Monday, May 31, 2021

The Little Stories

 I see people as stories I don't know, which sounds like a strange thing, doesn't it? But everybody has a story, and that story is who they are. 

Next to our house there is a small apartment building. There are probably four or five apartments in it. It used to be owned by a friend, but he and his wife gave up on the rental business, sold out, and moved to Michigan. They offered their buildings to us and they are on the right street, but they did business differently than we did, which is they paid big money for their buildings (compared to us, I suppose). We buy run down things at low price and then reconstruct them to something that suits us. We avoid going into debt. In his mind, he was selling us buildings that were fixed up, which would command a higher price.  In our mind, he was selling us buildings that needed work, which meant we were unwilling to pay those prices. 

I'm not saying these were bad landlords. It's just a different way of doing business. Poorly fixed up places are cheaper. They also draw different tenants. These people are not bad tenants either. They are just struggling people who are doing the best they can. They rent what they can afford. 

So today, in front of the building next door, there was a very beat up minivan, a lot of body damage. They were loading a full size sofa and a matching chair on top, both in very poor condition, that fake leather stuff with the vinyl coating peeling off. It was also a very unstable load. They were also packing that van full of things. 

It is the end of the month. I'm going to guess that they couldn't make rent and were ducking out before the landlord came looking for it. It happens. 

Backing out of my own driveway, I noticed they were stacking things on the porch to be loaded. 

The little car seat broke my heart. 

Later, coming home from church, I stopped to let a young man cross in front of me. He was wearing a hoody and he gave me a strange look. Angry, very stern. I wondered why at about the same time that I caught  movement in my peripheral vision. A young woman with tears running down her face, wrapped in a blanket was running at my car, which scared me a bit...until she passed behind me, and I saw that she was running after the young man. 

She pulled at him and he pulled away and kept on walking, and she kept following along, pleading with him and pulling at his arm, while he shook her off repeatedly and walked on without looking at her. 

If I could give that young girl any advice, it would be this: let him go. Any relationship is going to have hard times. If one partner is not committed enough to talk it through, it's not going to work. She might get it fixed this time, but the next disagreement is inevitable.  

I turned down my street and the van next door was just pulling away. The furniture overhung the car roof front, sides and back. and it rocked side to side in a jerky way. The van was traveling very slowly, but it was headed for the New York state line. They had a stretch of highway to negotiate. I doubt very much they were going to make it.

Ed? The tiniest of tiny stories here: I was working in the garden and I am pretty sure that I am seeing asparagus, teeny tiny asparagus. I am afraid to get too excited about it. 


  1. You're definitely right. Every person has a story to tell and some don't even know it.

    Sounds to me like you make very sound business decisions. And I agree with you about that poor young girl trying to pull back her fellow. You have to be able to talk and not walk away.

  2. You write with pathos and feeling Debby. There's always someone worse off than ourselves.

  3. I often feel an urge to hand over a bag of cash to people I see in a similar situation, but I just don't have enough to do that for everyone I see in trouble. Perhaps I am just too selfish.

  4. Some have hard lives. Although I haven't quite had the frills of some, I feel that I have lived a charmed life. I have had all of my needs met, and pretty well all of my wants too.

  5. Sad stories indeed Debby and I don't suppose you will ever know how it ends.
    Good luck with those asparagus spears.

  6. The solution is never to hand over a bag of money, JayCee. I am convinced of it. Money is always a temporary fix. Giving of yourself, and of your time, teaching. That fixes things.

  7. Maybe they are not skipping out on the rent, maybe they are moving to a better place or maybe they are taking their old stuff to the dump as they no longer need it. Maybe they have a good opportunity waiting. Maybe their story could be hopeful and not so sad. I hope so.

  8. My parents were in the rental business for many years. Whenever they bought a farm, they rented out the house until usually the house became unworthy of renting or putting more money into. You are very right about how the condition of the rental property usually dictates the kind of renters.

    I hope you are right about the asparagus. I wonder if maybe it was planted too deep if it is coming up this late or perhaps your spring has been even colder than ours.

  9. I hate to see people struggling. Sad.

  10. Oh, but I wanted to add, you're absolutely right in your advice to that young woman!

  11. When my brother died, my mother kept the house for several years, as a rental. She was a lousy landlord; her tenants took advantage of her. She was determined to hang onto the house for my niece, who, when she was old enough, told mom she never wanted to step foot in that house again. So, mom sold it.

  12. One of our houses came from an elderly woman. She had seen Tim walking back and forth between our house and the rentals. She asked around about him and talked to tenants about him. She decided that he was a honorable person and simply walked up to us and told us that she had decided to sell her rental house to us. She was a wonderful woman, but she was kind. The house came with a tenant who always had some hard luck story. She forgave his rent many times. The house was a two unit, in horrible repair (she'd been taken advantage by shoddy workmen as well). We did buy the house, because it was on the river, and it was on our street along with the other rentals. The tenant has never been late on his rent since Tim took over. Some people are not cut out for it. I'd get in trouble left to my own devices, because I feel sorry for people. Your mother probably had the same problem.

  13. What a wonderfully evocative piece of writing. Thank you Debby. Arilx


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