Mothers Die, But Oedipus Complexes Live On

, , , , | Right | February 25, 2020

I work at a housing company. We have over 50,000 houses, so it happens once in a while: tenants die on us.

“Good morning, this is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

The caller is an adult male.

“My mother died.”

“I am so sorry to hear that, sir, my condolences. What can I do for you?”

“I want to cancel her contract.”

“Of course, sir, let me pull up her contract and help you. What was her name?”


“Yes, but I mean her name on the contract.”


“I see… and where did she live; what was her home address?”


“Thank you. I see that the contract was under the name of Mrs. [Tenant], is that correct?”

“Yes, but that was not her name.”

“I have the wrong address?”

“No, it’s right… but her name was Mom! I keep on telling you that!”

“All right, I understand now. Now, to cancel her contract I need a [form] and a death certificate. Could you send that to me?”

“Yes, but they listed the wrong name!”

I have a feeling where this is heading.

“Did they list [Tenant] as a name?”

*Sounding upset* “Yes!”

“That is exactly the one I need. Please send it to me and we’ll cancel your mother’s contract for you.”

This issue gets dealt with and the contract ends nicely for both us and her son. I think this situation is an exception and think nothing about it. However, two weeks later, I get a call from another adult male:

Other Caller:
“I want to cancel my mother’s contract because she died.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that, sir. What was her name?”

Other Caller:
“Mom, her name was Mom.”

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Making A Clean Break

, , , , , | Working | December 26, 2019

(A year ago, my husband and I moved down the hall in our apartment building to a different unit. During that move, we were asked to take our blinds and curtains to be professionally cleaned by a particular business on the other side of the city. We did it, handed in our receipts as requested, and were annoyed to find out that we weren’t getting reimbursed for it. Whatever, not the end of the world. Fast forward a year: we are moving out of the country. My husband has already flown out, so I am alone to pack, clean, and move everything into storage. I do not take the blinds and curtains to be professionally cleaned this time around, as I know I won’t get reimbursed, and our vehicle has been sold by this point anyway. I am handing in the keys to the property manager as my in-laws are waiting with the rest of my things in their car.)

Property Manager: “Okay, everything looks pretty good. Do you have your receipts from [Business] for the blinds and curtains?”

Me: “Nope. I didn’t do it this time.”

Property Manager: “What? You were asked to have them cleaned. This means that we’ll be taking [cost] from your damage deposit, you know.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s fine. It’s still cheaper than doing it myself.”

Property Manager: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Last year, we paid [cost] for the cleaning, plus probably about [additional cost] for gas money, and we had to coordinate two different days for drop-off and pick-up. We never got reimbursed. It’s actually cheaper and easier for a tenant to not take them to be cleaned.”

Property Manager: “But [cost] will still be taken out of your damage deposit.”

Me: “Yes. I am okay with that. As I said, it’s still less expensive than doing it myself. Sorry.”

Property Manager: “But we require everyone to get this done. You won’t get your whole damage deposit back.”

Me: *sigh* “I understand that. But I am also not getting reimbursed for having them cleaned, so I’m losing money either way. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone bothers to do it.”

(I left shortly after, and he still couldn’t understand why I didn’t take them in to get cleaned.)

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Play Possum Until It’s Gone

, , , , , , | Right | November 23, 2019

(I work maintenance for a property management company and often carry a work phone to take after-hours maintenance calls.)

Me: “[Company] repair line, this is [My Name]; what can I do for you?”

Tenant: “Miss [My Name], you aren’t going to believe this. There’s a baby possum in my house. Can you send someone out to come to get him?! I’m scared he’s gonna come up my stairs and climb in my bed or something while I’m sleeping!”

Me: *trying not to laugh* “Unfortunately, ma’am, due to state laws, none of our pest control specialists can remove it. You’re going to have to call the Department of Fish and Game and see if they can come out and remove him.”

Tenant: “Are you sure you can’t send someone out sooner?”

Me: “I’m sure, ma’am. It would be illegal.”

Tenant: “Okay. I don’t think they’re open right now so I guess I’ll have to call them in the morning. Miss [My Name]?” 

Me: “Yes, ma’am?”

Tenant: “Possums can’t climb stairs, can they?”

Me: “I think you should be safe if it’s small enough.”

Tenant: “Okay. Okay, thank you, Miss [My Name].” 

(She called me the next morning to tell me the saga of how her neighbor came over and managed to herd the baby possum out of her home.)

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Who Would WANT To Email You?

, , , , | Right | February 5, 2019

(I work for a company that manages gated townhome communities. Following is a telephone conversation between myself and a homeowner.)

Homeowner: “I want to paint my house a different color. What do I need to do?”

Me: “All you need to do is fill out and submit a Home Improvement Request form, which can be downloaded from our website, or…”


Me: “Pardon?”


(The maintenance fees paid by homeowners go directly into the HOAs’ accounts, not to the management company. People don’t realize this, though, so when calling to complain, the first thing they do is remind us that they PAY A LOT OF MONEY.)

Me: “Actually, I send out monthly email updates to your entire community. Perhaps my emails have been getting caught in your spam filters?”

Homeowner: “NO. YOU NEVER EMAIL ME.”

Me: “Okay. Then let me look in my records to make sure we have the correct address for you.”

Homeowner: “YOU NEVER EMAIL ME.”

Me: “Is your email address—“ *reads off the address we have on file*

Homeowner: “No. That’s an old address.”

Me: “What’s your current email address?”

(She gives me her new address, and I update our records.)

Me: “Great. Now that I have your email, I will send you the Home Improvement Request form, and you can just fill it out and send it back to me.”


Me: “Ma’am, I was out of the office this morning on property visits, but I am in the process of getting caught up on messages… which is why we’re talking now.”

Homeowner: “Oh.” *beat* “Thanks.” *click*

(But hey, at least she said thanks. That’s a first right there.)

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Someone Grassed Up The Wrong Tenant

, , , , | Working | June 13, 2018

(We rent through an agency, and a year ago our property manager moved on to a different agency. We have a new property manager who is very demanding, but not so great at listening. I receive a phone call from her. It’s worth noting that I live in an old terraced house, so I have no front yard, my fence is about three steps from my front door, and the entire area is paved.)

Me: “Hello.”

Property Manager: Hi, [My Name], it’s [Property Manager]. Look, I’ll be blunt, we’ve had several complaints about the state of your front yard and we need to sort it out ASAP.”

Me: “My front yard?”

Property Manager: “Yes.”

Me: “What about it?

Property Manager: “Grass not mowed and being at knee height is the main complaint; I want to remind you that a condition of your tenancy is garden intermittence.”

Me: “This is [My Name], from [my address]; I think you have the wrong tenant.”

Property Manager: “Excuse me? I thought it would be nice to give you a heads up before I put in an official letter, for you to do the right thing. I know who you are, and I know which house this is; I’ve driven past and I can see for myself that your yard is not maintained.”

Me: “[My address] is a terrace. I don’t have grass.”

Property Manager: “This is [My Name] from [my address], yes?”

Me: “Yes.”

Property Manager: “Then I have the right house.”

Me: “I think something has gotten very jumbled here. I don’t have a front yard or grass; I have a small paved area with no greenery at all.”

Property Manager: “I drove past the property yesterday.”

Me: “Right… Okay. I’m just saying, you might want to double-check. Thank you. Have a good day.”

(A week letter, I got an official warning about my grass in the mail. I ended up emailing a picture of the warning letter, held up in front of my “front yard,” and a summary of the phone call to the rentals manager. I received a lovely apology from the rentals manager, and a gift card.

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