So now that Lindsey and I have new jobs, we are in the process of searching for a new home.  Unfortunately, my recent and prolonged stint as a Job Search Specialist took us out of the market to purchase our first home for at least a little while, and keeps our status (at least temporarily) as renters.  We're hoping this status lasts no more than a year as we continue to save and build our modest nest-egg.  So anyone out there still planning on surprising us with wedding gifts, our arms remain outstretched for your delayed charity.  Tick Tock, people.  Tick Tock.

The catalyst for our move is not only to save money, but more urgently to improve our respective commutes to work.  Lindsey's new job is in Bridgewater, NJ, which is in the center of NJ (east to west) due west of northern Staten Island (how's that for topographic gibberish?).  My job, which I'll be starting in late June, is in Plainsboro, NJ, which is a neighbor of Princeton about 30 miles south of Bridgewater.  So the logical place for us to consider our relocation would be in the middle of those two points, right?  Well, that would be perfect if our interests included boredom and cow shit.  We gave the towns along that path a fair shake.  Towns like Hillsborough, Flemington, Manville, Somerville.  But what we saw in these towns was either wide stretches of farmland (nice to look at, if you're a turnip), industrial parks, highways with congested traffic circles and occasional strip malls surrounded by desolation, or places where a classy night out would include dinner at the VFW hall followed by slugs of bourbon in front of the 7-11. 

The real problem in the commuting equation is the polarity of our two work locations.  If we both worked in the vicinity of Bridgewater, we'd be very quick to gather our stuff and move to Morristown, NJ.  A town I lived in for years, where friends of ours live, and that has everything anyone would want in a hometown. Unfortunately, that would involve a 90-minute commute for me with average traffic.  If Lindsey worked near Plainsboro, I'm sure we'd be thrilled to live in Princeton which is one of the nicest towns in NJ, and home to one of my favorite stores - The Princeton Record Exchange.  However, then her commute would be over an hour, due largely to the cholesterol-like congestion clogging every major artery of the New Jersey grid.

And so after a great deal of searching and compromise, we've decided that we'd like to live in the area of Westfield, NJ.  An upscale town with mostly well kept Victorian homes, quiet neighborhoods, and an active and pleasant town center with plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, and parks.  Close by is Cranford, a similar town minus the upscale snobbiness, but with a nice town center with fewer attractions than that of Westfield, but still nice and convenient.  And so last week we started looking at available apartments, and while it would be misleading to call the search thus far fruitless, it hasn't been overwhelmingly encouraging.  But it's early yet for a July 1st move-in...we're optimistic that the listings will perk up in the next week or so.

What we did receive, in lieu of being shown the perfect apartment, was a memory that will not be going away for a very long time.

On this particular day we were taken on a tour of available apartments by a realtor who for the sake of this entry we'll call Judy Bell....because that is actually her name.  Judy Bell was in her late-50s/early-60s and stood at an estimated 2 foot 5, with brilliant chemically-assisted red hair.  From time to time, as she showed us moderately-priced two-bedroom apartments, she would randomly bring up friends who had recently passed away, discuss annoyances she was having with family members that seemed to relate to nothing, and awkwardly segue into stories about jobs she held before she was a realtor.  At one point, as we exited her car as she was in the middle of one of her unwanted anecdotes, I whispered to nobody in particular "please shut up".

And then we entered a building where Judy was to show us a third floor walk-up.  As we entered the building Judy mentioned how dimly lit the stairway was, with a sense of ominous foreshadowing.  The stairways were long and steep with very narrow steps and they were, in fact, very dimly lit.  As we reached the top, Judy realized that the lockbox with the unit's key was downstairs...back on the first floor.  As she attempted to catch her breath for the inevitable descent back down the stairs, she quietly cursed whoever had the stupidity to hide the lockbox in the first floor entry way, at which point Lindsey compassionately told Judy that she saw it down there on our way up.  I asked Judy if she'd like me to run down and get the keys, but she explained that she'd have to go get them.  I didn't argue. 

And then it happened...

As Judy took her first step down the stairs, she misjudged the first narrow step and awkwardly lost her balance and started to stumble forward.  Momentum quickly took over as her compromised balance had her scrambling for the railing or anything to hold onto to control, or at least limit, her imminent plunge.  Unfortunately for Judy, she was unable to grab anything except air, which led to an impressive, frightening, prolonged, extended, exaggerated, and fantastic tumble that would make any stunt person proud.  Her feet went over her head, her head over her feet, she twisted and turned, sliding and crumbling all the way to the bottom of the staircase.  All I remember is thinking how exhilarating and frightening this spectacle was, occassionally seeing flashes of red hair, and hoping deep down inside that this apartment had ample closet space.

