For most people, their jobs consist of hopping on the highway, heading to the office to work on a set schedule, and then head back home. However, others have a much more flexible work schedule that takes them away from an office and into others' homes. From cleaners to real estate agents to landlords, there are plenty of professions that dive deep into other people's residential lives. And boy do they have stories! Here are a few of the weirdest experiences people who enter other peoples homes for a living have encountered. Content has been edited for clarity.
Try Not To Be So Trusting
“I was a case manager for adults with developmental disabilities. I had a client who had a moderate to severe cognitive disability and lived by himself in his own apartment. One day when I went to check up on him, I knocked on the front door and a different man opened the door. The man who answered the door frantically started talking to me about my job, money, banks – He looked homeless and on something. My client was laying on the couch, not moving or talking.
After about 10 minutes of trying to figure out what the heck was happening, I hear someone come in through the back door of the apartment. The first guy goes back into the bedroom and I can hear him arguing with the man who entered the back door. The first guy comes out and tries to tell me that it was just the TV, as the second guy walks out of the bedroom right behind him….
They started to ask me if I could give them a ride to the bank… I noped right out of there. Told my client to call me at my office. Called the apartments front desk to let them know what was going on. Called the police to make a report. The next day they took my client to the ATM and robbed him by force, despite everything I tried to do (without putting my own life in danger). Spent the next several months helping my client move and getting his finances and everything back in order.”
“Cable guy here. I went to a trouble call, internet and phone out, saw the cable and phone lines going into the attic. Told the customer I needed to gain access to his attic to track down and toubleshoot issues. He insisted I needed to get into his crawlspace, and took me to his bedroom closet, where he proceeded to lift up a thick layer of carpet to reveal a 3×3 wooden access point to get to the crawlspace under his house. I assured the customer I didn’t need access to the crawlspace, and took him outside to show him every line he had going up into the attic above his garage. He wasn’t hearing it, he continued to insist I go into his crawlspace. Annoyance quickly grew into fully sketched out feeling as the trouble call went on and no matter what I did, he spent all his efforts trying to convince me to get under his floor. I never once turned my back on this particular customer, and kept a close hand on the knife I keep in my pocket. It just struck me as odd that he would want me under a 2 inch thick piece of wood underneath a thick carpet, inside of a closet with a very heavy wooden door in the back bedroom of his small house out in the country-side (I’m a city boy, so it at least seemed like the country side to me). He even persisted after I had gone into his attic, found the problem amplifier (it had gone dead, burnt out I suppose), replaced it, and verified that his phone and internet were back up and running. Some people…”
“I was doing some work with an engineering firm and there was a lady who was complaining about severe moisture and water build up in her apartment. After checking with all the other apartments around her and nobody else complaining, we went to investigate.
We knock on the door and the second she lets us in we are hit smack in the face with a wall of humidity. I mean like standing in Vietnam during monsoon time humidity. It’s hot, extremely humid and just walking 5 feet in and you’re already saturated with water.
We start the investigation and notice her carpet is soaked everywhere. Just squish squish squish as we walked through. I get to her sliding glass doors to her patio and no word of a lie there are 2′ tall mushrooms growing out of her carpet. The water built up so badly on the glass doors and dripped down onto the carpet she had a 10′ x 10′ mushroom garden growing.
Turns out the cause for it was found when I opened her closet. She had her son sneak in a clothes washer and dryer one night and ‘installed’ them into her closet without having proper plumbing for the washer and absolutely no ventilation for the dryer. So all the humidity from the dryer and washer were trapped in the apartment.
Here is how the whole thing was setup.
She had the washer on the left and the dryer on the right. The washer had no plumbing running to it at all. She would go to the bathroom and fill a bucket up with water and put it in the washer after she put her clothes in. Then she would take that bucket and place it under the drainage line so when the spin cycle was going on it would drain back into the bucket.
Then after that she would put the clothing into the dryer and place the hose for the ventilation on the dryer into the bucket of water from the washing machine. Her thought process was that the water would filter out any of the lint coming out through the exhaust vent and not exit into the air.
In reality all this did was create huge amounts of moisture in the unit. The funny thing is that she was called out on it a few times by neighbors and the landlord because they could hear the noise of the washer and dryer especially when it was going on and buzzing. She told them all it was just her treadmill that was making all the noise and the buzzing was the microwave and oven.”
A Garbage Bin Is A Thing, Too
“I work in insurance in Detroit. I’ve seen a lot of disgusting places, hoarders, and people so poor they can’t afford cleaning supplies.
