Friday, August 14, 2015

A Belated Farewell to Irvington House

Yesterday marked the one month anniversary of our move to North Tabor and, subsequently, the end of our time at Irvington House. Greg and I were starting to put some plans together to move sometime this winter, but the owner accelerated that timeline for us somewhat unexpectedly. In the end, it probably worked out for the best, but it's never easy to move, especially during the peak summer months.

When I found out we were going to move, I immediately started making notes about some of the crazy things that happened during our year and eight months in residence. I can honestly say that I became even more knowledgeable, especially relating to household maintenance, than I already was, and that Greg really learned how to clean bathrooms, mostly learned how to make a bed hotel-style, and now knows how much the finishing details can change a guest's first impression of their lodgings.

As you read my notes below, keep in mind that Irvington House was built in 1908 as a single family home and was eventually converted to a duplex, then a triplex. While there are plenty of modern touches, some of the inner workings of the house are still original (e.g. knob-and-tube wiring in the caretaker's apartment) and the floors and walls are not insulated/soundproofed.

Things I will not miss:
  • slamming doors
  • emergency maintenance calls in the middle of the night
  • neighbors’ barking dog(s)
  • next door neighbor’s cat that lays on the front porch furniture and dirties the cushions
  • grill mouse
  • odorous ants
  • guests who rearrange the furniture
  • tripped circuits
  • one night stays
  • people who do not remove their shoes (which makes it very noisy above the caretaker's apartment)
  • hauling cleaning supplies and dirty linens up & down six flights of stairs (the house covers four floors)
  • being on call 24/7
Craziest things that happened:
  • A guest "accidentally" knocked a big hole in a bedroom wall shortly after we moved in.
  • Guests who dressed in very elaborate costumes for Comic Con.
  • Guests who left trash everywhere in the upstairs apartment.
  • A tree fell across 15th Ave late one evening and pulled down live power lines. I had to direct traffic until the cops arrived.
  • A guest's car getting stolen (it was actually towed by a neighbor).
  • Guests who left bloody sheets on the bed that resembled The Godfather horse head scene.
  • An older guest lost their footing, fell down the stairs and had to go to the hospital for stitches.
  • A guest in the garden unit called late at night and said there was water all over the apartment. I went downstairs and sure enough there was 1/2 inch of water all over the concrete floor. Turns out the P-trap under the kitchen sink had become disconnected. She had been washing dishes and didn't notice the water pouring out of the cabinet! 
Best “left” items (I rarely received tips, but often guests would leave a note saying they had left some food in the fridge that they couldn't take with them):
  • unopened beer or wine
  • a vacuum-sealed thermos that the guest told me not to bother shipping back to him (Greg takes his coffee to work in it every day)
  • an actual $20 cash tip
  • fresh produce (most often lettuce)
  • an unopened bag of Doritos (Greg's favorite)
Things I will miss:
  • The perpetually "lost" cat Buddy, whom I had to carry home on numerous occasions.
  • Greg ringing his bike bell as he rode up the driveway from work. I was usually in the kitchen cooking dinner so could easily hear it and wave out the window. Our new apartment is in the back of the house down a long flight of stairs...
  • Lounging on the beautifully landscaped back patio (although it's pretty hard to beat the view from our deck on Mt Tabor).
  • The rainbows created by sunlight coming through the leaded glass windows in our apartment.
  • The squirrel antics and numerous birds we could observe from our living room window.
  • “Paid” vacations - If anyone stayed in our apartment while we were gone, I charged the owner a nightly rate (as determined by dividing our rent by the number of days in that particular month).
  • The owner’s vehicle, which I occasionally borrowed for personal use.
  • The overall location and proximity to everything.
I'm sure I'm leaving out plenty. Hopefully Greg will comment if he thinks of something particularly interesting. The takeaway from this experience is that while I've always thought I might enjoy running a bed & breakfast or vacation rental of this nature, it is very hard physical work (I cleaned the two rental apartments a total of 250 times) and requires being on call 24/7 to assist guests or deal with maintenance issues. It also requires tons of patience -- guests were notoriously "clueless" about so many things that were spelled out in writing at the time of reservation, in reminder emails, as well as clearly posted in the apartments. I'm not ruling anything out for the future, but I will evaluate and choose the property wisely and consider all of the pros and cons before committing to a job like this again. Farewell, Irvington House!

1 comment:

  1. A great reference piece for us likeminded caretaker peeps. OH....Buddy!!!