Sunday, March 06, 2005


I guess since Queenie has broached the subject, most of us have lived in some bad places and had some bad neighbors over the years.

When the little bride and I were first married we lived in a duplex over on the wrong side of the tracks.

Ruby, the landlord, owned all of the units on about 3 streets. The houses were cheaply built with floor joists on what looked like thirty six inch centers which made for a lot of vibration when anybody walked across the floor. Of course the neighbors got one of those Nintendo games that you have to run and jump and hop on a pad while you’re playing. We had a constant earthquake during that period from the hours of 7:00 p.m. to midnight most nights.

There were weird things about the plumbing, too. Like when it rained really hard, raw sewage would come up in the bathtub. The first time it happened, I called the city and they told me that the city didn’t own the sewers in that section of town, that they are privately owned and gave me a phone number.

You know, a sewer isn’t something I ever thought about owning, but I called the number and got some guy out of bed. He came over and did something in the manhole out front and the problem was solved, though I had a nasty mess to clean up.

Another time I got my water bill and it was over two hundred dollars. Normally it was twelve. I started poking around and found that there was water spraying out of a pipe under the house and called Ruby. She sent a plumber over and he fixed it in very short order. When I quizzed him about it, he told me that there was a section of rubber garden hose that connected the plumbing in the house to the service line and that the hose clamps loosened up from time to time and had to be tightened.

I told Ruby that I intended to deduct all but twelve dollars from my rent the next month and she was alright with that. Hmmm. Must not have been the first time that had happened.

Later,when son1 came along, the next door neighbors moved out and we talked Ruby into letting us move across the porch into the three bedroom unit.

About six months later I was up early one morning making a pot of coffee and I heard the quiet sssshhhh of water running. I checked the toilets and the faucets and finally went around outside and peeked under the house. Old Faithful was at it again. I called Ruby and let her know.

That afternoon I saw the new neighbors come home. I went over for a little friendly chat.

“Your next water bill is going to be a doozey,” I said. “If I was you, I’d tell Ruby you’re going to deduct all of it except about $12 from your rent next month.”

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