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20 March 2015

Don't be a dick

I need to wrap up the story of this month's rent-- I talked about my landlord once already this week and once last fall. Landlord is unprofessional, impolite, knows nothing about this crazy concept of "customer service" and he's a (for lack of a better term) a bully. If this were the military I'd at least have the recourse of a chain of command to work with, but it's not. This was the only landlord that would rent me an apartment last fall, so I didn't have much of a choice. It was either rent from him or spend the winter sleeping outside the Computer Science building.

Here's the rest of what happened.

I called back, after work, which is for me after 0100, and left a message that I intended to pay, needed to know exactly how much I needed to pay, and that I also needed to know if he'd prefer a cashier's check.  I also let him know that I'd have whatever amount ready on the 19th (Thursday).

Landlord called that morning and left me a three minute message (voice mail cut him off after three minutes, going on about how I was not to call the office when it is closed, and that he's seen me coming and going from the apartment building in the afternoon a week or two ago, and that.... well, you get the idea.  I'm honestly not trying to be difficult with the guy. I don't talk on the phone. In my world, people email, text, and instant message (sometimes if we're physically located in the same room), and a phone call is usually the last resort in getting in touch with someone.

Anyway: landlord says that I am to call him at exactly noon the next day to set up a time to meet.

Except, he's not done. He calls back after a while, complains that the voice mail cut him off, says he had some other calls, and now wants me to call back between 1130 and 1300 or 1330 at the latest. That takes about a minute, and he spends another two minutes (until the voice mail cuts him off again at three minutes) explaining that my rent check was returned and what each late fee is for and everything else. Most important, he gives me a dollar figure for what I owe, which is the only information I really needed from the 6+ minute rant.

Wednesday morning, again after work when I have time to think and time to call, I call landlord and leave a voice mail that says I will have the cashier's check for the full amount I owe ready for him to pick up at 1300 on Thursday 3/19, and that I will need a receipt from him as a record that he received the payment from me (meaning we're all settled and cool).

On the morning of the 19th I get another call, which goes straight to voice mail because I'm a nerd and know how to set up Do Not Disturb on my phone (also, I am usually up all night and get the little sleep I do get in the morning). The VM starts with "I got your message", goes on to the usual "I asked you to call at a specific time and you didn't", and then gets to "we're on for 1300 today".

Good, right? No. He's not done. More about what happened with the bank. More about the check being returned. Then, I'm supposed expected to call him at exactly ten minutes before 1300 to confirm.

Confirm what? We're agreed on the amount I'm paying, that it needs to be a cashier's check, and that he's going to come by at 1300 to pick up the check. What else is there to confirm? At this point I'm triggered to the point where I can't see straight. I just want to give him the damn check, get my receipt, and be done with all of this so I can take a few deep breaths, recharge, and get on with life. This shouldn't be so difficult.

1300 comes, and 1300 passes. No landlord.

About 1315 I get yet another phone call from landlord, from yet another different phone number (which I don't answer, because I don't recognize the phone number). He tells me I'm a no-show because he told me to call at exactly ten minutes to 1300 and I didn't call. Before he ends the call he says "I don't know what the problem is with your communication, but you just can't communicate, I guess."

Deeeeep breath.

We've already agreed on the amount, that it's to be a cashier's check, that he's going to come to my apartment (which is in a building he owns) to pick it up, and he's going to do so at 1300. Exactly what else is there to confirm? Now I'm beyond triggered, I'm just pissed. This is stupid. I'm so anxious I'm feeling sick and he's coming up with this bullshit?

Now I have to call him back to find out what the hell is going on. This won't be fun (and it wasn't). The conversation quickly becomes him shouting at me through the phone, at which I'm shouting back "I HAVE A CASHIER'S CHECK IN MY HAND, MADE OUT TO YOU, FOR THE EXACT AMOUNT YOU SAY I OWE. I AM STANDING IN MY APARTMENT, WAITING FOR YOU TO COME PICK IT UP AND PROVIDE ME WITH A RECEIPT. WHAT THE FUCK IS THE COMPLICATED PART?"

