The Way Things Are






All that fresh, cool, running water
2005-12-20, 4:11 p.m.

Woohoo. All that fresh, cool, running water, available from every tap in the house. Never take that for granted, folks, OK? You don’t EVEN want to see the well filter that DW brought back to me like a trophy. It’s best that we not speak of it ever again. EVER. (but p.s.: when you come visit, drink the filtered water out of the fridge. I’m just sayin’.)

I just got a message on my voice mail, although I don’t know why, because I’ve been sitting here on my big white butt all afternoon and should have had enough sense to just answer the phone, from a lady asking for emergency assistance, primarily clothing. She said she was in the process of moving out of her apartment and the landlord came in and threw away all of their things: clothes, the Christmas trees, and the few presents under it. I smell an eviction for nonpayment of rent, but what a fucking Grinchy thing to do.

Our organization doesn’t have the resources to handle emergency assistance like this. We would be able to help out one of our own residents in an emergency situation, yes, but we get lots of cold calls every day from outside folks – not our residents - asking for help with their rent and utilities. People I can’t do anything for directly because the man is holding me down. (shaking fist at imaginary man)

But am I Grinchy? No, I am not. Do I want to help? Yes, I do. There’s this thing that you may or may not know about, and if you don’t know about it, you are about to. Go to and find your local United Way contact. Your local UW will have an online keyword directory where you can select, oh, say “clothing”, and you will find lots and lots of local agencies that provide assistance with clothing. The cool thing about this is that it is cross-referenced, and in San Antonio, if you look for agencies that provide clothing assistance, you will also find agencies that do emergency assistance, like food and shelter. In fact, you can find just about anything.

So I found some agencies that do some relevant assistance, called her back, told her what I had found, and she gave me some more details about what her landlord had done. Among other atrocities, like violating Texas tenant/landlord laws in such a blatant manner that even I, an unwashed ignorant non-attorney, picked up on it, he gave away not only their clothes, Christmas tree and presents, but also the baby’s bassinet, the high chair, and the family pets. The pets!

I told her that any of these agencies that she goes to for assistance should have folks available to refer her to legal aid. But this is one smart girl; she has already contacted legal aid, and is in the process of getting an attorney. Legal aid LOVES landlord/tenant issues.

And what’s more, she says that she has contacted the media. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what possible justification you might have for evicting a family, getting rid of their possessions, and giving the pets to the pound, you can’t get away with stuff like this unless you follow the letter of the law, and you sure are going to be crucified if you do it 5 days before Christmas. Sure, there are two sides to every story, but if what she is saying is even 10% true, it doesn’t matter what the landlord’s story is. I don’t care if she’s 6 months behind on her rent and her herd of Rottweilers had eaten holes in the walls.

I gave her some phone numbers, and I wished her luck, and told her to call me back if she struck out with those numbers, and we’d keep trying. I look forward to seeing her story on the local news very soon. And I look forward to being mentioned as one of the good guys who DID call her back and DID try to help.

Here are two additional things you might want to know to get both sides of MY story: I’m not entirely philan—philan—er, good-deed-doing. First, I suspected that there might be the potential for media involvement, and I sure didn’t want to be the organization that DIDN’T call her back. I can see “Eyewitness Wants to Know” profiling our organization as one of the non-helpers. Second, I wanted to talk to her because I had this fear of what if? What if this was one of OUR properties, evicting this woman and her children illegally 5 days before Christmas? The pets! The presents!

If she had said she was coming from one of our properties, I would have SURELY stomped down the hall on my short little legs, and delivered some major chingasos. Oh, you betcha. If anything like this ever happens within our organization…if I ever catch wind of it…in the words of Texas’s esteemed governor, Adios, Mofo.

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