Busy & Lucrative Evening

Day 128 | $57,116 paid | $33,601 till freedom

I’m now $960 richer than I was this morning.

I fielded multiple calls and texts from people this morning on the items I listed online, and I set up times with two individuals to come by later in the evening around 8 PM to buy a coldweather helmet liner ($15) and motorcycle gloves ($35).

The biggest news, however, is that I’ve found a roommate for now through the end of June, which is when I fully expect my loans to be paid off.

I first listed the room over a week ago, and I’ve gotten several calls and scam emails about the room, but nothing had panned out yet. I got a call from a guy who ended up visiting the house. The vibe he was giving off was so creepy, it was almost creepy enough for me to pull the room completely off the market. One girl came by to check it out, but since it’s not close to a bus station and she’s in between transportation, she passed. Waste of time, waste of time.

While I was working out at the gym this evening, I got a voicemail about the room. I called the gentleman back, and he said he wanted to check out the house and was looking at a February 1st move-in date. He said he’d be spending only a few evenings a week at the house because he works in Austin but doesn’t live here. I didn’t want to lose out on an entire month’s rent, but there was definitely a certain appeal to having an absentee roommate, so we set up a time for him to check out the house the next evening.

I left the gym and started fixing my dinner, hoping I could get it prepared and eaten before the buyers for the stuff I posted online came calling. I got a phone call at 7:40 from a girl asking about the room. She said something at the beginning of the call in a very rushed and incoherent way that I couldn’t understand. When I asked her what she said, she didn’t tell me, but she slowed her speech down dramatically and asked if the room were still available and if she could come see it in ten minutes. I told her sure. At the end of our brief conversation, she  told me that she just wanted to make sure I knew that the person interested was deaf and that she was only translating. I was definitely surprised, but I told her it was okay, all good.

I got a knock on the door 15 minutes later, and I opened it up. A tall, clean-shaven guy, probably 6’3″, was standing silently on the porch. I said hello and we shook hands, but he didn’t say anything. This was not a buyer coming for my various crap that I had posted online, it was the potential renter.

I asked him if he read lips, and he shrugged his shoulders and made the universal “a little” sign. He then took out his smartphone and opened up a text message screen and typed his name, Patrick, and that we could use his phone for communicating. He already knew my name from the web post.

I was literally at a loss for words as I started showing Patrick the breakfast nook and dining room and living room, bathroom and his bedroom. I just sort of pointed at stuff and opened doors. He asked a question on his phone, and he handed it to me so I could text the answer back, but I held up my finger to give him the universal “one second” sign, and got my laptop out of my room. I set it up on the counter in my kitchen, and we started messaging back and forth at a pretty rapid clip. It was like I was IM’ing with a friend, but with that friend in the room. At one point, I even used an emoticon. I felt like an idiot directly after typing it. 

 Maybe it’s just because he’s deaf, but in his mannerisms, he had a very patient, gentle–I guess you could even say innocent–way about him.

He’s in Ausitn for an internship at a tech company, but not the same one I work at.

We started talking terms and conditions, and Patrick didn’t understand what the term pro-rated meant. Oh, man. That can be hard enough to explain verbally, let alone through text. But through the use of a spreadsheet, we muscled through it and he figured it out. We walked through the contract together, signed it, and he handed over $910 in cash — $360 for this month, $400 for June, and $150 for the security deposit. He was ready to move in immediately, so I helped him bring in his stuff.

The actual transcript from our exchange is below in italics.

do you have other roommate?

 yes, one girl, 28 yeras old, works at <censored> . from mississippi. she lives in the room next to yours

how long term

now through the end of May

my internship at <censored> end june 29.

that would be fine.

when is good time to move in.

immediately :) 

 i have cash w me.

i’d prefer first and last month + 150 deposit = 800 (400 for june, + ~$380 pro-rated for january) + 150 = $950. you’d get the 150 back on june 29th  since you’re not staying here for all of january, i’d pro-rate it based on the day you actually move in. when would you move in?

soon..can you show me your post on craigslis… i dont get it… pro-rate meana?

 $400 for all of january, 31 days in january, so about $13/day. if you don’t stay here for the for the first few days, i subtract $13 for each day in january you don’t stay here. so if you move in on the 4th, i would take away three days – the first, second, and third, or 3×13 = $39, so you would owe $400 less $39 or $361 + $400 for June + $150 refundable security deposit.

 so this month, i pay you $800 right?

 June will be pro-rated, too :) since you won’t be staying here for all of June.

  i wanna to make sure… lets forget june… just tell me how much i pay this month and after this month?

 if you move in on 1/4, $361 for January, then $400 for each month thereafter. However, per the terms, I’d like to also collect the final month from you, too. does that make sense? end may.. that month, ill look other place. it’s absolutely no problem if you want to stay in june. if u want, you can pay me $361 for January + $400 for May, then you can make the call in May if you want to stay in June for $387 or whatever that number was

now i get it… lets end june

when are you moving in? tonight?

tonight yes

let me  go print this out so we can sign it.

this first one is your copy for your records

do you have your stuff with you? do you need any help?

