My husband and I had just moved into our apartment and immediately started noticing the stinky smells from the hallway making their way into our apartment. The problem, I could very plainly see, was a large space between the floor and the door. It had to be at least an inch for all the smells drifting in, although when measured resulted in a measly half an inch. In any case, it was big enough for our door mat to continually be sliding out of our apartment and into the hallway. The building’s hallways, like many apartment buildings, smelled. It wasn’t so bad when people were cooking, then you might get a nice waft of pancakes, but most of the time it was the smell of stale smoke and sweat.
Not long after we moved in, I went to Canadian Tire to buy some weather stripping to try and plug the crack. I asked someone at Canadian Tire if they had “weather stripping.” She didn’t know what it was. I explained, “It’s like tape with foam on it.” In my mind I questioned, “At least I think it’s called weather stripping.”
She still didn’t know, so she asked someone else, who also had never heard of this weather stripping foam tape, but told me what aisles it might be down.
In Japan, foam tape is very common- you can find it at the dollar store, the grocery store, etc. because it’s so cold in the winter and people put it around their houses to try and keep the cold air out and seal off doorways to keep drafts down. Coming back to Canada, I assumed that there must be plenty of this stuff here too.
Eventually, I did find some weather stripping. As it turns out, it’s called “Closed Cell Insulating Foam Tape” on the package. I’m not even going to try remembering that name. Weather stripping it was and weather stripping it will be for me. Besides, I’m pretty sure if I asked, “Do you have Closed Cell Insulating Foam Tape?” I wouldn’t have gotten any further than I did asking for weather stripping. I purchased the tape and brought it home to seal off the door.
I didn’t want anyone to see me sealing up our apartment. Partly, I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to put the weather stripping down. Maybe the building was built with large cracks under the doors for a reason. Maybe my neighbour would see me putting the weather stripping down and ask, “What’s that stuff called?” and I would be at a loss.
I opened the door cautiously and looked down the hallway to see if anyone was around and listened for footsteps. The coast was clear. I went to work, quickly putting a layer down. It wasn’t quite high enough to reach the bottom of the door, but I was panicking trying to get it down fast enough. Finally, I cut it loose and closed the door. I could still see a crack of light coming through, but figured, “Well, this is better than nothing.”
A week or so passed and the smell was getting worse. We kept emptying the kitchen garbage, but it seemed like the only thing that helped was keeping the windows open. We were starting to get an abnormally large amount of fruit flies in our home as well. Then, one night as we were going to sleep, my husband groaned, “I can hear a cat meowing outside our door.”
We couldn’t do anything about it, so we left it and went to bed. The next morning when we got up, he went into the kitchen and said, “It smells like cat pee.” Personally, I thought it smelled more like a decaying fish than anything.
After he left for work, I decided to use my nose to do some detective work. As I got closer to the door the smell got better, but it was the worst by the kitchen sink. I was puzzled at this since I was sure the hallway was the culprit. The garbage was under the sink in a sealed garbage can, so it couldn’t be the garbage. At last, I spotted the perpetrator, the container of grease that had been sitting on our counter for a couple of weeks smelling it up like cat pee.
That container went straight into the garbage. When my husband got home, I announced victoriously, “I figured out what the smell was!”
The moral of the story is: one should never blame one’s neighbours for smells before examining one’s own home.