So my mom runs a bed and breakfast. It’s not the most consistent business, so when cash wears a little thin she tends to lower her prices or accept clients she usually wouldn’t. One such example is this 75-year-old, Jeffery (censoring the name because…).
He’s stayed at my mom’s BnB before for about a month or so last year, but struggled to pay the full amount for the stay ( I think he paid like 80% of the quoted amount) Where it gets problematic is that he has the cash to pay, (he’s what would appear to be a free-lance engineer) he just blows it getting rekt at the country club down from where the BnB is located. Because of this, my mom wasn’t the keenest on having him back, but like I said when cash runs thin you gotta do what you gotta do.
Anyway, so this guy has been living at the BnB for around 2 months, he isn’t paying for his stay but still manages to come back to the room fucked nearly every day. He disregarded my mother’s request to turn off his heater when he isn’t in the room during the day, and refused to pay for the extra DSTV channels he requested (and agree to pay). So mother dearest decides it’s enough, she gives the notice and tells him he’ll be evicted if he doesn’t pay up.
A couple days after the notice due date, my mom’s getting more and more impatient and annoyed, so she goes to his room and snatches the key from him. He proceeds to grab her arm to try to get it back – this is when my mom was like “screw this I’m getting the police involved”, she runs to the car and drives off to the police station where she calls my cousin and I. We tell her to not involve the police because there may be some legal complications what with squatters rights in South Africa. We race right on over.
He’s a stubborn guy, who has the strong opinion that he’s moved into a luxury homeless shelter in Bryanston with DSTV and free breakfast. We tell him that he has half an hour to remove his stuff to which he replies with “I’m not going anywhere”. After a continuous back and forth of “LEAVE THE PROPERTY” and “No I won’t”, I get pissed off, open the door and start packing all his shit up.
Honestly, I thought removing everything would be fairly easy and chilled to do but this guy set up shop in the BnB, clearly, he was treating this place like his house, cupboards filled with random stuff, cooking equipment, electronics, food ect. this guy had legitimately moved in like the room was there for rent in the first place. I mean each family has those old drawers filled with useless shit throughout years, MP3 players, cards, old coins ect, but this guy had the content of those drawers in nearly every compartment the room provided.
At first, I felt nothing, this guy has done an injustice to my mother, he’s causing the business to lose money and inconveniencing everyone. I rummage through his belongings gathering them up and throwing them into black plastic bags with a mixture of anger and downright annoyance. As I go through more and more of his stuff my mood changes from red hot fireplace stoker to freezing cold blue feet in winter. Packing away his personal items like, birthday cards, images of his engineering developments, golf clubs, photos, a box of old trophies with the note ‘I have no need for this’ I started to feel increasingly sad…
My consciousness and every single fibre in my body is screaming that this is so, so very wrong. How can I, a 20-year-old – taught to be compassionate, empathetic, to respect elders and to help those in need – be forcing a lonely old man out onto the street, with nowhere to go? I felt physically disgusted, one for the fact that I morally shouldn’t be doing this, and two, that this guy is making life difficult for the one person in the world who would do literally anything for me, my mother.
This feeling persisted until I saw the cases of booze he had stored up, and just above it, what would appear to be a rifle case.
Well the thought of him using the gun on either my cousin, me or my mom did cross my mind I didn’t entertain it. I can’t really say why, but I dismissed thought almost entirely. Maybe it was because to me he seemed like a genuinely good, old man who just made a series of wrong turns. But just to be safe I took the case and walked to the main section of the BnB with the logic that an unlicensed firearm could be used as leverage to get him out.
When I removed the gun case he spotted me and started swearing, even trying to snatch the case from me exclaiming “THIS WAS MY GRANDFATHERS, HOW DARE YOU”. He tried to grab me, but considering he his age, his grip was pretty weak and I slipped out, walking off holding the case. I put it in the boot and locked the car.
Once I finally packed everything into his car, he was still adamant that he wasn’t going to leave, Now saying that he needed his wallet otherwise he wouldn’t BE able to do anything. So he literally starts unpacking all the stuff I just packed into his car to get his wallet. After about an hour of rummaging, he eventually finds his wallet. At this moment I’m so happy that this guy is finally leaving, I honestly thought I’d be up late into the night forcible removing the guy. He gets into his car and drives straight into our gate (as a final “fuck you” I guess.)
After seeing the sheer amount of booze he had as well as the gun, I couldn’t help but think that a man like him who has been evicted, by literal kids, may drink himself into a stupor and shoot himself. It’s an awful thought but it’s a realistic one. And that day had been one of the most real days I’ve ever experienced.
I often think about the eviction, if what I did was right – or if I could’ve handled the situation better. But I seem to constantly reassure these thoughts, with the perception that the world is an unforgiving place – your family’s happiness is far more important than helping strangers, especially if the root of your family members unhappiness stems from the stranger’s cumulation of bad choices you/the fam played no part in. Then no, fuck them and fuck those thoughts.