Now he says that because I didn't call him to confirm, he can't make it to come pick up the check. He lives in a suburb, so it's probably about a 20 minute drive, and he has business to conduct and doesn't have time for this. The shouting escalates. He's back on the "why don't you call me when I tell you to" thing when I remind him that I'm the one writing the check-- I'm the customer-- and if I tried to talk this way to my customers at work, I'd be fired on the spot. (Which is true.)

Yeah, he really didn't like that. It's true, though. Even if you're a landlord who drives a nice car and lives in the burbs, you're still in business and your customers are the reason you're even in business. I'm as confused at this point as I am angry. This is the fourth (out of five) landlords I've had in Madison that's had no problem treating me like shit, being consistently unprofessional, and in general being a dick.  I understand my rent was late. It's a bad thing. At this point though, I have the money to settle my account and I'm trying to give it to you. What does it matter when I call you, if you get the message? Why do I need to confirm what we've already agreed on? Take the fscking money.

Next he says he won't be able to get to my apartment for a couple of hours. He's a busy man. When I say I have another appointment that afternoon (which is also true, I have an appointment at the Vet Center, a ~30 minute walk away), he says I should just leave the cashier's check on my kitchen counter and he'll stop by and pick it up later "when he has time".

Mofo, you had no problem getting to my apartment to put a 5-day notice on my door last Friday (which, incidentally, included an insult that would fit right in on a fourth grade playground-- no, I'm not making this up).

This is where I repeat (trying to be calm) that I need a receipt for my payment.  Landlord takes this personally, like how dare I not trust him to come into my apartment and get the check? He does this all the time. I don't need a receipt.

Yes, I do. The more we talk, the more I need a receipt.

Finally, he says there is a maintenance guy that was in the area who can stop by and pick up the check. Landlord needs to call him to see if he can do that. Fine. I still want a receipt. I'm supposed to call Landlord back to confirm something about the maintenance guy. Whatever. Send the maintenance guy with a receipt.

The maintenance guy actually shows up not long after that. He doesn't have a receipt, says I don't need one. After I get a pen, he scrawls out a receipt on the back of a bank deposit slip from his back pocket. Why is generating a receipt so hard for a landlord that's been in business for ~40 years? In the meantime, Landlord has called again to tell me I need to confirm something with maintenance guy. When maintenance guy leaves, I call landlord and tell him we're cool, the reason I didn't call about the guy coming over to get the check was because I was talking to the guy. Finally, thankfully, that call ends. Rent is paid. I have a receipt, sort of.

Of course, I'm triggered to the point that I'm shaking. I'm standing in my apartment, but I might as well be in the Desert in the middle of the night running for my chemical warfare gear that's nowhere near as close as it needs to be because the SCUD alert is going off. It feels the same.

I actually do have a Vet Center appointment after all of this, after explaining what happened my Vet Center tells me I look exhausted. I was.

I still am, even after a night's sleep and a day has passed, because every night I have to come home to that apartment. It's bad enough that every time I come home I feel anxious, because it reminds me that I used to be homeless. Now coming home reminds me that there's a landlord who has no feelings, no remorse, towards making me feel like shit, and if anything goes wrong with my apartment I have to call that same landlord to get anything fixed. If I want to ask where my lease renewal is, I also have to call and talk to the same landlord.

Most campus apartments do lease renewals in February; after I told my landlord I intended to stay for another year, I never heard anything more about it. Maybe it's a moot point after all of this week's festivities, which is honestly up to my landlord. I'm responsible for paying my rent on time, and this month it didn't get paid on time. Once I knew what the situation was I took the necessary steps to fix it, and now my account is up to date.

All of this was so completely unnecessary. A couple of emails were all that were needed to communicate what needed to be exchanged to get paying my rent coordinated. I tried to avoid the game-- and that's what Landlord is playing, is a fucked up childish game-- up to the limits of my medication. Introversion and the effects of PTSD mean I don't go looking for crazy stimulation. I have enough, too much, of that already in the never ending movie titled Shit That Happened To Me In The Desert.

Don't be a dick. --@wilw


















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