----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: The Master Sleuth

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Master Sleuth

We have a problem with our extremely tiny apartment that I am convinced we are overpaying for, although our landlord is a) an extremely nice man, b) the father of one of Mr. Pink's friends, and c) a fellow non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor.

Our upstairs neighbors apparently have a leak. This came to Mr. Pink's attention almost two weeks ago, when I was still up in Northern California dealing with my neurotic real estate clients, aka, my parents. The ceiling in one of the bathrooms is all swollen like a pregnant belly. It also is cracked in several places and drips water occasionally. Luckily, the water drips right into the bathtub, so we haven't had to do too much cleanup.

Unfortunately, our landlord has been out of town for two weeks. Mr. Pink did let our upstairs neighbors know about the problem, and they were like, "Oh, snap." However, they did nothing to rectify the situation. Now, our landlord is back in town, and of course, he wants the upstairs neighbors to take care of the problem, since the damage to our unit is more or less their fault. The problem is, we had no idea what our neighbors' phone number is. We didn't know if they rent or own. We didn't even really know their names. (Well, I think the guy's name is Alex, but that's only because I was tapping into his unsecured wireless network for awhile. Now he wised up and secured it, but we set up our own wireless network, so ha!)

Well, today I had some time on my hands because I am slightly ahead of schedule on my eBay copywriting project. So, I decided to play detective. I want to get this leak resolved so I can take a bath in my bathtub without fearing that the ceiling will rain down on my head. First, at my landlord's suggestion, I went upstairs and left a note asking the neighbors to call my landlord. I could hear them walking around up there, but they did not answer the doorbell. I taped the note right over their lock so they would be sure to see it, but later, I noticed they had moved the note without taking it inside to read. This annoyed me and made me more determined to find out who they were.

I tried the reverse directory, where you can put in an address and find out names and phone numbers. Although I got several results, this, alas, was to no avail, because the results were not sorted by unit number. I didn't want to arouse suspicion by calling each number and asking, "Hey, are you our upstairs neighbors?"

Then, I got on the Orange County recorder's Web site and attempted to do an online deed search, but the deeds are only indexed by name, and since I didn't know the owner's name, that was no help. So, I called the recorder's office and learned that the assessor indexed deeds by name, but I would have to go to the assessor's office to do the search.

By this point, I was into it, so I figured, hey, what's a 30-mile drive to Santa Ana? I should see the county seat. Besides, although my landlord said he would repair the problem himself if need be, he also said he would then take the owner to small claims court for damages, so I figured I might as well help him out by finding the owner's name.

I was surprised by how smoothly the whole process went. Armed with my Prius, my ability to drive in the carpool lane as a solo driver, and my trusty GPS system, I made it to the civic center in record time. (Getting 45 miles to the gallon, I might add.) The only hitch was that I parked a ways away from my ultimate destination, but it was a nice day for a stroll. Once I made it to the assessor's office, I gave the clerk the unit's address and she gave me the parcel number. Then I put the parcel number into the computer, and voila! I had the owner's name, and the value of the property. Public records are a fantastic thing. I then went on my merry way. I even got to have lunch at a nearby Chick-Fil-A, which is my absolute favorite guilty pleasure fast-food restaurant, and of which there are none in within easy driving distance in Northern California.

Once home, I used my newly enabled wireless network to go online and find the owner's phone number. Lo and behold! She actually occupies the leaky unit, or at least she does according to www.whitepages.com. I relayed this information to my landlord, who immediately called, only to find that there was no answer. Oh, well. The ball is in his court now.

As for me, you can just call me Astera, P.I.


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