The Waterbed (New Residents Caught In a Lie Here's What Really Happened In Their Bedroom)
A Day In The Life ...
Oh, the joys of property management! It’s funny how you can tell your residents the rules, have them sign documents to acknowledge they understand them, then later learn how quickly they’ve broken them. This story, sent in by a property manager in San Antonio is one such tale.
Back in the early eighties, I managed a community of two-story townhomes. The units were really lovely, and we enjoyed 100% occupancy almost the entire time I worked there.
One of our long-time residents had moved out and I was assisting a young couple, helping them complete their new lease. When we were getting near the end of the paperwork, the boyfriend asked, “Do you allow waterbeds here?”
“No, I’m sorry,” I replied. “All of the bedrooms are upstairs in our floorplans. It would be disastrous if we had a waterbed spring a leak. I’m sure you understand. Why do ask? Do you have a waterbed?”
Knowing they’d barely squeaked by on their application and attempting to stay on my good side, the young woman jumped in. “Yes, but don’t worry. Our bedframe will accommodate a regular king or queen-sized mattress. We can just use that. I’m getting tired of the waterbed anyway. It’s kind of a pain.”
Waterbeds—What A Pain!
Having had a waterbed of my own a few years before, I knew what she was talking about. Setting them up and draining them was a real pain. Plus, I personally had never gotten accustomed to feeling as if I were sleeping on a giant water balloon.
The couple moved in on a Saturday morning. Two weeks later, I was standing outside the office talking with Phil, our maintenance man, when the boyfriend drove up.
“I need to turn in a work order,” he said, getting out of his car.
“Come on in,” I said, inviting him into the office. I looked over at Phil. “You might as well come in, too. After all, you’ll be the one taking care of the problem.”
Phil, who was always good-natured about things, shook his head and laughed. He followed the resident and me into the office and I pulled out my work order clipboard.
“Now, what’s the issue?” I asked.
A Leak, You Say?
“We have a bit of a leak,” he started. “We thought it was coming from the bedroom ceiling, but now we’re sure it’s coming from behind the kitchen walls.”
“Hmm, a leak behind the kitchen wall?” Phil asked dubiously. “Now, that’s a first! I’ve been here since this property was built and I’ve never seen that before! Come on, you can show me where it is.”
The young man stood up, suddenly becoming defensive. “Well, I’m sorry you don’t believe me! It’s probably a pipe or something. That can happen, can’t it?” he asked looking back and forth between Phil and me.
“Well, sure I guess anything’s possible,” Phil said. “Look man, it’s not that I don’t believe you. I just said it’s a first. Let’s go take a look together, or I can go check it out myself if there’s somewhere else you need to be.”
“No,” said the young man. “I need to be there to show you where the leak is. You might have a hard time seeing it.”
“Well, I’m not busy at the moment, so I’d be happy to go with you to check it out,” I offered.
The resident seemed nervous about having me tag along but he shrugged and said, “That’s fine. The more the merrier...”
I watched him fidget uneasily, which only added to my suspicion that there was something more going on besides a leak in the kitchen.
A Sloshing Disaster
Phil and I were on the same page, as usual. When we got into his truck, he said, “Something feels a little off here.”
I nodded. “Why do you think I decided to see this kitchen leak for myself?” I asked with a chuckle. “Besides, it gets a little dull around this place sometimes!”
The boyfriend had arrived at the townhome and was unlocking the front door when we arrived. As the door swung open, we were struck by the foul odor of mold and mildew.
“Wow!” I said as I covered my nose. “It doesn’t smell so great in here!”
“I know,” said the young man sadly. “I’m telling you, it’s coming from the leak in the kitchen. You can see that there was water coming from behind that wall.”
Phil and I watched as he pointed to the far wall of the kitchen. I noticed the stove and refrigerator had been disconnected and pulled into the center of the room.
“We didn’t realize the fridge was out for a couple of days because we were out of town,” the resident explained. “We lost everything in there, including some expensive steaks that were in the freezer.”
