Here's how January went so far.
Let's back up a bit first...
In December, my Aunt Audrey made me a surprising and welcome offer. She had been waiting over three years for an opening at an Extended Care Facility in Langley. The opening had finally been made, and she was going to be moving to Langley. However, she didn't want to sell her house as the market is somewhat depressed at the moment. She needed a Live-In Caretaker...and offered me the opportunity.
To say I was enthusiastic about the chance to Finally Leave the Basement is an understatement. Audrey and I discussed the arrangement that first day, and I distinctly remember "no rent" and "your overall expenses shouldn't be increased". All fine by me...'cause I couldn't afford any increased expenses. I can barely afford the expenses I have now. I am STILL paying off credit card debt from four years ago! I haven't paid back all the money I owe on my current vehicle. By my reckoning, I've paid for that car twice already. The trip to Disney was nice...but that was partially borrowed money too. I've been living it up folks! Well past time to finish paying the piper...
I got some books and bookshelves moved over. I left the rest of the move until after New Year's as I didn't think I would be able to arrange help until then. I did try, but it didn't work out. Audrey's grandson, Jason Laidlaw, did an excellent job of helping his Grandmother move her things out of the house and over to Langley. He also went above and beyond in leaving the house clean and swept, and packing nearly all of the remaining items and putting them into storage in the garage. The house was ready for me to occupy.
We spoke in person just before I left for Alberta. He re-iterated what I had heard from Audrey about paying the utilities and then words to the effect that I would be paying the property taxes as well...
Huh? That wasn't what I had heard. Well, no matter, I can call Audrey and see what this is about. She probably meant the Municipal Services Assessment. I definitely would pay that; after all, if I'm living there, I may as well pay for the Water/Sewer and Sanitation services I'm using. Audrey couldn't be expecting me to pay Property Taxes on a house I didn't own, could she?
Back to Jason. He mentioned that his Grandmother was mostly moved in, and had had her new phone hooked up...but he didn't tell me the new number. Hmmmm.
Note that nothing untoward or dishonest has been done at this point...but I'm starting to wonder. So I called Eugenie.
Eugenie Sanderson is my Grandmother, she is also Audrey's sister. I figured if anyone could tell me Audrey's new phone number, it would be her. I was correct.
I called Audrey. It was a somewhat unusual conversation. It was rather abrupt, for one thing. No money or Property Taxes were mentioned; but she seemed to be having a fair amount of anxiety over...the trees and shrubbery in the front yard.
So here's what I figured out afterward...I'm mentioning it now, because it will be important later.
Audrey wasn't just looking for someone to keep the lights on and the "hearth fires burning" at her house...she was looking for on call landscaping, trimming and arbor work! I know that such work was on her mind because I met the nice man she had hired in years past to do the yard trimmings and tree lopping. He came around while I was shoveling snow off the front walk and the driveway. The lot that the house is on used to be much larger and it was, back in the day, heavily wooded. There are still a few of those BIG pine trees along the north and south lines of the property. Some of those pines are in need of arbor work. Dead boughs needing to be lopped, etc. All in all, there's a lot of major yard work needed to get the property more "presentable" for sale. Audrey can't do it herself, of course; that's why she hires a professional to come in every so often. I have no idea how much a professional landscaper/tree surgeon costs...but I imagine it's pretty expensive.
I also heard from Audrey, and from Jason, that living at the facility in Langley was going to be more expensive than Audrey had first anticipated.
Still with me? Okay, here's what happened a few days after I got back from Alberta:
I got a phone message from Jason asking me to call him soon as I could as he had some important news. I called...and the phrase "Eight Hundred Dollars a month in rent" came up early on in the conversation.
I should add as an aside that 800$ a month (plus utilities) is a really reasonable rent for a 3 bedroom 1 bath bungalow close to schools and shopping. Especially in this neighborhood. The rent was not the problem. The Problem was that I can't afford to pay rent while I'm still paying the Mortgage AND child support HERE!!!
Okay...okay, I feel better now...
So how about it, unseen reader? Would this latest development have raised any warning flags? Would you want to tread carefully and diplomatically? Too bad I didn't...
I asked, plainly and more than a little bluntly, if Jason would mind if I called Audrey to confirm the new stipulation in the deal. Jason did not know at this time that I had obtained Audrey's new phone number without him. His reaction, as I most certainly was not taking his word that this was Audrey's wish, was to take offense. I don't blame him for taking offense at apparently calling his integrity into question...because I was questioning his integrity. Without any real evidence, as it turns out.
Oops. After calling Audrey I found that yes, her expenses at the care facility in Langley were higher than she had anticipated, and yes, there was going to be a fair expense in getting the landscape and yard ready for sale.
Conclusion? Audrey needs a rent-paying tenant in the house while she waits for the market to pick up. Too bad that's not me.
I owe Jason an apology, I think. I am probably going to have to talk to the guy again because I still have to give him back Audrey's LifeLine key. He's already made it clear that he's "done with me" and I have "burned my bridges" where he's concerned. So maybe an apology note will do?
Finally: Jason went way out of his way to help Audrey with her move and to take care of all the details involved. It's possible he was already feeling more than a little frustrated with the situation when my slur on his character occurred. If it had been somebody insulting me like that? Yeah, I would have been angry...