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Why Is Topeka, Kansas Such a Terrible Place to Live?

Updated on March 21, 2020
Kyler J Falk profile image

Topeka, Kansas ruined my life, but I'm rebuilding and proud to have escaped that nightmare permanently.

This is my face when people ask me what it was like living in Topeka.
This is my face when people ask me what it was like living in Topeka. | Source

It wasn't long after I stepped off the plane in Kansas, about an hour and a half after, that I was able to get a taste of what was to come for the next few years during my stay. To say that Kansas ruined my life would not be a stretch of the truth by any rational standard, and it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Topeka, Kansas is one of the worst cities to live within the United States. Even the people who have lived there for the entirety of their lives are ready and willing to admit it, that is to say, so long as you aren't someone who isn't from there talking bad about the city. Everyone tried to warn me not to go, that it would be the most awful experience I ever had, and that I'd be fighting tooth and nail to drag myself out of it. Well, everyone was right, and in hindsight I should've listened, because Topeka is truly deserving of rank #1 on the list of worst cities in the United States. If the crime in Topeka didn't go ignored by the local law enforcement agencies, then you can guarantee that this city would be covered in red flags and warning signs all over the internet.

Have you ever been to Topeka, Kansas?

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Moving In

About an hour and a half after I got off the plane in Kansas City, breathing in the crisp and clean Midwestern air that was a welcome change from the smog of California, my girlfriend and I decided to stop on by Terry's Bar and Grill for a late dinner. I'll let the review I wrote for the place speak for itself:

"The authentic Topekan experience here, truly.

This was the very first place I came in Kansas when flying in from California. I was excited to be here in this state, the air was crisp and cool as it nipped at my lungs and nostrils, and oh how naive I was at the time.

Upon walking in to this place I thought to myself 'meh this will be alright' but mind you I was loaded on two Xanax bars from my flight still. None the less, at first glance this place seemed like it was going to be worth my time.

We were seated at a table by a waitress who provided us with menus, and notified us of a special for chicken wings occurring. My heavily medicated brain immediately said 'awesome' and I handed my menu back to the waitress saying let's do the wings.

Though heavily medicated and my judgment was impaired I looked around my environment after having waited for more than twenty-five minutes for my wings. The place was pretty quiet and empty for a bar in the middle of the night.

Finally, my wings arrived and I began to chow down without thinking as the wait for the wings had built a mighty hunger in my gut. Half way through my plate my girlfriend noticed something, THE WINGS WERE RAW. A near thirty minute wait for raw wings.

When brought to the attention of the waitress she questioned why I had eaten so many if they were supposedly raw, good point, though after explaining my Xanax fueled mind and starving stomach at the time impairing my judgement I still had to argue that the wings were raw, tearing wings open to show her. Luckily, she finally agreed to comp us more wings.

Upon the arrival of the next wings they were dried on the outside, and RAW AGAIN. I was baffled, and downright amazed at how this could happen, fully aware now due to the sobering experience of ingesting raw chicken. Needless to say, I never got the wings again.

I've only been back there twice and both times got the chili dogs on special. Mediocre chili dogs I should say. For the price, it was worth it but that doesn't change the fact they were mediocre.

To top off the terrible experiences here, and being a rare occasion drinker as I hate drinking, I ordered myself a jager bomb. Now, I have a specific way I drink the jager bomb: shot of jager, chaser of red bull. The traditional way is to drop a shot of jager into a shooter of red bull. The bartender decided without asking that mixing the jager with the red bull and serving it to me lukewarm was the best way to serve it.

'That's how I always serve it,' she said in a snarky tone with contempt on her face. Stifling our vomit we downed it and against her poor judgement she let us have the warm can of red bull and poured us another warm shot. We let that shot sit on the bar, and ordered a beer.

This was my first experience in Topeka, and my first in the state of Kansas. To my surprise, and eliminating my naivete in regards to Kansas permanently, this is a great base experience to judge everything off of. Nearly everywhere in this state I go is riddled with alcoholics, tweakers, alcoholics-in-training, and general low lives who have somehow convinced themselves otherwise.

Thank you for popping my 'Average Kansas Experience' cherry, Terry! I'll never forget you."

