So, those who have followed the situation are aware that I basically share a house with two teenage kids. In reality, I share a bathroom and a laundry room with them. Things have tentatively been worked out, though they haven’t had to come face to face with Aria yet–though they nearly did today–and for the time being nothing is happening on that front. Keeping in mind that it’s a long story, the short version is that I still have the right to use that bathroom, that washing machine, and that dryer, and no one disputes that. Well, they do, actually, because the perspective has shifted. Now, it’s “You’re welcome to continue using it,” rather than “You have the right to continue using it.” A small shift, but also an important one, and all of this is going somewhere.
Anyway, it has become apparent to the two boys that there is no way for them to get Internet access out here, which led them to immediately ask what I do for Internet. I tether my phone, and I use Sprint, who offers an Unlimited Data plan. Since it’s a 4G connection here, it does everything that I could possibly need it to do. This, however, brought them no closer to a solution, because theirs is an AT&T family.
Seeing as we had reached an agreement over the bathroom and laundry room thing, I thought it would be nice if I shared my Internet connection with them. That’s right. I offered to work with the dad, my colleague/employer, to set up two Linksys WRT54GL routers equipped with DDWRT to act as Repeater-Bridges. Router A would be in my house and would connect to my phone’s hotspot. Router B would be in their house and would connect to Router A. Then all they had to do was connect their phones to Router B, and voila! Free-to-them Internet access.
Of course, this is a hassle for me. I simply connect a USB cord to my phone and bam, I’m connected. This means I have to install and use a wifi adapter to connect to my phone–since Wi-Fi and USB sharing can’t both be active simultaneously. Additionally, I’d have to be somewhat careful with where I held my phone and what I do with it. Even though it’s my Internet, it would be fucked up of me to spend a Friday evening downloading a thirty gigabyte torrent, you know? Even with this setup, though, their speeds will be half what mine are, but it’s not like that does me any favors–my speed is going to be cut in half no matter what. I’ll go from downloading at 16 mbps to 1 mBps, in addition to having two teenagers using my Internet for god-knows-what. Additionally, if they do something illegal, because of my setup, I simply don’t have the “They were using the hotspot, and I had no control over it” defense.
I was doing this out of the goodness of my heart, because when I bathed in there recently, I saw their entire entertainment setup: a Monopoly game and a deck of cards. That’s it. That’s all they have to do to occupy their time.
Dude, we had more entertainment options than that when I was in jail.
Filled with pity for them, I offered that up as a solution. It’s such a monumental offering–in case you’re not familiar with the description–that the parents immediately offered to start paying half of my phone bill for doing it. That should give you an idea of where these kids are at. Additionally, his dad is down in the woods most of this weekend setting up deer stands for the eighteen year old son. Are you kidding me? You’re gonna pay his Internet for him, basically, and are down here setting up their deer stands? Things are starting to make a bit more sense…
Anyway, after I got out of the bath this afternoon, I texted my colleague and told him that we needed to move forward with it, because their entertainment situation is depressing. It really is. Plus, the Internet is very helpful for college students. About forty minutes later, I texted that I also need his son’s number, so that I can text and offer to buy us all pizza if one of them is willing to go and get it. The reply I got back was:
That’s very cool. Do you really not have his #?
Oh… and I’ve got a request on their behalf that might affect the goodwill a bit: the bathroom u use – and are welcome to use – is M’s And wouldn’t u know it – M is allergic to smoke. So they’ve asked me to ask u if u can help reduce that factor. They both have tobacco habits so they don’t want to ask u to stop smoking in the bathroom. They just would like the after effects to not be evident. So I said I would raise the issue.
L’s # is xxx-xxx-xxxx.
Oh, dude, after that, you knew there was no point in sending me L’s number. You knew damned well that after that there was zero chance that I was going to be willing to buy them a goddamned pizza. I’ll fully remove all my makeup and change clothes and go myself before I buy them a goddamned thing after a message like that.
My colleague was as cool about it as he could be, but let’s evaluate things.
I use the bathroom once a day. In fact, once every other day. I can take very quick showers in my house; the water heater just doesn’t have more than about 3 minutes of hot water, and the water is only slightly warm. It’s sufficient for a very quick shower, but I’ve got hair to wash and basically an entire body to shave. It’s impossible to do all that in 3 minutes. It’s been agreed from the start that it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide me with a bathroom that meets my needs, and so it has never been up for discussion. I would be 100% in the right, actually, to argue that it’s not M’s bathroom. It’s M’s and my bathroom.
The first time I went in to use the bathroom after they moved in, this is what I found. It was an absolute mess. About two weeks ago, I made the conscious decision to work around it, to ignore it, and to just get on with my business. Even though the mat outside the bathtub is perpetually soaking wet. Even though I have to move his goddamned clothes out of the middle of the floor. Even though he leaves toothpaste spit in the sink. Even though I have to scrub his hair, grime, and gunk out of the tub every time. Seriously, today there were three patches of some sticky shit in the tub that took Scrubbing Bubbles to remove–what the fuck was it? Even though I have to move his wet towels off the sink so that I can use it, I just work around it.
