When we gently placed my roommate’s terrarium in the car, I nervously worried the serene natural ecosystem might be disrupted by the bumpy drive up First Avenue. Unfortunately, we did not have much choice for transporting his pride and joy – the old aquarium turned biosphere. Sadly, his worst fears were confirmed thirty blocks later when we discovered just how much the four worlds of fauna, water, crickets and toads had merged into one environment. Flustered, my roommate placed the terrarium in the corner of our apartment. For the moment, we had bigger fish to fry, pardon the oceanic pun.
Despite that it was move-in day, the apartment was not quite livable yet. The management company had promised to improve certain requests when we signed the lease, however, our long list remained unfixed. As we attempted to settle into the apartment, the landlord was practically on speed dial as we kept calling to check in on the status of our requests. To add fuel to the fire, my mother also continued to call, multiple times a day for updates. She thought she might be more persuasive.
Simultaneously, my roommate, heartbroken over the destruction of his terrarium, placed it for sale on Craigslist. It was too painful to look at in the apartment. Secretly, I was thrilled that the moldy, I mean, algae filled tank, would be gone forever. Finally, the management company called back, but it was not to discuss our requests. Instead, the manager had a question for us. “Do you have any pets?” she asked. A long silence ensued. “Well,” I began, “My roommate has a terrarium, but we are getting rid of it tomorrow.” “Do there happen to be crickets in the terrarium?” the woman asked bluntly. I could hear the tap tap of her finger nails impatiently grazing the desk. I had not met her, but I pictured her as a bright red head, not her natural color, with leopard print leggings and a jean jacket. Perhaps her nail polish matched the leggings?
“Ah, yea, there are crickets” I confirmed. “Well, you know we have a no pets policy in the building.” I was not sure if that was a question, but she continued quickly without giving me the opportunity to respond. “Currently, there is a cricket infestation that we are tackling and we believe your apartment is the source,” she stated without any emotion. Dumbfounded, I didn’t know how to reply. In this case, I did not have to reply because she answered for me. “We would like you to move out. If you leave, we will offer you a complete refund on your rent, including the security deposit, credit check, and application fee,” she offered all of her cards on the table.
It was difficult not to accept. Since it had became increasingly clear none of our demands for the apartment improvements would ever be met, we decided to take the offer. So the next day, my roommate sold his terrarium through an ad on Craigslist. Shockingly, the terrarium had almost restored itself to its original state. I was hesitant that he would actually sell it, but he heard from four kindergarten teachers who all somehow wanted his aquarium for their classroom. Yep, that was my roommate – despite being in his 20s, kindergarten was still his favorite year.
With the terrarium sold, we moved out of the apartment. In retrospect, I’m actually grateful for the moldy hobby of his which we utilized as an exit strategy from an apartment that did not live up to expectations. I never thought crickets, a species I associate with nature would get me evicted from a city apartment. I guess that terrarium wasn’t so bad after all, maybe we should look up that teacher who he sold it to from Craigslist to see if it caused any havoc in her school or if we can get it back when we start looking for the next place – you never know when some crickets might come in handy in NYC.