The Joys Of Renting

, , , , , | Working | December 28, 2020

I moved out on my own when I was twenty-one, scoring a fantastic little new build flat in the city centre. In nine years, I only moved to a different block so I could have a bigger place. Eventually, though, the area got worse: there was vandalism, my car was broken into twice — in the underground “secure” car park that had easily broken gates — a pub on my road was closed after a guy was killed there, drugs, gangs, you name it.

I decided enough was enough; I wanted out of the city and to somewhere quieter. I was delighted to find a ground floor flat that looked great on the visit, close to my parents. The rent was the same as I was currently paying and the lease was for twelve months. Perfect.

Yeah. You know where this is going.

When I move in I actually have to wonder if it is the same place I saw three weeks ago. With the previous tenants’ stuff gone, it is easy to see the chronic damp. Oh, and the kitchen window has dropped so there is a wide, open gap to the outside — not great in the winter… or for security. I have problems with the en suite toilet and shower, as well, during which time the landlord and I have a chat when he is fixing the issues.

Me: “I’m really looking forward to living here. In a year or two, I think I’ll have it redecorated.”

Imagine my surprise when, barely four months later, he tells me I have to leave!

Landlord: “You’ll have to find somewhere else. I can’t afford the flat—”

This is despite me paying rent on it.

Landlord: “—and if you don’t leave, I’ll have to go bankrupt and the bank will take the flat and evict you.”

I should mention here two things. First, in the UK, you cannot breach a rental agreement for that reason. In fact, it is notoriously difficult to evict a renter from a property. Point two, I know this because I work in the real estate industry. I know how this stuff works, I know my rights, and I know I can make his life h***.

But still, it was stressful to have this man message me at least twice a week demanding I find another place, telling me I didn’t need to find somewhere perfect, just to leave his place, that he’d pay me to leave, that he wouldn’t give me a good reference if I was not gone by a certain date, etc.

But I ignored him. I consulted with colleagues who agreed that he had no legal standing, and I talked with the estate agents who had some very choice names for him, but I didn’t stop looking for the perfect place. Moving is expensive and stressful and I hate doing it, so if I was moving now it was to a place to stay a long time… like this was supposed to be.

In the end he came clean. Kind of. He hadn’t realised it was a twelve-month lease, despite the conversations we’d had. He did try and blame the estate agents — they are liars, they tricked him, blah. I figured he screwed the pooch and had someone else lined up to move in.

Thankfully, this has a good ending. I found a house, rather than a flat, still in my ideal area and price, with everything I could want: a garden, a driveway, three bedrooms, and an amazing landlord that I can laugh and joke with.

I don’t hate my ex-landlord any more, and I write this now from my garden, sipping a coffee and reflecting on how lucky I was that my ex-landlord broke the law and kicked me out, how I dodged a bullet, and how fun it was to see him a little while ago when I was visiting the friends I had made at that building… watching him bring his groceries into his — my — flat.

Yeah, he kicked me out so he and his girlfriend could move in. He saw me, I saw him, and I just grinned, with the other residents smiling with me.

I think I won.

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That Crosses A Line

, , , , , , , | Learning | October 9, 2020

My friends and I go to a very conservative religious school. We are huge fans of a comic book series about the survivors of a health crisis — Garth Ennis’ “Crossed” — which causes its victims to develop a cross-shaped rash across their face and act out their most depraved, violent fantasies. One of the characters is a large man who uses part of a horse as a weapon and has a particularly crude battle cry.

Halfway through the term, I fracture my nose playing rugby and have to have it in a cast for eight weeks. As a result, I come in for a lot of ribbing and, when the cast is removed, I have a — you guessed it — distinct cross-shaped rash across my face.

On my first day back at school, [Friend #1] starts laughing so hard he can barely stand.

Friend #1: “Oh, my God, you look like you’ve been crossed!”

[Friend #2] runs up, leaps into the air, and thwacks me on the head.

Friend #2: *Screaming* “Horsec**k!”

That is when we hear somebody clear their throat and turn to see the school’s principal, chaplain, vice-principal, several parents, and a visiting archbishop looking on, aghast.

The archbishop pats me on the shoulder.

Archbishop: “Well, aren’t you a lucky chap, then. I’m sure you’ll make all the girls very happy.”

We all got detention.

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That Had Better Have Been A Really Good Sandwich

, , , , , | Working | September 21, 2020

I go to an international hamburger shop for a late lunch. The shop is basically empty, but after I place my order, it is several minutes before my order is ready, despite being a very simple order.

Rude Worker: *Laying down my tray* “We messed it up.”

She then turns and vanishes into the back before I can say anything. I assume her statement is an explanation for the delay and take my order to the table. However, when I open up my sandwich, I find that they had given me a burger rather than the chicken sandwich I ordered.

I go back to the counter and have to wait for a minute or two before the employee from before wanders out again.

Me: “Excuse me. You gave me the wrong sandwich.”

The rude worker stares blankly at me.