As I’ve said plenty of times, I know his this plays out. I know I lose any argument, automatically, because this is his son and his son’s friend. It’s not their responsibility to work around me; it’s my responsibility to work around them. If I get in their way, it’s a problem. If they get in my way, I have to bite the bullet and work out something else. It’s been that way since I moved in, and that’s what led me to drive all the way out to a friend’s to bathe and wash clothes for like a week straight, because no one would tell them that I’m freaking transgender. Fuck, they didn’t even know for a while that I was using the bathroom.
Is that fair? No, not at all. I’m a tenant, and I’ve been renting here for nine months. For those nine months, I parked my car in the garage. I lost the garage without a word. I mentioned it once, briefly, in a remark to the kid’s dad, and never said another word about it. It continues to piss me off that my clean white car is now parked under trees and having sap fall on it every day while their mud-riding trucks park under the carport, but whatever. Just one of the many ways I got screwed.
The biggest way is that I have very limited windows now to take my baths: either when they’re at school–Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, though their class times are unpredictable for some reason–or while they’re at work, which is equally unpredictable. Have I complained? No. I’ve worked around it, because that’s what an adult does.
This pic on the right came from a few days ago. Somewhere in the interim, one of the bathmats disappeared entirely and was replaced by a fucking towel. Additionally, the status of the sink has gotten ridiculous. I thought about taking another picture this afternoon, because it has gotten even worse. Those two soda cans? Apparently, they gave birth to a third can, a Sprite can,and they are still sitting there. In fact, looking at the date, that pic was taken on September 13–ten days ago. And those fucking soda cans are still sitting there. Not only are they still there, but a third has been added to it. The towels are still there, and there are still clothes in the floor.
On top of that, it has become a ritual. The first thing I do is begin running water and grab my sponge to clean out the grime, hair, and shit left in the tub by M, who apparently has never heard the words “Clean the tub when you’re done, shit, man this isn’t hard.” Maybe I’m lucky, that my grandmother’s stern upbringing taught me to clean out the tub, to clean the toilet, and to clean the sink. Once I’ve cleaned out the tub, sweeping everything toward the drain and using a handful of toilet paper to remove it, I move to the sink. I move all of the towels to one side–I’m a girl, okay? I need space to use the sink.
Oh, that empty can of dip… Yeah. It’s still there, too.
I then shake my head at the garbage can, because it’s full–it’s been full since they moved in. Worse, now M. has placed mostly-empty wet food containers on top of it. Judging from the packaging, they appear to have been baked beans from a local barbecue place.
That’s right. This motherfucker threw two containers of empty baked beans into the top of the bathroom trash can that has been needing to be emptied for two weeks.
Thursday morning, I took the garbage can down to the road. I think I’ve discussed this before, but I do this about once every three weeks. I simply don’t throw that much stuff away–about one bag a week. When it gets about half-full, I take it down to the road. Unfortunately, because these guys eat so many chips, cookies, and shit, they burn through trash, and the can was full. Cleverly, the landlord’s dad had moved it into the middle of the driveway for them to take. I took it down, because they were at school, and I didn’t know if they’d get out before the garbage ran.
That motherfucking empty can is still sitting at the end of the driveway, and I am not going to get it.
When I texted my colleague Exhibit A and told him that it struck me as a territorial claim, that was when he told me that they weren’t even aware that I use the bathroom. This was mind-blowing. Everyone knew that. The landlords are well aware of it. I tried extensively to get them to fix the water heater out here so that I didn’t have to bother, and we ultimately decided that it wasn’t too big a deal for me to walk next door to bathe. I’ve dealt with worse things in my life. And no one even told them that? My colleague assured me that this behavior–clothes, towels, and trash being left everywhere–would surely change when they knew someone else used it.
It hasn’t. That pic from ten days ago is in better condition than the bathroom is in right now.
So here I was, feeling bad for these kids and thinking that I was going to let them use my Internet, at detriment to me and at no cost to them, simply because I’m a nice chick? And I was going to pay for their pizza if they just went and got it? And the text I received in reply is basically, “They want you to stop smoking in the bathroom.”
I smoke a cigarette while running water. One. Uno. A single, solitary cigarette. That’s all.
Should I be smoking in their house?
Yes. It’s not their house. I’ve been smoking in that house. More importantly, the landlord smokes, and he smokes in that house. Though I suspect the landlord hasn’t been in there in a while, because one of the things I’ve been told is that they intend to do regular check-ups to make sure the boys are keeping the place clean, and… they are not. It’s not quite a pig sty yet, but give it another month.
