HelenSometimesHolly

2/11/19 Work Order: The Washer in 10308 is not draining properly and the floor has standing, soapy water. Work Order Closed: No washer in this apartment.....

3/26/19 Pulled from an email regarding other issues: The work orders I have submitted have included the slow bathtub drain. I ended up snaking it myself, as I never received a response. It was nasty with not only hair, but caulk and paint. This could have easily been taken care of during apartment cleanup. The shared washer in the basement still leaks, leaving a lake each time it's run. That work order was closed without resolution because “there is no washer in that unit”.

4/6/19 This is a PS to another issue I contacted the office about via email: PS The washer in the basement still leaks. If the company you contract that service out to has been to look at it, they didn’t address the issue entirely. Maybe they’re waiting on a part?

4/22/19 Work Order: The washer in the basement of 10308 Conser St. still leaks. It's not in an individual apartment, it's the shared washer in the basement. Work Order Closed: Ran drain clean through drain. 4/24/19: Resident response to closed work order: Thank you for working on this. I did a load last night and the washer still leaks a little bit, but nearly as badly as before. Now, the washer is out of order. The LED says “EnFlow Out of Order”.

5/5/19 Work Order: The washer in the basement of 10308 is out of order. 5/6/19 Work order response: Will be assigned to Jetz. 5/7/19 Called Jetz. They have put this on the schedule and should be out sometime before Friday 5/10/19. Closed work order: Closing this work order as work will be completed by the vendor that owns the machines.

6/15/19 I went to the office to add money to my Jetzervice account. Before leaving I stopped and talk the office assistant that the washer 10308 still leaked. She said she would open a ticket with Jetzservice. I responded that they had been out and that maybe it’s a plumbing issue. She responded that she would also have maintenance come look at it. I asked if I should also open a ticket and she said no, she was doing it.

6/27/19 I did laundry on 6/25/19. The washer still leaks, there has been no ticket opened, nor any communication regarding action taken. New ticket opened: The washer in the basement of 10308 still leaks. Not a dribble. It's a serious leak.

#theClubatIndianCreekOP

I looked at my apartment three times before signing the lease because I was having a hard time deciding between two complexes. On-line reviews were terrible for The Club, and only slightly better for The Highlands (which I've since learned is managed by the same company, B&H management).

B. from the office, said she would have maintenance look at three issues. They weren't issues I asked to have addressed; they were things that she saw me either notice, or heard my friend Jessica and I discuss, and offered that she would have it taken care of.

First, the kitchen light fixture was dripping with grease and full of bugs. This is not unusual, but I was looking, and may or may not have said something out loud. B. said, “I'll have maintenance take care of that before you move in.” Needless to say, it was not taken care of. Shortly after moving in, but having not yet cleaned the fixture myself, the bulb burnt out, forcing me to take care of it.

Taking the cover off to clean or change the bulb is a two person job. I did manage to get the cover off and cleaned, but the bulb is a specialty bulb that has to be replaced by maintenance. They sent someone immediately, so I took my dog for a walk because removing him is easiest for everyone. When we returned, I had a new bulb, but the cover was left for me to wrestle with. It's only by sweat and bad words that I got it back on. It was difficult and, without a second person to hold the cover while I screwed screws, I was at risk of damaging the whole fixture. I'm confident I would have been financially responsible had that happened.

Secondly, the gutters. I'm a homeowner and have experience with foundations and water issues. I take these issues very seriously. The two gutters were not attached to the downspouts, but frozen in huge puddles against the foundation. I expressed concern and B. said, “well, it's frozen, but I'll have maintenance take care of it when it's warmer.”

After I moved in, I placed a work order and a guy came out to “fix” the gutters. He didn't do anything I couldn't have done myself, didn't really fix them, and the gutters are, once again, on the ground, like trash.

Third, and most exasperating, is the storage space in the basement. Each apartment has a designated storage space and this feature tipped the scales for me. As we were looking in the unit, Jessica and I talking about the moldy boxes, bug carcasses, and piled up trash, once again, B. said “I'll have maintenance get this cleaned out for you.”

I moved in, got busy unpacking between work and the stuff of life. After a few weeks, I was ready to sort, organize, and decide what to store in the basement. The first step was to clean out the storage unit. Between the time B. said she would have it cleaned out and the time I was ready to start using it, someone had shoved more boxes of moldy books and other junk into the unit I was just about to start using.

When I contacted the office about it, I was told to just use a different one. OK. Except every single storage space is full of nasty, moldy, piles of junk.

None of these three things would have caused me to choose The Highlands. I would not have expected any of these three things to be taken care of until B. said that they would be. Her words set my expectation, and her words have since become lies.

And these lies sum up my experience living at The Club at Indian Creek in Overland Park. It's all been downhill from here.