Me: *Holds up my receipt* “I ordered a [Chicken Sandwich] and this is a burger.”

Rude Worker: *Shrugs* “We mixed it up.”

Me: *Expectant pause* “So, can you fix it, please?”

The rude worker rolls her eyes before scooping up my tray, turning, and dumping the entire contents into a large trash can by the counter, and then walking off into the back.

Me: “Hey!”

No response. I wait for a few more minutes, calling out a couple more times, before a different worker walks out, looking a bit confused.

Helpful Worker: “Oh, have you been helped?”

Me: “No. I ordered earlier, but your coworker gave me the wrong item, and when I asked for the right item, she dumped the meal in the trash and ran off into the back.”

I hold out the receipt that I am still holding and point toward the trash can. The worker checks them both, a look of utter bafflement on her face.

Helpful Worker: “Oh. Well, I’ll get this made up for you right away.”

In just over a minute, I have my meal and am headed back to my seat. The rude worker comes back out and apparently decides she needs the last word.

Rude Worker: *Almost shouting* “Are you happy now?!”

Helpful Worker: “[Rude Worker]! What the h***?!”

I ended up just picking up the meal and leaving the restaurant to eat elsewhere.

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When A Penny For Your Thoughts Is Still A Ripoff

, , , , , | Right | September 19, 2020

Customer: “I have to pay for a bag?”

Me: “Yeah only 1p.”

Customer: “Ah, never mind. I’ll just carry it. Oh, and keep the change.”

One penny.

His change was one penny.

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Someone’s About To Go Postal

, , , , , , , | Working | September 15, 2020

During the lockdown, I’ve been making fabric face coverings and offering them to friends and family. Today, I had two parcels of them that I needed to send to people, and I walked up to the post office and got in line. There was only one window open, attended by a woman, and she was helping a male customer when I arrived, so I expected I wouldn’t be there long.

After a couple of minutes of mental woolgathering, I noticed that the assistant had taken the items that the customer was posting and they were just chatting, which annoyed me a bit, but I thought maybe she didn’t consider only one other person in line enough reason to rush. Almost as soon as I thought this, an elderly couple got in line behind me. The assistant showed no sign of noticing, so I decided to ease the rules of good manners and spend my waiting time listening in on their conversation.

The assistant was telling the man that she and her family all got the spreading illness — she described it as sore throat and sneezing — last year, but they took down and washed all the curtains and shampooed the carpets and were fine after that.

Okay.

Another customer joined the queue. By this point, the assistant was telling the customer that she was the only person who had been working at the post office during lockdown because all of her colleagues had been too scared to come in, and she’d been doing seventy-hour weeks. I’d been to this post office several times during lockdown and had never seen her before; plus, it’s only open forty-five hours a week.

Another two customers joined the queue. The customer at the counter, having clearly spotted a sucker, started giving the assistant the sales pitch for some natural remedies, telling her that taking a spoonful of hemp oil three times a day would protect her from getting the illness. She was clearly buying this nonsense and started telling him about her experiences using some homemade concoction to treat a rash. The man clearly decided he had to call it a day at this point and said goodbye and left. 

Finally, I got up to the counter. I was wearing one of my fabric masks, but it’s one I kept because I made a mistake in sewing it, so the outfacing piece of fabric was the wrong way round, and you could only vaguely see the pattern on it. I told the lady how I wanted to send the parcels and placed the first one on the scale. She didn’t touch her computer — I could see from the reflection in her glasses that she had a social media site open in a small window on her screen next to the window telling her what it says on the scale — but immediately started telling me about how long she’d been at work and how she’d only had one break all day. 

I’m not normally rude, but I’d been standing in line for about ten minutes and my back hurt, so I didn’t respond and just asked her how much the parcel would cost. She didn’t answer; instead, she just told me to put the other one on the scale, and then to pass them both through the slot to her. I did so, and she asked me what was in them. I pointed to my own mask and said, “Some of these masks.”

Her eyes lit up and she started telling me about somebody she saw selling masks in a shop but he coughed so she didn’t buy any. Then, she asked me why the print on the fabric on mine was so pale, and I told her I’d made a mistake and it was inside out. She gave me a coy smile and started telling me that that was my inner self making artistic choices for me, and that actually it was my own form of self-expression. It took a couple of minutes of this before I got a chance to break in and say, “What is that going to cost?”

Again, I’m not normally rude, but I would have been there all d*** day if I hadn’t interrupted.

“I haven’t done that bit yet,” she said, obviously cross. She glared at me silently for about twenty seconds, then pressed a key on her computer and said, “£1.45. £2.76.”

One of the parcels was bigger than the other, so I assumed she’d told me the two prices individually. “What’s the total?” I asked.

“I just told you,” she replied.

“So, £2.76 for both?”

“No. Yes.”

“So… what is the total?”

“Yes.”

It took me four more times asking to get her to tell me — somehow it was £3.11 — and I paid and got out of there. I looked around as I left and there were now eleven people in the queue. Heaven help them all.

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