This weekend, if we were talking over coffee, I’d tell you that I’ve moved again. Into a temporary place, but it was out of necessity.
The other day I shared a little snippet of what’s been going on in the house in which I was staying. Mostly I shared about the rudeness of the daughter and the lack of gas meaning no hot water and no cooking, etc. It’s been an ever increasingly bad situation since they went on their trip to Florida, which is when I realized that they were neglecting both the dog and the cat, in ways which could be only described as abuse of a pet.
It may be a harsh choice of words, but I’ve been seriously thinking about some of the things I’ve seen in that house, and I think it’s the appropriate word. The dog was living in it’s own filth, locked in a cage on the back porch without food or water, and was fed only when I reminded the 12 year old that she needed to feed the dog because he was a living creature and liked to eat every day just like she did. I’d watch her go out the back door and give him a little cup of food, and then take a bottle of water, your regular 16 oz bottle, and come back with half of it still in the container.
This was in June. Admittedly, I didn’t go out there to check on him, it didn’t really dawn on me that he was trapped in a cage on the porch, though I suppose I should have figured it out when she commented that he’d pooped in his food bowl. I can’t imagine a dog doing such a thing if he had the whole backyard with which to do his business.
When they left for Florida, I was shocked and angered by the state of the dog! Brought him into the house and gave him water, he drank 3 whole bowls of it because he had been so dehydrated. I bathed him, I played with him, I began housebreaking him…
And then there’s the cat. My roommate (who was really the landlady… I need to start calling her the correct name, since we were apparently anything but “mates”) told me that she would have the girls clean the cat box before they left. Which they didn’t. When I began cleaning it, it was apparent it hadn’t been cleaned in months. Instead of cleaning it out, they simply were dumping more litter into it. Even though it was one of those easy sift cat boxes, with the interlocking layers so you can pull one tray out and the clean litter falls into a fresh tray and you can dispose of the poop, it was so full of litter and waste that I couldn’t lift it.
There was an entire container of cat litter in there…
And just as with the dog, the food and water dishes were empty and appeared to have been empty for quite some time.
The fur on both sides of her abdomen was short, as if it had been sheared, or, more likely, it had fallen out from malnutrition and was just beginning to grow back.
The pets had been neglected.
When I’d moved in, my
roommate landlady had told me that the cops had been called on her before about her pets. As she told the story, it was the neighbors just giving her a hard time, but now I wonder if someone didn’t realize she was abusing/neglecting her pets and called it in.
She had said the cops were called about the noise level because she was keeping her uncle or cousin or brother’s dogs. It was never clear what the relationship was with the person whose dogs she was keeping. The woman she calls her mother is actually her grandmother, and so all subsequent relationships are described interchangeably as well. Sometimes a person she calls brother is actually her uncle, for example.
Either way, while she says it was just some neighbor being mean, I think now it was probably deserved. Now, the sweet little dog that was almost house trained just wanders the streets. He has tried to follow me to work several times, and has been losing weight. She says her mother/grandmother feeds him at night, but that woman told me she didn’t like him, so I don’t know that I believe it, and when I have put food and water out for him, he has scarfed it up thankfully.
I actually haven’t seen him in several days, so I hope someone decided to give him a home, and not that he got hit or shot or something terrible like that.
Meanwhile, since school’s been back, I haven’t been feeding the cat as regularly, because, well, it’s not my responsibility, though it had become my responsibility when my
roommate landlady quit coming home and instead was staying at her mother’s place. The first night they were home, I let them know that I had been feeding her, but the cat box hadn’t been changed since I did it while they were in Florida… which was way back while I was seeing the Pirate, so it’s been a while… end of June, beginning of July, thereabouts.
A few days ago, when I came home, I barely heard her crying in the laundry room, where they keep her shut up (same as with the dog in the cage on the back porch), and I realized I hadn’t fed her in about three days or more. Her food and water bowls were completely dry, and she was so weak, she couldn’t follow me up the stairs.
