Day 109: The Fairhaven Vacation, part 3 (Monday/Tuesday morning)
She's an Animal!
Hans and I got up early on Monday since we had barely slept anyway the night before. The carriage house was imposingly hot and stuffy, and all night long I tossed and turned, scratching anywhere I felt something crawling on me. I "slept" with a light on all night since I wanted to be sure anyone who was looking for a place to flop knew that this place was taken. Hans was exhausted.
My brother was up, coffee in hand, sitting in his chair by the beach. He had put up the pop up tent my parents brought and re-raked the gravel down to the water, so it was fairly pleasant to sit out back. We made some breakfast once everyone else got up, had a quick game of wiffle ball next to the house, and dug out the remains of the tiki bar to see if we could resurrect it. Later we went to the beach, explored the area, got ice cream, made some dinner and sat out by the campfire at dusk to take in the sundown. It was too hot to spend any time in the house, and no repairmen visited to fix the cable. We had such a lovely day together that we probably would have let these inconveniences slide—if the washing machine hadn't gone on the blink.
Vicki tried to put in a load of laundry, but the machine was half full of water and the motor dead. We all tried our best to fix it, but no one could get it to work. Vicki had been very patient and agreeable to the landlord, but now she was angry. She called the landlord and left a message about the latest problem. Afterwards we all elected Hans to call the landlord from the road Tuesday morning on his way to Tanglewood. Hans is a tactful and smart negotiator who can keep his temper under pressure, so we were certain he could negotiate our case. We needed the AC to be fixed and the Internet connected, plus now have the washing machine fixed. We thought a small discount in our rental fee was in order because of these issues, and the fact that the house did not have as many bedrooms as advertised. Hans was the man for the job.
Tuesday morning after breakfast, Hans packed his trombone into the Miata to head west, armed with the landlord's contact information. He called her soon after he left, then called me back to say that she had been nice enough, explaining that she knew the AC was out last week, but couldn't get it fixed before we arrived because AC units were sold out due to the heat wave. And Comcast just would not return her call to set up service. Hans was confused since the listing said the house already had AC and Internet, but he just pressed her a bit to try to work on the issues today as they were becoming a nuisance. He didn't, however, mention some of the other issues that were bothering us, like the bedrooms and the beach and the flop house. He promised that he was just starting small, trying to get the big issues resolved first. He didn't want to get her angry, but he made me downright mad.
I took my coffee out back to sit under the tent with my brother, this now having become his favorite spot to park himself when we were at the house. Dave works in insurance and handles all kinds of claims. He was really annoyed that this place was not what it was advertised, that Vicki was so upset, and he wanted to do something about it. He had done more searching online and was convinced the landlord was a chronic litigant. He was getting me all riled up when Vicki came out the back door to say that the landlord was here with a package for Hans. I jumped up and went around front to see what she had, and ask my own questions about the rental.
She was standing on the front porch when I came around the house, holding an envelope that I assumed was sheet music. I greeted her and introduced myself, and she handed me the envelope saying it had come to her PO box that morning but was addressed to Hans. She asked how I was enjoying the house and I said we were making the best of it, but that the house was not exactly as she advertised. She immediately tensed up and said that was ridiculous. I was on edge, and mentioned the lack of AC and Internet and now the broken washing machine. She got a little defensive, and said she just got finished explaining the whole thing to my husband. I asked her about the bedrooms....how come the listing said there were four bedrooms in the main house when there were only 3, plus a laundry room with a couple of futons in it? She defended the curtain rod separating the laundry area as a perfectly fine fourth bedroom. Where was the lawn furniture with plenty of seating for 10 and cute tiki bar and the beautiful white cottage furniture mentioned in the description and pictured in the listing photos? What about the mound of weeds next to the house where she was stowing the broken AC units and an old TV? And the rocky beach that shredded your feet that was falsely advertised as sandy with a gently slope into the water? I was on a roll.....
She was annoyed now and felt attacked. She said if we didn't like it, we were welcome to leave. Go? Where would we go? We had already paid good money for this week and weren't going to leave unless we got our money back. She flatly refused. We were getting louder. If we were going to be so fussy, nothing was going to make us happy. We should leave.
Now I was furious. Lawyers, small claims, damages, false representation, slander...we threw out every term we had ever heard on L.A. Law to scare each other to back down. She stomped off to her car—no one had ever complained about the property (I now knew that was a lie) and we were just rich spoiled jerks and didn't deserve to rent her house. The kids were having breakfast in the kitchen and got an earful of colorful language as she yelled out her car window to get out then drove off down the street.
I called Hans immediately and relayed the story, completely exasperated. He promised to call her back and try to smooth things over. In the mean time, the rest of us weighed our options. If we had to pack everything up and leave, we'd all just head home. But I had one last hope—I made a call to a friend who had just bought a place on the Cape. She had graciously offered us her house when we were first looking to book a place, but I couldn't ask her to rent us her brand new house when her family had never even stayed there. I knew her house was empty, though, so I called to see if she was serious. She gave me the code for the garage—go, she said, enjoy it and make the most of what is left of the week.
While we were planning our possible escape, Hans called the landlord again. She was irate. He tried to reason with her, but it was useless. You can stay the rest of the week, she yelled, but that woman can't stay. She has to go. She's an animal!
I'm not sure exactly how Hans responded, but he said something like, "You do realize that that animal is my wife?" She knew, and she added a few more thoughts about my character. They could stay, but I had to go.
Hans called me back. He didn't tell me the exact words she used until much later, but he said the landlord was unreasonable, he was done dealing with her and he wasn't coming back to the house. We could stay as long as we wanted but he was going home. That set me in a full spin...we started packing.