Anyway, one story really sticks out above the rest. I was at this woman’s apartment once to go over her Medicare and social security benefits, she lets me in and before I even get to the living room, this awful smell hits me like a brick wall. It was seriously the worst smell imaginable. I kept telling myself just to get acclimated to the smell and once I do that, I’ll be good. So I’m trying my hardest to do just that, meanwhile we walk over to her living area and have a seat on the couch.
Before I go on, I should mention that there is a weird white residue on everything in the house, at first I thought it was dust, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Anyway, she ends up buying a life insurance policy for herself and I’m writing up the application. Meanwhile, I’m sweating my butt off trying to keep my cool because the smell still hasn’t gotten any better. I must have looked off or something because she finally asked after about an hour of me being there, ‘Honey, does it smell in here?’
I politely said, ‘Well, just a little.’ So she said hold on and disappeared into the back.
As she’s back doing whatever she’s doing, I happened to notice something on the other side of the couch, over in the corner. It was a bucket. A bucket with a bag in it, and all kinds of other bags nearby, sitting on the floor. Curious, I took a good look at it and realized this is…this is where she goes to the bathroom.
Rather than throwing the bags of poo away after she was done, she’d throw it in the corner and call it good. Now I feel like throwing up. Just then, I see her shuffling down the hallway, heading back to where we were sitting and she’s carrying some yellow box with her. She looked at me and said ‘You’re going to want to get up for a second, sweetie.’ So I grabbed my bag and stood behind her.
Then, she takes the yellow box of what I can now make out as baking soda, and flings it across the whole room, which is where the white residue came from apparently. I couldn’t hold my tongue, I was in such disbelief I think I actually said, ‘No way…’ In front of my client. She was taking craps in a bucket in the corner, leaving the bags of feces in the room, and when the smell got to be too much, she’d throw baking soda at it.”
“Scary, Gross, And Sad All At The Same Time”
“This one was scary, gross, and sad all at the same time. I worked as a contractor for the local electric/utility company installing energy efficient lightbulbs and plumbing fixtures in apartments. The landlords would call us, schedule an appointment, and then often not even tell their tenants we were coming.
On one specific appointment my partner and I roll up to the duplex. It’s in a nice area, but an absolute craphole. Grass not cut all year, old appliances all over the yard, just a peach. The unit we were scheduled to do was upstairs. We walk up to the porch and you can hear death metal music just blaring (this is probably at noon.) We knock on the door. No answer. After a few minutes we call the landlord, he says he’ll come over to let us in. He comes over. Unlocks the door, says, ‘It’s all yours’ and leaves.
We slowly walk up the stairs, the music getting louder and louder. We walk into what you’d swear was a filming set for a ‘Breaking Bad’ speed-head’s apartment. In fairness, I never saw any substances, but it was absolutely disgusting (and I’ve seen some disgusting stuff.) Every dish they’ve ever owned encrusted in decaying matter, submerged in a sink filled with water reminiscent of something you’d see pouring out of a power plant. The remainder of the dishes piled high on all counters and tables. Flies everywhere. Clothes and rotting garbage strewn across every floor; kitchen, pantry, bathroom, everywhere.
We yell, ‘Hello!?’ No response. We turn to our right and see 3 fully tattooed skinny-as-heck dudes with shaved heads and no shirts on completely passed out on a single futon in the living room with death metal BLASTING! I turn to my left and I see movement. At first I thought it was a dog or a cat. I walked into the bedroom to get a better look, it was a little girl.
She couldn’t have been more than 4 years old. She had long straight brown hair and was wearing a full length dress. She was a pretty little girl, and would smile shyly and hide whenever she and I would make eye contact (as if playing hide and seek.) My heart absolutely fell out of my butt. She was in a room COMPLETELY filled with garbage. Completely. She was playing in a corner near an overturned mattress with a few toys that were in the corner. I wanted to cry and throw up all at once. I tried to talk to her, but I didn’t know what to say and it was hard to hear over the music. My partner never even saw her. He said ‘forget this’ and went back outside the instant we saw the dudes on the futon. I did my job (changed lightbulbs, installed a shower head) all while gagging on the stench in the house, trying to be quiet as to not wake up the possible murderous speed heads on the couch, and holding back my sorrow for this poor kid’s environment.
I called Social Services that night. No clue if anything ever became of it, but I hope so. I was really conflicted, as I didn’t want to lose my job, but I also couldn’t just do nothing. I later learned that you can’t lose your job for reporting such things involving children. If this was a dog, I couldn’t have said anything, but since it was a child, I was ok. I called anonymously anyway. I wish there was a way I could have followed up though. No idea if anyone even went to check.”
