Where Reality Will Byte, if You Aren't Careful What You Read... My Year's Quest.
|"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise" Day 2093 September 16, 2019
Prompt: Write about the worst house, apartment, or a hotel room you’ve lived in or stayed. Why did you think it was the worst place to be?
When I was about twenty-five, I got a job at the San Bernardino County Mental Health Services Department. Yup, county job, something I had been trying to get for a couple years. I had the title of Clerk II., if I recall correctly, but it was an experimental job shared between two departments: Records, and Patient Intake/Registration. That second department isn't right but I can't remember what it was called, basically where you check peeps in for their appointments, make return appointments, answer the phones, etc. Secretary stuff but you also have to work with the doctors and the LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Workers) etc. So the position was to help out in Records as the main dude, Charles, had been doing it alone for years and was having some medical issues. The other department was always understaffed, of course.
So this position was at the old county building in the city of San Bernardino, proper, but I lived in Upland about 30 miles West. I needed a place cheaper and closer to my new job, and I picked up a roommate from my current transitional job (very bad job time in Southern California in the 90s) at Thrifty Car Rental at the Ontario Airport. Now that was a fun job! I had no issue getting jobs, keeping them was another thing entirely as I frequently got bored or wanted to move up the pay ladder. I began looking for an apartment, but it was a more run-down area and I needed to have a cat or two as well.
My boos, Leticia, heard about my search and offered to hook me up with her parents who owned a four-plex rental not even a mile away. I was a bit skeptical on the area. It's the same area I lived in my first ever apartment when I separated from the husband at age 18. But she kinda insisted and I kinda needed a place, so I met with her parents and looked it over. There wasn't much to see; it was such a basic apartment, located on the second floor with a garage carport underneath it. It had a living room, an open kitchen area, small, and a barely there space for a dining table I didn't have. There was one bathroom, one bedroom, all perfectly adequate.
The place looked clean enough, nothing to write home about as they say, but respectable. It wouldn't be the hub of parties or get-togethers anyway—as I don't socialize much—but it would do. The price was right, I had a paying roommate, and if my car died I could even walk to work. I took it.
The boss's parents were a bit quiet, but I figured it was more a language barrier than anything as they were Mexican and Spanish was their native language. Very common where I grew up and anywhere in Southern California. In fact, I grew up partially Mexican it was such a normal part of the culture and area. They kept repeating rules as if I was a party-er, but that's nothing new I mean I was young I just wasn't social, not something most peeps understood.
Upon moving in, my roommate Gus was worth his weight in gold as he turned out to be a great cleaner Yay! But the stove was so dirty underneath the burners, when you lift up the stove top? We were both pretty disgusted. I can tell you I didn't clean it. Gus and came to a quick decision lol he could clean and pay less rent Worked for both of us.
Within a couple months, however, it was obvious my position was a failed experiment. Neither department had enough of me and I was stretched too thin. I really liked working with the records, less public and more doctor interaction worked for my introvertedness. Mind you, I've always been able to 'blend' quite well but I get now why things were harder for me socially. It's not hard to socialize per se, but it is draining in the extreme. I didn't know all this then though.
What was really going on was this incredibly weird vibe between my boss Leticia, her parents the landlords, and my co-worker Charles in Records. Turns out Charles was in a union lawsuit/disagreement with the county about working overtime without pay, and likely quite a few other issues as well. My boss Leticia was strange to me. She was an intense type who talked a lot and would get excited at telling her stories of going out for drinks with our other co-worker, Gracie (how do I remember their names from so many years ago?). I wasn't interested in their nightlife, and they invited me out with them for drinks many, many times but I always said no. I wasn't interested in spending all day with people only to go out and socialize with them after work, something I wasn't comfortable doing period.
I became aware of a problem as Leticia started leveraging work issues with going out with them. It felt as if I was being strong-armed at the least into going out with them, and downright threatened at worst. She wasn't teaching me the job very well, either; oh I knew how to work with the patients and the doctors and I had no issues there, but the reports? She wanted me to run mathematical and statistical manager reports for her. Operative word here is 'manager' reports! This was her job. She also completely sucked at teaching; I literally would sit and look at the large dot-matrix printouts with horror. I had no clue what to do with them. It got to be a point of contention, and her boss just thought it was me. I wasn't stupid but I needed more help, I mean it WAS math, right? Right. I suck at math.
I went out a couple of times, gave in to peer and managerial pressure, and that was the kiss of death. We had an okay time at the local Mexican restaurant, I had one drink and a good meal. But I also could not afford to go out! I made such a paltry amount over the minimum wage I mean the perks in the job were the benefits, great benefits. My refusing to go out more just created this resentment and it began to bleed over to her parents! They started harassing me about WEIRD and ODD things. The laundry, the cat, the car, and most of it was "be sure to..." type of things because I didn't do much wrong.
I resented living there, half of my new job, and this one family who was involved in it all. I didn't understand why I was being held hostage to their weirdness. The landlords were cold and would meet me in parking lots to collect the rent. Odd. It was like they hated me and I had no clue as to why. Eventually I understood it was their daughter, my boss Leticia, who was the linchpin and the common-denominator here. So I gave my notice on the apartment, and Leticia started this grievance procedure at work against me. We ended up in a meeting with the top LCSW that I respected, and her boss that I thought was okay. Turns out she attacked my work, so I attacked her in kind. I told how she was holding not socializing with her and Gracie enough against me. It came off more like I thought she was sexually embarrassing me, I think, when it wasn't true and I just think the attack shocked me too much to be able to express myself well. Besides, she was the boss, and I wasn't.
They fired me. I knew they were going to do it, and I stubbornly stayed on until they did. I shouldn't have done that as it was a dead six months on my resume that served no purpose. Nobody believed me, although I think the LCSW did, but his hands were tied against a bunch of women who weren't interested in helping me out. My work at Records was superb, and poor Charles was not happy I was leaving. But the other place... forgetttaboutit.
So the time comes to hand over the keys to the apartment to the landlord/parents, and they lifted the stove and saw it was a mess. I lost it, yelling about how it was a mess when I moved in as well! They denied it. Gus thought I had lost my mind and he sent me to the car as he cleaned it. They charged us for blinds that were already broken, and they just looked clueless as to why I was so pissed. I couldn't express myself well then, my anger with my past and present making it really difficult to be diplomatic. I just wasn't... finished, ya know? Rough around the edges. Too quiet. Not many opinions. I was still figuring out who I was.
I've lived in many, many places in my life and this one stands out because it was this whole convoluted relationship thing that I was so in over my head with. I didn't want that, I only wanted a fair price for a decent place. Funny thing is, I had another incident with a boss who got too close too soon with me, and it too blew up in my face. Only that time, I had truly learned my lesson—I quit well before it wormed its insidious way into my work. That one's another story but I was much better prepared to handle it, and so I did and I feel proud of myself because it was a doozy.
Peeps: Keep work and home life separate. It's great if you get along well enough to mix it up some, but never assume other peeps want to. Yeah!