Scaring the 'Boo' Out of Me

I came downstairs last Friday to find three diapers and a note waiting for me on the living room chair.

I was at my parents’ house in Maryland for the weekend and my brother, 13-year-old cousin and I had decided to make the two-hour trip to Pennhurst Asylum, an old mental institution turned haunted house. My mom knew the Huggies would be necessary for when we inevitably lost control of our bowels.

The drive to Pennhurst was an ominous one. The sky was dark, we were traveling down deserted country roads, and the people in the town outside of the institution just didn’t seem right. Granted, we were in a McDonald’s when we passed this judgment, but believe me—everyone was a little bit off.

We arrived at Pennhurst around 6 p.m. I’m a big fan of haunted houses, but upon seeing the grounds for the first time from my car window, I came very close to crying. My 22-year-old brother was white as a ghost and calling on Jesus and my cousin suggested we turn around and go home.

I won’t spoil any of the fun (or horror) for those who want to make the trip, but I can say that we did survive our evening at Pennhurst. I can also say that this place will haunt your dreams. (And, on an unrelated note, that the pancake poppers at Denny’s—where we ended the night—are to die for.)

In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d share some apartment-related things that also haunt my dreams. Not as much as Pennhurst—and not enough to require the use of an adult diaper—but scary nonetheless.

1. DNA testing for dog poop.

I hate stepping in dog poop more than anyone (since I usually do so on a monthly basis), but there’s something a little Big Brother-esque about collecting DNA samples from each pet at a community to identify owners who do not pick up after their dog.

It’s a clever idea, but I feel like we’re now a couple years away from requiring residents to submit hair samples so we know who is to blame when the bathroom sink has to be snaked.

2. Being pounced on in the leasing office.

Paying attention to prospective residents is exactly what leasing consultants should be doing, but when they visit your leasing office, give them a minute to adjust to their new surroundings before you leap up out of your chair.

If these prospective residents are anything like me, they’re going to need a good 30 seconds to locate—and help themselves to—all communal candy dishes. Once they have unwrapped their first Jolly Rancher, then you may approach them.

3. Unannounced guests.

It’s not that I don’t trust my community’s maintenance employees—I would just prefer to be home when they enter my apartment. For this reason, I check the box on all of my service requests indicating this.

Yet there have been two instances where I came home from work to find a completed service request sitting on the table in my foyer. I’m not so much concerned about my valuables (namely, Dawson’s Creek Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD) being stolen as I am about a stranger seeing my apartment before I’ve had time to remove the massive tub of chocolate animal crackers from my bedside and hide the list of who I would invite to my wedding (if I were in fact engaged or even in a relationship).

These are not things for strangers to see.

For more on the apartment industry, check out the November issue of units magazine, which mails Nov. 8.