#theClubatIndianCreekOP

I moved to The Club at Indian Creek on January 2nd despite terrible on-line reviews. Because my dog Max is 100 lbs, there were only three complexes to choose from. Some of the issues seemed to have been addressed, and the space is perfect. I assume it was once an upscale condo with a fireplace and a storage unit in the basement. Most importantly it's a garden apartment with a very large patio where I can get my hands in the dirt and Max and I can sit outside together.

When I moved in, the patio was a sterile combination of gravel and weeds. Someone had laid down weed barrier and a ton of gravel, so planting anything takes a long, back-breaking time. Because of this I can only buy as many plants as I can get in the ground at one time. It's slow going, but we're getting there. I'm excited for next spring when the gangley starts have filled in a little and might offer blooms.

Because I walk Max a lot, I get to see how different people are using their patios. Some have created beautiful extensions of their living space, as I am trying to do. I must seem a voyeur as I peek through the fence slats for ideas. Others grow weeds taller than the 6 ft. privacy fences.

Friday night I discovered that my native clematis had snuck three of its tenderest new leaves through the slats to the outside. The lawn company wouldn't have had to look very hard to see that the vine is intentional and that I am maintaining the space nicely. They doused it in poison and it is slowly dying.

This sums up my experience at The Club.

#theClubatIndianCreekOP

Residents at The Club at Indian Creek are required to pay for valet trash service. This sounds like a good idea, and for some, a great value at $25 per month or $300 per year. It's not a service that I want, as I recycle and compost and generate very little trash, but I understand why The Club requires it.

There are 274 apartments in the complex. At $25 per month (there are a lot of vacancies as turnover seems to be pretty high) that's less than $7000 per year. I suppose that's kind of a bargain for a years worth of trash service except that residents don't seem to actually using the service.

One of the deciding factors in moving here for me was on-site recycling. This is a service included in Valet Trash, so I weighed my resignation at paying for the service against looking for an apartment without Valet Trash that would also allow Max, my 100 lb dog.

I move in, put my first bag of trash out, where it remains for several days. I open a maintenance request asking why. My trash was bagged in a dog food bag. It was not filled all the way and the top was rolled closed so that trash wouldn't fly everywhere. But this is why it remained in the hallway. I am required to purchase a new trash bag that can be tied closed. I don't agree and feel that I should be able to reuse bags that are headed to the landfill anyway, but OK.

Office staff kindly gave me, as an example, two of the bags required for recycling pick up. I dutifully purchase some and put my recycling in the hall as directed, where it remained for several days. Again, I open a maintenance request asking why my recycling isn't getting picked up and am told the bags are too full and they have to be tied completely closed.

This makes no sense, as bagged recycling goes directly to the landfill and does not get recycled. This is common knowledge but I check my thinking with Johnson County Health and Environment. Not only is it true, JCHE offers to call The Club to discuss corporate recycling programs that work. When JCHE reports back, they've been told by office staff not to worry because the trash service is unbagging all recycling.

Recycling Dumpsters

I have photographic images of bagged recycling in the only two, (of 23 total) recycling dumpsters on The Club property. But let's assume a resident improperly disposed of those bags. I'm still required to purchase a non-recyclable bag that then goes directly to the landfill. This obviously defeats the purpose of recycling.

Now that I'm here, I don't use the Valet Trash service at all. I take my recycling to my sister's house where she enjoys unbagged, curbside recycling. I also take my own trash out, usually when I've disposed of something that might encourage Max to investigate.

When I moved in the office manager told me residents here don't recycle and I found her comment curious. On any given day you'll see people taking their own trash out. On multiple occasions I've observed my upstairs neighbor loading trash bags into his car, so I asked him why he doesn't use the valet service. “They're slow and lazy.” I'm not sure what this means, but that's what he said.

While recycling may not be important to you, I bring this issue to light as one example of a service residents of The Club pay for, but don't receive. The attitude of office staff is that the service is required and it doesn't matter that it's not working. They won't fix it.

#theClubatIndianCreekOP

Grandpa's Dandelions

The only man I ever knew who wore a beret and plaid purple pants well kept a pocket knife at the ready to make his assault, anywhere, anytime.

He could always be found, stooped to the ground digging the roots. He had to get it all. His aim to rid the world of those billowing lion heads spreading their seed and flowers beloved by children.

It’s spring, my yard a blanket of yellow flowers. A travesty to that warriors memory, a family embarrassment

Forgive me grandfather. I love bees, and you would strain your back just to see their first food.

#poetry #jocowrites

Morning

It’s 2:45 am and I’m standing in front of a housing co-op waiting for an Uber to the airport. A cool, delicate, and delicious mist dampens my backpack just enough to make me wonder if I’m imagining that it’s wet at all.

