

10/20/16:  Paid $400 deposit at new apartment.

10/21/16:  Our letter with prospective move-out date still hasn’t been acknowledged.

10/24/16, 12:30 PM:  A group of 3-6 people dressed in rags had a bike and shopping cart and bags on the sidewalk between our complex and the studio property next door.  They seemed to be hanging around, and I wondered if that was a new bus stop or if the park was doing some kind of maint and asked them to step off that property for a time.

2:35 PM:  When Cool got home from work the group was still loitering around on the sidewalk.  We closed all of our curtains b/c where they were standing had a direct view in our apartment.  After we did our afternoon workout, about 3-ish PM, I looked out and they had moved along.

10/25/16:  Our letter with prospective move-out date still hasn’t been acknowledged.  Cool called a lot of numbers trying to see what recourse we have if they just never respond.  Because I don’t want to go and get slapped with abandonment fees.  No one knows–everyone just gave her more phone numbers to try.  We texted the number for the apartment managers and heard nothing.  So Cool called the number.  Royal is no longer our person.  Now we have Brian.  This is the 5th manager we’ve had since August (2 months).

10/28/16:  Still haven’t heard anything about our lease (they think we have), and acknowledgement of our end date, or a walk through.

10/29/16, 5-ish PM:  Saw the police go to apt #2, two doors down.  Eddie, who lives there, said someone in a red hoodie had banged on his front window (blinds closed) and shouted his name.  The police and Eddie came to our door, because we were peering out our (blinds open) window, and since we had had trouble with banging on our window.

10/30/16, 3PM:  The homeless car parked inside the laundry area.  Looked they’d been in our apt complex for awhile and were very comfortable here.

11/1/16, 10:38:  Noticed the homeless car in the complex parking-lot by the laundry area.

When It Rains, It Pours: April [clean-queen]

8 Jun

The packing and moving phase happened so quickly there was no time for simultaneous cleaning of the SpoKompton (referred to from here on out as the “old” apartment) which was a major bummer now.  Because Cool got to be in the NEW apartment and new city, working, while I had to clean all by myself.

Spokane Apt 010

It was a much bigger job then I anticipated–and it sucked.  The old apartment still had utilities–thank goodness I had the foresight not to shut them off.  But it was echoing, dusty, and cold inside.  And we had no TV, bed, or anything, really to keep me occupied or comfortable in any way.

Also, there had been a lot of messes made, wear & tear, and damage done over the prior 4 years and 7 months in there:  Cool spilled a bottle of bleach AND a bottle of laundry soap on the carpet the first week we had moved in.  Sloppy had sand-crabbed litter so much that tiny sand was embedded in the carpet, in the seam between the carpet and wall, and dusting the walls.  My daily tread-milling had left black marks on the carpet at each of the 4 points of impact.   There were about 800,000 holes in the walls.

And stuff that wasn’t our fault, such as mold growing from the walls, grease on the kitchen ceiling from no ventalation, and grout deterioration lended to an overall feeling of grossness, and panic.  We certainly were not going to get our deposit back as I initially hoped–but would they charge us for damages??!

241

And I had Sunday from 10-ish AM to Monday at 6AM before my house-sitting job started.  And the work sucked, I was alone with it, and to tell the truth, I no longer cared so much about the OLD apartment.

But I gave it a good effort.  Oh yeah, I forgot, there were remnants (more then I knew!) that hadn’t been packed on the first go-around.  Like, the fridge and freezer had been untouched.  So I’m cleaning, I’m trying to stuff things in Rusty, and I’m throwing a TON of things away.  So many things.  Perfectly good items, or items I would just have to re-buy in the new state but would keep or didn’t fit.

My friend from work came over (in a skirt?) to help for 5 hours, and I’m glad she did, because I might still be there otherwise.  She spackled for a fill 70 minutes, and there were still holes in the walls. . .

