Whenever one of their clients has been burned out of their home, as I have, my nameless insurance company hires an executive housing service -- the kind of place that finds apartments for people like junior programmers when they have to spend several weeks working in the branch office in a distant city. In the case of fire refugees, the company is supposed to find a dwelling of equal or greater quality than the person's pre-existing home. In reality, it doesn't always work like that.
Part of the problem is that the housing search company is based in Massachusetts, and people from outside don't always understand the subtlties of life in the Bronx. Either they still follow the old 1980s belief that the entire Bronx, from Woodlawn to Mott Haven, is a fetid swamp of wreched humanity and therefore it doesn't matter were the animals live; or they heard some vague reports that claim that the South Bronx is coming back, so the whole place must be a Garden of Eden. More likely, they were just told to find the cheapest housing.
Of course, the cheapest housing is in the worst neighborhoods. And though the Bronx may indeed be experiencing a renaissance, its worst neighborhoods are still cesspools of crime that no one would willingly move into. Those are the places in which they want me to live.
So I had to tell them no. Imperiously. It was a bluff, since I'm still living on the good graces of friends who are letting me crash at their place, and I have a feeling the good graces are fast running out. But I can't let the insurance company let me cut corners now -- not when the damage valuation on the house still has to be negotiated. I've got to be a demanding prick in my every dealing with the insurance company. It's not something that comes naturally to me.