Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Subletter to the Editor

New York City isn't just an expensive town- it is a town that requires one to hemorrhage money, and knowing how to spell the word "hemorrhage" isn't as lucrative as one would like. Some mornings I wake up and I look in my empty wallet and I wonder how I managed to spend exactly the amount of money I had without committing some level of larceny; some mornings I wake up and commit some level of larceny. The point is, those of us who like to live a certain lifestyle in this city (ie: fro-yo, toppings, DVR, ability to sneer at people who order chicken during group dinners) and lack incriminating photos of relatives usually have to get creative for our mad money.

Th only thing in the NYC location of this store is quarters- three for a buck.

I'm pretty good in terms of earning a little side cash--the resale of things on Ebay, taking yet not leaving a penny, fostering relationships with wealthy and frail great aunts, etc--but one of the major boons to my bank account has been the rental of my cute little apartment in the East Village. On weekends when I'm not here, or am able to not be here, I rent it to complete strangers for about a hundred bucks a night, depending on the season. Many people express surprise at this--my grandparents are so unable to wrap their heads around it after three years that I sometimes wonder if it's my fault for not starting off by explaining "currency" to them--and sometimes even derision; they then go on to their soul-crushing jobs inputting data into an infinite spreadsheet. But for the curious, I always get asked the same questions:

How do you find people to rent your apartment?
A: The same way you find people to fulfill your fantasy of a complete stranger coming up to you on the street, spitting in your face, and then walking away wordlessly. Craig's List, baby.

Aren't you worried about people stealing your stuff?
A: No. If you owned my stuff, you'd be pretty secure in its relatively low black market resale value as well. I used to take a $100 deposit and lock all of my valuables up in a spare closet, til I realized how depressing it was that my "valuables" consist of a laptop, two wireless Xbox 360 controllers, a vibrator, several bottles of liquor, and a ring I got for my confirmation that I had believed to be precious stones until I realized Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou didn't make a movie called "Pink Ice Topaz" for a reason.

Aren't you worried about people going through your drawers?
A: I've found that for a hundo a night, my privacy constraints pretty much melt right away.

But suppose they smell your panties?
I'm surprised at the number of people that place an importance on the happenings of their panties, as if they're living, feeling objects whose personal space shouldn't be violated. I'm not saying I don't respect the boundaries of certain objects--American flags, plants, sharp pointy spikes-I'm just saying that these items are typically not ones I store in my crotch.

People have sex on your bed.
Not a question.

People have sex on your bed (raise in intonation, as if quizzically)
Join the club.

Doesn't that bother you?
It bothers me that my parents still have sex. Very, very, very much. So much so that the idea of any other coupling involving any combination of man, child, or beast, at any location on this earth, could not even begin to enter into the stratosphere of Ick in which the mental image of my parents doing it resides. Sometimes I have to rewatch Faces of Death just to remind myself that other people out there have to resort to far more extreme measures to get their grisly kicks off.

Aren't you worried that people will make copies of your keys and come into your apartment at night after you've returned and kill you?
A: I wasn't, no. But if someone wants to lay out several hundred dollars for the privilege of killing me in the privacy of my own apartment instead of the very public hallway just outside of my apartment, then I appreciate the windfall.

Other means of gaining access to me in my apartment: hit this three times in quick succession.

Do they eat your food?
Not usually; my ideas of what constitutes a delicious meal usually appeals more to kindergartners than grown ups. Some people do leave me food, though, ranging from basic cooking ingredients (carrots, eggs, OJ) and beer to leftovers from nearby restaurants. I eat all food regardless of race, creed, or origin.

Do you meet the people first?
Sometimes. I used to require a copy of their driver's license and a deposit, but as with most standards I have, it required effort, and was abandoned. Sometimes I don't even know the name of the person that stays in my apartment, and I just leave keys under the doormat, or meet with the subletter's friend or relative somewhere in NYC to do the wad of cash/key exchange. It only takes about a minute, and I look like a badass drug dealer to anyone watching. I like to think I'm helping to eradicate stereotypes.

What kind of people typically rent your apartment?
A lot of foriegners who are travelling the country, a lot of couples in their 30s who don't want to crash on friends' couches at that age. I also get a lot of NYC people who have parents visiting and don't want to subject them to futons, the sounds of lovemaking, or the morning wood of roommates.

Suppose your landlord finds out?
That would suck. However, considering she's a 98-year-old (conservative estimate) Polish woman who lives several blocks away and had trouble with the ballpoint click pen that we used to sign my lease, I'm pretty sure the concept of "Craig's List" and "the internet" are beyond her.