by Sarah Garb
Living in our Washington, DC apartment building for the past six years, my husband and I have discovered that it is extremely easy to evade the Office of Tax and Revenue. Simply move away and let the Office of Tax and Revenue continue to send their bi-weekly notices, probably notices of Very Bad Things or Big Bucks Owed, to your old apartment for the new tenants to find. Every other week or so, we (the lucky new tenants) receive a letter for Marissa Martinez, diligently write in “Not at this address,” and pop it in the outgoing mail slot. After six years of this game, it is clear that the Office of Very Bad Things / Big Bucks Owed is either extremely patient or willfully ignorant.
Today I found one such piece of mail addressed to Not Us, and was about to grab a pen when I realized that it wasn’t addressed to our friend Ms. Martinez, but to someone I know from work. Whaaa?
I could not get my head around it for a few minutes. “But that’s our address. But her name. But that’s our address.” The most logical explanation I could come up with at first was that this had to have been a work-related mail error. This would mean that my employer, for some reason, had begun issuing bills on behalf of the electric company, but it seemed temporarily plausible. I tracked down my co-worker and found out that she had, in fact, moved into our building, onto our very floor. With an apartment number only one digit different from ours.
“Oh cool!” she said. “You can introduce me to some people in the building--I haven’t met anyone yet.”
Oh sure…except that a) we know hardly anyone in the building, b) we don’t know the actual names of the people we do “know,” and c) the names we have given them are Crazy Lady and Drunk Guy. So not likely we’re going to set her up with any fast friends.
While this connection doesn’t mean my co-worker gets an entree into a new set of fifth floor best buddies, it does mean that I have to rethink my concept of what is acceptable to wear when leaving the apartment. Gone are the days of taking out the trash or fetching Marissa Martinez’s mail in my pajamas. I mean, if I step out in some terrible Polarfleece ensemble, without having showered yet, to dash down the hall, it’s OK if strangers catch a glimpse. But to potentially run into someone I know is a whole different story.
And I’m not talking about some kind of normal pajamas that I’m claiming are ‘terrible.’ I mean that I once had a lady on the elevator down to the laundry room say to me, “Girl—you got on the outfit from hell!” And she was right. There was extreme rainbow plaid paired with traffic-cone orange, accented with blue and purple striped fuzzy socks crammed into the too-small black dress shoes that were closest to the door.
But on the plus side, that’s a third building resident I know. For those of you keeping track, that brings the neighbor gang to: Crazy Lady, Drunk Guy, and also Outfit from Hell Lady. It’s a very unimaginative, observational naming system, but I can totally fill this co-worker in on all the key players at 1480 Yarmouth Street NW. And I’ll also tell her to start expecting letters from the Office of Tax and Revenue any day now.
Image credit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_2sYXHRFeJNk/SJEdJyJBooI/AAAAAAAADbM/9nTIwS_LiKI/s400/Mailboxes.jpg