(While Patrick and I were locking in the contract, I got two phone calls and two house calls from the buyers for my stuff. I didn’t take the time to type out the explanation of what was going on, and he saw me come into the house from the garage with money in my hand, so for all he knows, I’m running a drug business out of my garage.)

After we were done putting his stuff in his room, he made this weird gesture, moving his hand down from his mouth to in front of his stomach in a wide arc. I had no idea what he meant, and I made that obvious, so he took out his phone and typed “Thank you.” I asked him how to say “You’re welcome,” and he showed me. I copied it, smiling and feeling extremely self-conscious. Although it looked like a seemingly easy gesture, I knew I was somehow doing it incorrectly. He just smiled back.

I’ve already found two good sources of American Sign Language lessons on Youtube.

I felt such a sense of accomplish when I successfully signed a contract with a deaf person and then helped him move in. Looking back, though, I’m realizing that Patrick works through much, much more complex things with hearing people on a daily basis. Signing this contract was probably child’s play for him. Whenever I think “woe is me” because I’m paying down $90k of student loans in ten months, I need to think of Patrick whose life is a lot harder than mine is right now.

In fact, taking that a step further, I think I need to start interacting with people living in poverty on a regular basis just to level-set things. Helping out at a soup kitchen might be a good idea. When I was on the rowing team at Michigan, I went to Mott Children’s Hospital once a week with a few guys from the rowing team and various other teams at Michigan to visit the sick kids. We signed baseball caps, took Polaroids with them, and gave each of them a stuffed animal. We tried to make them smile, and we were usually successful.

On the way to the hospital, my thoughts were completely self-centered: “Big exam tomorrow, big race this weekend, life is so hard, so much pressure, etc. etc.” Then, when I saw those kids lying in their beds, many of them fighting a losing battle with cancer or some other illness, all thoughts of myself disappeared, and all I could do was think about the kids.

Later on this evening, when I finally had a chance to digest all that had taken place, I started wondering about this guy’s story. While I hadn’t done so much as a reference check or criminal background check on him, my gut told me that he seemed cool, so I wasn’t wondering about him in an is-he-going-to-chop-me-up-with-an-axe-while-I-sleep-in-my-bed-tonight-type of way. I wanted to know what kind of person–who’s deaf–calls up a complete stranger at 7:30 at night, has a translator ask them if the room is still available, comes and checks it out, asks one or two questions, then immediately plunks down $910 and moves all of his stuff in?

I remember during the summer between my two years at Harvard when I did a 3-month internship at a company located right outside NYC. I stayed in a room at a woman’s apartment in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan. The company where I interned knew her and had recommended her, and I visited her at the apartment weeks before I moved in. It’s hard enough being a strange guy in a strange land, but at least I had my housing situation figured out well in advance. Patrick? Not so much. And he’s deaf.

What’s the story behind his guy who couldn’t find a place to live until the last minute? I’m hoping he’s just big on procrastinating, but a part of me thinks that all the people he approached before me chose not to take him on as a roommate because he’s deaf. They probably didn’t want to deal with what they anticipated would be a hassle. Is this why the translator mumbled the preface that she was translating for a deaf person?

Personally, I think the situation kicks butt. I can blast my tunes as loud as I want and I don’t have to worry about making small talk with him in the mornings–I’m not a morning person, and small talk in general is definitely not my forte.  

If I’m wrong, and he really is an axe murder, then this might be my last post. Goodnight, all. Sweet dreams.

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28 Comments

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28 responses to “Busy & Lucrative Evening

  1. Yeah, unfortunately for him, he probably needs to overly signal his value as a roommate by having cash ready/prepaid and being ready to move quickly, before anyone thinks of reasons why it wouldn’t work out to have a deaf roommate. I guess it’s good he has that unpleasant reality figured out and is prepared!

    Also, disabled people have to get pretty good at judging people, I think. You sound like you rolled with an unusual situation well and tactfully, so he probably figured out it was an ok situation to be in.

  2. brian

    Good deed, helps you and helps someone in need. I thought the same thing, he probably rushed to move in because everybody else shyed away from letting him move in.

    I agree with Emily.

  3. penty

    Haven’t been involved in the deaf community for some time( texting didn’t exist, what a change!) but here are a few things:

    “Is this why the translator mumbled the preface that she was translating for a deaf person?” Probably because it’s something she says so often that she says it quickly and automatically (usually to hearing people who are used to the service) . There are free services where a deaf person types then a translator reads the message out load over the phone to the hearing person hence the odd cadence.

