Archive for May, 2011

Protected: I hope she treats you well

May 27, 2011

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Puffy red hair with a healthy fear of door knobs

May 16, 2011

With drab red puffy hair slightly off-center, round and wobbly, my landlord is an disoriented elderly Portuguese single woman who is certain that the mob is out to get her. Out to break into her little apartment and steal all her priceless painting of random crying children, pawn off her broken appliances that she can’t bear to throw out and of course, kill her. So certain is she that if you were to walk to Johnny’s Food Master for a carton of eggs at 11am on a Tuesday, you would return to not only find the door knob locked but the deadbolt too! This means that every time someone exits the house, she is literally waiting by her door to hobble out into the common room (kind of like a mud room with carpet and old incense) and turn every possible lock to protect what’s hers…. at 11am in the morning. Also, she has a tornado basement which has turned into a windowless, overcrowded layer. We’ll hear her tinking around and once, when I needed to trip a kitchen fuse, I had to go into her lair in search of the fuse box. The place was stuffed with useless crap: Old, flat shoes, strings and candles, plastic flowers and jars, the basic crazy hording lady items.

On another note, Nick won’t work on our cars anymore. Everytime he lugs his tools down to the street to fix either our Jetta or BMW, Maria – that’s her name – will hear him and find a chore for my honey to complete.

“Nih-kee? Whell you takeey look at my car-ee battery? Es no workee. I called dah mans but he never show up.”

What did she do BEFORE Nih-kee signed a lease to live on her third floor? Now, she’s elderly and simple so of course he helps her out. We both do.

Dis is how I sweepee dah snow

All winter we shoveled her driveway since Maria wasn’t physically or psychologically available to accomplish the task (she tried sweeping 2ft of snow off her driveway, which worked completely). Those of you from Massachusetts remember that we had THREE snow emergencies, rendering the streets useless and yielding over 13 inches of snow each time. It became a HUGE burden to dig out Maria’s useless car from a driveway neither of us are allowed to utilize.

When it’s not snowing, Nick graciously agrees to help her when he has a moment, but sometimes he only has an hour to fix his car. Therefore, trying to figure out why Maria’s 12 year-old car is sputtering really isn’t on the his list of favorite things. You have to PAY people to fix things for you. We have a broken  front window pane. It’s been broken since we moved in and Maria told us she had a “guys to workee but he don’t come so I dunno.” How is this confusing?! You HIRE ANOTHER GUY TO WORKEE and get the window fixed for your tenants. Whatever, since it’s never gonna get fixed, we simply don’t open that window. Things typically don’t come for free, unless you’re Maria. Then sometimes they do… especially when you hear strapping young men coming down the stairs with a tool box and wearing oil-stained jeans. Then, everything is free!

I'm serious, SHEER terror.

Her car causes me no end of fright and amusement. Maria is terrified to drive and rightly so. She’s old and shaky, which gives her NO business operating a motor vehicle! I park my car out on the street and occasionally, I’ll catch Maria trying to drive out of her little driveway. She’ll be gripping the wheel like it’s a life ring from the Titanic. She won’t smile or wave to me, as that would break her concentration. The car sits and idles for at least ten minutes, warming up. Eyes never leaving the road, she attempts to move forward. Fail. The car reverses a few feet. CORRECTION! BRAKES SHRIEK!… Re-group, now ready. Again, she slowly allows her silly white car to venture closer towards the road. Closer, closer, STOP!!!!!!…. I imagine she was checking the rearview mirror to make sure those pesky mobsters weren’t already unlocking all three locks on the front door to steal her priceless china chat figurines.

Any Mobster would obviously take THESE babies!

Nope, her wall-to-wall carpeted apartment is secure. Maria prepares to enter the road, out in the open, where things happen! She slowly exits the driveway and her car crawls towards the left as she successfully leaves the place she’s lived for decades. You’d think by her comical departure that this was a first time out of the nest.

