When Matt and I moved to Raleigh, in January 2004, I was working for an online journal of religious news. Basically, I perused the Internet for religious news of all types, wrote summaries of those stories for our site, edited freelance writers' contributions, and argued with my very conservative boss over things like whether "pro-choice" or "pro-abortion" was a more fair term.
After 14 months of existence, the site hadn't taken off and my boss, the publisher, decided to cut his losses, so I found myself looking for a new job.
I really can't explain why I started applying for leasing agent positions except that apartment complexes were everywhere and there were tons of open positions (that should have been my first clue). I think that somehow I also imagined it would be similar to working as a tour guide, which I did for two years in college and never got tired of.
So I got a job at an apartment complex and it was immediately clear that there were three smart, relatively normal people in that office: Stephanie, the assistant manager; Amy, the marketing manager; and me. The job was nice and mindless. I think it took me about two weeks to thoroughly master it and then I was on auto-pilot.
There were some things I loved. Every other week I had a four-day weekend. I did have to work some weekends, but we were open only six hours on Saturday and four on Sunday but you got paid for a full day. I learned how to drive a golf cart at that job (despite growing up in the "golf capital of the world"). Also, we were located close to some great thrift stores and that's where I spent most of my lunch hours.
Sometimes after work I would run around the lake we were on. And anytime I was bored, I could volunteer to go "shop" a neighboring complex -- pretend to be a prospective client and be taken on a tour and drink their Coke and ask questions leasing agents aren't supposed to answer ("Is there much crime around here?") and report back to our office on the competition.
I bonded with Amy and Stephanie quickly, but only a few months after my arrival Amy quit to take a new job. I got her office and a pay raise although the property manager wouldn't give me her title because she didn't want to upset the leasing agents who'd been there longer than me. A couple of months later, Stephanie had a baby and quit. That left just me and a bunch of crazies. The property manager called me into her office to offer me Stephanie's job, but luckily Matt and I had just decided to move back to Pinehurst to do what we're doing now, so instead I gave her my two-week notice.
The next spring, I got a series of hilarious email updates from Amy. They started out pretty innocuous:
"I talked to Steph today and had to tell you the latest gossip … [the property manager] got a boob job! HA!!!! I couldn’t stop laughing. Sadly, [the cleaning woman] told her they do not look good. I’m such a bad person for laughing, but I just cannot help it. I can’t picture her -- it’s got to look odd as she’s so petite. [The cleaning woman and the groundskeeper] are getting married this summer -- in the cabana, of course! [Crazy agents Nos. 1 and 2] are still there too apparently. I can’t imagine what it’s like there now."
And then moved on to this:
"I just had to write to tell you, in case you haven’t heard… [crazy agent No. 1] was fired from [the complex] because [the maintenance manager] was stealing electricity and [crazy agent No. 1] told him that [the property manager] was going to call the police.
"And then [the regional manager] came down to run the property because [the property manager] wasn’t showing up to work and no one could get in touch with her. Turns out she admitted herself into rehab for cocaine!!! [The regional manager] discovered all these unpaid bills and all sorts of other horrible evidence of how badly [the property manager] was running the company – finally because [the property manger] had gotten so strung out that she left everything at work and didn’t have time to clean up after her in preparation for [the regional manager]. She’d been hiding it well all this time … Anyway, [the regional manager] fired her!
"[Crazy agent No. 2] is still there – God knows why. I’m guessing with everyone else fired she’s probably hoping to get promoted.
"It almost feels like the sad finale to the soap opera of Life at [the Complex] … Guess there won’t be any more gossip for us in the future – I can’t imagine what else could happen!"
ALL THAT to say, I lost touch with Amy and Stephanie after the drama updates but found them on Facebook last week. Stephanie just had another baby and is living in New York now. Amy is expecting a baby boy and owns her own stationery store. Yay for Facebook reunions!