“When I was in university, my wife and I worked for a large property management company managing a medium sized apartment complex in sort of a sketchy neighborhood. We had a lot of interesting ‘entering apartment’ experiences but there’s one we tell people about all the time.
There was a really nice couple who we didn’t see often – but anytime we did, they were very pleasant – and seemed completely normal. One month they came and gave notice that they would be moving. During their last month there, I put a notice under their door that I wanted to show their apartment. They came to me and told me they had a bit of cleaning to do and asked if I could hold off showing their apartment for a few days. The unit one floor above them was vacant and was the exact same floor plan, so I agreed. A week or so later – we rented the upper unit and now I wanted to show their unit again. I put notice under their door. The next day I noticed that the corner of the notice was still sticking out from under the door. I hadn’t seen the occupants for a few days, so I entered their apartment.
The stench in their apartment was overwhelming. On the floor was about 4 inches of wood chips and feces covering the entire floor – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom – everywhere. There were cages in one room and multiple books about breeding guinea pigs. It was revolting. We had the apartment gutted – down to bare studs and to the subfloor. After the repairs, it still smelled off. The residents dropped their keys off at my apartment in the middle of the night with a note that said ‘Sorry’ (classic Canadian). Never heard from them again.
The management company wanted my wife and I to clean it. I told them to take a long walk off a short pier. The guys that cleaned it up wore respirators and like crazy hazmat suits.”
How Can Someone Live Like That?
“I used to be a paramedic in metro Orlando and had decided to take a new job out in BFE for an increase in pay working for a more secure agency. On my first day in my new area, I ride in with my new partner to a call made by one of the frequent fliers in the area. When we get to the trailer, my partner tells me that if for some reason I want to go into the trailer before the fire department arrives to carry the patient (who never has a legitimate issue) out of the trailer, I best tuck my pants into my boots. I laugh at him thinking he’s pulling my chain since I’m the new guy in town.
I walk up the rickety metal and wooden steps and into the trailer. The carpet is brown and sticky under my boots like a movie theater floor after a weekend of premiers with no cleaning. German cockroaches have the run of this trailer and literally scurry with every step I take to protect themselves from being killed by my steps. Some try to climb up my boots so I’m continuously shaking my feet as if I’m dancing like an idiot. There’s a bare-bottomed toddler barely able to walk who’s hobbling/falling/crawling all over the floor in a day old, heavily sagging diaper. The kitchen has dishes in it that are piled up to the window and covered in mold and grime which has now collected a layer of dust upon the grime and mold. The woman was lying on the couch half clothed, obese and with MRSA sores all over complaining of abdominal pain. I told her to get up and walk outside with me. Her exact response was, ‘I’ll wait for the firemen to carry me out.’
Needless to say, this woman and her entire family call once a day and sometimes give the local EMS truck and fire department a break by calling every other day. I never again walked into that trailer. My partner’s response when I walked back outside was simply, ‘Next time you’ll listen to me.'”
“It Got Real That Day”
“When I was younger, I did plumbing maintenance for a low income housing association. These houses were always in poor condition, usually dirty, with questionable tenants. This particular day I was called out to replace a broken toilet. I arrived at my job site, knocked on the door, and received no answer. I proceeded to enter the house (we had a master set) to find two little boys watching tv. They might have been 4 and 2. Not very old at all. Continued down the hall to see their mom passed out on her bed with a new born baby beside her. As terrible as this was, it wasn’t terribly uncommon. I made some noise, hollered down the hall to announce who I was and why I was there. No response.
I decided just to do my job and get out of there, so I brought in my tools, and the 2 large boxes the toilet was in. I unboxed the toilet, built it, and took it into the bathroom down the hall with me. I left the boxes at the end of the hall, out of the way, and never gave it another thought. After I completed the install, I packed up and started down the hall. I noticed my boxes were moved, but didn’t really think much of it. I turned the corner to the living room to see the 4 year old playing with the boxes. He had them stacked on top of each other. It was kinda cute until he saw me, smiled, and stabbed through the top box with a steak knife! I ran over, grabbed the knife just in time to find the 2 year old stuffed into the bottom box. I called the police and waited there for them. It got real that day.”
A Literal Horror House
“I work with my family doing weatherization on low income houses/apartments doing what we can to lower energy costs in the buildings. We install CFL light bulbs, low flow shower heads and carbon monoxide detectors.
About 8 years ago, I was 15 and working on a senior complex alongside the maintenance man for the buildings. As he and I walked up the stairs to the third floor, the maintenance man stops me, warning that one of the units on this floor had a really weird guy in it.
We worked our way down the corridor and arrived at the unit. There was a paper on the door addressed to ‘the weatherization guys,’ without paying it any mind I moved forward. The maintenance man opened the door and I walked in.