A man pushing a rickety grocery cart is headed my way. His cart clunks at each seam and wrinkle in the sidewalk and I wonder if my standing there with no purpose will make him uncomfortable.

He’s being trailed by a golden mylar balloon with a four-leaf pattern on it and I wonder why he has adopted it. Will he try to sell it, or does it just make him happy?

A coin falls and he’s casting his flashlight about as the balloon slips, unmoored, floating past the power lines into the night sky.

He abandons the coin.

“You taking this?” he asks inspecting the two recycling bins on the curb. “No. Help yourself,” I say. He rumages but takes nothing. The bin has already been picked over. As he straightens, I say, “Nothing good?” He mumbles something unintelligible, then “have a good night” as I’m saying “have a good morning.”

I lift my gaze to the sky for the balloon, but it’s gone. I watch as the man slowly bumps his cart along his way.

#jocowrites

When You Live in an Old House

You must have a mouser. And when you walk through the kitchen You risk discovery of the gift. Never quite dead.

Cute, except when it’s pooping in your silverware, Or chewing up your favorite winter scarf.

The crunch of bone, Felt, or rather heard, it’s hard to tell which. You’ll be grateful you had your boots on.

You’ll be glad, feeling the crunch of bone, That it’s suffering is over.

#poetry #jocowrites

WIC Matters

When I got pregnant with my son in 1994, I received WIC benefits. Women, Infants and Children is an income-based nutrition program that provides a confusing, but much appreciated, strict allotment of food to low-income mothers, of which I was one. At a very uncertain and frightening time, WIC was there. The assistance offered was just enough to allow me to remain employed, continue my education, and still provide for my son.

I had a bachelors degree, so I was neither uneducated, nor stupid. The current narrative that a person receiving benefits must be ignorant and uneducated was not the case for me, and is not true for many folks receiving public assistance today.

My son’s father, a staunch Southern Baptist, would have married me, but I suspect he thanks his God every day that I declined. It would not have ended well, despite him being a perfectly nice and well-meaning human.

I was also gainfully employed as a library assistant at a for-profit college for around $9.50 an hour. A hefty $2.25 above today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25. Wages haven’t changed much since 1994 and I challenge each of you to imagine a budget based on the minimum wage.

The college where I worked offered tuition reimbursement and I had applied, been accepted to, and was enrolled in Library School. Again, I was not stupid, uneducated, nor a slacker. And I was doing all the things we’ve been told to do in order to be successful. Nothing was working the way my middle-class upbringing had promised.

I owned my own home. And my poverty was not a case of having bought more house than I could afford. I had paid $22,000 for a very, very modest home. My mortgage payment was $250 and my unairconditioned car was paid for. I was not mismanaging the little money I was making.

Before I got pregnant, I was living paycheck to paycheck. I had done, and was continuing to do, everything I was supposed to do to be successful. Yet I was barely making it.

I puked my way through the first semester of graduate school, and soaked the front of my sweatshirt during cataloging class when my milk came in the second. I was neither lazy, nor afraid to work through adversity.

Despite my education, despite gainful employment, my drive to succeed, and my status as a homeowner, I was struggling to merely exist. There was no wiggle room. When my car irreparably broke down I had to borrow money from a relative. What do people with no family, or family without the means to help, do?

I will never forget the stomach-churning day a pay-raise tipped me over the WIC income limit, making us ineligible. It should have been joyous, but I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to provide for my child. Spoiler alert . . . we’re fine. But that raise created a conflict between wanting to succeed professionally and wanting to be fully present for my child. I became caught in the gap between receiving assistance and actually making enough money to be self-sufficient. It took me five years to get through a two year graduate program while working full-time and raising my son. It is no surprise that many choose to postpone careers and don’t pursue promotions when premature denial of assistance makes doing so nearly impossible.This is a serious problem in a program that is meant to give people the stability they need to get those raises and promotions.

To be clear, I was eligible for WIC many months before my son was born. With my full-time job, I was still eligible for government assistance. My son became the greatest motivator of my life and the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m not sure I would have persevered had he not come along to raise the stakes.

I telling you this after all these years, because our current White House administration is planning further cuts to a program that helped me just enough to save me from the poverty that threatened to consume me and helped transform me into a tax-paying citizen of over twenty years. “(FNS-2018-0004) would make it harder for people struggling to find steady work to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Through harsh time limits and burdensome reporting requirements, the Administration is attempting to deprive 755,000 people of the means to feed themselves and their families.”*

I get that you may have never personally needed assistance. You may have never filed bankruptcy, or received Unemployment or Disability benefits, WIC or SNAP. It doesn’t mean that someday you won’t, and I guarantee I’m not the only one you know and love who has. In sharing my story, I’m hoping you’ll share yours, and then do something to protect the programs that protect us all. Do something. Let’s do it together.

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