Tuesday, January 19, 2016

You Can Trust Me

I've listed my apartment on Craigslist. I'm searching for a new tenant so I can break my lease and move elsewhere in the city, and several friends recommended that I post an ad on the site.

So I did. I spent hours writing, rewriting, and refining the text. This was my Sunday afternoon a few weeks back: carefully crafting a concise but well-constructed classified ad for a studio apartment in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. I wanted my post to stand out in a crowded field. I wanted a Craigslist user to say, "Yes, those other apartments have a doorman, elevator and laundry room, but this one -- this one inspired such beautiful prose. I must view it at once."

And yet...no one has viewed it to date. I've only received one inquiry, from a 30-something woman who works nearby and would like to cut down on her commute. I offered to show her the apartment on a Wednesday at 6 p.m., and she agreed.

I eagerly awaited our meeting. Who knows when the next response to my Craigslist ad would come? I needed -- and the apartment needed -- to make a good first impression. I needed her to move in so I could move on and move out.

I made every effort to make it happen. I vacuumed the apartment. I swept the floors. I cleaned the window blinds. I asked the cockroaches in the hallways to hide until after the viewing. I kindly requested all dogs in the building to refrain from urinating in the stairwell. (I've never seen this myself, but I know for a fact that it's an issue. I walk down the steps and carefully avoid colored spots, as if I'm navigating a minefield or a New York City sidewalk in the middle of winter.)

An hour before the appointment, I sent an email to confirm she was still interested. She was. Fantastic. She asked for a meeting point. I provided the address to my building, and suggested she buzz my apartment so I can let her up.

Twenty minutes later, my inbox pinged with a new message. She was cancelling. A friend of hers lives in the building, she said. She saw the friend's apartment and didn't like it, she said.

Suddenly, I was back to square one. Any hope I had of her signing a lease, and relieving me of the responsibility of finding a new tenant, was dashed. My plan had fallen apart more quickly than a cockroach stuck on a sticky trap in the basement of my building.

This is speculation on my part, but I believe she doesn't have a friend who lives in my building. I believe she made up the story. My best guess, after reviewing our email exchange: She was expecting to connect with a real estate broker, and instead connected with me: a stranger, inviting her to check out an apartment, at night.

I don't know why she would have had cause for concern. I'm a nice guy. Ladies can trust me. In fact, that's how I ended my ad: "I'm a nice guy. Ladies, you can trust me."

I was reminded of an experience I had last year riding a bus after midnight with a woman in her mid-20s. We both exited the bus at the same stop, and though we were headed in the same direction, she chose to cross the street first, keeping a safe distance from me. Strange, I thought. Why did she do that? That seemed excessively cautious, even if it was late. I then realized I was wearing a hoodie. With the hood on. In 60-degree weather. OK, I can see why a person might interpret that as being suspicious and disconcerting. But in my defense, the hood feels so comfortable on my head, even in mild temperatures.

The point is, women have nothing to fear when they're around me. My track record bears that out. I'm not some sort of hoodie monster who captures women with a sticky trap in the basement of my building, I can assure you.

I really am a nice guy. I can even prove it by spending hours with any female writing, rewriting and refining an application for my apartment until it's perfect.