Project Thunderball: carving a pumpkin in a back alley

It’s not every day I hollow out a secret pumpkin in a back alley of Indianapolis. But that’s what I did with my Friday afternoon.

Every year Jeremiah and his closest friends host their annual pumpkin carving party. This being the first year he wouldn’t be able to attend, since flying 600 miles to carve a pumpkin is a wee bit out of the budget. I set out to change that tradition by building something on top of it. I asked him to marry me.

The planing started months ago, but really took off in September when Jeremiah went to Connecticut to visit friends and family for a week. While he was doing that I was busy running around town looking for a ring. I have opinions about that, but that’s another post.

I kept everything a tight secret, only telling two close friends and limiting my online interactions, including marking my Strava-tracked bike rides to certain places as “private” and setting calendar reminders and to-do list items under a special label called “Thunderball”.

This past Wednesday I went to the Aristocrat with an unusual request. I asked the staff there to help me deliver a special pumpkin on Saturday evening. I would bring the pumpkin to them on Friday afternoon, carved with a lid, and with two rings placed inside.

They agreed to waive their “no reservations” rule and the general manager, Melissa, and owner David, were both incredibly accommodating. My thanks to them and their crew.

Come Friday afternoon I left under the excuse I needed to return a library book. Instead, I took two rings in my bike bag and headed for Broad Ripple where I picked up a small pumpkin and carving kit.

Since I couldn’t gut it at home I ended up carving a pumpkin in the back alley of 52nd and College. There I sat, on a tree stump next to a dumpster in full bike gear, listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell me on my iPhone and carving a pumpkin.

The rings fit neatly into the middle of the pumpkin when I was done, and I took it to the Aristocrat where they locked it away and kept it until Saturday evening.

On Saturday I kept the secret close to heart, even going so far as claiming we didn’t have anything to do while at the Irvington halloween festival. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon I suggested we should go to the Aristocrat for dinner. The Aristocrat was the first place I ever ate out at here in Indy, and the first place we went for dinner when we moved here from Connecticut.

I knew Jeremiah was sincerely in love with me the day he seriously considered moving here to Indiana. He uprooted a lot to be with me. Or maybe it was just the lower rent. Either way, it’s worked out well.

Come 6:30, I decided chicken salad sounded good for dinner. And at dinner, per the plan I worked out with the Aristocrat, we were sat at a special booth reserved for us — table 31 in the back left corner. The pumpkin arrived with the check.

“I wonder what’s inside?” I asked, as Jeremiah lifted the lid.

He said yes.

And since I suspect he’s reading this post, now’s a good time to point out Surprise Number 2, done in only a way I could do. It’ll fill out in the next couple weeks and be our place to share future details and plans, as well as current happenings. One side is for me, one side is for him.

Mission accomplished.

A brief review of Highland Pointe Apartments, a PMR Property

To PMR Property Management, and Highland Pointe Apartments:

My name is Justin Harter, I live at 5414 Michigan Road, Indianapolis, Indiana. I live in apartment 3A. The property, Highland Pointe, is owned and operated by PMR properties of Louisville, Kentucky.

We moved into our one bedroom apartment in November 2013. Come January 2014 as Indianapolis experienced a phenomenon called “winter”, the building’s doors became a problem. Both front and rear doors to this building do not latch shut. Which meant that in the slightest wind the doors would flap open and shut like something out of a Tim Burton film.

This caused a problem when temperatures dropped, and the plumbing in the shared laundry facility was compromised. The pipes burst and water flowed into the building hallways and into our apartment, which is directly across the hall.

When we moved into this building we were told the doors were going to be fixed “in the spring”. It is currently the fall, and the doors have been “fixed” by nailing one of them shut permanently.

The laundry room has been “fixed” by placing signs that keep falling off the machines saying they are “out of order”. Of the three washing machines and three dryers, two dryers work. One washer works. One doesn’t power on and the other just sits there with a bin full of water like a dirty sewer.

The response from the leasing office was, “There’s a laundromat just up the road.” This is not an acceptable answer, just like going to a restaurant and being told “There’s another restaurant up the road” is not an acceptable answer when you food comes out looking like diahhrea.

We pay rent — consistently and on-time — every month for a 1 bedroom apartment with shared laundry facilities and access to things like doors that work.

We have not received that promise. We do not pay for a “laundry facility up the road” nor for one “in another building across the parking lot” with equally small facilities. If we had known that was the deal, we would have lived somewhere else. This kind of arrangement might be fine for some people, but it is not fine for us.

And when the pipes in the laundry room burst in January, I was lucky to be home when it happened. But nearly 11 months later and they still are in shoddy, sub-standard condition. As a result, on Saturday, October 11, when we left for a day we came home to a musty, smelly apartment thanks to another leak from the laundry room. This time it had sat on the floor long enough to destroy a $150 rug in our dining area and damage containers storing $2,500 worth of camera and photography equipment in them. This is not acceptable.

This is not a random act of the weather like a flood or tornado. This is incompetence in management, this is ignorance of tenants who don’t care for and utilize shared facilities properly, and when they do and the equipment fails through no fault of their own, this is not acceptable.

We will not be renewing our lease at the end of this year. And because we have lost money — things have been taken away from us that hold value because management has failed to address concerns in anything resembling a reasonable fashion — I demand some action.

I want to see repairs made to the laundry facilities within 14 days of receipt of this letter. I want to see repairs made to the building entrances and exits within 14 days of receipt of this letter. I want a month’s rent removed from my apartment to the value of $575 and if not, I will send a copy of this letter to anyone who will listen.

I will utilize my skills as a website developer to post this letter, with photos, to every website I can, including Yelp and every major apartment search site serving Indianapolis. I will send a letter to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. I will send a letter to every newspaper, television station, and radio station with so much as a ham radio in the Indianapolis area. And I will send a copy of this letter to the Mayor’s Action Center and Indianapolis Code Enforcement Office. And I will send a letter and photos of the sealed-shut entrances posing a fire hazard to the local Fire Marshall’s Office.

This is infuriating, maddening, worrisome, tiresome, and downright rude to the tenants of this facility.

Justin