Saturday, November 19, 2011

Looking for a Place To Rent in Singapore (Part 2): The Crazy Lady

So I'm still looking for a place in Singapore and even after the whole discrimination experience I wasn't going to let it stop me from finding a place to live (other than a box under bridge next to the merlion).  I've been keeping tabs on sites like gumtree, propertyguru, and easyroommate and set up email alerts to mail me new postings that match my requirement.

I showed up for a viewing... the agent introduced me to the landlady, an older Singaporean woman who didn't speak any English or Mandarin... only Hokkien, so communication would be difficult, but hey, the agent said he lived close by and could help us with any issues if we needed to communicate with her.  There was no hot water, no air conditioning, and no wifi, but at least we'd be able to cook as much as we liked (as long as we paid for the gas).

I went to the ATM to withdraw money for the deposit and agents' fees but unfortunately the machine could only dispense out $10 bills... so I had to carry back a huge stack of $10 bills which I stuffed into my backpack.  I counted the money, then passed it to the agent, who also counted the money, then slowly and deliberately counted again it in front of the owner.  I would later understand why he did that.

I started to realize why the rent for this place was so was because of the landlady.  Whenever the landlady would talk it sounded like she was upset or something... which at first I just assumed that it's normal since it's Hokkien, which is a pretty rough-sounding language.  Then the agent warned me to always lock my door because he doesn't trust the old lady and she might steal something because she's poor.  Then it started to get even weirder.  I asked if previous tenants had problems with the landlady and the agent said, "Yeah, all the time, but she's changed her ways."  Okay, I thought, well, maybe it won't be that bad...  then agent said I should pray for the lady to have peace.  Huh?  She's not at peace?? What's that supposed to mean?  He also casually mentioned that the police station is very close in case I was ever in any life-threatening danger.  Life-threatening danger????  What the.....    

It turns out the old lady is mental but the agent has been trying to do a good deed and help her out for the past 10 years or so.  She apparently doesn't have much money so she depends on the agent to find people who are willing to put up with her.

The landlady very very slowly counted the deposit money and then accused me of not giving the full amount...  we recounted the money and sure enough $40 was missing.  Since both the agent and I had counted the money multiple times, we knew the woman had hidden the $40 somewhere and he immediately started telling her to empty her pockets while he searched the area around her for the missing bills.  She kept refusing to get up and eventually the agent said, "The deal's off!  Let's just call the police."

So a policeman showed up at the door and the agent and landlady were still yelling at each other and the agent asked the policeman to thoroughly search the landlady's body.  The cop didn't like that idea and also didn't appreciate being yelled at so he started to yell too while I was just sitting there with my face in my palms and thinking about how wasted the afternoon was.

Eventually the policeman made the woman stand up and the missing bills fell to the ground.  It turns out she had shoved the bills under her butt when the agent was filling out the contract and while I was bored out of my skull and trying not to make eye-contact with the landlady.  The agent returned my humongous stack of $10 bills to me, apologizing profusely and saying stuff like "You can't trust poor people!!"

The policeman took my contact info in case they needed a further statement.
My statement, of course, would be: "THAT OLD LADY IS FRICKIN' NUTS"

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