In August of 2013, Oscar Ozell, 23, was laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking about the day he had – his startup had won a thousand dollar pitch contest. For the first time in his 3 year residency at 308 Eves, Ozell saw something that was out-of-place: A smoke detector in his bedroom hanging up above the entrance to his dressing room. “Why is there a smoke detector in my bedroom?” Ozell curiously said to himself. A red-light was blinking. “Am I being secretly recorded?” Ozell logically thought to himself. Ozell jumped out bed and disconnected the device from the wall to investigate its interior.
What did he find? A hidden spy camera.
Then like an application bouncing when you click it on the iDock, Ozell’s subconscious delivers a relevant thought to the forefront of his mind. “I paid my rent 18 months in advance. So, I had no reason to ever go in the leasing office. But the one time I did, this lady, Karen, knew my name. She was NOT the person I dealt with when I moved in.”
What would that mean? Ozell admits to forgetting his name when he has sex and asking his girlfriend what it is.
“First thing I did was call my girlfriend.”
“I answer the phone and hear him screaming, ‘They been watching us. They been watching us this whole entire time,’ ” says the girlfriend.
It was after-hours. The leasing office was closed. Management has gone home. And it would stay this way for 3 days being Labor Day weekend.
“I didn’t know any of my neighbors. Never got to know them good enough to be invited inside their apartment. I had to get in there. And what a good ice-breaker this was: Hey, has the temperature in your bedroom ever became so hot and steamy the smoke detector in there went off?”
Ozell befriended 3 neighbors and discovered he was not alone in having a smoke detector appropriately looking over his bed.
On Labor Day, 12 hours before Ozell and his new friends angrily marched into the leasing office, a fellow neighbor, Simon Freed, caused a massive 10-alarm fire frying fish.
The worse fire to hit Tennessee in a decade.
Over 600 people was in the eleven-storied building that night. Every single one made it out alive.
“We use to play this game as kids. If your house caught on fire and you could only save one inanimate object, what would it be and why? My cellphone,” said Ozell.
His answer to why is the above photo, which after the destruction of 216 apartment units, was the only evidence that could have implicated 308 Eves.
Because of that photo, management was handed tough prison sentences.
Because of that photo, the displaced tenants were rewarded all their rent and utility money from the time they moved in to their last payments.
Because of that photo, Ozell and friends had the money to move into homes where the smoke detector is conveniently stored in the kitchen.
Built on top:
- Real life experience
Let’s play a game: If your house caught on fire and you could save only one inanimate object, what would it be and why?