My boyfriend and I packed up a carload of art and pots and pans this weekend and hauled it over to our new apartment building near Fort Myer in Arlington. We started stacking our stuff in the hall when we noticed the flier posted by the elevator door. Out of service. The flier had been annotated by residents. The word “temporarily” was crossed out and replaced with “for ever.” It was a heart-sinking omen, but not exactly a surprise. The elevator had been kaput on about three-quarters of our previous visits. There were other worrisome signs as well: cigarette buts in the stairwells, signs asking residents to please not drink or smoke in the halls, tricky locks and an oven with no numbers on the dial. We were starting to wonder if we made the right choice. And was starting to wonder if I, having lobbied hard for the affordable, giant, sunny, hard-wood-floored, EIGHTH FLOOR apartment, would be sacrificed along with the one-month’s rent deposit.

When we called the management company’s emergency line, we found out the lift would be down for a whole week. The movers were coming Monday, and expected a quick, cheap job a bed, a couch and massive collection of books. After my exasperated pleas, our landlords offered to make up the difference in the cost of moving. I just wasn’t sure we could convince our movers to haul everything up seven flights of stairs. (They did, like total insane he-men. It took about seven hours, and they sweated themselves down a few pants sizes. If anyone needs a kick-ass mover, Antonio Stephens is your man.)

Now that we’ve survived the move, the apartment is looking a lot better. I’ve met a few nice neighbors, many of whom speak Spanish or Chinese or Ethiopian, and I don’t so much mind the regular bugling from Fort Myer. But I am nervous about that elevator. I just called the Arlington County Inspection Services Division, and a very nice man (seriously, they have customer service) explained that so long as the management company fixes the elevator, I don’t have much recourse. Even if it dies once a week, so long as it churns up again, my complaints won’t go anywhere. I guess I’m gonna have strong legs. And I guess going up all those stairs all the time, I might also be tempted to have a drink in hall.