Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"It Ain't Mine So I Ain't Paying It!"

I knew she'd be back in, eventually. I'd come across here previously in another office. We'd housed her for the briefest of times, months really. At no stage had she been a model tenant, quite the opposite really. In those few short months she'd not paid rent once and, even better, when she moved she amassed a huge debt because she'd trashed the place. I've seen the photos and they're amazing really. Back doors where you don't expect to find back doors, an inside door smeared with so much excreta that you'd be forgiven for thinking that it'd been repainted, standard car bodies in the yards, holes in the walls, bathroom trashed and wildlife living in the stove. She'd only left that day you can only imagine what kind of a parent allows a young child to live in such filth, filth to the point where there was a neat little pile of excreta in the corner of the child's room. "Don't use the toilet," she must have said, "I've already broken it. Crap in your room and open the window the smell gets too bad." No amount of Toilet Duck or White King was going to fix this one.

It was such a toxic waste dump that people had to go in to clean it up wearing bio hazard outfits, I kid you not. But all the time while she lived there, smearing her paste around the place, with the little girl, she had no such protection. One day someone out there will explain how people do it, but for now I'm stumped. My mother used to tan my hide for leaving a dirty plate on the floor, I think she'd have a stroke if I'd crapped in the corner and opened the window to allow for a waft or two to leak out.

She'd also been the kind of person that, if he lived next door, The Devil would have complained about the noise and behaviour. Gandhi and Buddha would have gone over and smacked her out to shut her up. The amount of complaints we got about her was staggering. Each day a new one from a new person, of course she was being persecuted, she should be allowed to have the occasional (read every day) party and be allowed to have some friends (read half of the northern suburbs Holden V8 burn out rev heads) over. Nope, it was that stupid old mole down the road and she'd spoken to her about it (read thrown several bricks at the house, a few through the window, keyed the car and threatened to kill said old lady - who had never once uttered a word about her). It went on. So, after the intervention of the Sheriff's department she left. Like I said, huge bill, high five figures. You could nearly buy a house with what she owes. But that wasn't the last we'd see of her.

We'd done the wrong thing, you see. When I first saw her she came into the office where I was located at the time and asked for assistance because, "Youse c*nts have made me and me little girl homeless." When I hear this I generally focus on the issues at hand, not what's gone on as it just ends up in a pointless argument as to who the real c*nt is (here's a hint, it generally ain't us). I gave her some forms and advised her that if she was prepared to do something about her mounting debt then we'd be able to help her. That's when the screaming really kicked in.
"I don't owe youse f*ckin' c%nts anyf^ckinthing!!" was the first salvo shot across the water.
"Well, I'm sorry to say this, but you do."
"What f*ckin' for?"
"It says here that you owe money for unpaid rent and maintenance to the house." That's me trying to be polite. Idiot, ain't I?
"What f&kin' maintenance?? Those c&nts never came to the house!!"
"Ok, let me look...(I look, but I already know the answer)'s for damages that happened when you left."
"It ain't mine so I ain't payin' it! My boyfriend did all of that after we left." Now wasn't the time to point out that said boyfriend was sitting in another corner of the room, glaring at me, or that the damage was clearly done before she left on the day, or that we took possession (and as such the photos) not ten minutes after she'd fled the scene. Time to handball it on. I got the next person out, same deal, the next one came out and that was it for her. Upon being told that after she'd been evicted for being disruptive she wasn't going to get any assistance from us, and especially until she did something about the debt, she went nuts. Things flew, and not just the words. However the magic words, "Please leave. We have just called the police," got her and her boyfriend out of the office so fast little wisps of dust circled in their wake.

It's now become a running joke. She goes to an agency or some unsuspecting doctor, pleads poverty, abuse and homelessness, and says that we refuse to assist her. Said person then contacts us and attempts to advocate on her behalf. We then tell them what she's done and what she needs to do in order to gain assistance. The response is usually, "Oh, well she hasn't told us that," and off they go. Three days later she'll storm into an office and blast whoever she finds with her righteous rage. She gets told the same thing, she says the same swear words, tells us what heartless bastards we are for putting her and her daughter on the streets and storms out, generally throwing whatever bottle she has. She's virtually run out of agencies and doctors, so now she's going back around in the circle and approaching those that she started with. Some days she's lucky and she manages to feed some crap to some poor idiot who then calls us, or, worse yet, brings her in. Again she's told the same stuff, mainly, address the debt. Enter into an arrangement. Pay us $10 per fortnight. And again we hear the same mantra, "It ain't mine so I ain't payin' it!" The circle, while vicious, is complete with those words.

She came in again recently. I recognised her at once. Sadly for me she recognised me as well. She approached, I'd already gotten her details up on the screen (I know her off by heart now) and greeted her to be told, "What the f&ck are you smiling at?" I felt like responding, "Nothing. What's your excuse?" but bit my tongue and said, "How may I help you?" I knew the answer. The usual. The last landlord she'd had threw her out, made her homeless. She wasn't going to pay the rent on that dump because it was a dump and needed work. Now no landlord will accept her application so she had a new angle of attack. We have to speak to them (not, can we speak to them, nope it was' Youse have to speak to them') and give her a reference! I explained, "Sorry, we don't do that," to hear, "F*ckin' why f&ckin' not??"

