April 10th, 2013

piranha - stomp me.

Talking and talking and talking some more will NOT change the basic facts!

At work, there is a particular resident (I'll call him Mr. Blackbird) that seems determined to be unhappy in his home.  Every few months, he'll appear and in a fit of craziness attempt to stir up drama for a week or two before settling down until the next outburst.  He isn't violent, which in a way is too bad - if he ever tried to physically attack one of our employees, we could get a restraining order preventing him from approaching us.  But since we have to way to stop his access to the front desk, his appearances continue with a frustrating regularity.  The main issue revolves around parking - basically, Mr. Blackbird has a frequent guest (multiple times a week) and he has used up all the available permits that allow the guest to park outside overnight.

Today, he came in to see my boss because he hadn't received his quarterly HOA statement.  My boss happened to be on his lunch break, but as I explained to Mr. Blackbird, the statements are mailed from our financial company, and we in the office have no access to those numbers.    I gave him the number of the financial company, and told him he'd have to talk to them directly.  Instead of taking the number and calling in the privacy of his home, like a normal person, he stood in my office and had talked to the company in a loud voice so that it was impossible for me to ignore him.  It wasn't until another homeowner came in for assistance that he took the conversation out into the main room, where we could still hear him complaining to the woman on the other end that someone was stealing his mail and while he understood that it wasn't the fault of the financial company they should still do something to prevent it.  While Mr. Blackbird was on the phone, my boss happened to come back from lunch with a couple of other residents.  They went into his office and closed the door; I told Mr. Blackbird the CEO was in a meeting but I'd give him Blackbird's number when they finished.  Blackbird harrumphed a bit, but left.

My CEO wrote up a letter for Mr. Blackbird explaining that due to their legal settlement - oh, did I mention that Blackbird sued us last year? - all communication and requests had to be submitted in writing.  He left a copy of the letter for Blackbird at the front desk, in case he came back, and posted the original.  He told me to tell Mr. Blackbird, if he came back, that he was at an off-site meeting and was unavailable for the rest of the day.

Mr. Blackbird had been calling every fifteen-twenty minutes since he left.  The first few times,  I was cleaning up the coffee area in the main room, so I didn't hear the phone.  My boss let it go to voicemail since he was still in a meeting.  When I finally picked up, and told Mr. Blackbird that the CEO was still unavailable, he started a long, rambling story about how important it was that he speak to my boss immediately about an urgent matter because he was feeling a little disturbed about...well, I confess that I don't know what.  Stolen mail, I suppose - he's accused our staff of stealing his bills.  After telling Mr. Blackbird multiple times that I could either transfer him to voicemail or he could wait for the CEO's call, and he kept blabbing on, I just put the phone down on the desk and let him talk to the wood.  When another call came on the other line, I told him I had to go and hung up.

It sounds mean, I know.  But you have to understand that this man will never stop talking if you don't put an end to it.  The first time I met him, a couple of years ago, he told me that he lived here because he had felt a spiritual connection to his townhouse, and even though everyone was trying to force him out he refused to leave because it was his HOME and yes, his mother wanted him to move back to Israel but this was his SPIRITUAL SPECIAL PLACE so he would not leave but he was still a good Jewish boy and by the way it wasn't fair that we had these rules about parking permits and prevented him from having guests over because those were his RIGHTS BY GUM and he would hate to have to take legal steps but if we didn't let him exercise his right to park his car where he pleased then he'd just have to take a stand because his home was his paradise and if he wasn't going to leave for his dear sweet mother then he certainly wasn't going to let us drive him away -

Yeah.  So I do my best to cut him off politely.  He's come up with all sorts of funny tricks over the years - disguising his voice when calling on the phone, asking us for copies of every document he turns into us, getting us to sign papers that he drops off at the office, and so on and on.


So about half an hour before the end of my shift he comes back in with his girlfriend, whom I've heard is just as irrational and strange as he is.  When he hears that the CEO has left him a letter, he takes it and reads it.  This sets him off - he launches into a tirade about how the CEO is always avoiding him and the Board hates him and everyone is trying to bully him out.  They even, according to Mr. Blackbird, hired someone to MOVE INTO the townhouse next to his and make construction noises for six straight months in an attempt to drive him out.  This absolutely had to be the case because the home was in perfect condition before the new family moved in.  We were refusing to send him his quarterly statement and stealing his other bills, too.  We harass him with endless parking tickets that aren't valid (yes, they are) and refuse to issue us the permits that are his right to receive.

I kept interjecting comments like, "Sir, I'm sorry you feel this way but there is nothing I can do for you today," and he would nod and agree that yes, there was nothing I could do but he had to say all this so I would understand his situation.  He claims that the letter, which I tell him over and over I have not read and do not wish to know the contents of, is full of misrepresentation and lies.  It's getting really old, really fast, but I can't figure out how to get rid of him.

He just keeps getting crazier, too.  If we dare to ticket his car that night, he will call the police and charge us with extortion and fraud and goodness knows what else.  I almost want to write him a ticket myself (but I'm not authorized) just because I'm so curious about how his complaint would be taken by the cops.

At one point, he says, "I feel that there are two victims here, me because I am being bullied and slandered and misrepresented, and you because you have to sit here listening to me, but I have to talk to the camera, which is recording me WITHOUT MY PERMISSION I MIGHT ADD and- " and I thought, Well, I have no intention of being a "victim" like you.  A moment later, the phone rang, and it was the CEO, telling me to tell the new employee working after me that if Mr. Blackbird came in and she felt uncomfortable, she could tell him that she would call the police if he didn't stop harassing her.  So I had that option of getting rid of Mr. Blackbird, who had continued to talk at me the entire time I was on the phone.

Instead, though, I acted as if that phone call was a resident calling about a parking permit.  I filled out one of the permits and gave Mr. Blackbird a few seconds to finish up his current sentence.  Then, I looked him in the eye and said, "I have made it quite clear that there is nothing I can do for you, a fact that you have agreed to.  You say that you need to say this so that it will be recorded by the camera.  I have to deliver this permit to the front gate, so you can just go right on talking to the camera if that's what you want to do but I am leaving."  And I did.

I watched the door of the office as I stepped outside, and I saw him and his girlfriend leave about twenty seconds after I did.  That made me so happy.

I passed on the CEO's message about threatening to call the police to the following shift.  She has apparently reported to the CEO that he did, in fact, return after my departure, but the CEO said she didn't sound upset so hopefully it wasn't too bad.