Please, don't mistake my poor taste in humor for pretentiousness or pretension to infallibility. I just can't talk about Topeka, nor anything in it without approaching it with an excessively flippant disposition. Even worse than the food in Topeka, were its landlords.

Don't expect to get what you paid for.
Don't expect to get what you paid for. | Source

Topekan Landlords = Slumlords

If the bland, disgusting cuisine in the city isn't enough to get you to run away then perhaps your experience with the ever-present slumlords will be. There wasn't a single place we lived within the limits of Topeka that treated us as valued tenants, nor any place that really even cared about their own property. It seemed like every place we lived was willing to do whatever it took to get you to move in, and when they locked you into the contract they'd never hold up their end of the bargain.

The first place we lived was right across from the capitol and would never turn on the radiators within the complex, every night of winter was spent waiting until around 2 a.m. for the temperature inside to hit around twenty degrees Fahrenheit. If we didn't call them incessantly, insisting that the radiators were not running, they'd never turn them on and we'd find ourselves sleeping while wearing every piece of clothing and covered in every blanket we owned. The entire complex smelled of burning rubber every day, which locals told me was the smell of meth. To make matters worse they had to replace a fridge three times in one day, insisting each time that we were wrong about it being broken, and within the same day we discovered that the ceiling was full of moisture and mold that "wasn't dangerous" apparently so nothing was done about it. We got out of that place the second our contract was up.

The second home we lived in was a pretty short stay, although there are some good memories like our Halloween party it is tainted by the landlord, Mark Petefish, who ran the place. All throughout our stay the landlord would pester us to upgrade the house for him, then he began to pester us to let him use our garage as storage which we obliged at no cost to him. One day he up and decided we had thirty days to vacate the premises because he was, "Having marital issues and needed the house back" and we complied without issue, minus a small sofa we left which he stole our mail and held it ransom for fifty dollars over, which we still refuse to pay the extortion money he demands.

Our next place was a cute little house in a large suburban neighborhood, adjacent to a family who was well known in the neighborhood for theft, drug dealing, and all other matter of illegal doings. Had we known they would attempt to break into our house on multiple occasions, and that our landlords would threaten to charge us for the subsequent damage, we would never have moved in. Nonetheless we stuck it out for the year contract, watching our neighbors abuse their kids and their dog, reporting it to no avail as is usual with Topekan law enforcement, and having them sneak into our backyard and trying to break in on multiple occasions when they assumed no one was home. After we had officially moved to Lawrence, but still had some cleaning to do within the property, we came back to find the back door smashed in and our AC unit gone. Luckily our neighbors caught the theft on camera, gave it to the police, and filed a report themselves. When the cop came to investigate from the Topeka Police Department all he had to say was, "Well, there really isn't anything we can do," and that response is something I received far too often for much more serious events.

The final place we signed a contract with, managed by Balanced Property Management at the time, and owned by a Timothy J. Plumberg, was the most egregious experience with a landlord in my entire life so far. It wasn't enough to lie to us to get us to move in, lying to us about trash location which was over a one-hundred yard walk away at the time, accessibility concerning the property, presence of a feral animal infestation, exposed wires, broken pipes, and a plethora of other issues, but the owner pretended not to be the owner so as to elicit information he couldn't have otherwise received from us. The management company played right along with his ruse, even taking to the internet to post about it and laugh. I met with the owner, who claimed he was just a representative for the owner every time, on multiple occasions including once to share some beers I bought for us to enjoy with one another. He lived downstairs, and in fact owns all the homes around the area which sits adjacent to some sort of intimidating power relay.

I had been emailing back and forth with the management company for months, at no point did anyone tell me the maintenance man I was meeting with was actually the owner and not who he claimed to be, and it came to the point I couldn't allow him in the house anymore. I denied him access to the property, as is my legal right, and because I had to get physical in order to prevent an uninvited entrance to the property I called the police. The police went and told him to stay away from us until our contract was voided, but that didn't stop the owner from trying to force his way in again. When I went to make a formal report of the incident the police laughed at me, saying my claims make no sense at all, and apparently this is a regular occurrence with Topekan law enforcement.

What solution, from a Topekan, did I get to all this?

