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When Rental Gets Mental

, , , , | Right | May 20, 2022

I am a landlady, renting out multiple rooms in different shared apartments to students, young professionals, and/or tourists. For the last few months, I’ve had a tenant that just doesn’t understand the concept of people living together. Maybe he lived under a rock for the first few decades of his life?

Cleaning up the kitchen, oven, or stove after cooking? Why bother? Someone else will surely deal with the mess and do it for me. Flooding the bathroom after each use, and leaving different coloured stains on (and around) the toilet? Some other tenant (or the landlady) will be there to clean that up!

But the “highlight” is when he is finally supposed to move out. He asks multiple times about his deposit. I assure him that he will get it in cash when he turns in his keys and everything is in the same condition as he got it when he moved in. I even send a list of what he needs to do before moving out, e.g. “wash bed linens,” “clean fridge,” “remove all personal property,” and so on.

I arrive a few minutes early. He is shuffling around, but there is so much stuff still around, the fridge is dirty and full of his food, lots of his things (bike, boxes, food, bathroom items) are still all over the apartment, and I think, “This is just impossible to do in fifteen minutes.”

Five minutes before the arranged time, he says:

Tenant: “Okay, you can check the room now.”

Me: “I am not here to check the room. I am here to check everything, take your keys, and return the deposit, when you leave the apartment.”

Tenant: “But you never said that! I need another four hours for that!”

He knows I have no more time today.

Me: “I can’t check the room if all your stuff is still here, and I won’t return any deposit if you don’t return the keys.”

Technically, he has until tomorrow, until the month is over; it was his decision to return the keys today.

This went on for several minutes, and he did not understand why I just wouldn’t check the room, return the deposit, and then leave him with the keys and all his things in my apartment, as if that was the most normal thing to expect.

I gave up after several minutes of explaining the same thing over and over, and then I turned around and walked out.

I told him to put the keys in the postbox when he had cleared out, and I would check everything then and would return the deposit via bank transfer. Let’s see what happens next.

Hearing Paid

, , , , | Right | April 3, 2022

I take over a former coworker’s job selling hearing aids. As I look over his sales, I notice a woman who picked up her order a few years ago but never paid for it as they are given on a loan and are paid for if the customer wishes to keep them.

As she still frequently visits our shop, she probably thought that things were done and forgotten, but not by me.

Me: “Miss? Since you are here, I thought I’d let you know there is still the matter of your 1,000€ hearing aids being unpaid. Would you like to arrange the payment?”

She looks at me like a deer in the headlights but quickly manages to find her composure.

Customer: *Surprisingly, without even trying to deny it* “Oh, haha, yes, well… totally forgot about that. May I choose to pay it in three cash installments?”

She comes back later for her first third of the payment. As I process it at our cash register, she makes a POORLY hidden attempt to swipe the money off the table, followed by her saying:

Customer: “Since you have taken the money, may I have the bill and leave now?”

This is followed by me and my two watching colleagues saying:

Me: “Oh, we didn’t take it. It seems to have fallen down your side of the counter and into your basket. Would you like us to check?”

Her unhappy face upon us discovering her poor attempt to scam us was priceless.

This Is Why I Don’t Ride A Bike

, , , , , | Legal | October 14, 2021

On my first day of a holiday to Austria, I rent a bicycle. I hit the back of a car at five km/h and fall off my bike. The driver is an Austrian woman. I am a British man. To be fair to her, I was using my phone to navigate, and I was on the road instead of the cycle lane.

She starts shouting in German.

Me: “Sprache sie Englisch?”

Driver: “Why are you cycling on the road?”

Me: “I’m not injured, thanks. I have never been to this country. What happens when there is a collision?”

She produces a form, all in German.

Driver: “We both have to complete this form for the insurance.”

She points to a five-centimeter scratch on her car.

Me: “Crime of the century. You can have my name and address, but I will not complete a legal document in a language I don’t understand.”

Driver: “I will explain it to you. Look, this—”

Me: “No offence, but I can’t trust you to translate it independently. You’re biased.”

Driver: “But Austria is a German-speaking country! Why don’t you speak German?”

Seriously? I start thinking of the psychological and historical reasons why I, as a Brit, wouldn’t be interested in German.

Me: “This situation didn’t really feature in my holiday planning. Who produced that form? Have they an English version?”

Driver: “But Austria is a German-speaking country!”

After a while, we’re going round in circles. She is getting frustrated. I’m searching for any way at all to end the stalemate.

Me: “No disrespect, but I will not complete that without an independent, human translation. I could get sued for a lot of money if I don’t understand what I am signing. I’m on holiday here and I can wait a very long time.”

