And Their Little Dogs Too.
by Elmo (Living Under the Bridge) Spludd
If you've spent your entire dismal life shelling out the lion's share of your "entry-level" wages to other people for the temporary use of their property, the sentiment implied in the title of this little rant won't be unfamiliar to you.
Oh sure, there are some good landlords. Just like there are some good lawyers, or prostitutes with hearts of gold. But these days, everyone has become so downright mean-spirited when it comes to money that those of us who don't have a lot of this magical substance seem to have less and less space allotted to us in which to squirm and wriggle.
I called up my landlord the other day because I was faced with the difficult choice, and not for the first time in my dreary existence, of paying the rent on time or keeping my lights turned on. I kind of expected the usual scenario, a few minutes of begging & wheedling on my part (known as "negotiating"), followed by the encouraging words: "Send whatever you can now, and the rest later." The usual scraps from the rich man's table, as it were.
But this was the first time I had tried this in PORT HURON. Things in this town are just plain different. Port Huron is a strange town, folks. Maybe it's that strikingly blue water we all drink, filled as it is with human effluence.
Maybe my Blue Water landlord has quaffed a few too many of these foul cocktails. Who knows. But after hearing my heartfelt spiel, he wasted no time in coming right to the point: "Send me the FULL AMOUNT by tomorrow, or get out."
I'm not sure exactly what I did to this fellow that was so horrible, aside from being "fiscally irresponsible," and perhaps causing some minor tremors in his own exceedingly fragile budgetary plans. I swear to God, I haven't diddled his wife, or kicked his dog, or invited my STD-infested friends over for a loud drunken orgy that disturbed the whole neighborhood.
I guess in Port Huron, if you're a week late with your rent, you go live under that marvelous bridge. Hell, there's plenty of room under there. I've checked it out.
Landlords like to have you sign these contracts they call "rental agreements" before you move in. These are imposingly verbose documents which are intended to flummox and mystify the prospective tenant, who is assumed to be an idiot, as well as too poor to hire a lawyer to translate it for him.
The typical rental agreement, when you get through all the legal jargon, basically boils down to this:
Tenant (hereafter referred to as "LOWLIFE SCUM") agrees to pay landlord (hereafter referred to as "GOD") a certain sum on a certain day every month. If LOWLIFE SCUM fails to pay the certain sum on a certain day, GOD may take legal measures to throw him out on the street, while LOWLIFE SCUM is held responsible for any court costs involved in this procedure. GOD may, in addition, throw LOWLIFE SCUM out on the street for any number of reasons besides late payment of rent, including, but not limited to, tracking mud on the carpet, watching dirty movies on Cinemax, or shaving the wombat.
What landlords don't like tenants to know is that these "rental agreements" are full of stipulations that are blatantly illegal. Like the one in mine about how I'm supposed to pay GOD's court costs if he has to get a legal order to evict me. Or how about this laugher: I "must" vacate the premises THREE DAYS after receiving written notification from GOD to do so.
So why do I sign these "rental agreements"? Well, mainly because I need a place to live. What would you do? Say you've just blown into town, having recently accepted a brand-new dead-end job that barely pays a living wage but seems pretty attractive compared to unemployment. You've got a rented truck full of all your worldly possessions and nowhere to put them. You spend all day looking for a decent vacant unit. You finally find one, and are presented with this "rental agreement" for your signature. Are you going to say, "Excuse me, but I think item number 5 here, the one that says you can put a lien on all my furniture if I'm late with my rent, is contrary to state law?" I don't think so.
Of course, if you had any gonads, and didn't mind much sleeping with the squirrels in Pine Grove Park, that's exactly what you'd say. You'd also point out that most contracts that contain individual clauses which are illegal are null and void.
What am I saying? I don't really know any of this. After all, I'm a tenant. I'm shiftless, ignorant, filthy, and a complete loser. I'm not to be trusted.
Hey, animals seem to like me, anyway, even if landlords don't. I'm sure my wife and I will get along fine with all the critters under the bridge.
Honk if you see us under there.
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