In Spite of Best Efforts, We All Get Screwed


I love living in an apartment downtown. It’s all the space I need with very low energy costs and I get to claim my rent come tax time. My neighbourhood has character and I’m working towards making it a better place.

But, as we all know, you can’t choose your neighbours.

For a period of time I would wake up in the middle of the night hearing people in the back alley repeatedly shout out “Herb!” I deduced that the guy who lived above me was an aptly named drug dealer. That conclusion was further supported by the occasional case of chemically imbalanced desperation coming from these shouting people, and the time I had to call the cops because a woman was freaking out and threatening him while banging on his door from out in the hallway. As a whole I could live with this situation. It made for interesting stories, at least, and I never felt my personal safety threatened any more than by neighbouring smokers falling asleep on futons.

But Herb moved, and in fixing up his apartment for future tenants the caretakers found one of my greatest fears: bedbugs. I received notice that my apartment would need to be partially fumigated as a precaution of preventing the bedbugs from migrating. (I don’t know how long they had been there when Herb was still around, but perhaps they were customers of his who wouldn’t leave for fear of getting cut off.)

So with a short notice, I had to prepare my apartment for treatment – moving e v e r y t h i n g at least two feet away from the wall – actually impossible – and putting all of my clothes in plastic bags. I’m lying on my couch that’s covered in a sheet, and all of my bedding is in the dryers in the basement laundry room. I’ve been nauseated by fumes, hard labour, a lack of food, and deep regret in going on the radio since I got home. My bed may not be in sleeping condition by the time I run out of fuel. The worst of this all is that bedbugs are one of my biggest rational fears that I’ve gone to irrational lengths to prevent, yet because I’m in an apartment building, a character building, in a central area of the city, it still happens to me.

The second worst of this all is I think I’m going to miss the wee hours back alley theatrics of people shouting out Herb.


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