We pay our fuddy-duddy landlady a nice chunk of change each month for rent and I have to say, I’m going to start sliding that cheque-laden envelope under her door later and later each month. In April, we wrote Maria two cheques on the 3rd. They weren’t deposited until the 10th, which kinda messes with my book-keeping. I didn’t say anything to her because I figured with the panic that driving causes, perhaps Maria had to wait for her sister to pick her up or something. However, the month of May has brought a new, more serious annoyance to my bank account. We signed our cheques over on May 2nd and still, to this very day, May 15th, the crazy woman hasn’t cashed them! I’ve called my bank twice, and considered cancelling the cheque but I guess it’s like, $40 to so and I refrained. Instead, yesterday I matched downstairs to knock on Maria’s apartment door.

Knock Knock Knock.

I heard fussing behind the door, heavy and cautious foot steps. Finally, I could tell she was at the door, looking through the peep-hole. Silence. I knocked again. She was definitely still there, deciding whether to open the door for such a stranger. Then, I heard her walk away from the door!!! Please remember, gentle reader, that the ONLY WAY you can get into this house is with a key and you must unlock three heavy-duty locks. Therefore, the ONLY PERSON knocking on crazy’s door would be, by reason of deduction, a key-holding tenant. Incredible. I knocked a third time, but this time, like I meant it. Again, her footsteps neared the door and a second look through the peep-hole. Finally, she unlocked her door chain, her dead bolt and her door knob to open the damn door.

“Yessy?” Maria looked at me in sheer terror and bewilderment.

“Hi, Maria. Hey, could you please deposit the rent cheques the Nick and I wrote you? It’s the 14th and I would appreciate it.”

“Well, I go to the bankee yesterday to cashee your husband’s cheque but the bankee (enter inaudible excuse here)…. so”

“Okay, well please deposit my cheque too when you get a moment. Thanks Maria!”

“Okay have a gewd day.”

They're coming... FOR YOUR CHINA CAT FIGURINES!

So, I just learned two new things out crazy ole Maria: 1. She believes Nick and I are married regardless of the noticably absent diamond on my finger and 2. Maria is only capable of depositing one cheque at a time because she uses TWO different banks. Inevitably, another protective measure to keep her finances safe from lurking mobsters.

Can somebody spare a dollar? PLEASE!!!

May 1, 2011

Dad once came home from work and told us about a woman he and a coworker had encountered on the streets of Kirkland, WA. She was crying, pleading for $9 for a bus ticket. She only needed that $9 to see her sick son, I don’t remember where he lived. Dad’s coworker told her to get lost and snickered as the two of them walked off. Dad felt differently. He said she looked so sad and scared. I heard that story when I was about 7… I’m now 26 and I’ll never forget how I felt inside: Angry at the coworker, very sad for the poor woman, confused at how no one would help her.

Is this really what Seattle is known for?

 In the 1990s, Seattle used to scare the shit out of me because all over the city streets, bums would approach pedestrians and beg, they’d sit on curbs and stink, you’d hear them getting jeered by naughty college boys. I hated driving into Seattle on Sundays for our usual Science Center trips because we’d always pass a dirty bearded man with a “Please Help, God Bless” sign. Sometimes we’d give him money from our car windows, sometimes we’d drive by like everyone else. I still remember that feeling emanating from the pit of my stomach: hot and knotted, embarrassed for complaining about not getting an extra scoop of ice cream, grateful for my little twin bed.

Last summer, I was at my favorite coffee shop in Cambridge, sitting outside with my laptop. The breeze running through my hair felt fresh, I had a new dress on, and somebody close by was making their baby coo. Suddenly, from nowhere, a shrieking voice yelled,

“DOES ANYBODY HAVE ANY MONEY AT ALL!? I NEED A NEW SHIRT!.. IT’S HOT AN’… AN’… THERE’S NO PLACE FOR THE HOMELESS ANYMORE!! …. PLEASE!… PLEASE!!”

His cries grew louder, he started sobbing in the middle of Cambridge on the common way. I stared at him like the other people who had been enjoying the sunny day until a moment ago. Finally, a man walked up to the pacing, upset young man and handed him what appeared to be a large bill.

“HOLY SHIT!!! THANKS MAN! YOU’RE AMAZING!!!… THAT MAN IS A SAINT!” He pointed at the man who was now walking away. The homeless youth sauntered off to hopefully buy a shirt with his winnings. I never thought of him again until last week.

