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Cork



Better than her


August, 2009, Cork City, Ireland —

A large young Turkish-German woman moved in to the house where I'd been for a couple of weeks.

We introduced ourselves, and spoke briefly. Later, she was upset about some feature of the house, and I talked with her about that. She wanted to leave, and was worried about her deposit. I suggested withholding rent, using some excuse, and then just leaving. I also suggested she may want to relax a little bit, here in Ireland. It's not right, but it's true — Irish landlords can be hard to pin down, even when the hot-water tap in the kitchen clearly needs replacement, for example.

Anyhow, that was about it. That was all the interaction we had had.

Then, one evening I came downstairs into the sitting room/kitchen space. The little French guy was there, in his adopted chair, facing where she stood in front of the stove.

I couldn't blame her if she was irritated with him — I knew that feeling. But he and I had become friendly by that point, and I said some casual word to him on my way into the kitchen. I said something to Large Marge.

She told me not to speak to her.

I was shocked. Offended, of course. I didn't know what to say. I walked over toward the laundry machines. Unloading my clothing from the dryer, I told her that I think she should just go away.

It's one thing to not want easy friendships with housemates — but that's not the same as just being plain unfriendly. That kind of dismissiveness is hateful.

I think that maybe the only defense against that kind of snobbery is to reverse the assessment. If she thinks that she's better than me, then I am better than her. I know it sounds like poetry, but I think it's logical.

I think maybe I harrassed her a little bit, with a bit of an arch attitude. I do know that at one point, late that evening, I went outside of my bedroom door, beside that of her own, and I dropped one of those little tiny one-euro-cent coins from head-height onto the wooden floor. What can I say? Disrespect makes me crazy. I didn't cut her large body into bits and carry it into the forest by the river. I just didn't try to act like I thought it was okay for her to be in the house.

And she left, the next day.

When I came back into the neighborhood, late afternoon, she was across the road, waiting at the bus stop. I told her "good luck."

She came back the next day, and I was curious about that. More than curious, I wanted to know if we had a bad situation coming around.

She bumped around her bedroom a while. I thought it sounded like moving time, like she was cleaning up the rest of her possessions. (The property manager had been over and at our suggestion he looked into the room, guessing that she was in fact gone but noting that a few items remained.) But so anyway here she was, apparently picking up the last bits.

After a while, I wanted to go down to the shop to get a couple of beers. As I walked down the stair and round the corner, I noticed how I could see across her floor in the space underneath the door. I'm no spy — in fact I don't want to know others' business — but I stopped. I waited. I watched for evidence. I wanted to know what was going to happen.

After less than a minute, she came to the door. I headed downstairs, getting a peripheral view of her with a rucksack and some loose goods. At bottom of the stair, she went into the sitting room and I went out the front door. I left it wide open, wide berth for her wide girth to make her easy escape.

Then what I did was devious. I walked over to the bus stop. I wasn't going to wait for the bus. I was just going to wait. And I did, while she passed. And while she was passing, I recognized a secondary benefit, besides the fact that I could watch her with the satisfaction of knowing she was really going away. I realized, also, that I was probably keeping her from using the bus stop.