While most of you were enjoying yourselves on Memorial Day, I was in misery. On a day when people are supposed to rest and relax, I was sitting in an apartment with a temperature of 96 degrees.
My air conditioning in my costly Broad Ripple apartment had gone out last summer. I'd called the management at my apartment complex at least 30 times last summer. They kept promising to fix it but they didn’t. Finally, the problem was solved when winter arrived.
I called in March to see if they could fix my air before hot weather arrived. They promised they would get to it soon. Nothing happened, even though I kept paying my rent.
Finally, the weather turned hot over Memorial Day weekend. As the outside temperature climbed into the upper 80s, my apartment was in the low 90s. Calls to the emergency maintenance line were ignored.
On Memorial Day, the temperature inside got so hot that the thermostat ran out of measurements. It only goes up to 96 degrees and the red arrow was struggling to hit 100.
I'd bought some popsicles and ice and placed them in my freezer. A few hours later, I opened the freezer and found that the ice had melted and so had the popsicles. Even on its coldest setting, it couldn't keep up with the heat.
I started to feel dizzy and got pains in my chest. I checked my blood pressure: 160 over 110. I felt like I was going to die. I stepped into the shower and let cold water run over me. It helped only slightly.
This apartment is going to kill me, I thought.
My cats looked miserable and lethargic. They wouldn't eat and barely drank any water. They looked at me with anger, blaming me for choosing such a shitty apartment in which to live.
Each day, I call the apartment complex and am promised that they will fix it eventually. I even posted their phone number on my Internet message board and asked readers to call.
I even e-mailed WRTV's Call 6 For Help. While the apartment complex wouldn't respond to me, they did tell an RTV producer that my air would be back on "soon."
Days later, nothing.
In consecutive days, the 5 p.m. temperature in my apartment was 96, 98, 94 and 90 degrees. I took to sleeping on my patio since it was a few degrees cooler outside.
For the amount of money I pay, you'd think I'd be entitled to some maintenance. Apparently not. A worker at the office told me they were short on funds and weren't buying any new carpet for apartments and just leaving units vacant after people moved out, instead of fixing them up for a new tenant.
I checked the relevant Indiana law to see if I had any legal recourse. Turns out I don't. As long as the apartment complex says they're going to fix the problem, I can't withhold rent or break the lease.
It's not surprising that Indiana protects slumlords over tenants. In a state where workers have few rights, where taxpayers are ignored and where our elections are conducted with faulty equipment, it only makes sense that slumlords have the upper hand.
"You need to get out of here," my girlfriend tells me every night as we sit on my patio. "This isn't living. When you can't come home from work and relax, when you always feel like you're dying, when you can't even sleep in your apartment, that means it's time to move."
I agree. The problem is that I'm stuck here until I can afford the deposit and the first month's rent on a new place. So my apartment complex has no incentive to fix my place, since they figure I'll be bailing as soon as I can.
When an apartment is 96 degrees, you can't do much of anything. Fans just stir hot air around. Because it's so sunny and humid outside, there's no relief there. And the pool at my complex isn't open, so even that relief is denied me.
I've spent time in stores, restaurants, anywhere with AC. But I still have to come back to an oppressively hot apartment that aggravates my breathing problems and my hypertension.
Installing a window unit AC isn't an option, either. The windows are oddly shaped and are too small for even the tiniest window units. So I'm screwed five ways to Sunday.
I found a brief amount of solace in going to apartmentratings.com and leaving my comments in their forums. "Homelessness is better!" my headline reads. My complex is rated favorably by only 29 percent of respondents, which strikes me as surprisingly high.
But that was just a temporary victory. My apartment complex has no plans on ever fixing my air conditioning. I know this in my heart.
On Monday, after some 30 calls, I was finally connected with the manager of my apartment complex. She vows swift resolution. It's only been 13 months since my initial call. We'll see.