Sandra Tsing Loh may have found a new housemate for her father.
I’ve been POSTING ads on CRAIGSLIST for years, to help my DAD rent out ROOMS in his Malibu HOME. Usually it’s simple--I post the AD, HE takes calls from potential renters. However, recently the system has started to collapse.
Most of the time the phone is not plugged IN. When it IS, my dad’s WIFE may answer, IN CHINESE—Or my dad will answer without putting in his dentures, which makes him sound like a stricken wailing MONSTER from a science FICTION movie--
So, like a LANDLADY in a Victorian NOVEL -- updated for the digital age -- I was FORCED to list a craigslist EMAIL address and begin CORRESPONDING with potential renters. Which quickly BECAME a full time job. In Los Angeles, craigslist is a world of artists and travelers who demand constant-- sometimes almost HOURLY--attention.
In the morning, I was trying to PLACATE an irritated young masseuse who kept TEXTING to my dad’s ROTARY phone. In the afternoon, I struggled to describe the people already living in the house, one of whom was a very nice transsexual, to a vegan DJ from Marina del Rey who wanted ASSURANCE that the VIBES would make for a good FIT. It was like negotiating camping sites at Burning Man.
So imagine how thrilled I was to find the FOLLOWING email in my in box.
"Hi, my name is Tony Wayne. I saw your advert on Craigslist--" Ah! "Advert!" He’s British! "I am a 29 year old construction engineer living in London who will be traveling to the States for my 6 month vacation and 6 month project. I want you to enlighten me more about your rent, your mode of payment--is there a contract I can sign? Hope to hear back from you as soon as possible. Please be loyal and honest."
Given the specific parameters of his job, Tony seemed READY to make a deal, practically FORCED to, given the timing-- And while cleanliness and sanity in my dad’s household were perhaps questionable, "loyalty and honesty"?
We had THAT in spades! I wrote BACK that the room was available. Excited, Tony asked me to send photos. I had to write back that "Sadly, we don’t have pictures yet, but it is a pleasant and sunny Southern California suburban ranch style house that--here’s the twist--an old Chinese couple lives in."
A few hours go by. Then another few. I can literally FEEL Tony in London--riding the Underground, reading the Times, eating his chips and egg during his construction engineer lunchbreak. . . hesitating.
Then suddenly he writes back. . . Yes! Check’s in the mail. He will be departing London and arriving in Malibu on Thursday! Next week: the adventure begins!