Further househunting with Frederick The Octopus

Today we had several more appointments to look at flats. The first flat we looked at was a unit in the Tanjong Pagar Plaza, on the ninth floor. While the bedrooms were a decent size, the living room was too small for our tastes and the unit faced onto the busy street running through Tanjong Pagar, so after some thought we declined.

Our second viewing was scheduled for an hour later, in the same block in Tanjong Pagar Plaza. As the agents never tell you which unit it is in advance (perhaps fearing you’ll cut them out and go direct to the landlord) I texted the agent to ask if it was the unit I’d just seen. He said it was, then scolded me for using more than one agent. Well, if you (a) lack any customer service skills and (b) don’t do anything apart from send badly written texts to potential customers "Bro, I’m checking availability for you"?) and (c) my relationship with you is purely transactional, why would you act as though me talking to multiple agents was an act of unheralded disloyalty? Do you not show these units to anyone else?

Well, that saved an hour, because the third unit to view in Tanjong Pagar Plaza was also the first one. I didn’t realise to begin with, because when I looked at the photos it seemed much brighter, and it was only on a second look that I realised (by recognising a bed spread) that they’d just Photoshopped on "MAXIMUM EXPOSURE SETTING" to make the unit appear lighter inside than it really was.

The next unit we did see was on the 4th floor of Tanjong Pagar Plaza, and again, the bedrooms were decent sizes, and the kitchen would have been unusable if you required countertop space beyond a kettle and a toaster. Is everyone eating out for every single meal? I know it’s right by the food court, but surely sometimes you’d want to cook at home, even if you were living the bacherlor vida loca… Or perhaps it’s bee hoon for dinner every night, cornflakes for breakfast and something from Toast Box for lunch. And then there’s marketing campaigns telling people to eat more healthily…

The next unit was more promising. Newer build (constructed 2001), and on the top floor of a different estate, marginally closer to the kids’ school and not in direct view of a motorway. I like living on the top floor because there can be no annoying neighbours who can’t pick up furniture but instead drag their chairs across the floor at two o’clock every damn morning. Unfortunately, this was also the realtor who had forgotten the keys for the unit. He went home to get them, realised he wouldn’t be back until 8:30pm, and that the unit had no electricity, and so I figured it wasn’t best to check out a prospective apartment by torchlight.

However, my wife was going to go meet a strange man off the internet at another unit for an 8 pm viewing (what better way for her to vanish and never be seen again, so I wasn’t totally cool with that). But apparently he was scared of the dark and cancelled the appointment at 7:30, so our six viewings in one day shrunk to two. Oh well. A 33% success rate?

Meanwhile, as Destroyer grows, she becomes more vociferous in her complaints. She refuses to be addressed by her name "No! I Elsa!" / "No! I princess!" / "No! I unicorn!" and also doesn’t want her father to look at, talk to, or hold her. But when I pretended at the play area to be an octopus called Frederick, she surprisingly warmed up to me. Unfortunately, and I’m not exaggerating for comic effect, the pretence that I was an octopus had to be maintained at all times thereon: Frederick can sing to, feed and brush the teeth of his daughter without drawing any ire. Daddy, on the other hand, is parent non grata.

Or is this, along with most of the estate agents, just a really elaborate performance art prank being perpetrated on me?

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