I shook my head as he shot me an accusatory look as if I were responsible for their spoiled meat! Quickly dismissing this, I noticed the refrigerator door had been propped open and I could make out some shapeless lumps of rotting food. I nearly gagged.
Dismayed, I asked, “You guys just left that smelly food in there?”
Before he had a chance to answer, Phil chimed in. “I see that the flooring is peeling up at the corners and along the walls in the kitchen and breakfast nook. Whatever caused this “leak” produced a major amount of water.” Surveying the living area he frowned. “It’s likely all this carpet and the pad beneath it will have to be replaced.
Phil stepped over to inspect the wall where the resident insisted the leak had originated. He was thoughtful for a moment, then said, “Young man, I’ve been in maintenance a long time. Now, we both know that this “leak” did not come from behind your kitchen wall. Why don’t you just tell us what really happened here?”
Our resident was silent, likely scrambling to think of another lie.
While we waited, Phil and I were looking above us. There was sufficient light in the room so that we could easily see water damage to the ceiling and standing water in the overhead lighting.
“Lights shorted out on you too, eh?” Phil asked, not really expecting a reply.
The Nitwit Was About To Cry
The boyfriend’s shoulders drooped. “I told her you wouldn’t buy it,” he said miserably.
I had a moment of clarity. “You guys set up that waterbed, didn’t you?”
“It was her idea, not mine!” he snapped. “She freaked out and split when we realized how much water had leaked out! The mattress must have gotten torn during the move. We’d gone to visit her parents; and when we came back, water was everywhere! I tried to sop it up with towels, but it was just too much!”
I thought the guy was going to cry. “What’s going on upstairs?” I asked, almost afraid to hear his answer.
“Come on. I’ll show you,” he said, slowly moving toward the stairs.
Suffice it to say their bedroom and most of the flooring upstairs was ruined. The couple’s “waterbed” was lying directly on the carpet in the corner of the bedroom. It didn’t look like any waterbed mattress I’d ever seen. It was just a large, gray plastic bag filled with baffles.
“Wait,” I demanded, holding up my hand to the resident. “So you guys lied when you told me you weren’t going to use your waterbed. You also told me that you had a kind-sized frame that you’d be putting a regular mattress on top of—so where’s the frame?”
Cringing, he gave a heavy sigh. “Well, about that . . .” He started giving me a feeble explanation. It was something about his girlfriend’s brother who was supposed to give them his waterbed frame and mattress. At the last minute, the brother had only given them the mattress. They’d set the huge rubber “mattress” on the floor and used a hose and water from the bathroom to fill it to capacity. It must have taken them hours—and lots and lots of water!
I looked over at Phil who was wordlessly surveying the damage.
“This is pretty bad, isn’t it?” asked the resident, breaking the silence.
Thousands of Dollars Later
Suddenly, I felt angry. Our owners were nice people. They trusted their staff to run things and seldom got involved in managing the property. I had taken these two nitwits at their word that they weren’t going to be setting up a waterbed. They had made a mess of a perfectly nice townhome and it was going to cost them thousands of dollars in repairs.
I frowned at the resident. “You know, you and your girlfriend seemed like intelligent young people when I met you. What part of ‘we don’t accept waterbeds in our townhomes’ did you guys not understand?”
He blinked at me a couple of times, not speaking for a moment. He then reverted to his original excuse—it was all her fault!
We ended up evicting the couple and suing them for damages. Their townhome was slowly restored to its former, lovely condition and placed back on the market. I was showing it to a married couple with a small child who seemed amused when I explained our no waterbeds policy.
“That just makes sense,” the wife remarked. “Especially since the bedrooms are upstairs.”
“What kind of fool would put a waterbed on the second floor?” her husband asked.
I closed my eyes for a moment remembering the former occupants of the townhome and let out a sigh. “You might be surprised,” I replied with a roll of my eyes. “You might be surprised . . .”