And all of that is beside the 12 days of cold showers because the gas had been shut off and she couldn’t seem to get it turned back on!
I spoke about that the other day. I also opened my big mouth out of anger and said I felt I shouldn’t pay her until the gas was back on, and that I was thinking of leaving within the next couple of weeks because the living situation was not livable anymore. I shouldn’t have said that. It wasn’t my honest intention.
While I had begun looking for new lodgings, I wasn’t ready to move out, and didn’t see any way to be ready to move into a new location for about another month. My original plan was to leave around Christmas at the earliest, if at all! She was going to help me look into the possibility of filing for bankruptcy, since she was an accountant.
I had considered us at least somewhat friends.
I wanted to actually have a conversation about what was going on with the gas… a difficult thing to do when she wasn’t coming home, and had proven in the past that she wouldn’t answer when I called, and rarely responded to texts.
The night that rent was due, and I wrote my last post, she sent me a text message asking about rent, which made me a little bit angry since she refused to have an honest discussion about the gas situation. I emphasize honest because she told me on three separate occasions that the gas would be on that day or the next, and to the best of my knowledge it still isn’t on.
The gas went off (as best as I can tell) on the 16th of August. That morning my shower was lukewarm and I had assumed it was because it was the first morning in weeks that we’d both been taking a shower (since she had taken her girls and basically moved into her mother’s house). The next morning, I woke up early to make sure that wouldn’t happen, and yet it was colder! That was the morning she was playing the piano downstairs at 6 something in the morning, and she stopped me on the way out the door to tell me the gas had been shut off. She told me then that it would be back on “soon, hopefully,” and also told me she was more concerned that the electric might get shut off as well!
She told me she needed $40 to get it turned back on, and an extra $60 to get it turned on that very day. I told her I didn’t have it. I’d paid her the rent for the month of August, and we were over a week away from the next time rent was due… and my next paycheck.
Besides, I’ve been having financial issues of my own. Remember how my bank account got hacked in May? My car got repossessed because that was one of the bills I forgot to switch over. My credit score has dropped about 150 points since then, since May!
It just cost me about $2,000 to get my car back, plus an extra $40 to get back the stuff that was in the car, which over $100 worth of stuff was ruined because they just dumped it out of the car and into a trash bag and left it where it could get wet. One of the things lost was a first printing of Moby Dick… Priceless, and now it’s gone because of a mistake.
The point is, I am not the person she needs to be asking for an extra $100 to get the gas turned back on because she was too irresponsible to take care of the bill. As the landlady, she is required to maintain the utilities so long as I have been paying my rent, which I have been.
Then for almost another week, she was not at the house, but back at her mother’s house. Meanwhile, her adopted son and his wife and their baby and I were trying to survive by microwaving water in order to get clean, and eating either microwaveable meals or takeout… Neither of which is cheap.
She and the girls came back to the house this past Sunday, the 21st, in order to be in their own home for the first day of school. She told me this Monday, the 22nd, that the gas would be back on that day or the next… so by the 23rd. Then when she texted me on the 25th, she assured me the gas would be on the very next day (the 26th), and that this wouldn’t happen again.
I explained to her (in text) that I hadn’t had a chance to get to the ATM because I had gotten stuck doing stuff at the school to get ready for a major writing thing we were doing the next day, and that I had planned to talk to her about it when I got home, but she wasn’t there… She didn’t respond to my text, not even to acknowledge that I’d said anything, which is usually what happens when I text or call. I hadn’t been explicit in telling her that I had wanted to discuss the gas specifically, just that I’d planned to tell her why I hadn’t paid yet.
So when I went home on the 26th, the day she said the gas would be back on, to see if we had gas before I went to the trouble of pulling the rent money out of my account, and it wasn’t back on, I was mad. The hot kind of mad, my face was actually hot. I don’t think I’ve ever actually been that mad before.
