Happy Sunday, peoples! I finally have time to get back on WordPress this afternoon after what’s been a pretty busy and pretty eventful weekend for me. In fact, it’s been much more eventful then I thought it would be. I hope to expand in later posts about some of what I did, including taking part in a poetry reading. I will devote this post, though, to something very, very unexpected.
I must preface that unexpected something, though, with something else that I haven’t had the chance to mention on here yet: Our apartment building has a new(?) landlord. If you’ve followed me on Twitter or saw me mention it on here at least once, you know that I’ve referred to my landlord as “Creepy,” as the owner (not the manager) had a rather snooty yet creepy speaking voice when I first spoke with her. Well, last month, we saw a change around here, starting with a brand spankin’ new “for rent” sign in our front yard (two apartments in our building have been empty for some time) and a note taped to my front door. They were both from a property management company that is pretty prominent here in the Madison area, and the note indicated they became receivers of our building and have taken over management.
When I saw the word “receiver,” my mind thought, oh dear, Creepy must be in financial straits, especially with two apartments sitting empty for quite a while. Or, maybe for whatever reason other than financial straits, they cannot continue with ownership and/or upkeep. So, they’ve turned to a third party. I don’t know too much about this third party or how reputable they are, but now they’re the ones in charge and they’re the ones I must now send my monthly rent check to.
Oh, speaking of rent… in my current lease that doesn’t expire until the end of next April, I’m paying $835/month. I looked up the management company’s online listings and noticed that the empty apartments in our building are available at a rent of… wait for it… $915/month. Forgive me for writing in all caps, but… YIKES!! If I were to stay here past next April, I’d probably have to give up my arm, leg, and future first-born child for rent. But, said manager has properties that are less expensive in rent, including a building one street over from mine that… well, it’s a little more expensive than $835, but it’s cheaper than $915, with fees for a few extra amenities that are included in my current place’s rent. Guess I’ll have to do a lot of due diligence about possibly finding a new place in the coming 8 or 9 months.
Anyway, on to the sudden moment that occurred here on Saturday: It was 4:30 or so, and I was driving back from seeing an art fair downtown (a pretty good subject for a later post) and errands when I saw a pretty crowded street in front of me, thanks to two police vehicles and a fire engine blocking the way.
Before you ask, no, I didn’t think it was an impromptu Village People concert (no construction worker or guy in an native headdress); and I figured it was an emergency for another building on our street. But after pulling over to the curb right away to keep my distance and walking toward my building, I discovered that… oh, my goodness! There’s not one but two fire engines. There’s also an EMT crew! And they’re all there due to something at our building!
And here’s why they were at our building: A garbage truck was pulling in to relieve us of the recyclables in one of the bins. The bins are situated directly underneath an overhead power line connecting a Madison Gas & Electric (MG&E) utility pole with the corner of our house. And, to be honest, that line has always been a little bit too low for comfort. The reason for that discomfort was exactly what occurred Saturday: The garbage truck (and it was a pretty big truck) was one that lifts a bin up and dumps its contents over the cab and into the back. When the truck arms lifted the bin, the lift made contact with the cable which, likely combined with the direct sunlight, sparked a fire in the bin and the back of the truck.
Now, the combination of metal and live wire created a tricky situation for the truck’s driver and whomever may have been within close proximity of the truck: When the truck arm caught the cable, it created a live wire situation throughout the truck. In other words, if you touched the outside of that truck, you’d be in for a fatal shock (no joke). So, to help alleviate the situation, MG&E came out to shut off power to the building… well, our half of the building (the other half has its own power cable that went unaffected; lucky folks). Then, the fire & rescue crews were able to put out the fire and extract the driver from the truck.
If you’re wondering if there was any other threat to life or property, there wasn’t. The fire was contained enough so that there was no threat to either our building or the apartments next door, although the police asked everyone in our building to evacuate as a precaution. The fire crew was unhurt; neither was the garbage truck’s driver, though he understandably looked very shook up when I caught a glimpse of him catching his composure. (Side note: When I told my sister about this story on the phone this morning, she immediately thought the driver would be fired because of what she figured would be liability situations and possible carelessness on his part. I’m one to doubt that because, well, human resource matters of waste disposal companies are none of my business. Or my sister’s, for that matter.)
As for us tenants, we were all right. We were allowed back into our building once it was assured there was no risk from the smouldering truck. But our half of the building remained without power for about four hours. MG&E couldn’t return until the scene was clear and the rescue crews were gone; plus, they had to get a bigger truck (one with a cherry picker) to fix any problems with the power line and make sure everything was set before throwing the power switch back on. At least we had mostly pleasant temperatures on Saturday, so being without air conditioning for a while wasn’t as bad as one would have feared. If it was 90 degrees and muggy, however…
Oh, as for the garbage truck? Believe it or not, the crew was able to back it out of our driveway on its own power. Yeah, it could still run. But a ginormous tow truck was there by then, and it towed the truck out of sight and back to… well, wherever ginormous tows take busted garbage trucks.
All in all, it was a pretty crazy afternoon. And I thought that my trip to the art fair downtown was going to be the only eventful part of my day. Hopefully Creepy… er, uh, the new building management was alerted about this, although I’m sure they were. Now, to determine a Twitter-friendly nickname for them. Hmm… Since I don’t know what they’re going to do with this place, or if they’re going to take full ownership, or how they’ll jack up rent to possibly astronomical numbers, it’s still creeping me out. How about I call them… “Creepy 2.0”?