My Week 18 – Spy Qualities and Renting a Condo in the Big City

Saturday: I realize that I would make a pretty good spy

So earlier tonight, I was getting packed up and moving things around because I got this fabulous new job with “a government agency”, which means I have to live in Toronto during the week. It’s been incredibly stressful, which I will talk about later, but for right now, I’m focused on tomorrow’s journey. Anyway, I had taken some stuff off an antique bench outside our bedroom, then when I went to shift the rest of the stuff (great word—so non-specific and leaving things up to the reader’s imagination and all, but it was only magazines. Sorry to disappoint). I did this, finishing with a great flourish, when a very large splinter of wood jammed itself underneath the fingernail of my middle finger. I started squealing and saying “Ow! Ow!” because Ken was on his way out to get T from a friend’s house, and I wanted him to know I was in pain. I hadn’t looked at the splinter yet, but I suspected it was pretty far down my fingernail. Ken started yelling from downstairs “What? What did you do? Where are you?!” and eventually we met in the middle. I showed him my finger (which I still hadn’t looked at) and first he said, “Why are you giving me the finger?”, and then he said, “Holy shit! How did you manage that?” like, somehow, my actual intention had been to stab myself. Also, his shocked expression told me that MAYBE the splinter was quite a bit bigger than I thought, plus it was really starting to hurt. “Fix it, Fix it!” I said to him, and he looked at it for a minute in that way he has, where he’s deciding what power tool might be best for the job at hand (no pun intended). Eventually, with me continuing to make unhappy noises and jumping up and down a little, he said, “Come with me-I have tweezers in the bathroom.” But first he had to clip my nail all the way down, then surgically extract the wooden dagger, which hurt as much coming out as it did going in. After the whole ordeal was over, he gave me a big hug and kissed my head, which was very sweet, and then we decided (or at least I did, with Ken indulging me) that I could be a spy for sure, because if the enemy tried to get any information out of me by jamming splinters underneath my fingernails, I wouldn’t give away any secrets about my new government job.

Me: See, you could have asked me anything, and I wouldn’t have told you. It wasn’t that bad.
Ken: OK, sure, honey. But I think the bamboo splinters that torturers use are a bit longer.
Me: You’ll never know what I’m going to get you for next Christmas. You could have tried asking me, but I wouldn’t have said anything.
Ken: Yep, you were a real trooper.

I’m pretty sure he was being sincere and not sarcastic. I really would make a great spy, unless the enemy dangled me off a balcony. Which brings me to my next revelation.

Thursday: I rent a condo in a high rise building

I live on the ground and park my car on the ground. That’s the way I like it. But as of tomorrow, I will be living in an alternate universe where I live in the sky and park in an underground cavern. Apparently, that’s what happens when you start a job very suddenly in a large metropolis, and your housing options are limited. Luckily, my brother has an “agent” (not the secret kind, unfortunately, because it would be great to see how long HE could last with a gigantic wooden spike under his fingernail), who was willing to show me condos. Actually, it ended up being “condo” singular, because downtown properties get snatched up faster than Titus grabbing a dish out of the sink (which he will do the second you’re not looking, then carry it into the breakfast room in his mouth, and lick it clean). So the agent arranged a showing at the one condo left in all of Toronto, and we arrived there at noon. The actual listing showed this pristine, empty apartment, so none of us were prepared when we opened the door and the place was crammed from top to bottom with someone else’s crap. And I mean CRAP. My dad and brother had come with me because Ken had to work, and they were both like “Oh, look at all the light” and “It’s so roomy” (it’s 624 square feet and costs more than the mortgage for my house), at which point the door to the second bedroom opened and a half-dressed woman peeked out. We were all taken aback, and the agent said something like “We have an appointment—is it OK that we look around?” She kind of nodded, then disappeared back into the room and shut the door. You couldn’t really move around to see much—they were getting ready to move out, but it was like that show Hoarders—there were little pathways between all the stuff (use your imagination), and you couldn’t get to the periphery of anything, plus the half-naked lady was in the one bedroom and we had to ask her if we could look at it. She kind of stood to one side, and there was underwear everywhere, and I was having major doubts about the whole thing. Then my brother was like, “Look—what a great balcony—it runs from the living room all the way to the bedroom!”, and then I realized that we were on the 27TH FLOOR, and there was no way I was EVER going out onto that balcony. I don’t have a fear of heights; I just have an intense fear of falling FROM THEM. But it was the only place left in town, and it was right across the street from my office, which meant no commuting, especially if I launched myself off the balcony and parasailed down to the street (which would only happen if I was, in fact, a secret agent trying to elude enemy agents).

The next two days were absolute chaos as I tried to arrange insurance, hydro, first and last month’s rent and a whole lot of other things that I’ve NEVER done before. As is my usual way, I made a fool of myself on more than one occasion through my sheer naiveté:

a) When my insurance agent told me that my contents would be insured for $15 000, I exclaimed “but it’s only a 600 square foot apartment! How am I going to get $15 000 worth of stuff into it?!” to which he very calmly replied, “That’s just the minimum amount of coverage we give you—you don’t have to meet the limit.”

b) I had no idea what a certified cheque was, or how to get one, so I went to the bank, and found my financial advisor in her office. “Zeynep, I’m having a banking emergency!” I said. I must have looked pretty freaked out because right away she was like “Come in—what can I do?!” When I told her I needed a certified cheque, she just about laughed (but she restrained herself because she’s a really nice person), and she got the teller to give me one within the next 10 minutes—it would have been quicker, but I couldn’t remember who it had to be made out to, and it took me a while to find it on my phone. Why? Because it’s a phone, and the screen is so f-ing small, and my eyes are so f-ing bad that the first thing I had to do was find my reading glasses in my purse, which is hard when you can’t see anything up close to begin with, and you need your reading glasses to FIND your reading glasses.

c) Setting up the hydro was really easy, once the customer service rep. explained that there was already hydro in the building and I didn’t have to panic that it was getting close to 5 pm, because it wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to set up an account, and I didn’t have to get some guy to come on Sunday and put in a line or anything.

d) Did you know that in a high rise condo, you have to BOOK the elevator to move your stuff in? I finally got hold of the concierge, and we made an appointment, at which point he told me I would have to provide a $500 cheque for the elevator. I said, “It’s $500 to use the elevator?! No one told me that!” He very kindly explained that it was only a deposit. “So, like if I don’t break the elevator, I get my money back?” He replied, “Yes, that’s why we ask for a cheque—if there’s no damage, we just give it back to you.”

d) I have to meet the property manager at a coffeeshop at the corner of King and Spadina to get the keys. Doesn’t this sound really sketchy? But I need the keys. My biggest worry, actually, is where the hell am I going to park? It’s Toronto–are there parking lots?

So it looks like almost everything is in place. My only worry is, what if I get another really bad splinter and Ken’s 100 km. away? I guess I’ll just have to suffer until I get home—and I have the proof that I can withstand the pain.

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