"Stop being poor, lol."— Anonymous Topekan

The police in Topeka are merely bad representations of what police should be.
The police in Topeka are merely bad representations of what police should be. | Source

Criminals on Both Sides of the Law

My first experience with the Topeka Police Department was in a Walmart parking lot, at around 6 a.m. after a long night shift. They had noticed my California license plate and decided it was a good idea to turn my car, and myself, into a spectacle at which all my coworkers could gawk. Nothing had been reported about me, nor my vehicle, and when I approached them to ask what was going on they said they saw my plates and said it was suspicious.

I inquired as to what was so suspicious about a Chevy Blazer 4x4, with California plates, parked at one of the most popular Walmarts in town? To which they told me nothing was really that suspicious other than the fact I had California plates. Upon further inquiry they became upset and took all my information, because I was pressing to know exactly why they had blocked my car in if no crime was committed and there was no probable cause like a matching description. I was cordial so I don't understand all the peacocking they were doing, nonetheless everyone was able to watch me get strong-armed by the cops for, literally, nothing at all.

My next experience was a strange one that was all too avoidable. A disabled, African-American woman had been at CVS where we had just bought some Vitamin Water, and got some quarters so we could do laundry at the laundromat across the street. The woman had been yelling, screaming even, at everyone in the store that she was going to kill everyone. Even turning to scream she was going to "kill you, white b^&*!" at my girlfriend as she was checking out. No one in the store seemed worried, so we chose to let it slide as well and not call the police. That is until she followed us across the street to the laundromat, continuing her ranting and raving. She sat outside as we loaded our laundry into the washer, screaming she was going to kill whoever walked by her. Then she went inside and started stealing baskets and laundry. At that point we decided to call the police, for everyone's safety as someone was talking about their handgun and how they could safely confront her.

It took me calling the police three times, getting a hold of the dispatcher each and every time, even letting the dispatcher hear the screaming and threats this woman was issuing through the phone, to get the police to come out. Preventing the man with the firearm from confronting the woman unnecessarily I waited for the police to show up, over an hour later a single officer showed up and gave the woman a ride to a homeless shelter with all the belongings she stole. I'm just glad she didn't actually hurt anyone, like she was screaming she would for nearly three hours.

Of course my final interaction with the police, as I moved out of the city and the state afterward, was at the apartment where I needed to use physical force to prevent my landlord from entering the property uninvited a second time. Then being laughed at, despite police physically telling the landlord to stay away the first time, when trying to file an official report about the second incursion.

Absolutely ridiculous, and people will defend this city to the death despite the crime I could safely allege is going unreported due to the victims being laughed at when they go to report it.

Daily life, even at places sworn to help you, is torture in Topeka.
Daily life, even at places sworn to help you, is torture in Topeka. | Source

The Local Hospital

I don't even want to relive this situation mentally, it hurts too much, so I'll leave my review of the most popular hospital in the city to do the talking:

"I am not sure how to put this into words representative of the lasting emotional trauma they caused me, my girlfriend, and anyone else who received the same treatment; but I will do my best in articulating a proper review for this soulless place.

Stormont Vail is yet another culprit in the ongoing 'cesarean section epidemic' attempting to push them on anyone they can, regardless of a clean bill of health each time they run tests. If your tests do not meet the average with pinpoint accuracy, they will shame you into receiving a c-section.

I am sad to say that shaming is the perfect descriptor for what they do to someone who questions why they are demanding you get a c-section. If the shaming does not work, well then they turn to directly strong-arming you. They will berate you, and put you in such an uncomfortable position that you will suffer emotional distress. Some of the doctors will even overstep their bounds and directly threaten you if you bring facts contrary to their beliefs. Do not let them fool you.

If every one of your health tests are borderline average, do not let them deceive you. My son was scheduled to be born a week after the c-section they coerced my girlfriend to get. He was born unable to take in the appropriate amount of oxygen, and for exactly a week I watched him suffer.

I say my son suffered for a week, and the key point here is that was when his natural birth was meant to be, a week after the scheduled c-section. Pure coincidence he left the NICU on his scheduled natural birth date? I'll leave that to the scientists who know better than shyster doctors. I can only present the data I have at hand.

