When I was 16, we moved into a house in Springfield, Virginia. We did not own it; it was owned by a man named John Long. He was a petite Asian man with so-so English skills. He mostly left us alone, except to raise the rent every year like clockwork. I can't recall how many cats we were supposed to have, but I'm pretty sure the number was lower than the actual number of cats we usually had, which was three. I remember Mr. Long stopping by one time, and the three cats aligning themselves in a row at the top of the stairs, in full view, representing the first time in the history of catdom that three felines had worked together so cooperatively.
The downside to having a hands-off landlord was that he also didn't fix anything. He was pretty determined not to invest any money in the house. We probably would have moved except that real estate in that area is insanely expensive and my mom and stad were pretty determined to keep me and my sisters in the same schools we had always known. Occasionally, if the HVAC system or some major appliance had a serious enough issue that the landlord's involvement was a necessity, my parents would bite the bullet and call Mr. Long. Mr. Long would then call his friend Mr. Lee and send him over. Mr. Lee was also a petite Asian man with an iffy grasp of the English language. My memory is probably a little fuzzy but I don't seem to recall that he was incredibly handy or anything. I'm sure Mr. Long paid him peanuts.
One time (and this was after I had moved out, but my mother told me the story), Mr. Long decided to send Mr. Lee to carry out a few projects around the house. One of the tasks was that he was supposed to paint the large white post/column that attached the front porch to the bottom of the roof above. As an aside, that post was not actually weight-bearing. The bottom did not appear to be moored in any significant way to the concrete porch. It was a running joke that every boy who dated one of us girls would invariably stand on the porch at the end of the night, casually lean against the post, and then lurch backwards as the post skidded a distance of several inches. There was also a phantom rose bush in the front yard that our dates stumbled over as well. We ran over that thing with the lawn mower multiple times and it just carried on and re-grew.
Anyway, back to the post. Mr. Lee showed up with paint and brushes and all that jazz. And then . . . he painted the post only as high as he could reach and went home. Apparently he wasn't being paid enough to get on a ladder.
So, fast forward to the Christmas of 2013. In early December, my husband put some lights on the house. This is his job every year (I do everything else so let's be clear - this is really his only Christmas-related job). When he was done, I noticed that he only had lights around the windows on the front of the house. I asked him why there weren't lights along the edge of the roof, like usual. Also, there were no lights on the bushes as there had been in years past. He mumbled something or other, giving me the impression that he would finish later. I thought maybe he was short on lights, so I went to Target and picked up a couple more strands. Then I was afraid he would claim to be short on those plastic clippy things that attach the lights to the house, so I picked up a box of those as well. Then I went home and set them out in an obvious location. "I got you some lights and some clippy things," I said helpfully.
Anyway, now it is January 8th and Christmas is over. The lights never got any higher than the windows and no additional lights were ever added.
"Wow," I told him. "I can't believe you Mister Lee'd me."