This place was straight out of a horror movie. Every wall was lined with old used mattresses and the only sound and source of light was from a tv in the corner BLASTING white noise. All over the ground were those same papers from the door strewn about and stapled to the walls and mattresses. I walked into the darkness and made my way to the kitchen so I could install the CFL light bulbs.
The entrance to his kitchen had floor to ceiling warehouse/factory vertical plastic stripping serving as a barrier from the living room. Pushing it aside and I picked up one of the papers and began trying to read the handwritten letter in the dim light.
‘Dear weatherization guys, do not replace my shower head as it has been fitted to wash the chemicals from my body. DO NOT REPLACE MY LIGHTS they are 30w and are the correct wavelength for my eyes.’
Respecting his wishes and not wanting to go into the rest of the apartment, I began installing the only measure I could, the carbon monoxide detector. Moving into the hallway, I began drilling holes in the sheetrock for the nails when I hear an odd sound coming from the bedroom. As I finished the installation and began to walk out, intrigue got the better of me.
Looking at the crack in the bedroom door I could make out the face of a man. The sound that I heard was my drill waking him up and he was livid. Breaking my gaze, I darted for the door. Over the sound of the white noise from the TV I heard, ‘UUUUHHHHHHGGGGG’ from the bedroom. I bolted for the door trying not to slip on the the papers and never looked back.”
“Something’s Crawling Up My Leg”
“I was working a carpet and air duct cleaning job that was located in a western suburb of Chicago. We regularly had to travel into the city to the south side to do crummy jobs in the ghetto. We had a job in a 3-flat with no tenants, the landlord was trying to ‘clean it up’ so he could move some people in. He said the air ‘wasn’t working very well’ so my partner and I inspected the vents and discovered they were filled with garbage and all sorts of random stuff dated from years before.
We decided to go down to the basement to check the system they were running and man, did we regret it. The thick cloud of must and unbearable stench of mold almost made it impossible to walk through, and it seemed that nobody had been down there for years. Luckily we had masks, so we did our business and headed back upstairs to finish the deal. While the landlord was filling out the paperwork so we could get started, I felt a burning itch on my ankles. I looked down and pulled up my pants only to see little black ‘dots’ moving up my legs coming from inside my shoes. Like, thousands. I tried to smack them off but they just reappeared like nothing had happened as they continued to advance up my leg, biting and stinging all the way. I freaked out and started stomping around shaking my legs hopelessly.
I not so calmly excused myself from the building and ran outside in the middle of the ghetto and started stripping. It seemed that the more clothes I took off the higher the ‘dots’ got on my body until I was down to my boxers in the middle of the street scratching my entire body like a smacked out junkie. 5 minutes later my partner comes running out of the house with the landlord right behind, and they’re both jumping around taking articles of clothing off and generally looking insane. Turns out we all got fleas in that dirty basement. The landlord STILL expected us to go back in and do a job, we politely called him an idiot and got the heck out of there. Not a fun week.”
Straight Out Of A Slasher Film
“Years ago I had a job in apartment maintenance. I saw some crazy stuff over the years but by far the worst was one unit had a work order for a jammed garbage disposal. I knocked on the door but got no answer. When I went in there was foil all over the windows and the only light was from several strands of Christmas lights. There was a terrible smell in the place and when I finally got over to the light switch, I saw what the deal was.
All over the dining and living room were clothes hangers on wires. Dangling from the hangers were strands of meat. I got out of that house as fast as I possibly could, it was way too chainsaw massacre-eque for my pay-rate. I never met them but I think they were from the middle east somewhere and were aging the meat but it was pretty freaky. Their garbage disposal is probably still jammed.”
Get Out While You Can
“My first summer after graduating high school, I worked for a cable and internet provider and hooked up the cable box and router in peoples homes. After about a week, I go to this house that has newspapers perfectly folded and stacked waist high throughout the living room, and a caved in ceiling in the kitchen. Almost everything in the house is covered in blood, but not pooling blood, just smeared, droplets, etc. I walk into the room they want both installed in and when I open the door it is something out of Dexter, clear plastic covering everything and a woman (presumably his wife) wearing a clear plastic suit standing to the side of a platform truck. No smell of paint, nothing. I whole heartedly believed I was going to die right there. After hesitating and just walking around for about 5 minutes while they watch me, I say ‘the walls are all covered in plastic, you guys want me to just leave the boxes and cords by the outlets?’ The woman says nothing, so I just do it and walk out. I high tail it out of there and run back to my car and leave. I quit very short after that, would never recommend that kind of job to anyone.”