I made up my mind then that she was not to be trusted. Three times she had said the gas would be on soon (17th), or that day or the next (22nd and the 25th), and all three times had been lies. I decided that no, I wasn’t going to get the money out of my account to pay her until the gas was back, and that I was going to talk to her about it. I calmed down, and when by 8 pm she wasn’t home, I went to sleep. I was exhausted in that way that only a teacher after the first week of school can be. Doubly so after nearly 2 weeks of cold showers and high sodium, high fat, bad for me food since I couldn’t cook my meals.
She knocked on my door to wake me up at 9:30, and half awake, without my glasses or my contacts on, I opened the door, using the door frame and the door knob to hold me up, while she asked me for the rent money in what can be best described as a manically happy attitude. She was smiling broadly and gesturing a lot. And when she asked, I sighed because I wasn’t really awake enough to have this conversation but it was the first time in 5 days we’d been in the same space so I knew we had to have it.
I said, “the gas still isn’t on.”
And her attitude became even more animated, but her facial expression changed. I couldn’t describe it because I didn’t have my glasses on, but she jumped back as if I’d threatened her or something. She went on about how it should be on because she had paid the bill but now they wanted an extra $60 to turn it back on (on the 17th, she told me it was an extra $100, and yesterday the number changed again… we’ll get to that).
I told her then that no, I hadn’t gotten the money yet because I wanted to know what was going on with the gas. Note, I didn’t say I wasn’t going to pay her, only that I wanted to know what was really going on.
She backed away from me going on about how “Don’t worry about it, I’ll figure something out.” She backed herself towards her bedroom door, and it looked like she locked it (can’t be sure because I didn’t have my glasses on), and then she went down the stairs and I heard the front door slam.
Her behavior was very strange. It actually scared me. I called my mom to try to get some perspective, to see if I was being overly sensitive, or had I been rude or somehow threatening with my behavior? It seemed unlikely since I kept my hands on the door knob and the door frame the whole time, but perhaps my tone was off. I was tired after all, and not really aware of how I sounded.
While I was on the phone with my mother, I heard what sounded like the jingling of keys or the dropping of change, and then the lights went out in the hall (I’d been in the dark in my room because I’d planned to just go back to sleep after talking to my mother), and I heard the front door slam again.
I was already frightened by her behavior, this scared me even more. When the lights went out, I got the feeling that she’d shut the power off, but I heard the A/C still going, so I thought I was being paranoid, but it only took about 30 seconds for the A/C to go quiet also, and I just knew… Still on the phone with my mother, I went and checked the light switches and tried to go to the garage, where I was pretty sure the breaker box was, and it had been locked.
So, because I tried to tell her that I wasn’t comfortable paying the rent until she turned the gas back on, she turned the power off as well, locking me away from the breaker box so I couldn’t turn it back on.
And she left her cat.
This woman was not acting rationally, and I know she has a gun because since she got her license to carry, she’d been wearing it around on her belt to show off. She could afford the test and to pay to get the license… but more importantly, I know she’s got a gun and now she’s turned the lights off. It would be easy for her to shoot me and say she thought I was a burglar because the power was off. I wanted to get my stuff out of the house immediately, but again, with no lights, it would be too easy for her to say she thought I was a burglar, especially if I was taking stuff out of the house in the dark.
And all of this coming from a woman who was raised by preachers, and who told me that she believed that she would get her own church some day.
Several people told me they think she might be on drugs, which seems possible. I don’t know what she’s doing with her money. She supposedly makes $4K a month (according to her son), and just before they went on their Florida trip in July, she told me she was going to take out $1,500 to get ahead on bills for the trip. But I’ve seen Crackheads act more rationally that she was acting…
Okay, I’ve only ever seen a Crackhead on TV, but still, they supposedly over-exaggerate the behavior for TV, and yet the ones on TV still act more rational than she was acting.
I even called the cops so there would be a record of my concern in the event she did shoot me for taking my own stuff out of the house… I didn’t want her getting away with murder or something, over $400.
