“No money would exchange hands, but it would be a win-win for both of us…”
By Judi Curry
I have always thought of myself as a compassionate person. I frequently do things because I feel it is the right thing to do without ever thinking of any compensation – mentally, emotionally or monetarily. So let’s take a trip down the road to “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” Let’s get into the time tunnel and go back approximately nine months.
I was walking my Golden Retriever Buddy around the block when I came across a woman I knew exercising her dog in front of her house. She was having some work done on her house and I stopped and talked to her. Her name is Patty, and it turned out that she was also in the field of education and I enjoyed talking to her.
The following day, the same thing happened and I asked her about the work she was having done on her house. She told me that a friend of a friend was a handyman and he was doing some work for her on the roof of her house. Apparently the handyman was down on his luck and was virtually homeless, but he was a good friend of another neighbor – a judge in the San Diego Courts – and he was always repairing things that needed work. At about that time, the handyman – let’s call him “H” came out to the yard and Patty introduced me to him. I talked to him for awhile; asked him what parts of the house he works on, and was surprised when he told me that he was really good at plumbing.
I told him that I had had several plumbers over to the house in the 40+ years I lived there, and they could never find out what caused the periodic “sewer smell” that permeated the house at different times of the year. “H” said that was no problem; it was probably a “this and a that” and it could be easily fixed. I thanked him and continued my walk with Buddy.
A few days later I bumped into Patty again and asked some more questions. Where was “H” living; was he reliable? Did he know his stuff, etc. She told me that he was very reliable; that he needed to be reminded to stay on track because he would see things that needed to be done and go do those things before finishing the original job. She assured me that he was just down on his luck at this time, but was trying to get back on his feet. (Can you see the “idea” cartoon over my head yet?)
I got to thinking: (remember I am a blond!) I have a 5th Wheel in the back of the house that needed work before I could sell it or move it again. It was fairly comfortable on the road and although the kitchen is not hooked up, there is a microwave and a television available. The bathroom is not hooked up, but just outside the trailer is a cabana for our pool that has a full bathroom. I had just discovered that the refrigerator no longer worked, but perhaps “H” would like to live there; repair those things in the 5th wheel that needed repairs, and do other things around the house – like the pipes – for a place to stay.
No money would exchange hands, but it would be a win-win for both of us. After all, I have been a widow for 5 years and there are many things that my husband used to fix that I have just let go. I house foreign language students in the US to hone their English skills, and he could join us for breakfast every morning until he was on his feet again. He accepted the proposition.
He started out fixing things in the 5th Wheel but gradually I noticed he was bringing things into the trailer yard that were not necessary for his stay at the house. Big, large, bulky things. He told me that he had two storage areas that he was cleaning out but NEVER did I picture that he would turn my back yard into a trailer dump!
And I noticed that he did not even look at the pipes until I raised such a commotion that he took a look. And then he analyzed the reasons for the odor for another few weeks until I got angry again.
In the meantime, he was doing small things around the house that HE wanted to do; not things I wanted him to do. I then gave him a list of those things that needed doing. The list is still here – with nothing crossed off. Because of my torn rotator cuffs it is difficult for me to take the big trash barrels out on Sunday night. I expected him to do it instead of me. For the past 2 months he hasn’t even done that. So now it is time for him to go. Nothing is getting done; he is rude – my daughter and I were in the yard and he came in; saw us but did not even acknowledge us.
So…I sent him a letter telling him I wanted him to leave; that I could no longer afford to keep him there, paying the utility bills, when, in fact, he was not doing anything to help me out. I said, in my letter, that “ . . .our original agreement is not working and is, in fact, costing me money. Therefore I am terminating my offer of having you stay here in exchange for work to be done around the house.” That was on May 17th. Guess what. He is still here.
So I called a police officer I know and asked him what to do next. He said I would have to file a formal eviction notice. I told him that he wasn’t a renter; it’s not like he isn’t paying his rent on time. Doesn’t matter, I was told. He has, in effect, “homesteaded” the area and I have to formally evict him.
Then I called the Sheriff’s office and asked them what to do next. Same advice, but told me to call the Landlords Association and see if they could help me. I corresponded with an attorney who told me the same thing. I will have to have “H” served with eviction papers giving him 30 days notice, and then if he still doesn’t move for $1500 he will take care of the court case, the filing of papers, the actual eviction. You have to be kidding. I felt sorry for this guy; thought I could help him at the same time he could help me and it will cost me $1500 to get him out of my yard? And I paid for his breakfast for 6 months and his gas and electric and water for over 9 months?
If I were keeping track of the ways I’ve been screwed this would just be another niche on the proverbial belt. No wonder people are disillusioned today. Do you think I will offer my 5th Wheel to anyone else? Ever? Again? Yeah, probably. I’m just one of those “bleeding heart liberals.”