Driver: “What German do you know?”

Me: “Since you asked, I can say three things. I can say, ‘Du bist ein löffel.’”

Driver: “I… I am a spoon? Where did you learn this?”

Me: “School. My teacher had a strange sense of humour.”

Driver: “I… Anything else?”

Me: “Yes. ‘Mein luftkissenboot ist voll mit alle,’ and, ‘Möchtest du ein darmspülung.’”

Driver: “I… I, what— Do you know what this means?”

Me: “‘My hovercraft is full of eels,’ and, ‘Would you like an enema?’”

Driver: “Nein, danke?”

Me: “That’s from The Big Bang Theory. Is this of any use in understanding the form?”

Driver: “I’m calling the police!”

Me: “You do that. Maybe they will translate.”

Ten minutes later, a car with “Polizei” on the side arrives, and two tall, beautiful blondes in their early twenties get out. 

Cop #1: “What happened?”

Me: “I hit her on my bike, and I won’t complete the form because I don’t understand German.”

Cop #1: “That form is to report the accident to her car insurance. That’s normal in Austria. Are you a resident here?”

Me: “No, I live in Wales. What does the form say?”

Cop #1: “I will translate it.”

She goes through the form line by line while I complete my details. Meanwhile, [Cop #2] and the woman get heated.

Me: “If this is about me can you summarise?”

Cop #2: “She says you were on your phone, but I don’t care because that is not a crime. Not unless you were in a call.”

Me: “I would not get this sort of service at home.”

Cop #2: “I think you understand the danger.”

Me: “I have another question about traffic laws, please?”

Cop #2: “Yes?”

Me: “Is the cycle lane compulsory or optional?”

Cop #2: “The special bike route is mandatory.”

Me: “That’s called a ‘cycle lane’ in English. Are you saying you have the power to punish me just because I cycled on the road when a cycle lane is available?”

Cop #2: “Yes. I could make you pay a fine for that.”

Me: “At home, I would have had a lecture about cycling with a phone, and the cycle lane wouldn’t have existed in the first place.”

For the rest of my trip, I found that Austrians, both the authorities and the people, always answered a straight question. Advice was only offered where it was needed. I felt very safe and very happy to the point that I would live there.

The Drink He Deserved If Not The One He Wanted

, , , , | Friendly | December 22, 2020

It’s late evening. I’m a woman in my thirties, and I’m the only person waiting at a dark tram stop when an unkempt old guy comes by. He eyes the soda bottle I just drank from.

Guy: “Give me that bottle! I want to have a drink!”

Me: “That’s tap water I filled up around noon. Are you sure you want that?”

Guy: *Angrily* “I said I want to have a drink!”

I shrug, surrender the bottle, and watch him take a big gulp and become very disappointed. He hands it back as if it was a used diaper.

Guy: *Hurt* “That’s disgusting! I wanted something strong! Why would you give me water?! That was mean!”

I point toward the direction my highly anticipated tram will hopefully be coming from very soon.

Me: “If you want alcohol, there was an old man slowly carrying a big red bag full of wine bottles right before you arrived here. He can’t have gone far; if you are quick enough, you can probably catch up with him and make him share.”

Thankfully, the idea of mugging imaginary Santa got him excited enough to leave, and my tram arrived not too long later. I had been clutching my knife from the moment he spoke to me.

Another Exhibit In The Case Of “Why Nurses Should Rule The World”

, , , , , | Healthy | December 3, 2020

My parents are with my severely disabled sister who is being prepped for an operation. We take care of her at home and have a live-in nurse, but she still ends up in the hospital every few months, so the nurses are quite familiar with my family.

Nurse: “Would you like to remove your daughter’s nail polish?”

Mother: “Is it really necessary?”

Nurse: “Well, yes. We need to be able to see her nails during the operation to make sure she’s getting enough oxygen.”

Mother: “Oh, I see. It’s only that my other daughter painted her nails before going to college, and she won’t be back home for months. She went all the way to America and we can’t afford to bring her back every time [Sister] is hospitalized.”

Nurse: “Ach, I’m very sorry.”

She makes small talk with my parents while removing the nail polish. There are no comments about how my sister wouldn’t understand or even notice the nail polish, just reassuring chatter.

When they wheeled my sister back after the operation, my mother broke down in tears; they’d repainted my sister’s nails. When my mother told me about it, I teared up, too.

I still think of that nurse’s kindness — how she must’ve left the hospital to get nail polish of a similar shade and then painted my sister’s tiny nails. It sounds like such a small thing, but it was so completely outside her job scope and so sweet of her. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.


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