Jack of all trades, expert of one...

If there's one thing I'm an expert on it's moving. In order to stay ahead of the law (ok, maybe that's not the exact reason), I've lived in five states and in nine cities. While this certainly doesn't compare to the life of a career military brat, it definitely has gotten me used to packing up my bunch-o-crap and settling down somewhere new. However, this time I have a wrinkle that I've never dealt with before: a house.

As a child, I never dealt with selling or buying a house. I mean, seriously, I didn't even know if the houses I lived in before I was in seventh grade were owned by my parents or rentals. Then, once I hit college and made a number of moves after that, I always rented. Always. The beauty of renting is, of course, you can pick up and go whenever you want. That and if you have any problems you call the owner/apartment company and they fix it. They trot some guy in a little outfit with a name tag to your apartment at your convenience, cure the problem, and you go on about your merry way. Of course, the disadvantage is that you are basically throwing your money into some other guy's pocket.

Well, after I moved to this city a little less than two years ago, I was renting from an apartment company and one of my very good friends decided to get married. It was a mutual thing and all. It's not like she just decided to get married unilaterally. Only Dennis Rodman, Carrie Bradshaw, and Jennifer Lopez make that decision unilaterally. However, my friend had an awesome two bedroom/two bath condo about a mile from where I worked. Surprisingly enough, she actually had a difficult time selling the place. One day I said to her that, if I could afford it, I would buy the place from her. She said, "So, why don't you?" Within an hour, I was on the phone with a mortgage broker and we determined that not only would I be able to afford the place, but that I would actually be able to live there and be able to buy food. It was settled. I bought the house from her.

Of course, extracting myself from my lease was a different challenge. But that's a story, and quite an entertaining one, for another day.

So now, I must bid my cute little condo adieu. I must admit, I do love the place. I like the neighborhood. I like the proximity to downtown. And I like that it's mine. Most of the time.

However, the real estate gods hate me. No, not because I didn't make a profit on my house when I finally sold it (it was on the market for 10 days, but it felt like a lifetime-and yes, I did just fine), but because once I put the place on the market, I've had a litany of problems, ranging from large to small. And, of course, because I am a person of good conscience (and because this is a litigation crazy state), I have not only disclosed those problems, but fixed every one.

But that doesn't mean fixing things doesn't suck. Really suck.

First, about a month before I was going to sell my house, there was the fact that the air conditioner didn't seem to be producing cool air. Well, in the South, no air conditioning makes summer just slightly warmer than the steamiest part of hell. At the end of the day, that was a replaced air handler. Those are...well, they aren't cheap. They also take around 8 hours to install. Quite a combo. But then again, when the inside of a working oven is cooler than the status quo, I suck it up.

Then, the day after I decided to sell, which was a Saturday, I noticed a damp area in the corner of my second bedroom. I immediately notified the condo association, because, after all, they are responsible for the roof. They come out, look at the corner and say, "Oh, we've seen these before." My immediate thought is, "Well asshole, don't you think that would inspire you to invest in a proactive roof examination?" After chuckling about the leak, the guy tells me, "OK, we'll get the roofer out here on Monday."

Of course, Monday became Tuesday, Tuesday became Thursday, and Thursday became Friday. And, since this is a coastal Southern city, it rains in the summer. Well, that doesn't accurately describe it. Let's try that again. During the summer, sometime between two and six in the afternoon, a tempist of winds attack at gale force, the heavens open, and ungodly quantities of water are dumped onto the city. Yeah, that's a bit closer to the experience.

Now, knowing this, you'd think that someone who was aware of a roof leak would take some type of a step to protect additional water infiltration, right? Maybe put up a tarp or, geez, even a Ziploc baggie or something. No, not my condo association employees. They just decide that they'll deal with it when it's "sunny." Meanwhile, water continues to drip through the leak into my second bedroom. In case you're wondering, I'm restricted by the condo association rules from putting anything on the outside of my unit. Not to mention, my unit is on the second floor, so I'm not exactly able to get on the roof without the help of a fire truck. And I left mine in my office parking spot.

Finally, on Friday, the Keystone Kondo Association employees finally get the roofer out. He repairs the roof and, when I indicate that the condo association should pay for repairing any drywall damage and repainting my guest room because of the negligence of the employees to take any steps to avoid water infiltration, the response is "Oh, well, you're responsible for the inside of your unit." To make a very long story, much shorter, when a professional determined that the drywall was not damaged and that fighting over the $150 to repaint the condo with the condo board was just, well, not worth it. It's not often I back down from one of these types of fights and, more often than not, I win them. But honestly, I was just interested in getting out of Dodge. And at least the cost comes out of the taxable value of the house...I think. Damn, I need to get an accountant.

Just when I thought everything was set with the house and I was packing my boxes of move, the real estate gods once again reared their ugly heads. I have three ceiling fans in my house and each of them operates solely by remote control. In other words, the fan and the light are entirely operated by a remote control and have no switches, pullstrings, or any other device that makes them operate independently. So, today, I go to turn off the light on the fan in my bedroom and nothing happens. I press the light button and the little LED on the remote is lighting up, but the light isn't turning off on the fan.

So, I think, maybe there's something wrong with the remote. So, I turn off the fan. It shuts off. I turn on the fan. It turns on. I turn off the light. Nothing. Well, that's not true; light. Apparently, the wires are working, because the light is on.

After I have a few friends come over to help me out, I finally get someone on the phone from the fan company. The conversation went something like this:

"Hi, I'm having a problem with my ceiling fan. The fan only operates by remote control and the remote causes the fan to turn on and off, but the button on the remote control for the light doesn't turn the lights off. The lights are stuck in the on position."

"OK. Sounds like there's a problem with the receiver."

"Great. What's that?"

"The receiver is in the canopy. It's what the remote communicates with."

"In the canopy? You mean in the ceiling?"

"Yes. It's in the ceiling. What model is the fan?"

"Uh...it's silver with four lights..."

"No. What's the UPC number?"

"Is there a place where I should look for the UPC number?"

"Yes. There should be a sticker on the top of the fan."

"On the top?"


"Of a ceiling fan?"


"Well, that doesn't seem like a very logical place to put a sticker on a ceiling fan."

At this point, I explain to my friends that we need to look on top of the ceiling fan for a UPC number. Since there is no ladder around, in a scene that can only be seen to be believed, my friends stand on my bed and one of my friends gets on the other's shoulders to look for stickers above the ceiling fan's base. After they've called "no joy," I report my (well, their) findings to the guy from the fan company.

"Oh, well, that's too bad because we would have sent you out another receiver, but now you either need to track down the UPC number or go buy a universal remote."

Great. Another expense. Of couse, I'm just happy I didn't have to buy a new fan. But then again, I haven't installed the new receiver yet, so who knows.

I guess I'll just chalk it up to developing my expertise...

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