My first instinct was to go to craigslist.com, of course. I got four or five responses over the course of a weekend. The first was from a Mexican woman currently studying in the UK, she said, who was very pushy. The subject line of her email was something like “reply asap”. I flushed it, of course. The next was a pothead who spent three paragraphs explaining how he would rig up an air filtration system in his room if I minded him smoking. The third was a gay guy who contacts me Friday and tells me he wants to move in next day. I did say “available immediately” in the ad, but that was a little too immediate for my taste. Finally, I got one from an 18 year old kid: “My name is X and i am an 18 year old gay student in desperate need of a room and a fun roomate. I am 6 feet blond blue eyes and a chill guy if the room is still open please respond to this e-mail thank you.” Jesus. Can you imagine? What do I care what color your fucking eyes are? That's when I knew this was gonna be a regular ordeal.
But that was really just the beginning. By far most of the responses have been bogus. I’ve gotten a shitload like these two (spelling and grammar as I found them):
"am janet morgan.I came accross the posted rent advert.i'll like to know if its still available and price you intend to rent it out and its deposit as well.I am in london as at now where i just finished my degree programme so i decided i need to relocate.kindly get back to me asap.await your response."
"Good Day. I came accross the posted rent advert & ll like to know if its still available.I am in london as at now where i just finished my degree programme and relocating.i awaits the details soon.kindly email me again with the below details so we can proceed and have some things done concerning theRent.Kindly email me with
1} RENT FEE\MO ?
2} MOVE-IN DEPOSIT ?
3} ADDRESS OF THE PLACE FOR RENT ?
4) WILL YOU TAKE A CASHIERS CHEQUE FOR MOVE-IN DEPOSIT ?
5} HOW LONG RENT LEASE DO YOU REQUIRE ( 6/12 MONTHS )
6 DO YOU HAVE PICTURES ? SEND THEM
"I will be expecting to read answers to the above questions asap."
I mean, I have received at least a dozen with variations on this theme. Always claiming to be from the UK, and always with the same idiosyncratic grammar. Is this an evil algorithm? Or is there some sweatshop operation in the UK where rude students who failed the TOEFL exam are forced to write bogus emails to craigslisters?
I assume it's a scam--something to do with the cashier's checks, or whatever. But I have received so many of these, I have to wonder who would be stupid enough to even respond to them?
Another variation on theme is the displaced supermodel:
"I am Model Williams Cevia, Age 24, located in Queens in Ny. I have been modeling for four years and have, I have worked with a number of excellent photographers, models and make-up artists.
"I took eight years of dancing lessons and then went on to cheerlead for five years. i have worked with the following photographer's Ron Copobianco, Giacomo, etc. i am! curectly in west africa, Nigeria to be precise, and am there for modeling whows for Dave marks photographer. it's just a month. i won't like to go back to my former house when geting back to the states. cause of this i will like to have my own room. decided to search for a roommate. as i was going through the web, i saw you advertising your room which is available. i will like to know if the room can be given to me cus i will love to come there directly to stay when coming back to the states.
"About the payment that is not a problem i will inform my boss who i modeled for when i was in the states who his owing and has not payed me all my money yet to send you a cashier's check of payment which he is owing me so that the room can be kept for me. I will be glad if you can also pls send me some of the pix of the room to my email box (cevia_cutie212 @yahoo.com). I will be so glad to rent you room and ,am sure you will be so glad to have someone like me cus i am a very kool and easy going person,am looking forward for your reply.
(Note how she misspells her own name there.)
"Hello,My name is pallery.i am a native of the US but now i am in west africa on a comtract as a model.
"As i was going through the web it was then that i saw your advert that you want to rent out your apartment so that is why i am contacting you to yell you that i am really interested in occupying the room.
"The money of the room will be paid to you on cheque because it was issued to me by my boss so i will send the cheque to you so that you can get it cashed,deduct the money of your room from it and send the balance to the agent that will get my flight ticket booked o that i can come back to the state.All i need you to do is to send to me the details of sending the cheque to you so that it can be sent to you.
"I will be waiting to hear from you soon.
(Hey, I thought your name was "pallery".)
Gosh, I just didn't realize there were so many homeless, hot supermodels out there. Does Kofi Annan know about this? Has Bono been notified? They should have a fund for them or something. I mean, is the Red Cross aware of the situation?
But I have to admit, I like the realistic touches: "bout the payment that is not a problem i will inform my boss who i modeled for when i was in the states who his owing and has not payed me all my money yet to send you a cashier's check of payment which he is owing me so that the room can be kept for me." That sounds totally legit. Let's do it!
The thing is, I really do need to find a decent, low-maintenance roommate, and really don't have the time to deal with this tom-foolery. At least come up with a clever ruse. I mean, the helpless, homeless supermodel thing has been done so many times before, people. I know Kate Moss is looking, but I need a supermodel who can pay the rent, and isn't gonna snort up all of MY cocaine, or smoke all my crack when my head's turned.