Bullying on school playgrounds is getting a lot of press lately. Government web sites define bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.” Communities and local governments are passing anti-bullying laws and redefining codes of behavior for children to prevent this epidemic.
So what happens when you are a month shy of your 39th birthday and find yourself bullied by the dad of a fellow roommate?
First, the back story. I moved to West Virginia to take a summer internship conducting shale gas research. As done with prior internships, I posted an ad on Craigslist looking to sublet a room for the summer. Easily enough, a woman had a room and there were three roommates in the pet friendly townhouse only one of whom would be around for the summer, Andrea. The other two, Karen and Conniving, might be in and out periodically, but not staying here (Conniving lives with her boyfriend, but keeps a room) and Karen had summer accomodations. Perfect. As required, all the roommates signed the sub-lease, I paid the fees and rent, and trucked on out to West Virginia.
Two weeks after Bella and I moved in Conniving signed a lease for a new apartment and realizing her cash shortage needed to sublet her room for the remainder of the lease. Unfortunately, her realization came after the end of the school year in a college town saturated with available subleases. She found a guy, presumably online, and announced to all three roommates that we needed to sign so this guy could move in.
None of us wanted to live with some guy she picked out especially given her history of poor judgment and decision-making. Since her dad pays for everything including her generous monthly allowance, Conniving does not work, nor has she had to have a job. Paying rent on multiple leases would cut into her travel and spending money. Welcome to the club.
In an effort to persuade me, Conniving put her boyfriend on the phone during our conversation to “find common ground.” I told him I would sign for a female roommate.
No dice. It had to be the guy. Next, her dad either went through the lease himself or had his attorney do so and found where I was mistaken. In fact, the paperwork for Bella had not been completed and my 9 lb geriatric dog was an illegal tenant. He called the property manager and filed a complaint against me. Bella had 24 hours to permanently vacate the premises or pay a $500 fine plus $25/day until she was gone.
After reading the property manager’s letter, I picked up Bella, sat down on my bed and cried. I had no money, no place to go and no idea what to do next. And then I sobbed.
To be continued.