Today is inspection day.
I’ve spent over 80% of my life living in rented homes, and never once before did I have rental inspections with standards as stringent as the ones here in Wellington.
Maybe a realtor or an owner would drop by once or twice a year to make sure we hadn’t demolished the place. Not quarterly. Not with handy checklists on their phone apps, insisting you raise all the blinds and taking photos of all of the sinks and toilets.
It makes sense. This is someone else’s house, after all. We’re just caretakers of it for a brief period of time during which we also happen to live inside of it.
I wish someone had come to inspect our house while we were owners in Drexel Hill. I think sometimes you get so enamored with living somewhere and not being responsible to someone else that you stop being caretakers in small ways. You grow accustomed.
We had a drip in our foyer during a torrential downpour one time in eight years of living in our house. We still can’t figure out why the drip happened just that once. It left a little bubble in the paint. It wasn’t “water damage” per se, because nothing was damaged, but the paint had a bubble. It was in the foyer, which E had painted herself. We could have scraped the paint off of that one bit and repainted it. Instead, we grew accustomed. That bubble in the paint was the first thing we’d see every time we walked in the door. It was almost comforting to see it. It was that way for years.
Do you know how many times that fucking bubble and the “heavy water damage and leaking roof” got brought up when we were selling the house? Good Lorde, I don’t even want to think about it. If someone had just come through our house for an inspection once a quarter, pointed to the bubble, and said, “that is unacceptable,” we would have repainted it in a matter of hours.
I think we could have sold the house three months sooner for several thousand more dollars if we had fixed that fucking bubble. That bubble in the paint was the first thing every prospective buyer would see every time they walked in the door.
This is why I welcome our rental inspections in Wellington. They give us a reason to reconsider every room. They make it impossible to become entirely accustomed to anything that might be slightly askew.
Honestly, I wish I had someone with a phone app checklist to inspect my entire life every quarter. I’ve always been the kind of person to work hard and set lofty goals for myself, but who knows what little leaks I’ve become accustomed to.
It reminds me of when you are trying to learn how to do something physically challenging and you think you’ve got the hang of it, but then your coach or instructor or whomever gives you a little tip. “Elbow should be higher.” “Don’t hunch your shoulders.” “Remember to breathe.” You would probably keep on doing the thing you were doing merrily – shooting an arrow from a bow, or whatever. You’d keep shooting those arrows and thinking, “Gee, I’m grand at this bow and arrow thing.” And then you get reminded that your elbow should be higher, your shoulders shouldn’t be hunched, and that you ought to breathe.
Suddenly it’s a different experience. Not just more difficult, but something you can feel. It’s hard to sleepwalk through something you can feel. It’s makes it impossible to be accustomed, inured.
Maybe that is why I am so obsessed with data and lists and little processes and performance reviews. They are my way of constantly inspecting myself.
The other week I was telling EV6 about how we’d measure her progress in something and she said, “Oh, great, another process.” There was more than a hint of sarcasm there (I now have a child old enough to wield sarcasm as a weapon), but beneath that there was something else.
“I guess I’ll have to be ready for inspection day.”