The Boston city public transportation system is the hub for us lower tax bracket individuals to come and go without paying the ridiculous parking fees around our jobs. While many of us try to keep to ourselves, every now and then, we crash into one another by means of the trains jerking and breaking suddenly. Or, more figuratively by a common uncomfortable experience shared by a group waiting for a late train. Last week after leaving work, I opted to take the T home and save a little money. However, I’ve noticed what I save in money, I pay for through socially awkward experiences. On that particular night, I was waiting for a very late 1am train on the red line platform with ten other people when I heard a dreadful noise from behind me. Grotesque crying and moaning follow by a repetitious slapping shoe sound. I accidentally turned around to see a disheveled young man hobbling towards the platform with one boot in his hand and his right foot exposed. He was limping horribly and quickly, trying to reach the small crowd before the train took us away.

“DOES ANYBODY HAVE ANY MONEY?! PLEASE! I NEED THREE MORE DOLLARS TO GET TO THE HOMELESS SHELTER!! PLEASE, MY FOOT IS INFECTED! I CAN’T BE OUTSIDE!”

He was sobbing and looking around at each of us. The man caught my eye and I immediately recognized him. He was the young man from Cambridge! The very same! I recognized his tone and sobbing pleases as well. Was he still homeless from the summer?

“COME ON! PLEASE, ANYBODY! I CAN’T GO TO THE HOSPITAL BECAUSE THEY ONLY LET ME STAY AN HOUR, THEN THEY GIVE ME SOCKS BUT WHAT GOOD DOES THAT DO? PLEASE! I’M IN PAIN!….. COME ON!”

Sobbing and miserable, he laid down in the middle of the platform and cried out loud. A student approached him and gave him some money. The crying continued. I had no money at all, most people taking the T don’t have a ton of extra dough. But I felt nervous about what he might do if no one else gave him anything. Fortunately, I was saved by the approaching T and I left the crying man on that awful platform. Aboard the train, a couple of girls nervously laughed amongst themselves about the whole affair. I stared off, trying to regain some late night peace. The image of the crying man with his swollen foot didn’t leave me for a few days and sometimes when I was having a meal or laughing about something with friends, his image would reappear and ruin my attitude.

For Easter, Nick and I went to his family’s house in Princetown for dinner. Surrounded by sweet ham, homemade rolls and a savory salad, my boyfriend’s uncle and I lamented about having to utilized public transportation.

“You really encounter some crazies on the T, don’tcha?” He started. “Why, just last week I was on the T at Downtown Crossing when a man started screaming and cry on the train. He was saying something about his foot being infected.”

I was stunned. We both saw the same man! He was really making the rounds!

“He kept it up for a while and just as a buddy of mine reached into his wallet, a stranger yelled, “Don’t give him a fuckin’ thing! He’s been doing this act for the whole week! He’s faking!” And the weeping man shut up after that! He walked off the T at the next stop. You really can’t help anybody, they’re all actors,” the uncle concluded.

“Wait, he just walked away? No limping?” I asked.

I for one appreciate the honesty!

“Nothing, he walked away perfectly fine. He was acting,” claimed Nick’s uncle. I was annoyed…. and very angry. I had felt so badly for this “bum” with his plight seared into my brain for the past week but everything had been a sham. Who’s to say who’s a real bum and who’s an actor? Was the young man acting last summer in Cambridge too? He made some very compelling arguments if he truly was an actor.

Yesterday, I was shopping at the smaller Whole Foods in Cambridge when I was greeted by a man at the front door.

“Spare Change for the homeless. Remember us on your way out,” he said, holding up a newspaper advocating for the homeless and services for them. When I concluded my shopping (I was making bacon-wrapped scallops and sweet chili pork chops for dinner!), I started to drive off, passing the Spare Change man. But I stopped. I had just been paid, so why not give him a couple bucks? I got out of my car and gave him some money in exchange for the newspaper.

“Thanks hon, have a good day!” He smiled and I walked back to my car. As I drove off, I noticed the man pull out a BlackBerry phone and make a phone call. WTF. Wasn’t he homeless? Where did the nice phone come from? Maybe he was a writer for the paper? God, I hope so! It was just a little ridiculous to have someone begging for money with one breath and talking on a BlackBerry with the next breath. Which leads me to wonder, are all bums frauds? Actors and swindlers? How can you tell if you’re providing food for a homeless person or simply funding an actor’s ticket to California?

April has left me jaded towards beggars.