I slept on the dusty, cold floor that night, and was pretty well mentally finished the next day.  But I pressed on for my of my first day into house-sitting.  And I could have spent the whole 10 days cleaning and it still wouldn’t have looked nice.  So I made the choice to be finished Monday then focus on my house-sitting job.  Because the animals were lonely, I was getting paid GOOD money to do it, the apartment wasn’t going to look nice no matter what I did at this point, and it wasn’t fair that 100% of the job fell to me anyway.

But I fretted that we were going to get charged.

Still, the lure of warmth, the animals, a mattress, kitchen, and most of all–a TV–made me finish up.  I turned in our keys and left Riverton Terrace forever.

Next:  House-sitting, the NEXT long drive, and (more) unpacking.

Independent Woman

16 Dec

I told Cool that if I ever lose the use of my legs or need diapers to euthanize me. That is how important my independence is to me.

So I’m very skeptical I would like to be in the military. I know full-well that the affordable housing, job opportunities, and paid tuition–come at a cost.  Once you sign on that dotted line the government owns you.  You are no longer a free agent.  Sure, they’ll say that they try to accommodate you, but when it comes down to it–you are going to do what the military tells you to do, and that’s it.

I feel guilty about being stubborn against this idea.  But I’m reminding myself that yes, it’s absolutely ok to be stubborn about your own life–I am the one who has to live it.  I don’t have to justify my choices to anyone.

Enter my well-meaning parents.  They are worried about how I’m going to pay for graduate school.  I am also super-worried.  They feel like the solution to ALL my problems is going into the Navy.  Which, I could do.  And I’d like to follow in my father’s footsteps, and I’d be honored to serve my country.  BUT the logistics just do not work out for what I want in my life.  But they won’t listen to me.  They don’t hear my concerns, they just think I’m making an uninformed stubborn choice.  And I can tell saying no about this is stepping into a landmine.  It’s going to hurt the good place my relationship with my parents has finally gotten to.  Which sucks!  It was hard work getting to this better place with them.  School funding/Navy is a point of contention, for sure.  Except–you should not join the military for someone else, and you should never do it out of guilt–which is what I would be doing.  I did look into it and here is why it just isn’t going to work for me at this point in my life:

-It’s an 8 year commitment!

That’s a long time.  That’s all 4 years of school AND 4 more.  There is a lot of opportunity for being moved around.  A lot of dealing with less then optimal conditions.  And 8 years to worry about my little family and my own survival.

-I would have to be separated from my family.  

That’s what I have.  It’s my whole support system.  Cool wouldn’t be traveled around with me (more on this later), and I’m sorry if that makes me weak and a whiner–I want to be with her.  Maybe other people can live apart from their mate, but I never want to.  Also, Kitties cannot go to bootcamp, nor to officer training, or to different countries–and moving them around to different states would be difficult at best.  After being separated from them in Seattle–I want my pets to live with me.  I love them and they are my responsibility.

-I am gay.  And this poses many problems:

–Cool and I aren’t married because I think it’s an antiquated tradition, she would ruin my good credit, and I figure why bother when the benefits depend what state you’re in at the time.  In the military, they try to ensure married couples remain together–they could care less about what the law considers a roommate.

–So She and I would have to be apart.  When and how would I see her?  And where would she live?  How would she afford it?  What if her bipolar flared up as it does and things went terribly wrong?  I wouldn’t be there.  That doesn’t work for me.

–Also, being gay may be legal in the military, but that isn’t the same thing as being accepted.  It’s a lot to ask of me to hide a fundamental aspect of who I am.  But if I didn’t I could be teased, hazed, harassed, or even raped.  I want no part of that–and who could blame me?

-I do not want to involve a recruiter

to get specific answers to my questions I have to call a recruiter.  Which I don’t want to do.  They give you the hard-sell.  They gloss over the bad parts and emphasize the good, so you really have to read the fine print anyway.  They spam you!  I don’t want constant phone calls or mailers pressuring me.

-I’m fearful about the training and expectations.  

