Saturday, October 4, 2014

Five Levels of Condo Quirks

We’ve been in our new condominium for a month. I say “new,” but it was built about ten years ago, so it’s only new to us. Ten years is enough time to develop quirks that require varying degrees of adapting. Quirks can be categorized based on how much they disturb your psyche.

The first level is what I call a Minor Inconvenience. Rare is the household that doesn’t have at least a few of these. You get used to them once you find out how to deal with them.

The first Minor Inconvenience I came upon in our condo was a heavy-duty scrunchy (a covered elastic band) hanging from the knob on the pullout trash bin. At first I thought the previous owner had a ponytail, kept it handy to hold her hair out of the way while cooking and had forgotten it. Then I started poking around and discovered that when the bin is full, it doesn’t stay closed unless you loop the other end around the knob on the drawer above it. I can live with that.

The first Major Annoyance (level two) came with our garage door openers. None of them worked, not even the code for the keypad. I replaced the battery in the clicker. No luck. I tried the other two clickers (that I had received empty). Still nothing. The only thing that worked was the button by the kitchen door.

For several days, we opened and closed the garage door from inside, and exited and entered the house through the front door. Then I bought a new battery for the keypad, too. Success! Apparently, the clickers route through the keypad. You may be thinking: “This was a major annoyance?” Yes, it was. How can someone sell a house with all the garage devices having dead batteries? How did they get in and out? And how about a heads up at least!

Moving on to the third level of quirks: Impetus to a Psychotic Meltdown. These are the ones that drive you straight to the wine rack, hoping to find a screw top. What did me in were the crazy lights in our condo.

Some of them have basic flip switches that turn them on and off. Some have levers that slide up and down, with a subset of levers that have buttons on them, which turn the fixture on or off. The levers function like rheostats, but not in the turning motion that I’m familiar with.

Apparently, that wasn’t complex enough for the builder. Lights that are part of an overhead fan are controlled via a series of buttons, with a primary on-off for the power to the fixture, and a secondary on-off for the light. Have I lost you yet?

Finally, the lights in the master bath and the walk-in closet have hinky bulbs that have delayed illumination. Perhaps it’s to avoid shocking you on a middle-of-the-night potty run or during early-morning wardrobe selection, when you’re bleary-eyed. News flash! I’m retired. I don’t do bleary-eyed any more.

The first week we were here, I thought I’d have to replace the bulbs in these fixtures with higher wattage. Old folks need more light, after all. No sooner would this cross my mind, than I would notice things seemed brighter. I assumed my eyes had adjusted to the lower light. Around week two I realized that these were special bulbs that lit to their full wattage gradually. They’re still driving me to drink.

The fourth quirk level is what I like to think of as Justifiable Homicide—things that, if the seller didn’t warn you about them, give you the right to hunt them down in their new home and kill them. That would be the built in audio system in our condo. Every room is hooked up and has its own volume control. There’s also a master volume control. It doesn’t work. And there’s an On-Off button. It also doesn’t work.

I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the system. The cable installation guy couldn’t disconnect it without losing the cable source. The go-to handyman for our community couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. I tuned the unit to our radio station of choice, NPR, and turned the volume down everywhere. I could still hear voices coming from the wall behind the main unit. Eventually, I dragged the machine out of its cubbyhole and pulled the power plug. Blessed silence.

Which brings me to the fifth and final level of quirkiness, which I reached this week. When something weird happens now, I shrug my shoulders and say: “Who Cares?” Lucky thing for the people we bought from that I’m there. Otherwise I’d kill them for certain if I ever met them.

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