Diary of a caretaker: Nasty smell

A tenant stops me: ‘Eugene, there’s a nasty smell in my room.'

Eugene van Meteren

It is a warm summer’s day. She says: ‘It seems to be getting worse in the hot weather. I think it’s coming from next-door.’ I promise the young lady that I’ll come by today and see what the problem is.

Half an hour later I knock on her neighbour’s door, but there’s no answer. And the smell reaches me through the closed door. I’m worried so I decide to go into the room to see what’s up. As I open the door, my jaw drops in amazement. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life: there are full bin bags everywhere, piled up to the ceiling. A path has been kept clear from the door to the neatly made bed and the wardrobe. Apart from those items, the room is full of bin bags. I think to myself: ‘How on earth can anyone live here?’ And the funny thing is, the bed looks super-clean and neat. As I leave the room, a smart young man in a sharp suit approaches. It’s his room. Has been for years. He is a Wageningen student and works part-time at a bank.

As I open the door my jaw drops in amazement

I tell him I’ve just been in his room because there were complaints about a bad smell, and that I was astonished at the scene that met my eyes. He smiles at me amicably and says he was already planning to clear away the rubbish bags at the weekend. I give him the benefit of the doubt and tell him I’ll be along on Monday.

Eugene van Meteren is a caretaker with student housing provider Idealis. He writes about his experiences for Resource.

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