Once she reached the bottom of the stairs my instincts kicked in and I raced down the stairs, throwing aside the notebook and pen I had been holding.  As I approached the red-haired pile on the second floor landing, I could see that she was conscious and attempting to move.  Good signs from what I could tell.  And given the less than flattering position of her tangled body, all I could think was how thankful I was that Judy hadn't worn a skirt to work that day.  Luckily for Judy Bell, this particular apartment hunter has watched every episode of House and had enough fictional training to comfortably and confidently deal with this potentially high-trauma incident.  I believe my first words were: "Hey...are you ok?", followed by: "OK, don't move.  Unless you think you can move...then move".

Actually, I think I did quite well considering the potential severity of the situation.  I asked her if she could wiggle her fingers and toes.  I asked her if she felt any significant pain.  I asked her if her commission fee was negotiable.  All of the things that needed to be ascertained before we could move forward.  Once it was clear that she was conscious, aware, and in reasonably good shape considering the really impressive fall, I helped her sit up.  At this point my inner-EMT took over and I told her to grab onto my finger and squeeze it with each hand.  Lindsey later asked why I did that.  My answer was, 'I have absolutely no idea'.  My actual thought at the time was to do that to: A) Confirm that she had strength in her hands which would indicate that no bones were broken; B) Confirm that she was able to follow simple instructions; and C) Give her the belief (false as it may be) that there was someone there that knew what he was doing.

At this point we called the paramedics who arrived within minutes.  Their response time was really quite impressive and a very positive reflection on Westfield living.  After about 15 minutes the EMTs had Judy Bell strapped to a board and began carrying her down the final flight of stairs.  I'm not proud to admit it but while I was on the phone with the police requesting the paramedics, once I was convinced that Judy was alright and I began to replay everything in my bout with the giggles started, and would last for the rest of the day.  Judy was loaded into the ambulance, we told her everything would be ok.  We promised that we would go back to her office and tell her assistant what had happened.  As they shut the doors and drove away a tear slid down my cheek and, unable to restrain my emotions any longer, I burst out laughing.  For a second Lindsey looked at me as though I were a monster....until she too succombed to the pent up tension, stress, and ridiculousness of the situation and broke out in reserved laughter that she could no longer continue to suppress, as much as she may have wanted to.  I'm sure it was very surreal sight for the crowd that had gathered outside of the building to gawk at the situation.

We quickly started replaying the entire event and going into detail about everything that we had just witnessed.  It was here that Lindsey asked me about my finger-squeeze technique.  Lindsey also explained her first reaction upon witnessing me throw my notebook and pen aside as I ran down the stairs to check on Judy Bell.   Apparently she didn't quite know what to do and in a moment of panic and with a desire to participate in the call to action, Lindsey admitted to following my lead and did the only thing she could think of, which as it turned out, was to take the piece of paper that she had been holding in her hand and throwing it behind her.  That was the extent of Lindsey's assistance.

And so as we ate lunch and continued to reminisce about The Great Fall of 2010, we descended further into inappropriateness and began coming up with jokes about the situation.  Such things as referring to our realtor as 'Judy Fell', or wondering if Judy's middle name happened to be 'Rang-her', or suggesting that Judy be confined to showing only ranch-style houses, and so on and so forth.

We went back to the apartment later that afternoon with Judy's assistant and sadly, what the apartment had in hysterical memories, it lacked in closet and storage space.

A couple days later we checked in on Judy and she is doing well.  And, as it turns out, is building a lawsuit against the building owners for their poorly lit stairwells.  I will actually be seeing Judy tomorrow for the first time since the incident.  Hopefully all of the properties she has to show me are on the first floor.

And so our search for the right apartment continues.
Wish us good luck and happy landings.

Hopefully my next post will have good news about a successful hunt.

Until then,
Blah, Blah, Blahg!
6/7/2010 08:09:25 pm

Lindsey didn't tell me she had red hair! I don't exactly know why, but that makes the whole thing so much funnier.... didn't know hobbits dyed their hair.....

6/8/2010 12:18:10 pm

OMG...I know I shouldn't laugh at someone falling down the stairs, but I had tears in my eyes! I love it when you wrote that Lindsey just threw the paper behind her and that was the extent of her helping! I can picture it in my head!

6/9/2010 10:52:31 am

At least I helped!!!

6/15/2010 12:10:55 am

"Stay close to the candles, the stairs can be treacherous!" ...Frau Blucher

6/17/2010 04:30:25 am


6/28/2010 05:11:36 am

I'm a Realtor in Hoboken and I peed in my pants thru this whole article.
Good luck.


Leave a Reply.