So, all that work looking for an apartment yesterday didn't work out quite right. I called the broker late this morning to find out the status and she told me to call another agent at the same company, Mark, who was the one to contact the landlord. The landlord, however, is Jewish, and today is a major Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah so he's not doing any business. Mark said Monday would be the earliest the landlord could possibly look at the application.
I told him that didn't work well for me, since I start my new job on Monday and I want to focus on doing a good job, not spending all day worrying about apartments and mounting hotel charges and all that sort of stuff. I asked him what he could do for me. He said he had one apartment in the same neighborhood, Sunset Park and said he could show it to me and that he knew the landlord quite well and could easily rush things. I agreed, and he said to meet there at 2pm.
I looked up how to get there and it didn't look too bad, although the two times yesterday I took the subway anywhere on my own I made mistakes, so I figured I'd better leave a little early to be safe.
Out on the street by the hotel lots of well dressed people were going to the church across the street and some preacher was on the steps with a microphone and PA system preaching. For several blocks up to the Utica Avenue station women were out trying to give me tracts, which I politely declined.
I got to the apartment around 1pm, with plenty of time wander the nearby neighborhood. I found the right address and it was a nice, clean brownstone building that looked in good shape on the outside. I liked it instantly.
It's between 4th and 5th avenues (I don't know if I've lived anywhere else where street vs. avenue was significant, it'll take some getting used to) and I wandered up to 5th. Lots and lots of shopping all up and down, lots of people all over. Very mixed ethnically, but Spanish seemed the predominant language on business signs (including many of the Chinese restaurants). Lots of places to get pizza by the slice, lots of small grocery stores and not very many chain stores. I liked it.
By 1:45pm I waited outside the apartment until Mark showed up. He was dressed more casual than Brian was yesterday, but he quickly asked if I was Kevin and introduced himself.
I was disappointed by the inside of the apartment. It wasn't one that had been recently renovated like all the previous ones I saw, so the kitchen didn't have shiny, new stainless steel appliances. It had a weird sort of wooden vaulted ceiling like it was added inside a non-vaulted one, and dark, soft carpeting in the bedrooms. The smaller bedroom has its own door to the common part of the building, probably originally set up for being rented out by whoever lived in the apartment.
We talked a bit and I wasn't quite sure. But with a six month lease, I won't be locked in past March, and I can look for something more modern, more fancy inside before Leena gets here. And I was in something of a hurry anyway, because I start my new job on Monday and want to be moved in immediately.
After leaving the apartment he said the landlord could come to his office at 5:30pm to sign the paperwork. And I agreed to go there at that time, about three hours later...
That gave me a lot of time to walk around. I walked on 5th avenue up to about where their office was, but it wasn't only 33 blocks so I was there by 3:30pm, still way too early. I kept walking, went down closer to the industrial part of Gowanus near the river, but it didn't look like there was access to it except through various industrial yards, not public, and there's no riverfront park down there. The Statue of Liberty was visible from many intersections, between buildings.
I took a break at a Dunkin Donuts, bought a Boston creme donut and a vanilla been "coolata" (whatever that is, exactly) and sat near the window writing in my journal for a bit and half listening to some guys behind me talking about how they hate all the various people who were different from them, etc...
Sitting there still didn't eat up all my time so I walked up and down streets some more for a while. I kept passing a funeral home with a fancy Cadillac convertible two-seater sports car out front with the title "funeral director" on the frame around the license plate. Seems odd, I would expect a funeral director, especially using a car for work purposes, to have something a bit more solemn and staid...
I showed up at Rapid Realty's office around 5:15pm and waited in their reception area until Mark showed up and took me into one of the private offices. We started going through the lease, making a few modifications to the standard one (e.g. standard says no pets, but he said pets were allowed in this one and I plan to get a cat) and initialing them.
A bit later someone named Carlos turned up, who I gathered was associated with the landlord and the property. He told me some about it, and he initialed the lease document in the role of the landlord. We talked about Sunset Park a little and how it's become more gentrified. Carlos told a story of earlier in its changing demographics, shortly after he and Luis, the landlord, moved there he was on the subway and someone else was complaining about the new, weird people moving in and how the neighborhood was going downhill as a gay couple moved there. At some point in the documentation, Mark asked Carlos about whether Carlos could sign something or if it had to be Luis, and Carlos said "it's our bank account".
Finally, once Luis turned up, the hints got clearer about who Carlos was... Not Luis's lawyer like I thought a possibility, but his gay lover. The two of them live in the ground floor apartment together, so they'll be my neighbors. They were nice guys to make small talk with while doing the paperwork, both educated and intelligent, and probably good enough neighbors to bump into going in and out. We chatted a bit about my experiences in India and they said they know some good Indian restaurants where I could get good food, though they understood when I pointed out that it's currently the taste of American food I'm looking for for a while.
Once we finished signing everything they handed over the keys to me and offered me a ride there if I needed it, but I said I was heading back to my hotel in Crown Heights, which is way out of their way.
I took the subway back, and this time didn't make a single wrong move on the subway.
Getting back to the hotel, a few women came out of the elevator in white dresses and hats that looked amazingly like wedding cakes. On the way in there seemed to be something going on at the church across the street with lots of people in formals, so maybe they were going to that.
Now that I've seen my face in the mirror at the hotel, it's obvious that I got a bit of a sunburn while out walking around Brooklyn. My nose especially is shiny red.