    Your rommmate has a “sign name”, it would be good to know so you should ask.

    BTW if you are planning on learning the ASL alphabet (though with text messaging it seems less necessary these days) learn it by spelling names and words, learning it “in order” means you learn it “in order” so it’s harder when you want to spell something.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Sarah

    From Quora.com: “What are some lifestyle changes that save money”
    Maybe you can find a nugget or two that might help you. Some things you are doing already like living in a cheaper city (yay Austin).

    P.S. Congrats on the Sugar Bowl win :)

  5. Anonymous

    Man! Your blog is more entertaining than those reality shows these days …. in a good way though!

  6. AnaD

    Very cool! :-)
    I work part time at a coffee shop & when a deaf/hard-of-hearing person comes in & I wait on them, it feels like the whole world kinda slows down–and hushes–for our interaction.
    What a neat experience this will be for you!

    (And nice job explaining “pro-rated” ;-))

  7. AnaD

    Oh yeah~
    this is TOTALLY something my mother would say (& I get enough grief from my sister saying I sound like our mom :P) but I’ll say it anyway…
    It’s probably a good idea for you to run a background check on this guy–even though you don’t get a weird vibe from him–because of Sarah’s sake (that’s your other renter, right?). I mean, he may not be an axe-murderer but what if he’s a sex offender? Obviously that’s not something anyone wants to think about or worry about, but unfortunately it’s a possibility. (I’m certainly not implying that he IS one!) Just sayin :-/

      • AnaD

        Um, maybe. (probably?)… I think I was thinking more along the lines of checking his references, etc. –getting SOME background on this guy (not nec. an “official” background check) so you’re not completely blindly taking him in.
        I’m sure if you call your local police dept. (using their reg. phone number –not 911 ;-)) they could give you some good information (including whether background checks really do cost $). And I know you can do a free internet search for registered sex offenders in your area (pretty sure SOs are supposed to register whenever they move someplace new, so maybe check the last town this guy lived in?)

    • AnaD

      (And can I add that I’m not saying this b/c I’m prejudiced against deaf people…I think it’d be wise to double-check any stranger you decide to let live with you… (thanks) )

  8. Cheryl

    hey NMHD, agree w the other comments, this blog is really interesting as you think about things as you are paying off the HD. I am not paying off my MBA too in 2 months, you have inspired me! THANKS!

  9. It makes my day to see comments like these. I went over to unfogged.com and read the post “Chet Gets Frugal” which is about my blog. (http://www.unfogged.com/archives/week_2011_12_25.html#011855) In the comments section, somebody called me a “douche” and another person said that what I’m doing is “distasteful,” so it’s nice to see that while this blog is turning some people offf, it’s inspiring people like you. I hope that for every person who thinks I’m a douche, there are two people who are inspired by me.

    • Nancy

      There are a lot of trolls on the Internet. They like to crawl out of their dank dwelling spaces long enough to leave insulting comments about people who are doing positive things with their lives. I wouldn’t pay these comments any mind. My husband and I think you’re doing it right (+2).

      • Haha, nice. I welcome critical feedack as long as it’s constructive. Of all of their negative feedback, I’d say 10% of it was constructive, and I would have welcomed it directly in the comments section here on the blog. The other 90%? To your point, very trollish.

  10. Hi!
    I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have been reading all your posts since then. I think it’s great what you’re doing and I will keep following you till June (hopefully longer if you decide to keep blogging after you’ve met your goal). Good luck!

    Laura (from The Netherlands, your blog goes international now :P)

    ps. Good to see you’re still alive – since you’ve posted a comment on January 5.

  11. Kevin

    Kudos to you for seeing past Patrick’s deafness and going with your gut instinct on letting him move in.

    My wife and I are both deaf and its unbelievable how much prejudice we deal with being deaf. So, I already assume that Patrick moved in so quickly because he probably went through dozens of rejections before finding you.

    Deaf people aren’t necessary slow and dumb, folks! My wife and I are very educated, successful in business, and are in the top 10% of income earners in the entire US (think > $150,000 a year).

    Keep up the great work.

    • Do you really think that was the reason for the way things went down? If that’s the case, then that’s a pretty sad commentary on our society. Who *cares* if he’s deaf? I mean, he has to live somewhere, he pays the rent on time, he’s quiet…I guess I don’t understand the stigma. At all.

  12. Sarah L

    Any updates on how it’s been living with Patrick? I’m curious if you ever did get a chance to hear a little bit about his story.

    • He’s settled in and we’ve both been really busy doing our own things, so there hasn’t been much time to get to know him. Plus it’s awkward in the hustle and bustle of life to whip out a laptop and ask him about himself. I’ll let you know his story if/when we finally find time to connect.

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