I’ve recently begun the infuriating process known as apartment hunting. In addition to the days or maybe weeks of my life I’ll never get back — precious time spent scanning rental listings and futilely calling landlords and agencies — I’m losing time to the predictably shady brokers and agents who don’t even bother to put a fresh coat of whitewash over the truths they stretch about square footage or building conditions.
The wackiest aspect of the first weekend of drudgery was the collection of over-the-top amenities new high-rises seem to think we home-seekers not only want but will actually use. I understand the appeal of a gym and in-unit laundry; I would even be thrilled to have them. I’d probably even hang out in a building’s great wrap-around outdoor space, complete with trees, a garden, and paths looking down over the welter of traffic a few stories below. But as I eyed the gas grills and fire pits, I began to feel myself inching down a slippery slope of absurdity.
These places start with a common room, which we can all probably agree isn’t a bad thing; it’s nice that you and your neighbors can hang out, watch a game together, and share a place for resident meetings. But then that shared space turns into a media room, then wends its way to a full bar which leads to a yoga corner, and eventually to another random souped-up niche with movable screens and sound systems, and finally to a “maker space” with a 3D printer for all those times when you just want to kick back and craft your own plastic key chain.
Finally, I think to myself, the deciding factor in where I’ll live! I’d been so conflicted about it all until the printer made me realize where I really belong.
So far, I haven’t encountered the height of silliness that a friend in Washington, D.C., told me he’d been offered: dogs on site you could rent to take on a walk. I was, however, presented with the option of getting an Alexa that would turn my lights on and off for me. I tried to maintain a straight face while the leasing agent demonstrated this updated version of the Clapper, even biting my tongue during the delay between her voicing a command and it being followed. The thick cylinder sat for a moment in surly silence, apparently deciding whether it felt like obeying or whether it would issue a snarky response as it switched off unseen circuits. The whole process lasted at least twice as long as it would have taken just to reach over and flip switches, but I guess being hypnotized by a vaguely hostile device offers a sense of suspense you don’t usually get with minimal levels of manual labor.