Monday, May 26, 2008

#97: The Ballroom Blitz

I couldn't help myself. I know I shouldn't do it as it only frustrates me when I do. But like a moth being drawn towards a flame I found myself sitting in a car listening to the morning radio. Today's topic? Same as yesterdays, same as tomorrow, same as last month. I'm sorry Mr Parslow, but the record's stuck the record's stuck the record's stuck the record's stuck the record's stuck the record's stuck the record's stuck the record's stuckBRRRRRRPPPPPPZZZZZZZZZTTTTT

Sorry. But that's how it feels sometimes. Today's rant, same as previous days, revolved around our utter inability to address the serious issue of disruptive tenants. You see, according to the 'announcer'* and his panel of 'experts', we don't do enough to assist those tenants who have the unfortunate experience of living next door to the Alans of the world. We sit in 'ivory towers' drinking 'tea' and just basically 'laze about' laughing at people's misfortunes.

I'd love for the 'announcer' to come and spend a day in one of our 'working environments' and see what we go through. We're accused of hiding behind 'policy' and 'procedure' all too often. Yep, we do work to policy - that's why policy is there. To dictate what we do in any given situation. We refer to policy a lot, when policy doesn't cover anything we go outside of the norm and attempt to resolve things as best we can. Our best bosses will say, "I'd rather you come to me and apologise for a mistake than to sit there and do nothing." I love that attitude.

Back to the radio. So there I am sitting when a caller came on the air. Here's what was said:
CALLER: "So 'announcer', I have a neighbour who is very abusive. He's attacked me more than once, beaten me, broken into my house and set fire to my car. He killed my dog."
'ANNOUNCER': "Dear oh dear. So what did _________ do about this?"
CALLER: "Nothing. They refuse to move him. I'm living in fear and they won't do a thing about it. They keep saying crap about police reports -"

Now let me cut the caller off right there. In short the 'announcer' berated us about our inability and reluctance to act and thus keep this poor soul in fear and being abused, daily, if you believe the caller. What was the solution?
'ANNOUNCER': "Look, here's what I want you to do. I'm going to put you back to my producer and they'll give you a number to call. It's for Frankie Peanut, the local member of parliament. Tell him what you've told me and he'll get something done." YOU IDIOT!!! The MP won't get anything done. Let's review this: two people, neighbours. One is regularly beating the other up. The Bad Neighbour steals. The Bad Neighbour has burnt a car to the ground. The Bad Neighbour breaks into houses and knocks things off. The Bad Neighbour is clearly a criminal. And the best solution is to phone a local member of parliament? WHERE'S YOUR FREAKING BRAIN MAN!!

If that person phoned me for advice the first thing I'd be asking is: have you phoned the police? If the answer is no then I'd be saying, "THESE ARE CRIMINAL ACTS, CALL THE POLICE!!!" I'd not be recommending that they phone a radio station or a local member of parliament. Call the cops. If someone beats you up, call the cops. If they burn your house/car/pushbike/cat down, call the cops. If they break into your house - calls the cops. That's called illegal entry. It's called CRIME. Deary me, what a concept. Instead of rallying against us, rally against the legal system that allows these people to roam society at large. We can move them, and often do, so that they can ply their wares elsewhere resulting in a whole new slew of complaints. If we evict them then some poor bastard in private rental gets the pleasure of their company, or they become homeless and the same 'announcer' will rally against us for not doing enough for the homeless.

Love those ratings though.

Here's today's advice. If you have a disruptive neighbour then phone the police. Get police report numbers. Why? Because if a case comes up at the RTT then you need all the ammo you can get. Police report numbers are vital and impossible to dispute. Plus if you call the cops then the odds are good that the person might just get arrested and leave you be. They might have active warrants. They might be doing other things that they shouldn't be doing. Don't phone a radio station. Don't phone a local member - they're as useless as can be. Phone your landlord/agent/commission/whatever, but don't expect them to police the situation because they can't. The ones who really police the situation are the POLICE. After all they can do POLICE work and lock people up. We can't. Wish we could, but we can't.

Novel idea, calling the police. I'm sure there'll be more rants from the same 'announcer' in the future. We do wonders for his ratings.

On a related topic. You never hear these ones on the radio. I can't help but wonder why.

Over the last few weeks I've spent virtually every day counselling people about their neighbours. Apparently they're all arseholes, the neighbours that is, not the tenants. Having said that the tenants come in and begin screaming like you'd not believe. There's a lot of reasons for this kind of behaviour, my favourite is the full moon theory, and I know I'm not the only one who subscribes to that. Still, here's what happens.

The tenants will come in and start demanding that we move whatever neighbour that exists. Generally it's just some idiot playing the stereo a little too loud, or having a party. Every so often an original explanation is heard - one elderly lady wanted her neighbour removed because she was having loud, violently explosive sex at all hours of the night. Clearly, according to this spinster, she was a prostitute. How did we know she was a spinster? She told us. Never been married. Never wanted a man about the house. No Richard O'Sullivans for her. How did she know the girl next door was a prostitute? Because she has sex! Sometimes more than once a night! With giggling! And sometimes more than twice a week! That's all. I politely explained that it'd be hard for us to evict a person solely due to noisy nookie, as per usual my explanations of policy were clearly inadequate the the standards threats of going to the minister and 'announcer' were issued. I kindly pointed out that such actions are a personal choice and we wouldn't discourage it. Awww crap.

Sometimes they come in with the most basic of reasons - the neighbour is black/white/coloured/pick a race/gender/preference. These are the people who generally cause more problems than they deal with. I remember listening to one guy's lenghty 'Hitler would be proud of me ' rant and suggesting that if he just stopped yelling, "F*ck off you f*ckin' black coon c*nt!" at the top of his lungs then perhaps the guy next door wouldn't threaten to kill him. "But," he replied, "you started it."
"We did? How did we start it?"
"You moved the f*ckin' nigger in there in the first place." Of course! D'OH! I felt like slapping my head. The revelation was clear. You see a lot of the problems due to neighbourhood disputes are our fault for moving the wrong people in. Clearly. The only thing with that theory is that, while there might be a germ of truth to that statement, a lot of the time the people who complain are the ones who probably shouldn't have been housed in the first place.

Still, try telling people that. People threaten us. They'll come in and scream, "If you don't fix this problem and evict that bastard then I'll move out and then where will you be?" Maybe in a better place? Seriously, I don't know. Move out. Go with our blessing and try the private rental market. Go and try the tricks of not paying rent, telling the housing managers in an office to fuck off when they come around for an inspection. Try having loud parties whenever it suits you. Try dealing drugs. Try setting up your hydroponics. Do all the stuff you do with us and see how long you last. I'm guessing the answer would be 'not long at all.'

I don't own any real estate. Funnily enough I can't afford it. Well that's not entirely true - it's more that, in this day and age, the suburbs that I could afford to buy in, I don't want to live in. And there's no way I'd buy an investment property and rent it out. I don't need the early heart attack. I've seen too much to fall into that trap. It's an insane market out there. It's feral. it's competitive. It's as hard as ever to find decent rental at an affordable price that's safe and secure and hasn't got some dodgy landlord who'll throw you out the minute you complain about the roof falling in on your head.

I'd love to phone that into the 'announcer' and see what he'd make of it.

* said 'announcer' loves to preface a statement by saying something such as, "Those, quote-unquote people, who do yadda yadda yadda." Hence 'quote-unquote', for our 'announcer', at least, is code for, "I think that the word/phrase/description is just bullshit." Said 'announcer' also has an odd tendency to attempt to mimic female voices to make a point, but always manages to sound like some old Italian drag queen - go figure.