I was 31, buying an apartment as a single woman, and I had gotten into trouble with credit cards in my early 20s.
Most of the debt was paid off by then, and I had a good job that paid plenty of money for my mortgage and maintenance. But the board had already asked for my parents to cosign anyway, which I refused to do.
When the interview came around, I was so nervous. I felt like Jesus Christ walking into my crucifixion.
They kept me waiting for 20 minutes in front of the building’s conference room. Once I got inside, there were two board members, a man and a woman, at one end of a long a table, and they asked me to sit at the other end.
They were both much older, very stern and serious, like I was in trouble. They looked through my paperwork and interrogated me about this thing and that thing. I felt like it was my parents questioning why I was home late.
He wanted to know what I had spent money on with so many credit cards.
I said, “I have no idea. The point is I paid them off and I’ve gotten control of the situation. I’m not going to apologize for having a run of bad luck and getting into trouble financially---the important thing is I got myself out of it on my own.”
The woman was like, “That’s so great,” and the man was like, “Uh-huh.”
At one point the man said, “So you’re not married, you’re doing this on your own?”
I said, “Clearly , I’m buying this by myself. I hope one day to be married but I’m not now."
Then I looked at the woman—in this scenario she was good cop and he was bad cop--and said, “I don’t know what that has to do with anything.”
They may have also been unhappy about something else. I had gotten a good price on the apartment, which had belonged to my friend’s mother, who passed away. They may have thought the price was too low.
When I left the interview I felt like I was two years old. I felt totally berated, like I was the worst financially unsound human being on the planet.
Three weeks later I got the approval with the caveat of having to give one year’s maintenance into escrow. I did have second thoughts about moving into a place that felt like a Gestapo, but this was my opportunity to own an apartment and be an adult.
I didn’t run into either of them for like a year after I moved in—it’s a big building—and they didn’t have any clue who I was.
What would I have done differently?
My goal was to go in and be as professional as possible. But the one joke I made he was like, “Oh, that’s funny.” So I kind of think I might have gotten away with more if I had acted more ditzy blonde-y, even though that was exactly the thing I didn’t want them to think.