Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Fine Print

"I get up, I fall down
Sometimes I feel like I am always on the ground
You pick me up and brush me off
And tell me that I'm good enough"

            We had talked about buying a house for years. We had no idea what was in store for us. When the closing date was set for over four months later, we were foolish to believe that such an amount of time would be a good thing. It never is unless you are about to die. I had already started packing months before, initially dealing with paperwork and organisation. Slowly as the months passed into the next year, the spare room started to fill and we started to plan. Before we even started looking for a home to purchase, I concentrated on the heavy burden that seventeen years of "marriage" can accumulate. The chore of such a feat was not lost on me. It was challenging sorting through all that shit. Box after box began to build into a giant Jenga game in the corner of each room. The spare bedroom was eventually swallowed up by cardboard and materialism. It was overwhelming the amount of storage the endeavour took. It was a necessary evil that someone had to do. 
            I quit smoking around the same time I started getting ready to relocate. I tried to absorb myself into the matter in order to avoid temptation. It worked for the most part. Unfortunately, when you smoke cigarettes like I did for over thirty years, everything in the path of the smoke is filthy. Every book, every treasure was covered with a slick layer of nicotine and tar. I have to admit it was disgusting just how much brown washed off the articles just before I stuck them in a box for safe journey. Bucket after bucket and even more went on forever like some water torture. Like some rotted stew it mocked the years of me sucking on this death. It was a reminder of my insides, my lungs, my heart, all lathered with the dark sickening goo. Every nic nac, every picture frame was a form of contrition, penance for the sin of addiction. I wish I had counted along as every splash represented every cigarette. Each squeeze from a rag was every drag I used to take. I could have handled a few days or even weeks of this sorry mess, but eight months of constant evidence was often enough to make me want to light one up just in spite. Right up to the end, my death wish was rubbed in my face. Every piece of furniture, every shelf was coated with a sticky residue. It stuck to my fingers when I touched it. As I worked each one clean, a tide of anti-chocolate dripped on my feet and the floor. Puddles of what lies inside me beckoned themselves for recognition, urgent, at last, to be seen.
            All the packing, all the cleaning was nothing but a pain in the ass. This compared little to the actual interactions with those who were supposed to be helping us. You pay someone and they are supposed to do their work, their responsibilities, but apparently this is not the way the world works anymore. People don't seem to care whether you get pissed off at them for not doing their job. Growing up, my parents instilled a sense of obligation in me, an idea that if someone pays you to do work for them then you do it the best that you can and as promptly as you can. This is no longer my experience. People just don't seem to give a shit, no matter the cash you dole out to them to do what you hired them to do. Companies and businesses seem to cherish this newfound attitude and not just in the lower ranks of their employees. Short of murder or raping a client, it seems management will allow almost anything as long as it doesn't interfere with the bottom line. The days of courtesy and efficiency are gone now. Not only has being polite become a lost art but respect and obligation have as well. When I am trying not to tell them all off, I forget that this is just the way the world works now. Professionalism seems to no longer even be a word. So it would appear from the vantage point of looking in. It's hard to just grin and bear it.

"You are faithful to me
I am not afraid no matter where I go
You will never leave me
In You I am home
Cause you are faithful to me"

