Before the days of sippy cups and aprons, I worked weekend-in-and-day-out at a luxury apartment home community. In addition to enduring rigorous training to exchange terms like “luxury apartment home community” in lieu of “property” or “regretfully decline your application” instead of “We don’t want you” I spent whole hours clicking through on-line training courses ranging from Sexual Harassment In The Workplace to the golden laws of leasing known as Fair Housing. The sexual harassment rules were mostly simple. While I didn’t see the harm in calling everyone Honey, I grasped the inappropriateness behind using sporty chest bumps and tush smacks as friendly, co-worker greetings. The Fair Housing standards were, well, fair. The purpose was to dictate what could and could not be used against an applicant in the court of The Clubhouse. All potential residents were approved or declined based upon identical rules. The good news is I could rent you an apartment because you have a spotless rental history (even if your dog is nippy and I think you’ll be the type to call me about your microwave clock being too bright at 2:30 in the morning). The bad news is I couldn’t rent you an apartment because you have horrid credit (even if you are a uber fine bachelor with brilliant John Stamos hair). The worst news is I couldn’t so much as flood conversations with the Stamos-haired stud with suggestive innuendos (ex: This gourmet kitchen is so spacious. You know what else is spacious? My bed) due to the threat of a sexual harassment suit.
Rules. They are no fun.
After a pregnancy, a birth, and- who’d of thunk it!- a baby, I turned in my name badge, burned my pantyhose, and delved into the domestic world. I was not truly boss-less. I learned that sometimes bosses hand you projects and paychecks while others call you crying at all hours of the night and bite your nipples.There were definite perks to this new career. The formality of dress code no longer applied, and watching Oprah in the afternoon was pleasant. Oh, and the concentrated spiritual connection between mother and child was great. Loving to the moon and back and all that. But for all the sudden comforts this was a foreign workplace, and I would have to navigate without the aid of online workshops. I quickly missed the nine-to-five grind of an office, the systematic routine that blocked off work from life. I was on-call always. I diligently completed tasks just as before, but they involved less paper, less daylight. More lullabies, more spit up. And where did paid vacations go? Or pay in general?
Trying to make sense of a world without structure, I quickly resorted to employing tactics from the safer days of employment.
I fashioned a name badge out of duct tape. It read Tori, Professional Nap Administrator. I greeted the small child with a firm hand shake. He cried. Handshakes work best when hands are soft and doll-sized. I gave him the grand tour of the grounds, a detailed displaying of what our place had to offer.
Over here we have a relaxing jacuzzi tub. No sir, it’s filled with water. I’m certain it’s illegal to fill a hot tub with amniotic fluid. Anyways, I think you’ll find our state-of-the-art Fitness Facility just what you need to work up a sweat. The baby didn’t look impressed. I couldn’t tell if it was the dismal appearance of the dust-covered pile of hand weights tucked in the closet or that he had no motor skills with which to control limbs.
We pride ourselves on creating a friendly atmosphere. Community events like play group and pacifier potluck are held regularly. And I know you’ll feel right at home in our luxurious suites. This particular home is offered furnished with discount Target crib and further discounted Wal-Mart bedding. I’m sure you’ve noticed we aim to give all residents with a Ritz Carlton experience. The small man quickly announces that he’d like a concession on rent, seeing as how he doesn’t sleep and has no use for elephant-themed bedding. I am professional, so I try to turn my audible whimper into a giggle.
I felt the thrill of having performed a solid tour. I was about to welcome the newbie into the community when I was struck by my absolute foolishness.
I’d yet to properly approve the client.
He announced that he would have two roommates, a dad and a dog. I cursed the Fair Housing rope that bound me when I discovered that the dad failed the Dishwasher Aptitude Test. The dog had few Puppy Trick Qualifiers to speak of. Equal opportunity being what it was, I approved their applications despite the fact and told the dad to thank the Visa God he had good credit.
Housemates approved, I turned my attention to the smallest sir.
Criminal Record: Applicants with criminal records (felony or otherwise violent misdemeanor) will be automatically declined. While the kid’s long rap sheet included citations for Playing Under The Influence Of Formula, Public Intoxication (sloppy vomiting and slurred babble-speech), and Small-Manslaughter of Perfectly Innocent Diapers, I had no formal cause to decline his request for residency. The criminal justice system has yet to rightfully enforce punishment to the most dangerous of infant offenders.
Rental History: Applicants with unpaid debts to previous landlords will automatically be declined. I asked my womb a series of questions regarding the tenant’s stay there. Turns out the boy thumped on uterine walls at all hours of the night, clogged up the plumbing, and had the audacity to vacate the premises before daybreak, leaving a total mess behind. Unfortunately my vagina can’t sue for damages.
Proof of Employment: Applicants without documented & current income will most likely be declined... because in my case, your home is my business. I asked the prospective client to supply proof that he wasn’t a freeloader. After all, I would need to know where his rent money would come from every month. He spat a half-chewed gob of banana into my palm and cooed.
A clean shirt killer.
A midnight mover.
The decision then was simple…
You’re definitely going to need a co-signer. Could you call your mom?