Chicago Adventures

The Exploding Apartment

So this was actually like my first Chicago moving story, in that it happened when looking for apartments, I just haven’t posted it until now.

So when Zach and I were first looking at places, we figured we’d go through an apartment finder of sorts. We’re both quite busy, and did not want to go through the stress of finding places completely on our own. So we arranged some apartment visits with two different groups (I won’t name names). One was obviously just starting up really, and the other had been around for a while and new the ropes.

So the first day we had appointments, we headed out through the “just starting up” company. Now the funny thing here, and something we’re very grateful for is that the first apartment she showed us was the one we ended up in. So that was cool, but the third place we looked at was interesting to say the least.

We pull up outside the place, and it’s a brand new building. Like brand new. From the outside it sort of looks like they’re putting the finishing touches on the place, and clearly no one has moved in yet. There’s been a pretty big drought in Chicago real estate as of late, so loads of condos are being rented out, so we figured that must just be the case here.  Well regardless, brand new building, so that might be fun to live in, right?

So we go around the back to where the apartment finder girl has a lockbox with the backdoor key.  So we get the key.  Now there are three floors to this place, first floor being basically underground.  So I figured “well if we live here, I would rather live above ground.”  So we go into the first floor, and immediately almost all senses are bombarded.  First their is an overwhelming smell.  It’s so strong that we couldn’t figure out what it really was.  Then we hear rain.  Literally.  On top of all that, there is an ear piercing alarm going off.  The apartment finder girl repeatedly saying “Oh my God” didn’t help assuage the feelings that we were about to be killed.

Well we venture further in only to see that there is basically a pool in the kitchen of one of the apartments.  So we head out of there and devoid of reason, I suggest to check out the basement apartments, thinking “well they can’t be destroyed too right?”  So we check these out, and the apartment beneath the pool on the first floor is slowly getting its own pool thanks to the water flowing down from the first floor.  Now the only decent apartment in there (ie that does not have an unwanted pool) is still miles from being done.  There’s a fridge missing, a window that’s randomly open, the floors seem just kind of weird, and there’s construction equipment all over the place.  We need a place in a week and a half, so clearly this is not going to be ready by then.

So at this point we’re clearly not going to take this place, and we’re just sort of curious now.  So we decide to go check out the top floor.  Immediately upon walking in we get smacked in the face with the overwhelming smell again, and it dawns on us now that it’s gas (natural gas).  So our need to evacuate the area increases ten fold, and we decide to get the hell out of there before the place blows up.

Out of civil responsibility we figured the guy who owns the place should probably know that his building might blow up, so the apartment finder girl (we’ll just call her AFG) calls the guy up, and he seems, we’ll say, less than concerned about the state of his building, and in fact even says that the place should be ready to go for tenants now.  At this point, we decide, what with the women and children in the neighborhood, that we should probably see that the building doesn’t explode.  So we call the non-emergency number, but are immediately transferred to 911.

Within about 15 minutes, two firetrucks show up, and a guy who I can only refer to as Papa Chicago (thick salt and pepper Stache, the full superfan accent, looks like he could be just made of sausage, I mean the guy reeks of Chicago), gets out and asks if we’re the owners of the property.  So we go around back to let them in, and AFG is really nervous at this point, because this is also the first time she’s taken people out to check out apartments.  So her hands are shaking as she’s trying to undo the lock box.  While this is going on, Papa Chicago is taking a look at the sliding glass doors to the first floor apartments, and one slides right open for him like he’s Ali Baba.

Suddenly, a lot of the things we’ve noticed earlier start making sense.  The Fridge missing, the window open.  First off, it clearly looks like a lot of corners were cut to make this place.

To make what is already a long story short, what happened was, the construction guys or someone left the sliding glass doors unlocked (as well as a couple other windows), and someone stole all the appliances.  And whoever installed the appliances, did not put shut off valves on the stove or the fridge, spilling water and natural gas everywhere.

So to prevent the inevitable explosion, the firemen cut off the gas to the entire place.  We also overheard that there was easily $10,000 in water damage from the waterline to the fridge that was spilling.  I’m really curious as to what the owner’s reaction was later, since his initial reaction to us letting him know that his place was not looking to hot was less than concerned.

Needless to say we passed on that place.

4 thoughts on “The Exploding Apartment”

  1. Paragraph 2, last line, “new” should be “knew”. Fifth paragraph, line 4, “their” should be “there”. It’s hell being an English teacher; it just jumps off the page at me and I can’t help it. What a pain I must have been when you and your sister were growing up.
    Great story, gets better each time; it still makes me laugh, and wonder about “Chicago folks”.
    Keep writing; it’s always great stuff to read. See you Sunday.

  2. Wow…Pop’s brutal…no wonder I like you Dad!

    Nice story – and oh so perfectly Chicago in so many ways – especially Papa fire guy. Probably good you passed on that place. And I’m sure there wasn’t a not a decently proper Thai food joint around. So it’s good in two ways.

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