It’s official: in terms of our living situation, Drew and I are totally screwed.

Like brothers and sisters comparing notes as their parents’ fights lead ever closer to divorce, the tenants of my building are getting more paranoid by the day, scheming and eavesdropping in an effort to figure out what horrid fate awaits us all. I’ve spoken more to my neighbors in the last few weeks than in the entire year prior to that, and everybody’s freaked out. After our landlord sold our building to the soulless, faceless Evil Investment Corporation (EIC), we all found ourselves slapped with steep rent increases. (Drew and I are facing a 22% hike.) But we’re afraid that’s only the beginning.

For the most part, the rent hikes just bring us all up to market value, which sucks because we all had such a sweet deal, but then again, it’s not totally unreasonable. The scary part is that this weekend, a couple of representatives of EIC were casing the building with clipboards in hands and merciless, Satanic grins on their faces. One neighbor listened in to their entire conversation and heard them talking about landscaping the yard, retiling the entranceway and gussying up the courtyard. As we all know, unless your landlord is Santa Claus, you ain’t getting this shit for free. Somewhere down the road — none of us knows how far away it’ll be — they’re either going condo, or they’re turning these into luxury apartments. Either way, we’ll all be priced out of our range and forced to move out.

It’s given everyone a Norma Rae/Fight the Power attitude. They talk to each other in the garage and slip printouts from the housing commission under their neighbor’s doors. One aggravated guy has been complaining that the new owners aren’t taking proper care of the lawn and that he’s going to hire someone to do it and deduct the cost from his rent. This attitude should probably last another five minutes before everyone freaks out and starts looking for other places to live.

It would be easy to launch into an emotional tirade against our new owners and excoriate them for everything they’re doing or planning to do and how they’re ruining people’s lives, blah blah blah. But I know what I’m up against, and I know I’m going to lose. So instead, I’d like to say this to the landlords: You don’t know the people who live in the building, but I do. My neighbors are a nice group of people, and I like them a lot. Over the time I’ve lived in the building, I’ve grown to know some of them and created some bonds based on mutual respect and trust.

And that can work to your advantage. Let me spy for you. I’ll be your eyes and ears in the building. I’ll let you know who the real troublemakers are (*cough*, Apt. 306, *cough*), so you can boot them out first. I know who’s got an unauthorized pet (*cough*, ferret, *cough*), who has an illegal cable hookup and who lets their guests park in the garage. And you can know all of those things, too. That bitch who smokes in the courtyard? Let’s can her first. Jack up her rent to five grand a month. She’ll never be able to hack it on the meager tips she earns at the nail salon.

All I ask in return is that you kick me out last. And that we make life hell for those two college kids with the yapping dog that never shuts up. It’s perfect for you. But more importantly, it’s perfect for me.

Please. Call me. I know things.

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