Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Bag Lady and the Former Tenant

I evicted my tenant the week before Christmas. We'd been in Hawaii for ten days, and she was living in our house rent free, tasked with caring for our cat, the mail, the paper, and the plants - and with notifying us when the first complimentary copy of our book arrived. When we arrived home, the cat was fine, but the rest of the tasks hadn't been done. She apologized, saying she'd been very busy with new part-time jobs, but it was the last straw for me. I asked her to leave - and she did, the next morning, for her brother's house. The last two loads to her car were in plastic trash sacks.

I usually try to look at the part I'm playing when there's a conflict. In this case, it occurred to me that the tenant reminded me of my own fear of being a bag lady. To me that meant poverty and homelessless, and it led me to minimize risks in my life whenever possible. These days I'm pretty sure I'll be okay, so I'm willing to be a little more of a risk taker.

The tenant is a free spirit about my age, widely traveled, a teacher and actress who likes to live without being tied down. Living in various places and picking up jobs catch as catch can appears to appeal to her. But it's risky. If she gets evicted by a person like me, she may have to leave the house with the last of her belongings in a plastic sack. A bag lady of sorts.

We met on a website for travelers who provide free lodging for each other. She had cared for house and cat a couple of times before. We'd made arrangements for her to stay with our cat in January when we'll be in Arizona. But I considered the omissions and decided to ask a friend to stay at our house. I let the former tenant know with a couple of weeks' notice. She was surprised and angry in an email to me, and she posted a negative reference on my page on the travelers' website. It took a couple of days for me to respond in a neutral way, being as factual as I could. But that reference remains, with a neutral rather than a negative rating, on both our profile pages.

Now I'm looking at accountability. A good friend tells me to let it go and move on, that not everyone is going to like me. And I am doing that. Still, I feel a bit victimized, my reputation besmirched by someone who's angry with me. On the other hand, when you belong to a travelers' website that offers free lodging, you take a risk. Or when you state your mind and hold others accountable.

I took that risk, didn't I? And now I'm moving on.




23 comments:

Terra said...

I think letting it go, as you decided to do, is the wise course.

Janette said...

I say- move on.
The more you "argue" the more you will keep it alive.

Beth from Maine said...

good for you and have a great visit to Arizona

Teresa Evangeline said...

Remember, we're on the River of Letting Go. Canoes can be tippy, but if you maintain a sense of balance, no problem. :)
People need to value and honor their agreements. She may not have, but You did. I think you're good to go...

Ms Sparrow said...

Being a "free spirit" should not conflict with being reliable. The fact that she left with her things in garbage bags speaks more to her way of living than it does to your circumstances. Why wouldn't a grown woman have luggage? No doubt because she was forced to abandon it along the way. She obviously was not worthy of your trust.

MerCyn said...

Life is all about risk-taking and realizing there might be less-than-positive experiences. Your ex-tenant sounds selfish and self-centered. Don't sweat the small stuff, move on and enjoy Arizona!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Moving on is the right choice; you don't want to keep the argument alive. I'd never have the courage to let a stranger live in my house, but it seems you've done some very successful house-swapping in the past.

DJan said...

Interesting encounter. Just as I will be much more vigilant with my belongings, you will be more vigilant about those you invite into your home. Sounds like she didn't live up to anybody's expectations, probably not even her own. Thank heavens the cat was okay. Bummer!

Linda Reeder said...

That was risky, entrusting you home to someone who was at first a stranger. You lived up to your part of the arrangement, she didn't. Now the free spirit will have to freeload somewhere else.

Rita said...

She didn't live up to her end of the bargain and doesn't sound like a very nice person, anyways. If she goes to other places to stay for free with that travelers group, I can guarantee you that you won't be the only person who tosses her and her plastic bags out the door. ;)

turquoisemoon said...

I found that many people simply don't want to be held accountable, anymore. There's a tendency to wanna blame someone else for their actions or lack of action. I see it quite a bit at work...from those that don"t!!!

Arkansas Patti said...

Free spiriting is a scary way to live. Glad at least no harm was done to your cat.
I agree with most that letting go is best.

Olga said...

I would never let any stranger--nor most of the people I know well--live in my house, so I have to say I admire your risk taking and your compassion for a true vagabond. She took advantage and really had no right to complain. You gave and she got...karma will make the appropriate adjustments.

Bob Lowry said...

Experiences like yours are why I would never consider a home exchange while on vacation. No matter how many references are checked, there is no way of knowing what will happen once that person or family moves in.

Like others, I suggest you let it go and come down to Arizona to enjoy our 75 degree weather and plenty of sunshine!

Out on the prairie said...

I used the same lady for years.She had a tiny apartment and loved to stay in my spacious homes and have her mother visit.It became like family visiting while I was away.The only things I take personal that other people say are praises, and I let any others go.

dkzody said...

Reminds me of a pet sitter we had a year or so ago. She came with a reference from a friend of mine, however, she was so lacksidasical about her responsibilities. I attributed it to her youth (age 21), but now I have to wonder from what you wrote about your house sitter. Maybe it's just a genetic trait. I see this gal being homeless if her family didn't take her back in.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Sometimes moving on is the best thing for a person both physically and mentally. It is tough for those of us who are perfectionists of course but you had to do what was right. Good for you for being a bigger person and a very generous one at that! How does that saying go? "This too shall pass"

#1Nana said...

What a nasty experience. Sometimes, even when you know you did the right thing, that sense of discomfort will stick with you. Conflict is hard to deal with. Now that you've had a few days of tranquility in your home, I hope you're feeling better about how you handled a difficult situation.

Sightings said...

I'm kind of amazed you trusted her that much to begin with ... but it doesn't sound as if she really did any harm. So think of it this way -- she's certainly let you go. So you might as well let her go.

rosaria said...

First, good for you for standing up to your rights.
Second, there is a traveler's website I don't know about.

Do share.

Nezzy said...

I'm so sorry you had a bad experience here. Yep, you took a chance but at least the cat was fed.

Your wise just to let it go. Hangin' on to it will only make you ill and not change a thing.

God bless and I hope you have a marvelous trip to Az. sweeite!!!

MyMaracas said...

First - congrats on the book!

It's probably inevitable that there would be friction in a tenant situation. And in this case, she didn't hold up her end of the bargain.

I would be upset too if they posted a negative review, but I think it's wise to let it go.

Sandi said...

I agree with many previous comments . . . let it go. It has to be hard to do, and I know that I'd want to grab it back and want to argue my point, but it's over and it isn't worth the stressful time stewing over it.

Personally, I'm thinking it was a small price to pay for having your home back in your own hands! It sounds like having this person gone is the best news, as it is really stressful to have someone under your roof who is untrustworthy.

Enjoy your upcoming journey!