What kind of a reference would she like? She was a tenant that never paid rent, upset two entire streets and trashed the place upon being evicted. There's your reference. It's like giving a job reference to Brendon Abbott if he wants to work for WestPac. There's no way to put a positive slant on it. I hand balled. The person I spoke to said, "You've got to be bloody joking aren't you? Are you taking the piss?" I explained that I wasn't joking and the laughter was near endless. The answer wasn't what our lovely lady wanted to hear. Same story, same abuse (most people eventually lift to a higher, more inventive level of abuse. This one is stuck on the standard 'youse f*ckin' c*nts'). She stormed out, throwing a newspaper at my head - it missed (I'm quite proud of the fact that, to date, no-one has managed to tag, or lay hands on me. Many have tried, all have missed).

I feel sorry for the little kid, but as she took a dump in our toilet (guess where it landed?) I can see that she's not house trained. No schooling, no social skills, nothing. Mind you when I mentioned all of this to a girl I know at social services she informed me that they'd not take out an intervention order to claim the child as they're loathe to remove children from their mothers (something about paperwork and the media), and anyway, they've got nowhere to put them. They speak to the mother, she promises to change her ways, cries a bit and that's all they need to hear. This is generational, more than one person has seen the steely glint in the kids eyes and knows that in another 12 years she'll be coming into the offices screaming in her own right.

So you tell me, what do we do, because I'm at a loss for an answer.


David Drury said...

I have come to the conclusion after reading your Blog, and seeing what walks into the Service stations of the company I work for that humanity consists of 2 species.

1 species believes that everything should be given to them for nothing. the other species actually does the work. If it weren't for the compassion and generosity of the former species, then the latter would have died out.

There really is only one solution to this dilemma, let them die out. Unfortunately we're too good to do this !

Pilgrim. said...

I bet you do know how to cure this but no PC government will let you take the child away and have her brought up by sane foster parents.
How long before we bring in parenting licenses?

BruceGray said...

A woman like this wouldn't be allowed to devolve or survive in any developed country in the world, except Australia.

Karl said...

What should be done?

Thats a question many have asked, including Vladimir Lenin.

Realistically there is no solution to people who behave in this manner.

You can't shoot them because thats murder.

In this office's situation, possibly a video camera needs to be installed which records all interaction between clients and staff. If a client acts in an inappropriate manner after being warned, then they are advised to leave and a court order bans them from accessing the service.

Surely there are some security guards at this office as it sounds like it needs them.

The Regional Support Clerk said...

Nope, no security guards. You see it was decided long, long ago that the precence of such people only aggriavted the customers and made them angrier and more prone to violence. When we're out there, with the abusive customers, then generally we're out there alone. No back-up from any properly trained security personel.

Anonymous said...

I hear you. I'm in debt recovery for the same place, and can vouch for the quality of customer we have. they're not all like that, but there's enough of them, and this one ain't even the worst! Keep checking NOVA and the PS Gazette every Thursday like the rest of us!

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head with that one. 3 things I can think of. 1. a licence should be given before people can reproduce. the same scrutiny should be given as someone adopting a child. eg means, psychiatric and police checks should be carried out. 2. Baby bonus canned. instead of encouraging people who think a few thousand dollars is a lot of money to reproduce I believe there should be tax cuts for working parents. dare I say for the first $30k no tax. this would in my opinion would be a better solution as it would encourage working families to have children. I understand we need more children born to work when the current workforce is older but I doubt the 6th generation unemployed are the ones that will be doing it. 3.a cull would be the most effective method of removing the current problem, but as this is found on im not sure how we can stop this problem. lastly I would like to add that there are a lot of myths going around about why we aren't helping people and how we kick families out on the street for no reason but unfortunately due to the privacy act we cant tell the community why we evict people. It would be good if the do-gooders can keep this in mind before they get all up in arms about someone like this. may I also add there are good people as well but this certainly is not the worst ether.

Karl said...

I would be taking this up with the union as no worker should have to put up with the behaviour described here. It is an occupational and safety issue.

It is a legal requirement for workers to have a safe working environment. It is illegal for workers to be verbal and physical punching bags for individuals who do not understand how to interact in a civilized manner.

Honestly how much do you earn for this work? 45 or 55 thousand dollars? If the work was reasonable then this is a reasonable amount of money. If you have to deal with foul mouthed arseholes all day making death threats then its not worth it.

BTW I used to work for the DSS then Centrelink. I had to deal with some shit but nothing like what you describe and we would not put up with it either. If some arsehole started swearing and carrying on we would tell them to either stop it or leave. If they kept doing it we called the police.

Their record was then flagged, their name was on a list sent round to all local offices. A letter was sent telling them they were no longer welcomed in our office and if they came round the police would be called and they would be arrested.

Anonymous said...

"Honestly how much do you earn for this work? 45 or 55 thousand dollars? "

Front counter staff are generally ASO2, which starts at $38,557 and gets up to the lofty heights of $41,732. Federal (centrelink etc.) starts at around $46K, but state gov't isn't so lucky...

Anonymous said...

Its strange how we sell our lives by the hour to try and help people who hate us for no other reason than they messed their own lives up. I was pondering that yesterday as I spoke to a lady that was telling me how her ex partner who lives in the same street as her is harassing her and her children. She has 4 children to different fathers never had a job and the man who is harassing her is one of the fathers. She called to tell me she wanted a transfer "how can yous people expect me to live like this" and "its disgusting how yous people haven't transferred me already" not to mention she was over a grand in debt. In short this person has made choices to get where she is today. We are helping but due to the volume of people we help this takes some time. Hears a hint stupid, if you don’t like our service don’t use it. Same go's for centre link. Free money and cheep as chips housing isn't good enough for ya? Refuse our service. Hears another hint, we are doing our level best to help you despite your apparent addiction for bending your life over a barrel and shafting it as hard as you can.
PS love your blog.