Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's Your Fault

A recent comment jogged a memory about avoiding responsiblity. I got a phone call late last year from a person who was going to be evicted and, understandably, wasn't all that pleased about it. Such is life. From word go she started screaming so I did my three warnings policy: I tell them three times that, if they keep screaming/swearing, then I'll hang up. After the third I usually hang up anyway because I know where it's going. She had gripes and off she went with them. The first was that we gave her no warning that we were going to evict her.

Wrong. It takes months to evict and in that time the tenant will get several letters inviting them to come into the office and work out an arrangement to avoid the eviction. They'll also have someone visit them, more than once. She'd ignored all the letters and avoided the people visiting. No contact, tough. But that wasn't her fault, she was busy as we didn't try hard enough. A letter a week for three months? Please. Then she said she couldn't understand why she was being evicted because she was a model tenant.

Wrong. Numerous complaints from everyone in the street and people who lived three streets over. She had a problem boyfriend and they liked getting drunk, or stoned, or both and then having great fights in the middle of the road. As is the norm if anyone approached they'd turn on them (including the bastard coppers) and then go right back to biff. Yep, he'd happily beat the living suitcase out of her in full view of her kids, and she'd let him. That didn't take into account the kids themselves who had a tendency to swear, vandalize and, on memorable occasion, smear excrement on some old lady's washing in her back yard. I know I was a wild kid in my day but I didn't run about the place with a handful of my own crap ready to rub it on someone's sheets for fun. The boyfriends mates liked to have drag races in the street and were the kind of yob who like to line people and just miss them, on purpose or just bad aim we'll never know. The first words out of her mouth to anyone from our department who knocked on the door was usually, "Get f*cked you f*cking a*rsehole c*nt." Lovely charmer indeed. Oh, and she'd not paid rent for over a year and a half and had racked up a large repair bill, not her fault mind you, and this is where the abuse started.

Conversation at this stage went like this:
ME: "You've not paid rent for over 18 months."
CUST: "I couldn't afford it. How do I f*cking keep this f*cking dump?"
ME: "You'd have to make a payment of some sorts, but even then that wouldn't guarantee things. You'd have to come in and talk to us, sit down and work something out."
CUST: "A payment?"
ME: "Yep."
CUST: "How does $20 sound?"
ME: "No good. No good at all. You'd have to add at least another two zeroes to that figure before anything could even be looked at."
CUST: "F*ck off! Where am I going to get two grand? Money doesn't sprout out of my a*rse!"
ME: "I have no idea. Look, I'm just trying to give you options and help. The facts are you're being evicted, yeah, it's not good that we're doing it a week before Christmas, but we did try and contact you. Now we'd need you to make a dent in the arrears and maintenance charges."
CUST: "How much is that shit?"
ME: "Exactly $14,500."
CUST: "What a load of f*cking crap!!! You're a f*cking c*nt!!!"
ME: "Don't speak to me like that or I'll hang up."
CUST: "F*ck me. How the f*ck do I pay that then?"
ME: "How much can you lay your hands on then?"
CUST: "F*ck all mate. I just paid the Foxtel, the light bill, the gas bill, the mobile phone, the broadband, the food, the car payment and then there's my smokes and my hobby (meaning drugs). How the f*ck can I pay you guys?"

Now at this stage I felt like screaming, "Yeah, well I hope you can get Foxtel in a tent love, because we're chucking you out!" not that it'd have done any good. I don't have Foxtel - can't afford it. Can barely afford the car. In her world Foxtel and smokes are more important than her rent. Here's a clue for people - pay the rent first. Foxtel is no good without a TV to watch it on, or a house in which to watch it. Then she dropped the first guilt trip:
CUST: "How about I bring my kids in and you can tell them why you're ruining Christmas."
ME: "By all means (by this stage I'd had enough). I'm happy to tell them you didn't pay rent and that's why you're getting evicted."
CUST: "This is your fault!!! My kids will be homeless for Christmas!!!"
ME: "No, this is your fault. I've told you what you can do, you won't do it. We tried to contact you, you've avoided us. You've only rang because a bailiff is there telling you to leave by tomorrow morning. This isn't our fault (well, partially it was, we housed her in the first place) this is your fault. You don't want to do anything about it, that's fine, but this is not our fault."
CUST: "You should be ashamed of yourself. What would your mother say if she knew about this?" That's the lowest form of a guilt trip. I felt like saying, "Well my mum would have paid the rent and not put us in that kind of position". We grew up dirt poor. Indeed we had Christmases where we got no presents, but we always had a roof over our heads which, as I learnt later, is the ultimate material gift. With that I hung up and left early. I'd had enough. Out of interest I told my mother about it and she agreed, the customer was very wrong.

We get loads of people who like to dodge or transfer their responsibilities onto us. Constantly. It's never their fault, it's always ours and why can't we just ignore that huge debt, or the lack of rent, or anything. It's annoying to be honest. Just the other week I wanted to grab a customer by the throat and scream, "Take some responsibility for your f*cking life!!! It's not our fault, it's YOUR fault you're in the sh*t!!!" but I know that such tactics are doomed to fail because the people who've reached that stage will always blame someone else. It's our fault they get evicted because they didn't pay rent. It's the police's fault they get arrested for drugs or stealing. It's societies fault that they're like they are. It's someone else's fault they can't find a job, they're not to blame because they can't get up and go to a job interview. It's our fault they can't find private rental, because we won't find it for them or we won't give them a bond to move into a place where the rent is more than their income. Society is always to blame, not the individual. The world owes them the easiest of all livings.

It's never their fault, at least in their eyes it isn't. I'd love to see how she's now faring in the private rental market. Eventually she'll come back to us, they always do, and before we'll help she'll have to enter into an arrangement to pay her debt. Then the screaming will start about how we won't help because we're bastards. Yeah, right.


Em said...

oh I love your blog!

how do you cope being screamed at all the time??!

Ms Smack said...


elizabeth said...

yes, a roof over your head is indeed the ultimate christmas gift.

youre a fantastic writer.

The Regional Support Clerk said...

Em: How do I cope? I just shut it out. Sometimes I fight back, other times I merely sit back and get very amused by the hillarity of the situation. You learn to deal with it and have a chuckle, especially when they start telling you how wrong you are.

Elizabeth - thanks - means a lot just knowing that people do read this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Of course it's your fault. don't you know anything? It's your fault that they are lazy, stupid, ignorant, self-centered, useless and above all, it's entirely your fault that you are beter than they are. Keep up the good fight

Anonymous said...

The scary thing is, the kids learn this attitude from their parents, and it just multiplies!!! I cant believe the number of people ive met lately who cant take any responsibility for anything in their lives. Its all "other people" or the "situation". These people will never make it. They are dead weight. I think the only possibility for change lies in very intensive education, like 6 month camps they cant escape from, where responsibility and consequences are learned. Or maybe we chopper them to deep bush, leave them with sufficient materials and supplies, and if they make it back to civilisation, great. If not, so be it.

Oooh, i could fantasise about this for hours.

And im glad you're back!

Anonymous said...

Well Handled people do think the world owes them and therefore beleive nothing is their fault the system has alot to answer for