Perhaps it should have been obvious from the start. When we first moved to Ottawa, we were looking for the perfect apartment – within a budget of course. It had to be downtown, it had to have two bedrooms. It had to have a separate dining room and storage would be good. Ideally it would have an outside deck and a fireplace. And did I mention it had to fit our budget?
We looked at a lot of places during those two days, trudging from one end of downtown to the other. Most of the places that were within our budget were pretty grim. The neighbourhoods were a bit rough and out of the way. The apartments themselves were small and dingy. They seldom had much in the way of natural light.
You’ve all been there at one time or another. We decided to see if we could maybe stretch our budget a little farther. Still, things weren’t going well.
We called one guy – it was slightly after hours so we didn’t think we would get anyone on the line but this friendly voice picked up and said: Sure, sure, really no problem. I can meet you there in 20 minutes.
The place was perfect. Three blocks from Bank Street and only a 20 minute walk to Parliament Hill where I would be working. There were two bedrooms and a somewhat shabby back deck. It had a working fireplace and a separate dining room. The front windows were huge and faced south. There was even a cold storage room and a small garage. The kitchen and bathroom were kind of small and old fashioned but it was by far the best place we saw and only slightly over our budget. We took it on the spot.
He looked us over and I guess thought we looked okay so he whipped out a lease and we signed it.
The property manager was great. For the first two years we lived there, if we had the slightest little problem, Richard would be there the same day to fix it. When the snow fell, it would barely be stopped before he would show up to shovel the driveway and walk. He even built us a brand new deck out back which we enjoyed on summer and fall evenings. Service was his priority – which was one of the reasons he called his company Priority Management. He took care of about 20 houses for several different owners.
We were more than satisfied. Richard seemed to have boundless energy – it was like he never slept. Then it all came to an end.
One day a note was slipped under our door saying that Priority Management was no longer in charge. A more established company took over – one of those big well-known firms – and service was decidedly limited. It seems that Richard was using the rent money for cocaine.
I guess we should have known. His name was Richard Prior, after all.
And that’s ten minutes.