If we’re really lucky we get a great launch into life by growing up in a loving family. Prior to that, we hope we scored in the gene pool game and inherited some strong healthy DNA. Between those nature-nurture influences hopefully we grow into self-actualized, well adjusted, happy, contributing members of society. And of course, everyone will have his or her own definition of how each of those components will manifest.
When the start into life is less auspicious or downright brutal, the outcome is less good. We can all rattle off the risk factors: teen or ill-equipped parents; poverty; broken home; health challenges; physical, mental, sexual abuse; lack of education; birth country; and more. So if You’re born to a teen mother with AIDS in Africa your life will be unrecognizable to most of us. If You’re born to an alcoholic or drug addicted parent, it will be an uphill battle. If you are born to a visible minority there will (still) be barriers to your success that some smug Caucasians won’t understand.
I try to weigh all that when I interact with people who seem so different from me. People who don’t share the same values, beliefs, attitude, or work ethic as I do. I try to understand.
My patience and understanding have been stretched to the limit with the deadbeat tenant we had to evict from our rental property. As we prepared for new tenants, we did a lot of work to and at the duplex. We had it painted from top to bottom, had the carpets cleaned, and hired a cleaning lady to do what they had neglected to do. We changed no less than a dozen burnt out bulbs. We replaced a furnace filter that was completely plugged and collapsed. We cleaned the lint trap on the dryer!
Because the eviction happened in early January the yard was blanketed in snow. A thaw revealed what the snow had hidden. We picked flyers and antifreeze jugs out of the front shrubs. We picked up an aerosol can from near the remains of a wasp nest. We picked up a few piles of dog (or was that elephant) poop. We were unable to pick up every single cigarette butt or scrap of paper or drink straw. We hauled a truckload of garbage out. Through it all we shook our heads in disbelief.
Being a slob is not the worst thing in the world but it is indicative of other things gone wrong in a life. I emptied the mailbox and marveled at the entities that were corresponding with this family. In addition to utility bills and credit card statements, there was mail from City of Edmonton ticket administration, Edmonton Police Service, and Alberta Justice. There was also mail for FIVE other people.
We are smarter as landlords because of this real world education. The scary part is that these former tenants are still ?walking among us? devaluing anything they touch, racking up bills, being a burden on government agencies. Whether It’s nature or nurture I’m glad they’re gone from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..