The last rent cheque

dsc_0031I had a flutter of joy today as I put the last rent cheque I shall ever write in my landlady’s mailbox. In just under four weeks, I’ll be moving into my own home, and as anxious as I am, there’s an overriding sweetness and awe in this life goal.

I’ve had good landlords and bad landlords, but this last one was a dilly. She’s stewing in so much anger, powerlessness and victimhood that she makes herself and other people unhappy over and over. I think the term for this is “boundary issues”, but my landlady has never been respectful in the way she treats me. And that’s a bit nutty, as I pay a mint to live where I do, and am quiet and tidy and do stuff like shovel my neighbours’ entryway as I’m doing mine.

I was surprised shortly after I moved in, to get a bill for the rental of a hot water tank. I called the company, and they told me that my landlady had put my name on the bill. It was kind of like getting a bill for the rental of a stove or a bathtub…I’d never agreed to pay for this, and hadn’t even known that the thing was rented. It took me nine months, and finally a registered letter, to get my name off the bill.

Next, my landlady moved her daughter and beefy boyfriend in underneath me. They started doing what turned out to be five months of renovations. They’d also have screaming, door-slamming fights at 3 AM during the week. I remember them slamming the door so loudly it sounded like a gun firing. I have to wonder how much the people downstairs from them were enjoying this, as it must’ve been 10x louder for them.

The big issue my landlady had with me is that I had that most terrible of objects, a birdfeeder. She would put “anonymous” letters in my mailbox, all in French, with words and phrases highlighted. I just kept on feeding the birds. I don’t suffer bullies gladly.

So when my landlady received my registered letter on Tuesday, telling her that I’m assigning the lease to a PhD arriving from London, my landlady had her normal temper tantrum and sent me a message, all in French as she does when she’s having a conniption. As the laws her go, she can’t refuse the lease assignment except for a serious reason, and there are none. The future tenant is formidable – I made sure of that – and won’t put up with any crap or merde from her.

So I had a little frisson of joy today as I dropped that final rent cheque in her mailbox, and noticed that she had a handful of junk mail sticking out of her mailbox, and a bag of garbage with holes chewed in it outside her door. Classy to the last.

I went down the street, 2 inches taller, to the marche on the corner, smiled at all the stockboys, got some tinned peaches down from a high shelf for an elderly couple, and let a lady go first down the crowded aisle I was trying to exit. “C’est gentil“, she smiled at me. Yeah, well that’s because I am nice. And when they started playing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujiah” on the PA, I was singing along.


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