Sept 6th 2000. We got off the plane and gathered our belongings and our dog who had ridden from LA in the cargo hold. After clearing customs, (I entered Canada as a "tourist") we went to pick up a rental SUV as our plan was to find an aparment and furnish it as quickly as possible. Until then, we'd be sleeping on Serge's mom's floor, a 45 minute drive outside the city. There was one problem with this plan - there was a severe housing shortage in Montreal and every call we made delivered the same response - "Already rented". For three solid days (of miserable anxious hellishness) we drove up and down every single residential street in the city looking for "for rent" signs. We saw none. When the free weekly paper came out on Thursday, we called all seven listings and left messages. We were becoming distraught and ever widening our search area. Every lead we found led to dead end. Then we got a call back from one of the listings. In our desperation, our messages left for the listings came out like this, " We need a place to live, we're a gay couple and we have a dog. We are ready to sign a lease today, Please call back at ...."
The man who called us back said he had received 78 calls for the (tiny 2 bedroom) apartment that day. He said he loved the direct nature of our message. (I think he heard the desperation, and knew we wouldn't bitch about anything - plus the owner was gay) He invited us over that afternoon for a look see.
It was perfect but very small. There was a big back yard for the dog. The price listed in the paper was $750. We offered to sign the lease within a few minutes. When he drew it up, he marked the rent as $450/month and said the paper had misprinted the price.
This was my first experience of what I call the Canadian or Quebecois spirit. Instead of greedily grabbing, integrity seems to count more. My American molded mind thought, wait, he knows we would pay 750, but still only charges 450, that's bad business. Or he's an idiot. Best not to talk about it, since we are benefitting.
At any rate, this was indeed good fortune. A place to live!
It wouldn't be long though that we would discover that the large building up the street was a yeast factory.
A yeast factory, in case you didn't know, creates one of the most sickening odors imaginable. On certain days, one had to cover one's mouth upon stepping outside to avoid triggering one's gag reflex.
Good fortune indeed.