The newest catch phrase on the Internet is “dumpster fire,” which I’ve been hearing in reference to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign (or lack thereof). If you paid attention to the election so far (most voters won’t tune in until after Labor Day in September), the short-fingered vulgarian turned political pretender had a horrible week: attacking a Muslim family whose Army son died in Iraq, proclaiming that his sacrifices in business was equivalent to a family losing their son in war, attacking the Republican leadership for not supporting him, complaining about a crying baby at a rally, and the list goes on and on and on.
A real dumpster fire is no fun.
My roommates and I had rented a three-bedroom triplex in Cupertino for six years when we decided to move out in 2001. The Hong Kong owner was happy to see us go, as we were only paying $1,600 per month in rent. With the Silicon Valley real estate market going insane in the run up to the Dot Com Bust, the owner doubled the rent to $3,200 per month and found tenants shortly after we moved out. If he still owns the triplex today, which is down the street from the new Apple campus under construction, it wouldn’t surprise me if the apartments went for $5,000 per month.
Since we were parting ways and moving into smaller apartments, we decided to throwaway a lot of stuff. I got tasked with acquiring a 10-yard dumpster that got delivered to the parking alley behind the triplex. Sofa, love seat, kitchen table, books, old electronics and the accumulated crap from inside the attached garage went straight into the dumpster. We had so much stuff that it towered over the four-foot walls of the dumpster, presenting a problem on how compact everything below the wall height before I could call the company to remove the dumpster.
On the Sunday morning of our last week at the apartment, we learned that the dumpster caught on fire. The bonfire got so hot that it melted the glass pane in the laundry room window ten feet away. The firefighters quickly put the fire out. Since they initially believed it was spontaneous combustion that caused the fire, they took a fire ax to the garage door lock and found an empty garage. The arson investigator concluded from eyewitness reports that a passing homeless person tossed a burning match into the dumpster after lighting up a cigarette.
The dumpster fire reduced our towering possessions to two feet of soggy ashes. While that created room to throw out more stuff, it created more headaches for me. Even though my name wasn’t on the lease, the property manager held me responsible since I ordered the dumpster that got delivered too close to the building and I was the only one among my roommates who had rental insurance. The roommate whose name was on the lease decided to disappear for a while, leaving me stuck with winding down the apartment.
After several weeks of phone calls with the insurance investigator and the property manager, the insurance company declined coverage as the fire took place outside of the apartment. The owner’s insurance policy covered the damages. The property manager wanted to pursue legal action against me, but the owner declined to do so since his rental income doubled. I’m damned lucky to get out of that dumpster fire.
Or so I thought.
A year later I moved in with a different set of roommates who found a nice apartment in a San Jose triplex. The property manager for that triplex also managed the Cupertino triplex. We had to meet in her office to sign the rental agreement. She spent an hour roasting me for what happened at the old apartment in front of my new roommates, whom I’ve already told about and they enjoyed me being on the hot seat. She then surprised them by announcing that they were getting the apartment because she trusted me as being the only responsible adult among them. They didn’t like being burned that way.