|Checking the mail in North Dreadful
Yesterday, I visited the North Dreadful post office for the last time to close our post office box. This transaction involved standing in line, filling out a form, and receiving $6.00 in cash in exchange for the keys. There was another customer there buying stamps for a big stack of invitations, which he had not counted in advance. Probably not more than 30 years old, the other customer had on long plaid shorts, large old school glasses and an interesting hat. For the first time since I moved here a year ago, this stranger in the post office seemed genuinely interested in talking to me, and I had to tell him that I was moving out.
The housekeeper is sad to see us go. Her opinion of the Landlords is that they are “crazy.” She is incredulous that they can rent out the house and “make money on it” while the furniture is “all garbage.” There are slipcovers on the upholstered furniture, so until you take those off to wash them you do not notice that underneath it is indeed garbage.
The listing agent’s attitude about our leaving is a mystery to me. About 30 hours before the last big, bad storm here, she sent me an email:
I spoke to [Landlord] and he mentioned he might consider a reduced rent month to month if you want to keep it for a while or until we rent it. Fall is so beautiful up there.
Between the power outages and the loss of internet access, I was not especially keen to answer her. Furthermore, the lease on our new city apartment had started already, and I was busy dealing with problems there. I did not want to make a nasty reply, thinking it would not do anyone any good, so I thought I would wait until I could say something pleasant.
Almost exactly ten days later, I heard from her again:
Hi, I may have a showing for tomorrow Tuesday morning around 10:30. I am waiting to confirm but will that work?
Our lease stipulated that we would get 24 hour notice of showings. This email had been sent exactly 26 hours in advance. I replied immediately after reading her message, saying that I was going to be in the city all day that day and the next, dealing with issues at our new apartment. I explained that my children were in charge at the Red Barn, that the dogs would be there (in their kennels), and that housekeeper comes on Tuesdays in the early afternoon. I summed up saying that it was not the “day to show it at its best,” and that, “Any other day this week or next would be preferred.”
I had two replies. The first:
Hi, It is not my client and it is the only day she has her so I had better go with what we have if that is ok.
You have a new apartment eh. I guess you don’t want to take [Landlord] up on his offer to keep the house on a month to month if it does not get rented.
And the second:
Hi , They definitely want to see it tomorrow morning at 10:30.. I know you said it is not the best day but It is too difficult to get the other agent and her client at a convenient time for us so we have to go with the flow. Please confirm received.
At this point, I had Leveled Up to “Had Enough.” My reply:
I don't know if you are trying to be funny here.
Your query coincided with our fourth or fifth prolonged power outage. I was hoping to reply when I could say something polite and positive, rather than be blunt.
The neighborly North Salem you presented to us in the aftermath of Irene is not the one we have experienced this year. When the power goes out, the Red Barn is the only one on Mills without a generator, so while our milk spoils and we flush toilets with buckets of pool water, we hear our neighbors going about their normal days, generators humming away.
I am leaving North Salem with no local friends at all. The immediate neighbors see us coming and going but I rarely even get a wave back. The school made no effort to incorporate [child] into the class, and the PTA did not call to invite me to join.
As far as [Landlord]'s month-to-month offer goes, I spent the whole year feeling gouged on the price of rent here. Remember, you all teamed up to raise the rent once we said we needed to stay on after we were moved in. Had the rent stayed at the original rate for the full year, we probably would have signed on for another six months, at least.
I have spoken to my kids about tidying up and being ready for the 10:30 am appointment tomorrow.
I realized that I was not going to accomplish anything productive. I also realized that I had not been pleasant. Sometimes, though, telling the truth is irresistible. Her reply:
Wow, I am shocked I never heard a peep about any problems. When I met you on the road walking the dogs you said all was great. I have lived here since I was a kid and we have never had power outages like recent times. People are just starting to get generators. Not all have them. As far as a "friendly" town all I hear and do are good things. I wish I had heard of your feeling isolated as I would have done something. Apparently a lack of communication could have been the problem. As to gouged on the rent?? We had been getting [more] in the past but dropped to go along with the market. As I said I don't think your disatisfaction should have gotten this far.
I will be there tomorrow.
I will be there tomorrow.
I have not truncated her message, omitting the “I’m so sorry you had this experience in my town.” My takeaways: I was supposed to somehow know that this year was unusual for power outages; she is “friendly” and so is her town; had I told her I was feeling isolated, she would have done something about it.