            The chaos may have started right away but it was nothing like what it would become. It was the bank that played harbinger, foreshadowing what lies ahead. To my surprise, I had no real idea just how commonplace stupidity has become. Being approved for a mortgage, then quoted specific details was nothing but a waste of our time. Two days later and they called to change it all, every morsel of the previously agreed upon terms. It was like pulling the rug out from beneath us the moment we first stepped onto it. There was no question that we needed to find a different institution.  Of all the services and attendants we had to deal with over the half year, not even one seemed to have a clue. Even our realtor, in the end, failed to dance outside the mess. It turns out that no one did what was fully required of them. Of course, they still took payment. The mortgage broker, home inspector and lawyer that he referred us to left something to be desired. Failure to return our calls became a main event. It often left us lingering in some financial mode of limbo. It was hard to understand why people refused to do a good job, that they were getting paid to do more than ignore us. The entire experience made me eager to run and hide. We even considered abandoning the cause altogether. We did not give up although at times the heart was not willing to invest any longer. Back and forth, up and down, one stress after another layered upon our standing ground. More times than not you could smell defeat. There was something quite rotten and it sure wasn't me. 
            Before the closing date, we hired a home inspector to make sure everything was up to standard. With only one electrical issue, our above average rating was good news indeed. He was a friendly chap, nice enough I suppose. It appeared that he did a terrific job. He appeared efficient and professional. Several months later and it is obvious that not everything was as it seemed to be. The shower needed to be replaced and repaired with no notice from our $400 examiner. I suppose it could have been worse. The previous owner easily could have left stickers on all walls throughout the house rather than every other one. The most unfortunate event occurred around one week after we moved in. The dishwasher was part of the deal, left under the conditions of sale. The inspector said that it worked. He put it in writing but this just was not so. We had been living off paper plates and those red plastic cups, since move-in day. I met no hesitation when I stacked the first load and set it into action. It was by no means a full load. At first, everything seemed okay so I left it to its own volition. Then came the bubbles. I had used dish soap, like an idiot, in order to compensate for lack of real detergent. As the foam seeped from the bottom of the machine, I imagined that this was all due to my lack in judgment. As I scooped up the spreading mess and dumped it using a dustpan into a metal bucket, I soon realized that the bubbles were coincidental. Water spit from the very same bottom, in spurts, then running, then spurts again. Parts of the hardwood floor looked like a potato chip the next day. If they had only told us it didn't work. If we had only been alerted to this complication during the process, someone may have actually earned their wage. The ride had apparently just begun.
            It wasn't just the bank or the lawyer or even the mortgage broker that seemed less than committed to our cause. From the cable company changing our appointment and particulars over and over, to the U-Haul rental that kept shifting from pick-up spot to pick-up spot, everyone seemed in on the joke. When we returned the vehicle in the dead of night, we had no idea just what the final bill would entail. I wasn't ever laughing. With the purchase of a fridge and stove at Sears, we learned not to bank on others with our own decisions. People cannot be trusted. Apparently lying, overcharging and perverting the delivery, over and over, only convinced me that doing business, no matter the company, no longer means proper customer service. It is something entirely different than what it used to be. Complaining about said delivery process doesn't even merit a finger pointing from head office. It seemed to be the status quo. Why everything needs to be so complicated is beyond me. Quite often, I wish for the days of my youth when everything was simpler and you didn't have to pay for a little respect. Right through Halloween and the crap continued. Missing accessories, delayed appointments and incomplete work haunted us. It seemed it would never stop no matter what I did or didn't do. If I had known just how much trouble it all would be I am not sure I would have been so gung-ho regarding the house. It was a stressful time.

"I feel lost and on my own
Isolation has me thinking I'm the only one
But You show up and hold me close
You tell me I am not alone"

            I have to admit that on occasion, throughout the process, I felt like karma kept smashing me in the face. It's natural to experience doubt and regret when dealing with such matters but what we had to go through was more than enough to make one feel oddly guilt ridden. So much chaos and it must be something we were doing. The universe seemed to be laughing in our face. God, apparently, had a hand in the joke. Cumulatively, incompetence and disregard built to a crescendo, results of not feeling good enough and any punishment that was sent from above. We weren't doing anything wrong or so we kept telling ourselves. Surely, event after event was not some random experience added into all the rest. Every error that was made, all the hell of back and forth, whispered not so gently, from floods to a plague of stickers and holes, left in or on almost every wall of the house, these must have been a punishment from the deity of our choice. At least, the Bible and other scriptures tell me so.
            Always read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. What you ratify in your mind may not be the same as on paper but they both act in similar ways. You enlist into your existence. You manifest what will be. How you view each experience is the common denominator in almost all cases. Tragedy and trials come to everyone. Some sit thinking they have done a dirty deed while others see opportunity even throughout the darkness. Sometimes it's not about right and wrong. It's about taking what life has to give to you and moving through it to a better place. Half full or part empty, it's all in the presentation. Hard times, struggle, even chaos will come and go in a constant tide. It is our reaction, on almost every level, that will determine our fate. The shores are friendlier this side of the dotted line. Things went away when things finished up. The world has become peaceful again, or at least it has for the moment. The noise and confusion have subsided for the most part. Still, I sit here wondering about when God up in heaven will strike again in His own special way. We are all at His mercy, at least that is what I have been told. In the end, whether God chastises, karma attacks or chance plays its hand, hard times come for everyone and just living can make dying look easy.

"I am not alone, I won't be dismayed
You will hold my right hand to help me
I will have no fear
You my God are here
Standing right beside me"
(Faithful, Plumb 2014)