Prospective families, do not under any circumstance let them sway you. Unless they say specifically that your case is imminently life threatening (they may do that anyways, hence why I say overstepping their bounds), do not give in to the duress.

In closing: The nursing staff is overworked and undervalued. Their ability to be cordial is limited by this. Nonetheless most of them were absolutely terrible at their jobs, and had atrocious bedside manner; often they would forget about you and become irate at even the slightest reminder. Communication between the multiple wards is also nearly nonexistent, leaving you to run middleman for them."

Let me get on my pedestal and grab my megaphone here....
Let me get on my pedestal and grab my megaphone here.... | Source

Shout-out to Juli's Bistro

They go out of their way to sweep serious allegations under the rug at Juli's Bistro, and I commend their fervor for doing so, but it all needs to come to light at some point. My review for them tells the tale well enough:

"The food is mediocre at best if you are accustomed to anything better, but if you are from Topeka or anywhere like Topeka where flavor is frowned upon then you will love this place. However, as the only food I've eaten from here was not on the menu and custom made, I can only attest to the insider information I have received.

Turnover as it pertains to maintaining the employment of staff is a large issue. This is solely due to the petty, fifth generation Topekan, owner of the establishment. Even her husband can't stand the woman. Allow me to present evidence of my claims.

The owner allows sexual harassment to occur ad nauseam. The owner often goes behind the backs of her workers to assassinate their character. The owner often gives commands contrary to what should be done, then blames the one she commanded for her own poor decisions. The owner exercises her petty powers any chance she can, simply to undermine the confidence of her workers. The owner allows addicts, who can't even cook an egg due to intoxication, to remain at work. The owner makes egregious demands, such as telling workers to stop squirting syrup so loudly. The owner belittles her husband in front of staff. The owner encourages her daughter to have the same illogical, and disgusting mindset.

I could go much further, but I think I have made my point clear. Now on to the ingredient choices by the owner.

I know the area cannot tell, as no one has taste in Topeka, but everything here is bland. The owner often alters recipes without notifying anyone, because her unrefined palate wouldn't know good flavor if it kicked her in the taste buds. If this wasn't already unfortunate, she thinks she knows better than those with degrees, experience, and knowledge far surpassing her meager existence. Furthermore, the owner opts in to buying boxed ingredients as well as the lowest end 'fresh' ingredients she possibly can. (Order the 'ciabatta' and laugh at her for thinking it's ciabatta)

Just to throw salt in the wound, food vendors often hand out large free samples every time they visit an establishment, to people they like. This establishment almost never gets any without begging like a child throwing a tantrum.

Now, the owner cannot be completely bad, right? I'm sure some would come to her defense, such as those she shows favoritism for unspoken reasons or those she can torment into submission. It certainly isn't for their value as an employee that she holds them in high regard (refer to addict can't cook an egg because he is so high comment).

If all this cannot dissuade you from dining here, then know that the owner bought this place and all their recipes from the former owner. Yes, she bought the recipes, taking the easy and less creative route, and still manages to screw up at every turn. One can only hope that someday the owner will change her ways, but I'd be just as happy to watch her business die in the irrelevancy of Topekan mediocrity.

I encourage those who fear the owner's wrath to speak out against it publicly, so that the owner's terrible treatment of her employees can be brought to an end. The community will be on your side and you will no longer need to repress the damages she is causing/has caused you."

Careful what you say about Topeka!
Careful what you say about Topeka! | Source

Topekan Reputation Defenders

It is a rare few, that I would actually associate with, who will come to the defense of Topeka and all the swill it has to offer. Those rare few are also a great example of the qualms I have with Topekans in general. It seems like the biggest attractions here are the bars, and the greatest events that everyone gets to choose from are drinking, smoking meth, and sex. If you aren't partaking in alcoholism, or adultery, then you really don't have a lot of choice for things to do in Topeka. I mean, cheating on your significant other in a town where everyone seems to know everyone else's business appears to be some sort of sport for these people. I laugh seeing people cheat on their spouses, multiple times, still doing it, and all the while talking about how their Christian God loves them so much and they are so blessed. The adultery was rampant, and I'm no one to talk having cheated once in my life, but goodness does it make me chuckle with pity.

