Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Giving Thanks #8

Back in August, when the call came offering Dan a job in Dayton, Ohio, it gave us some pause. We were on the way back from picking up the textbooks at the school where I would be teaching. He had four job interviews lined up over the next two weeks, some in more exotic locations. He had done the interview over a month prior, so he was a bit fuzzy on what the job entailed. And last, since his interview was via Skype, he -- and we -- had never visited Dayton.

But after we weighed our options, we made the decision to move to Dayton. Dan arranged a visit to his job site in order to get some of the formalities out of the way, and we decided to kill two birds with one stone. I'd come along and we'd find an apartment together. We knew it was optimistic to hope that we'd find a place to live in one afternoon, so we decided to spend the night and continue searching the next day.

So we arrived in Dayton and had a whirlwind tour of the city, driving around the hip and trendy Oregon district, driving over the dam, and stopping for ice cream at Graeter's (the highlight of my trip). After our three-hour-tour was over, we drove to a grocery store to change, grabbed a free paper with only a few housing options listed, called one or two places from the car, and then realized we needed to drive around looking for the FOR RENT signs.

Keep in mind that Dan and I were at the end of a long period of limited employment, so we were attempting to be as frugal as possible. To that end, we had hardly any minutes left on our cell phone, but we were wary of bumping up our plan. We also had noticed the air conditioning in our car dying, but it's not exactly a necessity. And we decided to camp outside for free instead of stay in a hotel.

After we drove around Dayton and surrounding suburbs for several hours, making phone calls and being astonished by rent prices, we decided to drive up to the park where we were camping out for the night. There we also made dinner. Yes, so frugal that we brought our own food to cook. We were a bit discouraged, but we knew we had an entire day in front of us in which we would certainly find something, or at least have several decent options.

The next morning, full of optimism, we headed out after eating our cereal in lukewarm milk (yum). Today was the day! We drove down to the city of Dayton. And drove. And drove. And drove. The temperatures soared toward 95, and our car's a.c. would work for 5 minutes at a time and then putter out for 15.

The entire day is now somewhat of heat-soaked blur. I know that we looked at several sub-par apartments on the edge of a great neighborhood, one apartment in a bad neighborhood, and the upper apartment in a good neighborhood on a busy road. Somewhere in the middle we made ourselves pb & j, the makings of which were also brought from home.

After lunch, it was my turn to call the number on the sign, and boy, was Dan lucky! I spent 15 minutes on the phone with an elderly woman. I learned about her pets, her husband, and the things she expected from her tenants. I finally got off the phone with her, after extracting a promise that she'd show us the apartment later in the afternoon.

I'm not sure what Dan and I did between the phone call, but we were sitting on the steps of the apartment at the designated time. We waited. We waited some more. Dan called his mom. We watched cars go up and down the street. I eventually called the number again to see where the landlord was, and her husband assured me that she had left the apartment at least 20 minutes ago. Eventually, a Saab put on its right turning signal and ever so slowly pulled into the driveway. A slight, withered elderly woman ever so slowly got out of the car. (It probably took her 2 or 3 minutes to get out of the car. No joke.) She then pulled out a baggie of keys, which she handed to Dan, saying that she was not good with keys. So we made small talk as Dan attempted to open the front door. After every key was tried and some were retried, she declared that we could go through the back door and while we were at it, look at the downstairs apartment.

As Dan and I had been there for 45 minutes with nothing to do except look at the outside of this house/apartment, we knew someone was occupying the downstairs. We informed the lady of this, and she was shocked!

"Well, I told him he needed to be out of there three weeks ago," she said, as we stepped over filthy plates, clothes strewn all over the floor, and sidestepped between the couch and the door leading up to the second floor.

We admired the older apartment the best that we could, but both Dan and I knew that this probably wasn't going to be the best situation to become entangled in. So as politely as we could, we told her we'd call her if we decided to rent it and made our way out into the hot safe-haven known as our car.

Then, dejected and overheated, we decided to find a hotel, get some dinner, use the Internet, and resume our search in the morning. We cranked up the a.c. in our room, ate enough to go into a food coma, and attempted to search the internet for additional options. Eventually, we made a game plan, which included looking further outside the city and in big apartment buildings.

So the next morning, we set out again, still hoping that something would open up. This time, our game plan (differing from the previous day by having actual places to visit instead of just driving aimlessly around the city) showed a bit more promise. I had been watching the addictive channel HGTV, and especially the show House Hunters, far too much in the weeks and months preceding this move, so the options of the third day were narrated by Susanne Wong, with a script that went something like this.

Do they want the older town home outside the city in the need of some adjustments?
The trendy loft inside the city, but without parking?
Or the basement apartment with unique features in an old school building?
Find out when we return.

And our choice was... #3!

I am so grateful that we found something during our whirlwind trip, and I am even more thrilled that it is working out wonderfully for us. It's a great location for work and a really neat apartment.

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