I’m not sure I’d like getting screamed at.  With work, I could do the physical stuff, but I in no way want to take my gas mask off for such and such amount of time like you have to in the Navy.  I might be capable of doing it, but I think I would be very unhappy and stressed about it.

-I don’t like travel.  

Basic is 2 weeks in some cold, Great Lake state.  Officer training is in RI–for a month.  You have to spend such and such time per year training who knows where.  They promise you during your service they try to put you where you want to be, but let’s be real, if the government needs you somewhere they’re going to put you there, whether it works for you or not.  And on relatively short notice.  Plus, I have bathroom privacy and hygiene standards that cannot be accommodated in a military lifestyle.  I need a (warm) shower EVERY day!  And a private bathroom stall (with American plumbing) and a door and a fan.

-I don’t want stress, trauma, or long term effects like my dad (and many, many others) have

I’m sensitive,  I don’t want to undergo emotional trauma, physical abuse, and I would be suicidal if I went through the sexxual abuse common in the military and in the Middle East.  I also don’t want PTSD which is a very real side-effect of service.

-I don’t want to risk my LIFE

I also have NO interest of traveling abroad–especially the Middle East.  And I read they are starting to put Audiologists on the forefront of actions because of portable equipment.  Before they mostly did noise-prevention and VA stuff, but with accessible equipment, the government can stop sending soldiers to the closest sound booth (in Germany) after explosions and check them right on the front lines.  That means audiologists are on the front lines.

-And bottom line, the money/perks just aren’t that great.

I can get better stipends from my school, or at the very least loans that don’t involve travel and put my life on the line.  I will find a job once I’m out of school, and I could still do noise-prevention or VA work as a civilian.

I’m going to have to put my foot down to my parents, and I hope it doesn’t cause a big, ugly scene.  But better that then ruining what I want for my life.  I’ll just have to find another way to finance my education.  This is about me and what I want, and nobody–even my parents–gets to demand what path I take.  I just hope they can understand that I’m not just being rebellious, I actually researched and see many reasons why that’s not what I want. . .

Scary Carl + Grades

15 Jun

We huddled together in my dark closet, apprehensive to make noise, and worried he would return and do something worse. My roommate dialed 9-1-1 on her cellular phone and told the operator in a wavering tone of voice that our landlord had assailed us by kicking in the front door during a fit of rage. The operator got the address to our secluded my missouribasement apartment and assured us she would send help.

This was just the latest in a series of escalating acts of harassment since 2004 had begun. Preceding this, I heard a sound in the living room and walked out of the bedroom to see my erratic landlord had used his keys to let himself inside without prior notice, or even a knock. I still have no idea what he was planning to do that day, and I began to use my chain lock regularly because I did not want to find out.

A few long moments after our frantic emergency call, the police arrived. They were so Sarah, me, Eileen 2005astounded by the profound damage to the door and the frame that they took pictures. Though the landlord owned the property he had destroyed, he severed the chain lock, which had violated our reasonable expectation of privacy. While the police were collecting the evidence and writing their reports, the landlord came back to the house to “fix the door.” The police arrested him, but a few hours after his release from jail that same day, our implacable landlord antagonized us by shouting through the living room window. It was at that point my roommate went to stay with her boyfriend.

I had nowhere else to go with more than a month left on my lease, and fall finals were commencing in one week. I was fretful the arrest had inflamed our fractious landlord even more and he would come in while I was showering or sleeping and do terrible things. I locked the screen door and the front door; not that it mattered, as he had keys to both. Then I took further precaution by barricading myself inside using the futon. After one sleepless night, I went to get a restraining order against my landlord. I was granted an ex parte that kept him from setting foot on the property but still, I was overwrought. I figured a piece of paper would do little to stop my volatile landlord from terrorizing me.

MizzouThis atmosphere of paranoia and chaos was not conducive to studying. At the time, aside from being enervated from fear, I did not realize I had any recourse. I assumed since the University of Missouri was closing for winter break, there was no possibility of taking my finals later. I felt I had no choice but to muddle through my exams and hope for the best. In my restive state, I bombed every test I attempted, probably dropping my grade about a full letter in each class.

