Most people don’t know this, but before I became involved in the field of employment, and after I was an archaeologist, I spent 13 years working with streetwise teenagers.  Because of this, many people think I must have encountered some rather hair-raising messes. They are correct. Unfortunately, the worst ones were my own creations.

 Ever since I was a kid, I was the first one blamed for vile smells evolving form the basement as the result of some scientific experiment gone awry, or some peculiar colored fluid leaking under the bathroom door.

 My talent for messmaking continued through university where I had a job making skeletons out of dead animals for the archaeology lab. Once I accidentally left a dead heron out of the freezer over a hot spring long weekend. The following Tuesday, I faced a lab full of smells, maggots, and a memo from the head of the department of Anthropology and Sociology. He informed me that the fumes form my erstwhile livestock were knocking out students upstairs. The note went on to say that he was confident that I was ” … doing something about it.”

 Heads of Anthropology and Sociology  departments are not the only ones who disapprove of mess-making talents. Landlords I have known also share this affliction, and for some reason, they are reluctant to rent to teenagers (or me when I used to rent). They think, “There’s a mess waiting to happen.”

 Landlords are naturally suspicious folks.


Through my years as a professional streetworker and amateur slob, I have come to the conclusion that many messes are avoidable. In the interests of promoting good relationships between landlords and their teenaged tenants, I present three ways to keep your place shipshape.


1)      Think before you build.

Everyone needs a book case in their apartment, but we all know that the cheapest way to get one is to buy some lumber and do-it-yourself. Unfortunately, all the landlord will see from your handiwork will be sawdust ground into the carpet and that pool of varnish oozing under the door. Landlords have little else to worry about. Either find someone else’s place to construct your monument, or remember to spread out a drop-sheet to catch your drips.


2)      Make a schedule for clean-ups.

If you’re not one of those people who have nothing better to do everyday than housework, make out a schedule and stick to it. Don’t forget the toilet. By the way. What are those two bolts for at the bottom of the toilet, and what’s that brown stuff they’re always covered in? Smell something grim? Unless it’s the cat box, it might be that squash you cooked in the oven three weeks ago and forgot about.


3)      Tell the landlord first.

It is financially advantageous to have an uncle who hunts. That way you can reduce your food costs with all those free roasts and steaks that come with his good marksmanship. Curing game is one of those concepts that give landlords great difficulty.

 Before you sling that bull moose over the rail of the balcony or into your storage locker, let him know. Who knows, he may have a more creative place for you to put it.


Mike Broderick WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he FOUND employment for people with physical disabilities.


He remains an active ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at m

 or at 604-464-4105
If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates .

Apparently 22% of companies in the Greater Vancouver area will be hiring within the next month. Get your resumes ready.




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