Editorial Notebooks

Apartment hosts surprise

Hello, RPI! Welcome back from summer vacation; I hope it was fun and interesting for all of you.

But not, I hope, as interesting as mine: A dead body turned up in the basement of my apartment.

Some backstory: RPI requires freshmen and sophomores to live in on-campus housing. Upperclassmen, however have the option to find their own living space off-campus (which tends to be much, much cheaper than staying in the dorms; I recommend doing so to everyone who can). So, some friends and I found an apartment fairly close to campus and leased it for this school year.

In July, we began to notice a strange odor emanating from our basement. We called the landlord to investigate. He went down, checked everything out, and when he returned, he was wearing a very grim expression.

When we inquired as to the source of the smell, all he would tell us was, “Get out. Go outside.” I began to suspect something was very wrong, and wondered what he might have found. I never seriously entertained the possibility that it could be a human corpse, however.

So we left the building. Our landlord told us that he had found a dead body. Our jaws dropped in disbelief. Stunned, I sat numbly on our porch stairs while the landlord called the police, who arrived soon after. Not half an hour after the discovery, a fleet of police cars filled the street outside. It must have been a slow night, crime-wise, because even a traffic control car showed up.

An officer took statements from us, and the police did a cursory search of the building to make sure none of us were murderers. Then they took the body away and we were allowed to go back inside.

The next day, the landlord paid to have the locks on our doors changed, and for a professional cleaning crew to come and take care of the basement (using some sort of terrifying oxygen-eating machine that rendered the basement unusable and unlivable for three days.)

It turned out that the corpse had been one of the tenants who had lived in the building before we did. Apparently, he’d kept his key to the back door, which he then used to let himself into our basement, where he crawled into a little nook at the far end and overdosed.

Thankfully, I never saw the body myself; that made the experience much less horrifying and more of a really good story. I immediately told my parents, of course, and then the rest of my family when I returned home.

Finding the body conveniently coincided with the two weeks I actually spent there over the summer while I was helping out with one of RPI’s summer events. The school sponsored a lot of summer camp-type things, and I helped out with the writing ones. Basically I was a camp counselor. Reading all of the kids’ stories was a lot of fun actually.

Other than that, my summer was pretty dull. I was at home; saw my family and friends again; blah blah blah.

Anyway, welcome back to campus. I hope you enjoy the semester, and that there are no unpleasant surprises waiting for you in your basement!