The Bubble Bursts. Mountains of Porn and Underwear Follow.

  In the late 90s, I had moved back to Houston after living in Austin for several years. I felt like I needed to settle down and find some sort of direction in life, after nearly a decade of chasing fun, but irresponsible pursuits. Unfortunately, those misspent years had left me with few marketable skills, and my job options in Houston looked pretty bleak.

  After looking fruitlessly for a month or so, and only being offered crappy low paying pizza delivery and janitorial jobs, my Father entered the picture. He owned a small business doing “Resurfacing” services. Basically, he had technicians that would go into apartments and homes where cabinets, countertops, or old sinks and bathtubs were screwed up – Either horribly outdated looking or having serious cosmetic problems. His technicians would patch the problems up, and then use a durable paint to change colors or make the affected area look better. There were still thousands of apartments with hideous avocado or “harvest gold” color schemes in their kitchens or bathrooms, so business was good.

  Like many things, when done well, it could make ugly or damaged areas look new, and when done badly, it just drew more attention to the original problems.

  I realized that the job would be physical, and that there would be some unpleasant aspects to doing it, but the pay was appealing, and since my dad was the boss, I had hopes that I might end up running the office at some point.

  I was prepared to hustle, but what I wasn’t prepared for were the…. “Unexpected” and unsavory aspects of the job.

  We mostly serviced either occupied apartments, or ones where the tenant had very recently moved or been evicted. Our main clients were almost exclusively with giant complexes occupied by working class or working poor people. The apartment supervisors were usually cheapskates that would rather hire companies like us to gloss over cosmetic problems than they would like to pay to have new cabinets or appliances installed. In some cases, they had been using companies like ours so long that I would have to resurface stuff that had already been done two or three times in the past.

  The occupied units were the worst – The processes we used created highly toxic fumes – I had to wear a respirator the whole time I worked – The residents knew well in advance that we would be working in their home, and it was creepy to see the crap they would leave laying out in the open for us to see.

  Sex toys were common. I’d often have to journey through a bedroom to get to a bathroom, and there would be an astonishing array of huge dildos and lube laying out on nightstands. Sometimes there were drugs or paraphernalia out in the open too. Huge bongs were common, and I spied at least 20 crack pipes in the year I worked for my dad.

  I had to wonder what went through those tenants minds… The sex stuff was pretty yucky, but who leaves their drugs out in the open for some stranger to see?

  The apartments where recent evictions had taken place were often weird too. The same drug stuff and sex toys were common in those, but they were usually empty of furniture, so the things left behind stood out in high contrast. One place I worked at had nothing left in it besides a sink of very dirty dishes, and a mountainous heap of porno magazines in the living room. Another had the biggest pile of underwear I’ve ever seen accumulated in one location, and occasionally someone would leave behind Polaroids of themselves naked or having sex. I don’t know why these were the kinds of things left behind so often, but they were. It was as if some tenants fled hurriedly in the middle of the night, leaving behind their most embarrassing or illegal items as some sort of dark window into their lives. Sometimes I wondered if they just had so much of that kind of stuff that they were forced to leave behind their beloved collection of anal lubes and porn because their car was already stuffed full of other sexual junk.

 There were also catastrophic looking messes sometimes. I’d enter an up until recently occupied apartment, to discover that nothing was left but some awful looking stain on the carpet. Blood? Sewage? Dye? I had no idea. Other times there would be garbage everywhere, as if the tenant had said “Fuck it”, and dumped the contents of ten huge garbage bags all over the floor. Once, the only thing left in the whole place had been a creepy looking homemade doll… A big one… Sitting up against a wall. It felt like the vile thing was watching me the whole time I was working, and gave me a serious case. of the willies.

  I also discovered a disturbing fact for any apartment tenant – It is apparently common for maintenance guys to find and steal drugs when working on a unit – I once had a maintenance guy brag about all of the weed he found and taken from apartments… Because what were they going to do? Call the police?

 More troubling was the discovery that some of those guys also go through women’s underwear drawers when they aren’t around.

  I had to work in the bathroom of a fairly upscale apartment once – The woman that lived there… The tenant was obviously a woman… Had a huge and impressive collection of antique furniture and Asian art, something I noted as I made my way to the back bathroom.

  I did my job, and then a couple of days later we were told that they suspected me of going through her underwear drawer… Not something I ever wanted to be suspected of.

  There were fingerprints and a hand print left in the fast drying white paint that I’d used all over her dresser and other furniture. I knew it wasn’t me, but had to go in to show the apartment supervisor – My hand was several inches bigger than the print left on that poor woman’s dresser, which exonerated me, but proved that someone else – Most likely the maintenance man- Had been in her place immediately after I’d finished, and had been stealing her underwear.

  In some of the slummier apartment complexes, just walking around was scary. I once entered an apartment, to discover that not only was the occupant still there, but she was busy conducting plans for a drug deal over the phone, with a bunch of hand guns sitting out on her table. I left that one without doing the job.
 
  After awhile, I realized that I wasn’t really making much money, wasn’t going o be moving up anytime soon, was tired of inhaling dangerous toxic fumes, and encountering so much filth and creepy weirdness. So I quit. No regrets either. Every person’s home is a sort of bubble… A private place. Seeing the aftermath of that bubble being burst, or getting a glimpse of the darker corners of a person’s private life was more than I wanted to deal with for a meager paycheck.

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