Reading Railroad: Rent Day

Monday is rent day. Every Monday.

We, of the — Apartments pay our dues weekly.

My suite, a lower-end, modern-day chamber of horrors, is without a bathroom. I use a common lavatory, of which, there are two. One bathroom has a shower at one end of the
second floor and the tub room is at the other end.

The second floor is for the less fortunate guests. The rooms with no bathroom are ninety-five dollars a week. The rooms with a bathroom are a hundred and twenty. On the
first floor are larger, well-maintained rooms, bathrooms and kitchens included.

On the way to the bathroom, one is always reminded of their circumstances: the tiled ceiling with holes drips when it rains. There are places in that ceiling where bubbles have formed, gravity pulling them ever downward. We skate around buckets placed in the hallway and take care not to walk under those bubbles.

There are spots on the floor where no bucket has caught the water to save it. Those are soft spots. Like a child’s fontanelle, these are fragile spots that must also be traversed. Step on them at your own peril.

Wednesday is pesticide day. That is, the manager comes to each room carrying an industrial sized, white plastic container and sprays bug killer. When I first came to the
hotel, she just showed up one morning and asked me to leave for an hour while she sprayed.

When I complained about the lack of notice, she began scheduling Wednesdays. So we can almost always count on her. But then there are the days she’s a no-show with no
explanation and in this case, we of the second floor know a knock may come at any time.

We are obligated to schedule ourselves around her activities. If we don’t like it, we can leave. Given the lack of affordable housing in this area, it’s not much of
an option. There is no one to report bad housing conditions to and complaints fall on deaf ears.

The landlady and her husband have purchased another building across the street from this historically registered monument we live in. That building is well- kept, though no one lives there. She said, they expect it to collect higher rents and there is a note of enthusiasm in her voice as she says this.

We are not without amenities. We have cable television and on Saturday morning they purchase a dozen donuts for the residents to share. We have running water and electricity. There is a basement, in case of tornado.

Despite these amenities, I am resentful at the intrusions into my life. I would like to pay the rent and be done with management. I don’t want the landlady dictating hours I’m not allowed into the room I’ve paid for.

There are also rules we must abide; otherwise, we are warned, our rent may be raised.

These rules include:

1. Unplug appliances when not in use. If we leave the room at any time, we should not leave coffee pots, cell phones, radios or clocks plugged in.

2. We may have no visitors after 10 p.m. After this hour, we will be charged an additonal $15.00 per guest.

3. The unspoken, but very well known rule number three is, do not complain about conditions. You are subject to immediate eviction if you do complain and I found this out
through first hand experience.

It comes down to this. I pay the rent every Monday, because I make a choice to stay here. The alternative is more unpleasant than current conditions. Choices are not
always between good and bad; sometimes they are between bad and worse. Life is not always fair, but on occasion things work out and I’m grateful for that. Hope looms, just as devastation does.

Pay your dues. Don’t complain. Be grateful.

What a life.

Note from the editor (Carla): Professor Ex… is a senior citizen and does have a regular, fixed income. I don’t think he meant for this article to be some kind of pity party type essay; but is more interested in seeing some kind of change in the housing situation and inspection of such in NW Arkansas.

You can direct all comments to the Professor at: professor_extraordinarius at


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