Sunday, July 31, 2011


As in ancient times, those who cannot afford to own land and property must labour in one fashion or another to pay for the privilege of living on the land and inhabiting the property of the rich lords. The  peasants are still at the mercy of the lords to this day.
As is the case all through  human society, there are good lords and there are cruel lords. There are honourable tenants and irresponsible tenants.
I have before me the report of yet another beleaguered Montreal tenant.
This is not a work of fiction but specific information about a senior citizen trying to live in peace in her apartment while the building management causes her severe distress. This is the latest of a few reports about this landlord who will remain anonymous for now for the sake of protecting the innocent.
To avoid exacerbating the problem, I will present the report using fictional names.
Let us call the tenant Mrs. Grey, the landlord's agent and building manager, Mme. Dufasse, and the janitor, M. Lafleur.
Mrs Grey writes:
"From the time I became ill and started having difficulty walking, I started receiving deliveries of my groceries from a local supermarket. After I had emptied the box or boxes, I would place them tight in a nook beside the elevator and the janitor would take the boxes down to the recycling bins which are situated in the far end of the building in the garage.
During the past few weeks, Mme. Dufasse has been pressing me to take the boxes down to the recycling bins myself even though she knows I can hardly walk.
Then about two weeks ago, Mme. Dufasse phoned to tell me that the landlord said that I have to take the boxes down to the recycling - or else. I ask myself. Did she use the words "or else"? I can't be sure. But the message was forceful and menacing.
I asked Mme. Dufasse if the terms of my lease had been changed. "Aren't janitor services still included in my lease?"
Mme. Dufasse answered , "The janitor is not your valet."
I would not survive a move. Healthy people break during the stresses of moving. In my condition, I know I could not survive. So this is a matter of life or death for me. The cardboard boxes from which I take my sustenance have become a matter of life or death.
I wrote to the local senior citizens' council about this problem weeks earlier, but they never answered. I dare not offend them. I need their help to get to my hospital appointments. I wrote to the local seniors' newspaper in confidence. I did not want publicity, but help. They never contacted me. I spoke to staff at the hospital. They understood the situation clearly and they were sympathetic, but they said there was nothing they could do.
I let the days and weeks pass without ordering groceries. I called for take-out. Not very nourishing - no fruits or vegetables. And so expensive. Pizza for breakfast. The day had to come when I would have to call for a delivery of fresh food. The worry kept me awake night after night.
Finally on July 26, I placed an order and the groceries were delivered. And there was the cardboard box. I was so scared.
I dressed and pushed the box into the elevator. I pressed the button for the basement. And there I was faced with my nightmare.
I crouched down to push the box out of the elevator. My right leg went out from under me with wrenching force and I went down on my stomach hard. It felt like my leg had been pulled out of the socket and it felt like my stomach had been slashed. There was a span of time I cannot account for.
The next thing I knew, there was a shuffling of feet and men's voices. My forehead was hard on the floor and my leg and stomach hurt. There were about three men's voices.
One man said something like this in French, "See, it was her stick. There is no rubber at the tip. That's what caused this."
I was not standing or walking when I fell. I was not using my walking stick.
I remember saying, "The landlord said the box has to go to the recycle. I have to take the box to the recycle."
A man's voice said in English, "Don't worry. It's in the recycle. It's gone."
Then I heard the voice of Mme. Dufasse. Her tone was harsh.
"What's wrong with you, Mrs. Grey?"
I didn't answer. I had already answered the question to the men. Since my face was on the floor, I did not see any of them. But now Mme. Dufasse demanded again - three times in  all:
"What happened to you, Mrs. Grey?"
She was not asking after my health. She was demanding an explanation. I did not answer.
Then Mme. Dufasse said, "You have to tell me what happened, Mrs. Grey, or we will call back 911 and they will not come to pick you up"  She said that three times as well.
I don't know if the ambulance people were among the voices I was hearing. I was too shocked to know what to think.
I had been told from the moment the voices arrived not to move an inch, and I did not. So, with my face on the floor and my body twisted behind me and my leg and stomach hurting, I didn't know what was going to happen.
A man's voice said softly near my left ear,  "Don't worry. They will pick you up. Just don't move." It seemed he did not want Mme. Dufasse to hear. 
The next thing I remember is the man and woman from Urgences Sante. They checked what they had to check and gradually moved my body. They were very kind.
When they turned me over, my head went into a terrible spin, but they were comforting and patient and the vertigo abated. Then the man got behind my back and with gentle power that amazed me, he lifted me up onto a stretcher.
It was then I saw the janitor, M. Lafleur for just a moment and then Mme. Dufasse.
She was standing just a few feet away with the biggest grin on her face ! It was bizarre ! She was enjoying this ! She had such control over me that I was forced to take the cardboard box to the recycling at any cost. I could not bear to see her face. I closed my eyes.
I spent the rest of the day and that night in the emergency department undergoing X-Rays and blood tests. Thank God, there were no broken bones, but the state of my bones was described to me. I don't want to put it writing."
Mrs. Grey returned to her apartment on July 27.
"Mme. Dufasse came out of her office and opened the door to the apartment - wide - and with a great smile - greeted me with a sharp and cheery 'Good morning!'. She did not say, 'Welcome home, peasant.' "
Upon her return, when Mrs. Grey checked her mailbox, she found an envelope from the landlord, not posted, but from Mrs. Dufasse, unsealed and signed by her hand.  "We are happy to let you know that your lease has been renewed."
Mrs. Grey passed the obedience test.
Mrs. Grey still has no solution to what she will do about the cartons next time she orders her groceries. She does not want to bother her neighbours and she lives in fear of what might happen next. And there is nowhere to turn. She is too frail to go through any legal process, the rental board, moving. Her life is in the landlord's control.
Elsewhere on this blog, the reader will find more reports on this subject that affects the lives of thousands of human beings, mostly the poor, the handicapped, the elderly and women. See The Archives Index.
There have been reports of previous abuses by Mrs.Grey's landlord which have already been reported to those who need to know. They may be published here in future.

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