As many tales of fear and loathing – and possibly decapitation – begin, about a month ago, I respond to an ad on Craigslist.
An anonymous person in West Los Angeles is seeking a part time personal assistant for what I consider a decent rate of $25/hour. The ad is short on specifics but I responded immediately, and after some protracted back and forth emailing, we finally established a time for me to interview.
He says his name is Roy and sends me his address. So one afternoon after my temp job, I pull up to his large four bedroom tract home in Playa Del Rey. I’m thinking a guy named Roy in a large tract home in Playa Del Rey who needs an assistant for unspecified reasons is probably a middle-aged white dude. And probably a little strange.
Yes. Yes, he will be strange.
But it turns out “Roy” is the 30ish Asian dude who peaks through the sliver of his barely opened front door. I am surprised. But whatever. This is L.A. Hi, Roy.
He ushers me in, asks me to remove my shoes. The floor, you know. I nod as I survey the floor which hasn’t been cleaned since Blessed Union of Souls was up for a Grammy. I remove my shoes. It’s $25/hour. And I’m broke.
“I never go in these rooms,” Roy says, as he leads me through the house, pointing to the large vaulted living room furnished only with a small sofa. “There are four bedrooms upstairs,” he says, “but I never go up there.” Better to keep the bodies, I think, as we head through the family room, which seems to be Roy’s main encampment.
Evidence of a dysfunctional bachelor’s existence is everywhere. Empty takeout boxes. A solo leather recliner. Scattered Foil balls. Two flat screens, one playing a movie, one paused on a Playstation game, squat on the floor, just out of their boxes.
Clearly I have interrupted his arrested development.
He opens the back patio door, beckons me outside. “My shoes,” I say. So he waits for me to retrieve them as I head back to the front door, and I think momentarily of making a break for it right then.
But I return.
It’s $25/hour. And I’m broke.
I have a look around at the decaying backyard while Roy tries to explain what he’s after. I notice the yellowing leaves, the inexplicable bouquet of cooking spices on the patio table. “What do you need an assistant for,” I ask? “Many calls to make,” he says. “So much to do. Got to get this place cleaned up. It’s getting out of control…” And there he seems to come to the end of his list. I press for details. “It’s like,” he says, “the upstairs; the carpet needs to be cleaned. But how do you do that?” The whole thing seems overwhelming to him, beyond him. “We can call some people to come and clean the carpets,” I say. “That’s no problem.” He seems relieved. I’m clearly an expert.
This is going to be a piece of cake I think. I’m going to be a hero to this guy. I’m the guy who get the carpets cleaned. I’m the guy who makes things happen.
And Roy thinks so too. I will start next week. And we will get Roy’s life whipped into shape. No problem.
There’s just one more thing, Roy says. I also have some speeding tickets. Three of them. In a short amount of time. I’m going to need you to drive me places. Just some errands.
No problem, I say. I’m an expert at that too.
(Stay tuned for Part Deux)