You know when you come out of the shower and discover completely unfamiliar men standing on your balcony? I hate it when that happens.
I live in an apartment. There are advantages to this. Total strangers having access to your home and the balcony outside of it are not among them.
There is a reason I live on the top floor of my building, and it’s to do with the way people can look into my place. I don’t like it. I used to not mind it, but then, in my last place, there was a Thing, and the Thing became an Issue, and long story short, somebody went to prison and I had to move. So when I moved, I made sure that I found a place on the top floor. As an added bonus, I live on the end of the property, so across the street from me are four adorable private homes and a synagogue and Hebrew school. It’s delightful. I feel like I live in a house instead of an apartment, and the kids play outside the Hebrew school when the weather’s nice. Otherwise, it’s super-quiet and private. Plus, the complex is gated.
But still, the management has the (logical) right to enter my apartment to make sure I’m not cooking meth in here. Which I’m not.
What I was doing, today, was taking a shower. And then I got out of the shower and, wrapped in a towel, walked into my bedroom and got dressed. And then I walked out of my bedroom and oh! There were painters on the balcony.
Why, hello, Painters On the Balcony. When did you get here? And by any chance, did you see me nearly nude with hair all akimbo, skin freshly scrubbed and still damp?
From the ground, across the street, if the blinds are open, one can see into my apartment. I’m okay with that; it’s not like you can run around poking everyone’s eyes out so you can enjoy the lovely spring day sans trepidation about having the windows and blinds open. The key here is that, from the ground, across the street, one can only see whoever is in my apartment from, say, mid-ribcage up.
But if one is standing on my balcony, one can see everything, including the angle that allows the view of someone (say, I don’t know, me) coming out of the bathroom in a towel.
Now, I trust that the Painters On the Balcony didn’t see me, probably because they weren’t even facing toward me. They were painting the railing. But they had been here before, you see, so I thought they were done. They were here on Monday. In fact, they woke me up. And I went outside in pajama pants that are three sizes too big, and a t-shirt that’s two sizes too big, glasses on, no makeup of any kind, to take stuff off the balcony so they could paint properly (pursuant to the advisory flyer that had been tacked up on the bulletin board downstairs, which I had heretofore ignored).
I did put on a bra before I went out there.
Point is, they were here on Monday when I left for work, and when I got home, the balcony was freshly painted, so I thought they were done. Know how I learned they weren’t?
Yesterday, while I was here, cooking and cleaning and preparing for one of my friends to come celebrate her birthday with her favorite meal, the head of maintenance just walked right on in. The door was unlocked because I had been in and out of the building, taking out trash, bringing in groceries, etc. But I mean the guy didn’t even knock, much less use the doorbell. I just suddenly heard the door open.
“Hello?” I called from my galley kitchen/laundry room, which, apart from being ridiculously small and lacking any practical amount of storage space, also offers no view of the door.
“Hello! Maintenance!” some dude cheerily replied as I came out so I could see who had just invited himself into my home in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon.
“Oh. Um, hi,” I said.
“Something smells good in here!” he offered, referring to the blueberry pie I had going in the oven. “I’m just here to check out the balcony and make sure the painters did a good job.”
(The Painters On the Balcony are contracted by property management; they don’t work here. Come to think of it… how did they get on my balcony? Oh… ladders. They climbed up and over. Well. That’s awesome. Anybody with a ladder can just invite themselves on up. Want some pie?)
So, back to the guy in my living room. I appreciate the follow-up and the way management makes sure that things are done well. I think that’s great, actually. I just don’t appreciate the guy walking right on into my living room. Dude, you don’t know what I’m doing in here. I could have been in some compromising position. Skyrockets in flight. Something like that. You don’t know.
Of course, I wasn’t. I was baking pie, doing laundry and cleaning. But he didn’t know that.
Anyway, that’s how I found out the painters weren’t done. I went outside with the maintenance guy and the Painters were on the ground, looking up, waiting for a ruling on their job performance, and that’s when I found out they were going to come back to put another coat on the railing.
But I sort of expected them to come in the morning and wake me up. And when they didn’t, I sort of forgot they were coming at all. I putzed around and opened the blinds to enjoy the lovely spring sunshine, and then when I got tired of being a bum in her PJs, I got a shower. And then they came. And I suddenly felt like I lived in a zoo.
That’s the other thing I don’t like about people having access to the balcony: the zoo-like exhibit I find myself in. Like they’re going to tap the glass and see how I react. I don’t hurl feces or anything, but I feel a little on display. Like the diorama of American history that runs on a revolving stage at the Smithsonian’s aptly-named National Museum of American History.
So, hair still all akimbo because my comb was in my purse, which was in the living room, I came out to close the blinds.
Bummer. Now I couldn’t even enjoy the pretty day on my day off, because of the Painters On the Balcony. I mean, there’s probably nothing major about workers having full view of my home while I’m here, but I don’t like anyone being just on the other side of a single-paned wall of glass while I sip coffee and check my email.
So then I was thinking, when I buy a place (which I plan to do in the next couple of years), it’s not like no one will be able to see inside. In fact, my living room and kitchen will probably be on the ground floor. So what’s the difference?
Well, the difference is, when you own your property, most people don’t just saunter up to your windows. It’s a fact. If they do, you have a right to get sort of honked off about it and yell at them, or possibly take legal action, if necessary. When you live in an apartment, chances are they’re just there to paint, and you can’t stop them.
Happily, though, the painters didn’t take long and I can once again enjoy the lovely day. Georgie the Bassett Hound has wandered over from his owner’s side of the balcony’s privacy wall (which has a 12″ gap at the bottom that Georgie can squeeze through) for a visit. He’s lying in the sun, alternating raised eyebrows, looking woeful even though he’s perfectly happy.
I don’t mind it when Georgie looks in my windows.