A good tenant

Tuesday 4 December, 2012:

Property inspection day, and I’ve pulled the weeds out of the garden specially. The house is nice and tidy, and I go off to work feeling quite happy about it.

Before lunchtime, I get a text from Tau: ‘Hi miss’ wats ur internet password again’

I text him the password, then (almost as an afterthought), add that the property manager’s coming over today – just because Tau kind of startles easy. Tau (and Shae) have seen him a few times before though, it isn’t a big deal.

Just before I go teach 9 Social, I see a missed call on my phone, so I ring the number and it turns out to be Grayson, the property manager. “Oh hi,” I say – in fact I’m only half listening, as I stand by the window in the office, packing up to head over to class. I vaguely hear him say, “Something happened while I was at the property…” and, “Mm, ok…” I reply, easily. For some reason I’m still not putting two and two together, my mind’s still idly going along.

Then: a big jolt out of my untroubled state, as he tells me: “There were drugs being prepared for sale, in the shed…”

“Oh!” is all I can say – at the same time I register there’s about five teachers in the office.

“I spoke to Taurangi,” he continues (he mentions him by name), and told him I wanted to talk to him about it, but they took off – there were three of them – in a silver car.

 

“Oh my gosh,” is my initial and rather lame response. I’m not at all sure what’s going to happen next. At the same time, I just get this calm feeling (which truly doesn’t surprise me), and at the same time, I think how Kuli would be so mad about it, if he knew.

And meanwhile, Grayson’s talking to me, telling me exactly what he saw in the shed (a whole heap of foils in a bag; the boys rolling up) and what happened next. He actually sounds quite… quite reasonable, and not at all accusatory towards me. This actually does surprise me. He says, “I know you keep a good house.”

“Yes,” I say. “Yes, I do.”

“I don’t want to take it further – but I need you to talk to him.”

“Of course,” I say, and honestly, I’m not even really allowing myself to experience even relief, it’s like I can’t let any strong emotion interrupt the calm feeling. I want to say more to him as well, but I can’t; not there in the Faculty office. So I just say, “I’d really like to talk to you about all this, but I’m at work – do you think I could ring you back later this afternoon?”

“Yes, sure,” he says. “No problem.” He honestly does sound very matter of fact. I guess it’s Municipal, after all.

But when I think about it, I realize that it could all rebound on me, if he didn’t want to be reasonable. My home, even my job at risk.

 

I tell La-Verne, but it seems like she couldn’t give two hoots. I’m sure that isn’t entirely true – she’s probably just occupied with other things. Still, it pisses me off a little bit, because she flew into a panic just recently over some incident where her daughter was found to have had one puff of a joint (well, woop de doo). I think that when it comes down to it, a lot of teachers – middle-class liberal, ‘progressive’ types – don’t really give a shit about the real version of what they spout on about. La-Verne quoting the statistics, and talking about social policies for the most ‘at risk’ groups, and all the rest of it. Policy and planning for some spurious notion of community is more important to her than what happens to individuals in everyday life. I know that sounds a bit harsh. But that’s how I’m going to call it. Especially after today, and the dismissive comment that, “Your property manager’s bound to  have seen worse, in this area.” Well yes he has, I’m sure – and I’d thought that myself – but it wasn’t an assumption that I’d put money on, in the sense that I knew Tau could be in shitloads of trouble anyway. And so could I. And so I think..  lucky for us that it did get sorted, and I’m damn grateful. So she can go home to her lifestyle property and cook her rustic paella with chorizo, or whatever the fuck it is tonight.

 

Anyway, I ring Grayson back after school, and we talk about it some more. He’s really good about the whole thing, just says that if I talk to Tau, he’ll be happy to leave it at that. He adds that I’m a good tenant, and we can sort it out without anyone else being involved. He also informs me that Tau was “polite and cooperative,” before taking off (“obviously scared,” he says – and this I don’t doubt).

I assure him I’ll talk to Tau, and we finish very amicably.

After that, I allow myself to kind of tremble, just for a very brief moment – thinking of how it could have turned out so different. If he’d called the cops… or if he’d been confrontational with Tau, or if Tau had been rattled and got aggressive instead of worried…

And then I just sigh and collect my things, and go home.

 

I don’t ring Tau yet. I really want to, but I decide it would be better to wait a bit, to see whether he intends to say anything about it, or whether he hopes to just stay away and try to avoid the whole complicated issue. I don’t want to pre-empt his decision – or not straight away.

I’m actually pleased then, when I get a text from him shortly after I arrive home: ‘Hi miss, sorry bwt tday, hav u herd wat happend yt?’

Yes, I tell him. I add that he should be more careful, and that I’d tried to tell him the property manager was coming today. But oh well.

Im realy sorry bwt that miss wont happen again, an i cn cme ovr an see u nw?

 

He does, a few minutes later. To be honest, he looks extremely contrite, and is very relieved that things can be cleared up without undue drama. Tells me he got a big shock, when it happened: “I was shit scared, Miss. I just saw him stand there and look at us, right in the door at us, and I thought to myself: Ohhh what the fuuuuck…”

“And then what did you do?” I ask.

“I went straight out and talked to him. I said, boss, I’m really sorry, and I promise it’ll never happen again. And he said he had to tell you, and then… I took off.”

I can see Tau has genuinely been worried. So I just say, gently, “It’s ok, Tau, he said you were polite to him. You even gave him your real name.”

“I did, Miss,” he says. “I just took off cos I was scared he might call the cops on his phone.”

“Yeah, course,” I say, then: “Did you tell Sheree?”

He nods. “I went straight home and told her – she was angry as with me.”

Tau also tells me they weren’t actually doing the foils at mine. They had some tinnies in a bag; it was true. But they were just about to smoke some, that was all. They were rolling up a ‘big ass joint,’ using lots of zigzags stuck together. It almost makes me laugh, to think of it.

 

 

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