The privileged class of Topeka, those who technically don't even live in the city but in large houses in the forest on the outskirts or on large farms free from the daily goings-on of the city, will always jump in to defend the place. I mean, anyone who lives a privileged and pampered life within the technical limits of the city would come to defend such a lifestyle, and I agree that lifestyle is something I'd readily hop into myself and have few to no grievances.

Then there are those who grew up there, never having even left the city limits, and claim Topeka is the best city in the United States. They will jump at any chance, any claim, any whiff of distaste for Topeka to defend it to their death. All the while these same people are hit the hardest by the injustices occurring frequently in the city, especially against the underprivileged, and there is no logical reason for them to try to put makeup on this city that would be better called a figurative pig.

Alcohol? Alcohol. ALCOHOL!
Alcohol? Alcohol. ALCOHOL! | Source

The Only Reasons to Go There, Ever

I'll put it as bluntly and concise as possible right off the bat: Bars and Breweries.

There isn't much going on in Topeka, because savvy businessmen do their best to go to markets that actually have a chance and Topeka is a long, LONG, term investment that carries bigger risks than elsewhere. That does not mean that Topeka doesn't have its redeeming qualities though, as rare as they are.

The Wheel Barrel located in the arts' district of NOTO, whose menu was originally created and designed by my girlfriend, their former executive chef, is more than reason enough to stop in if they have maintained the attention to detail as far as food quality goes. The bar of expectation for creativity, originality, and spirit concerning the food has dropped quite a bit, but I'm sure it is still delicious. I always enjoyed a good grilled cheese for lunch or dinner, and I wouldn't go anywhere else but here if I'm blowing through Topeka.

With the viking fad going around, and every droll hipster and their mother thinking they are some sort of Norse God, Odin's Lair has become a hot commodity within the town. If you have any interest in throwing some axes, letting out that inner-Topekan angst that addles your mind, then head on over by yourself, with a group, or with whomever you fancy.

I can't find a single other reason to come here, and no I won't try any harder to think of one. Topeka is a nightmare and you can find the same stuff elsewhere at a much higher quality, in a safer and cleaner environment.

Do you see yourself visiting Topeka, Kansas any time soon?

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Bang bang, pow pow!
Bang bang, pow pow! | Source

Alternative to Firearms

I assume that if you are as passionate about home defense as I have become since living in crime-riddled Topeka, then you already have weapons and I don't need to list any firearms for you. Any sane human knows that firearms are a necessity to properly defend your family in situations that require them, and you wouldn't want to bring a knife to a gun fight.

For those of you that would rather bring a knife to a gun fight, though, I have some great suggestions for you. This Naginata Yari Sword is a wonderful addition to anyone's home collection and I own one myself. It is sturdy, but a bit dull. Traditionally this would be used more as a stabbing-at-range implement, but it could double just as well as a hammer or pry bar. I only use mine for display, but I would be confident even chopping wood with it.

If it ever comes back into stock, then I highly advise you buy this functioning replica of the Raiden sword from Rising Metal Revengance. It comes in sharp as a razor, and I'm always a sucker for full tang. It is a bit heavy, coming in close to seven pounds, but that extra weight combined with the strength of your swing and the razor sharp edge equals a lethal blow every time. I don't like the grip on it, so I used some grip tape to create a more ergonomic handling, but I'm sure you could work around it just like I did.

If you're worried about size, and would rather have something easily concealable, something to take on camping trips and not look silly or intimidating, then I advise purchasing this cute little pocket knife that fits your needs in any situation that requires a blade. I like to use mine for whittling and other tasks of that nature, but this little guy could cause a lot of damage in an emergency situation. You're going to need to get up close and personal, but with a little luck and skill your threat will be neutralized effectively.

Most importantly, before you go out and pick yourself up a weapon, ensure you read up and are knowledgeable on all local laws concerning your choice in home-defense weaponry. Not everything available to buy legally is legal within the state you choose to reside; what is a felony to own in California is legal to open-carry without a permit in Kansas, and so on. It is upon you to be a safe and responsible weapon owner, don't give us all a bad name because you got lazy and skimped on your jurisprudence.

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