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From about December 2001 and until March 2015 I was an apartment manager in a part of Los Angeles called the NoHo Arts District. This is a letter I left behind to all of my friends and neighbors as a fond farewell when I moved to New Jersey.  -Michael

As you know by now I no longer live in Unit 107 and I am no longer your on-site property manager. I am still using the office downstairs indefinitely so you will all see me around. I am leaving Beaumont on good terms and Chris Ramos enjoys my full confidence in his ability to do this job much better than I ever could. I wish him every success and I am available to him on an ongoing basis to effect a seamless transition, although I would not be surprised to learn that you have already noticed that things around here are running better!! : )

Now that I am no longer employed by Beaumont, you can take this next comment at face value: This really has been a fun job. I somehow figured out that if you are really nice to your tenants they are really, really nice back and if you attack the job diligently, it just keeps getting easier!

But the converse of that is that it gets harder if not done well, and as I am sure many of you have noticed: My heart has just not been in this of late and so it’s time to move on…

…to where I have not decided! So I am behaving a little like the International Man of Leisure although I assure you that I continue to work at my media and technology projects and remain on the active roster of Ocean Lifeguards for the County of Los Angeles Fire Department. Keep in touch:

<contact info redacted>

I have really enjoyed this job and getting to know all of you. You really are an amazing group and it is a very special feeling to live in a place where you know ALL of your neighbors. I do wish I could have done a better job at organizing more events socially. Mara that used to live in 103 was soooo good at this and I really miss her and the parties we used to have in the courtyard. We really had something special with those super bowl “pot luck” things we did. It really should have fallen to me to keep that up and I don’t know what to say other than between this building and my other jobs, life can get pretty crazy.

But you know that. I’ve seen how early some of you leave for work and how late you come home from a long days work and it really is a thing to see. Thanks for living here and for doing all you do to keep up with rent, for helping to keep the public areas clean, for reporting problems with the building, for your understanding when things took longer than either of us would have liked to get fixed. Thanks for dropping by, thanks for having me over. Thanks for making this job feel nothing like a job most days.

I can’t help but share some reflections on my time here, but please remember that I am no longer a Beaumont Company employee and any opinions or recollections expressed here are my own.

But also let me be clear that I hold my former employer and the owners of this building in the highest regard. This is a great place to live and it was a great place to work all these years. The building’s owner and his wife are two of the nicest people you could ever hope to know and I will miss working for them and Beaumont.

Forty One

Forty-one people lived here when I started managing this building a dozen years ago and one of you still does. Plus Tex.

Tex

Tex is an elderly Chihuahua that used to belong to Sarah who moved out many years ago almost immediately after being adopted by one of you. He is a very, very nice old dog but age has left him with a fairly large mistrust of strangers that is quite easily overcome if you give him the chance. But check with his mama or papa first.

Forty-two

So forty-two people live here now. In between another seventy-two have come and gone if you can believe that. Some moved in single and left married. I’ve rented to couples who left and gave two forwarding addresses sadly, and about half a dozen children were born to families living in this building while I’ve been living in and managing it.

One

Sadly one tenant died peacefully in hospice care during his long tenancy here. Old Jim was one of the original tenants of this building. He kept a photo of himself with his niece that was taken when she came to visit him here soon after he’d moved in. The cactus in the center of the courtyard was about four feet tall.

Two

Twice. That’s how many times this building has caught fire in the last twelve years.

Now don’t let me scare anybody. I’m a safety nut and I have a part time-job with County Fire. I just have to say:

If you are gonna smoke on your balcony put that sh#% out when you are done. And anyway don’t store newspaper or lighter fluid or old cans of oil based paint on your balcony, and certainly not all three, especially if it faces south and it is June during those special two weeks of the year when it gets direct sunlight for most of the day. And please don’t do it again the following June. No, I am not kidding. I truly wish that I were.

Take a moment to notice the closest fire extinguisher and pull station. Clear your apartment of people and pets at the earliest indication of a fire and engage the pull station. Don’t wait for a fire to look how it’s done. Look now. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

The pull stations only sound a local alarm. You must also call 911. Don’t assume someone else has done it.

It is always a good idea to contact the building manager in a situation like this of course. Just make sure you take care of the above first before leaving voicemails!
Fighting a fire is a job best left to professionals.

Having said that I feel obliged to tell you that the hose attached to the water spigot in the center planter has proven fire-fighting experience. It is long enough to reach the other side of the planter in either direction and has decent pressure. I’m just saying.

In any emergency remember to take a deep breath. Your brain is your best asset and it works best when you give it oxygen and just a moment or two to think. Don’t open a doorknob if it is hot to the touch and instead find another point of egress. Keep low to the floor in a smoke filled room. But above all: Stay calm. You’ll know what to do.

There is a metal rod chained to the top of each fire extinguisher that is ideal for breaking the encasing. One tenant was treated for minor cuts sustained after thrusting her elbow into one: She came home from work and saw several of her panicked neighbors discussing the best way to break the glass. She just walked up, smashed the glass, handed them the canister, laconically asking what was going on. She was special.

Everybody was. It could have been so much worse. The Bad Assed men and women of LA City Fire Station 60 were here in what seemed like sixty seconds. The station by the post office? Be sure and say hi when you see them. They quite unbelievably do that type of thing every damned day and night. Outstanding. And while you are there, check with them on fire safety tips. When they are not putting out fires they have an important role to play in public outreach and prevention. And if anything they tell you disagrees with something I’ve said it’s because I’m wrong.
Roses

Being an East Coast boy, I thought the center planter could use a little color so I planted a couple of rose bushes in there several years ago, one white, one red, not fully realizing they needed much more water than the rest of the plants in there which barely need more than mother nature provides in the form of rain in the winter and morning dew in the summer months. So they will probably die without the barely adequate attention I have provided them the past couple of years and that is probably just as well, but if you feel like it, the white one is on the west side and the red on the south. Each could probably use a little trimming.
Be Good to Chris

He needs some time to get to know everyone. And please: Get your rent in on time. Most of you do this without being asked. There is no grace period. It’s due on the first. It’s in your lease.

Late rent will cause any building manager to make a special trip to the bank just for you. And that’s in addition to getting calls from the office about it and likely several from you and your roommates either explaining why it’s late or when it will get here, etc. It robs him of time he could be spending getting to know you all better and keeping the building in great shape.

Don’t be hard on yourselves

Many of you work in the performing arts or in some aspect of the movie/tv/entertainment business. It may not always go the way you’d like or as well as you’d like or as well for as often. But if you are here, you are in the fight and that’s something. There are people all over the world dreaming of being in a position just to try and do what you’re doing. Take a moment and pat yourself on the back. And look for each other’s names in the credits. If you knew what I knew about who was doing what you’d find it very impressive how much success and raw talent is in this building right now.

Very truly yours,
Michael
April 5, 2015