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.
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?
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.