That’s another thing… We agreed that the amount would be $350. She waited until I was moved into the house, with no way to get my stuff back out on my own because my mother and grandmother had left before she decided to ask me for $400 instead. Which left me stuck. So I’ve been paying an extra $50 a month. It was still a good deal, and I assumed she was asking for the extra money for utilities, which was fine… until there were no utilities.
When her son came home, the lights magically came back on because he spoke to her about not paying that bill as well, and he said exactly what I’m saying now: I pay for rent, which includes utilities. According to his wife, who was there for the conversation (though not admissible in court because it’s technically hearsay), she told him that it was my fault the gas was still off because I refused to pay the rent.
The rent was due 11 days after the gas was shut off. Her argument is invalid.
And she told them that the amount was $120 to get it turned back on.
So yesterday my mother came up to help me move out. And while we were moving she accused me of breaking lease (since we were month to month, that’s not really true), and she tried to tell me I had to pay her the $400 because I didn’t give her month’s notice that I was leaving. I just looked at her and told her that she had broken our arrangement first because there was no gas, and pointed out that after I tried to tell her I was uncomfortable paying rent until the gas was back on, she turned the power off.
She swears now that she didn’t turn the power off, but that a breaker simply blew. If that was the case, why didn’t she respond to my text, when I told her that since the power was now off as well, I would be leaving? She says I didn’t send her a text. I said I have the text that shows I did, and she says she doesn’t have it which proves I didn’t send it….
Again, that’s an invalid argument. Texts can be deleted, but it’s difficult, maybe impossible, to fake a text by adding a false timestamp.
Then she asked me why didn’t I call her. Her daughter in law had told me that they found out her phone was off because they had tried to call her…
Another invalid argument. Though no phone would explain why she didn’t respond. It might even explain why she didn’t have a copy of it, except her 12 year old was explaining to someone who was trying to reach her that her line was turned off, but they could text her….
She told me that she had been communicative about the gas situation because she told me that it would be on. Which had been a lie three times, so it wasn’t honest communication. She said she sent me pictures showing the bill being paid, also not true, though a mutual friend told me that she posted the bill on Facebook yesterday, showing a credit.
And sure, yesterday she posted the picture, and apparently she even told her son and daughter in law, but the picture she posted said in big red letters that it was a disconnection notice, and said that she owed $32 and some change before the 11th of August or else the gas would be shut off.
Even her proof counts against her…
She tells me tat she will win if we go to court because I didn’t give 30 days notice, and I was 3 days late on rent. By my figures, if it was due on the 25th and I moved out on the 27th, that’s only 2 days. I’ve been told that by law in the state of Texas, it has to be a full 3 business days late before it is even considered late, and since the 27th is a Saturday, it shouldn’t count. But that is just what I’ve heard. Either way my mother and I both offered to pay her the $40 it would have been for 3 days of me staying in the house. She refused it saying I owed her that plus the full month’s rent because I didn’t give notice.
At which point I told her she was welcome to take me to court, but she broke the contract first by not providing gas for nearly 2 weeks.
She responded by telling me that she only had to provide water (hot or not) and power, which she did.
Funny, since she turned the power off with me in the house, for no reason, and even funnier since she told me when the gas got shut off she was more worried about the electric getting shut off as well instead of being worried about getting the gas turned back on…
The way I see it, her threat to send me to court is a hollow threat. Yes, she is obviously going through something, and, yes, I feel bad for not staying there. I wasn’t ready to move.
But I expect when I pay my bills to get what I pay for. A house without hot water and no way to cook my dinner is not what I paid for or agreed to.
If she actually tries to sue me, I figure I can make a case for her to pay me for the cost of moving, since she wasn’t providing utilities, and reimburse me for 2 weeks rent, since I didn’t get full services, and possibly reimburse me for the extra cost of microwave dinners and the inflated price of takeout, since I couldn’t cook the food I had in the house. Things like pasta and Ramen noodles, both of which are cheap, but require heat to cook!
Ugh… Why is there so much drama in my life at the moment? I swear it follows me… And while sometimes it’s my fault, this time it legitimately isn’t.