I replied back:
This is a place that I decided ten days ago that I wasn’t gonna go, because I know how this plays out, but have you seen the bathroom lately? I have to clean grime, hair, and gunk out of the tub before it’s usable, and three empty soda cans and an empty can of dip have apparently become permanent fixtures. There are continually clothes in the floor, the sink covered in his wet towels, and now there are wet food containers sitting on top of the bathroom trash that hasn’t been taken out since they moved in. In another week, he’ll be thankful for the smoke for covering up the smell the mold and rotten food is going to generate.
I work around all that and made the conscious decision to just not give a shit, but your dad smokes in that house. I smoke one cigarette while I run water in the tub. Other than not smoking, there’s just no way to minimize it. I’ll stop, fair enough, it’s NOT my bathroom, but just making some observations.
And here I am thinking, “Hey, maybe you guys are bored, have my Wi-Fi and a pizza.”
My first response was “Fuck it. I’ll just start spraying off in the yard with a hose.”
I didn’t mean to be hostile, if it came off that way, and actually did withdraw before working on a reply.
The perspective on this whole thing has gotten skewed, I think. I never started using the bathroom there because it was more luxurious. It was because it was simply required, not optional. The ability to actually take a shower/bath and get clean isn’t optional. The point I’m getting at is that it’s not “M’s” bathroom that I’m welcome to use. It is a requirement in any modern American dwelling, even if not a legal requirement.
One might say I’m overreacting about what was basically a “Hey, could you minimize the smoke smell” message. But that’s not true. One–I only smoke a single cigarette. The fan cuts on when the light cuts on; there is literally nothing I can do to minimize the smell except not to smoke. Two–they have absolutely no right to make that demand of me. Three–after all the shit I’ve been overlooking for two weeks, they really don’t want to go there. Adulthood is a series of compromises. It’s time they learned that. Four–the fucking owner and landlord smokes in that house. Five–here I was, being nice, and going to do them a really awesome favor at my own expense.
They can forget that now. They can sit their fucking asses over there and play Monopoly all they fucking want. FoxFi isn’t getting turned back activated again on my phone no matter what happens. It’s time for the little boys to realize if they want to live out on their own, they’re going to have to be men. Little boys get everything they want. Men compromise.
That’s the problem here. Bitching about the cigarette smoke issue–which is already sure to set me off, as I discussed in this podcast:
… while, apparently, thinking they aren’t doing anything that I’m overlooking shows a short-sightedness and narcissistic view of the world that needs to be shattered before they step out and move somewhere that Granddaddy doesn’t own. If I was a bitch, I’d start chain smoking every time I went into that bathroom from now on.
I’m not going to start being mean.
But I’m not going to continue being nice. Look how well that turns out.
This colleague has routinely expressed to me that he is stunned by how racist his son is. That is surprising, because the kid certainly wasn’t raised that way–I know the colleague well, and he’s not a racist any more than I am. His son, though, is apparently vehemently racist and absolutely hate black people. Is the picture becoming clearer?
This colleague lives in a twenty acre property in the middle of <the nicest city in the state–no, seriously, it is, though it also has the worst traffic>. He has a swimming pool and an honest-to-fuck tennis court in his backyard. Yes, a tennis court. His granddaddy owns some land down here, and I rent one of the properties, and he just moved into the other one. His daddy bought him a truck, and he’s now in college. Remember that dip sitting on the counter? The kid works at Sportsman’s Warehouse. He’s expecting his daddy to solve the internet problem. He had his daddy talk to me about the smoke issue. His daddy is out setting up his deer blinds this weekend. Is the picture becoming clearer?
These… these are exactly the people I hate. If I didn’t know the colleague so well–the colleague is a terrific guy, and as close to me “spiritually” as anyone I’ve ever met, and a genuinely good, caring person–I have no doubt that I would immediately hate him if I didn’t know of him but was going through all this anyway. Oh, until the last few weeks of high school, daddy was waking him up every morning, too. These people exemplify the phrase “White Privilege,” and the son more than any. I know the father, my colleague, worked for what he has. But the son? The son has been on EZ Street his entire life, and he is in for a rude awakening. And, apparently, when that awakening comes, he’s inclined to blame black people for some stupid reason.
Despite all of that, I still have a hard time saying “no” on the Internet thing. I immediately backed out of pizza. But, see, that message never even got to them. The Internet message has, and so they’ll know that they pissed me off. Who knows. Maybe my texts will have the effect I want them to have. It’s not like I’m in the wrong here, and I’m the last fucking person who will cry “I’m a victim!” about something. But yeah. This is totally unacceptable. Considering the circumstances and considering all the shit that I overlook and my willingness to work around them even when I shouldn’t have to–the least they can fucking do is deal with some smoke, especially since the goddamned owner smokes in there as well.
I’m pissed, but I think I’ve vented enough.
Thanks for listening to me bitch, if anyone did.