If something extraordinarily aberrant like that happened these days I would inform my professors in The Quad 2an attempt to get accommodation on my final exams. Alerting the university of my predicament would be my next step, as I vowed never again to be reticent with my school when I am in crises. I regret that my grades suffered during that trying time, but this disturbing incident taught me the life lesson of not taking my safety for granted and how to utilize the police, the courts, and the university system in place to help people with such dilemmas. In combination with my more formal lessons imparted from academia, this upsetting episode helped shape me into the strong, resilient person that I am today.

TV

5 Feb

We’re going back.  Back to Christmas Eve 2014.

Our television broke. The picture slims down to a tiny horizontal line in the middle of the screen. It’s very unfortunate, because Cool has a TV. 6 hours away at her mom’s house. I also have a really fancy TV. A huge, flatscreen–my parent’s former TV. In storage. . . 14 hours away. And we are moving in less then 2 years.

As such, we didn’t want to go into debt at Christmastime to get a new one. But we need something. That’s my one relaxation. Over to Craigslist. FLAKESlist. Cool was in charge.

ornery face

She informes me she found a nice, functional one, for $30. But (there’s always a BUT on Craigslist) the people she was talking to actually had it at their parent’s house, and they had to see when it was convenant for their parents to set a pick up. Turns out that day was Christmas Eve. At 1 PM. Well, I had agreed to work until noon that day, which always turns into about 12:45-1PM.

And of course work did run late, which I expect. And is why I try not to plan things until at least 2 hours after expected closing time. If at all, because after work I’m tired. And usually grumpy–due to work.

And this is how Cool operates: When we were almost finished with work (12:35PM?) I picked up my phone expecteing to see a text from Cool making some sort of adjustment to the pick up plan–we were going to be late. But nothing. So I texted her–maybe she would meet me at my work, because that was closer to the loacation? Nope, come home, it’s fine.

I get home at 12:55PM. We are already going to be late. And Cool? No shoes on. AND she hasn’t lokked at the address, a map, or programed directions into the GPS/phone. This is normal Coollie-style. I’m freaking out, as my style is all anxiety/stress/lateness-phobia.

We drive around. We get lost. Finally, Cool calls the people. We are LATE. I’m unhappy and grumpy and tired and exasperated. Neither party is any good at conveying directions, so the Craigslist people agree to come to where we are, so we can follow them back home.

We get there–and the guys were really nice. But 5(!) men loaded this TV into the back of Cool’s HHR. And it barely fit. I’m thinking: 1) If people were there to load it, why did I have to be involved at all 2) It sucks that Cool neglected to remember cash so I had to pay 3) Where are we going to put that–and how will the 2 of us ever get it up the stairs?!

We pull up to the bottom of the stairs at home. Cool takes one side and I the other. We have less then half the manpower that got the TV into the car, and a verticle to overcome. Cool starts taking slow, tiny steps, and I’m telling her, “Go faster, it will be over faster if we hustle. Use momentum!” But any momentum we had was lost. We made it up 1-2 steps before Cool turned shaky and red in the face and started yelling in frustration. I was like, “Shhhh, shut UP the neighbors will hear [you can hear everything through the walls] and DON’T drop it!” She set her end on the step, leaving me with the bulk of the weight. And I heard metal crunching sounds.

So I told her to come below and help me push. We would have to roll the TV end-over-end up the remaining stairs. Magically, it worked. At the top, Cool went to park the car and I finished lugging the TV (probably double my weight) into the apartment, and across the room.

The first thing that I notice is that this new TV is just as big as our largest piece of furniture, the entertainment center.  We have Wal-Mart cheap furniture, just to get by before we move.  I have some nicer, more substancial pieces. . .  In storage.  I’m thinking–there is no way we can set heft this TV onto any furniture because the furniture will be crushed.  Cool says, “Maybe I should have measured,”

Welcome to my life.

 

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