Mom always said I was too gullible, that I believed what people said because I trusted them to tell me the truth. She was right. I grew up around people pretty much like me. I didn’t meet habitual liars until much later in life, and they still take me by surprise.
One of my duties as a property manager is to rent apartments. I run background checks on everyone. When most tenants hear this, they nervously ask, “What are you looking for?”
I’ve gotten to the point where this immediately makes me suspicious. It’s not what I’m looking for, it’s what the check will reveal about your sordid little lives.
A UD instantly causes concern. UD=Unlawful Detainer, i.e., this person stiffed another landlord of rent. My boss hates when this comes up, because then we have to dig deeper and determine 1) how long ago it was, and 2) what the circumstances were. People do make mistakes and we’re willing to forgive quite a lot to help them out.
We’ve rented to one person with a UD. We figured she was a fairly safe bet, as she had two kids and explained why that charge showed up. So far, she’s paid her rent every month and is a pleasant tenant.
More often, we decide against them because other charges show up, too: check kiting, not paying their utility bills, skipping out on credit card payments, etc. If there’s a history of this shit, we pass.
Last week, a nicely spoken, cleanly dressed man showed up, interested in a unit in the new building. Uh, I’ll remind you, this will be my building once I move in. He liked the rental, he was friendly, I didn’t get any bad vibes from him.
When the background check came up, he started telling me this long, rambling, somewhat outlandish story about how he ended up in prison in 1999. Cocaine was mentioned, and something about his brother’s daughter, “but you won’t find me on any sexual predator list.”
Now all my senses were screaming “loser” and wishing he’d go away, but you know how you’re taught people should be given a second chance? That you should be tolerant of others less fortunate than you? Yeah, it was like that. I didn’t come right out and say, “Fuck off, dickwad.” Instead, I told him we’d run the background check and I’d talk to my boss.
Boss and I decided we’d wait for the check to come back before making any decisions. But, despite knowing I needed $35 up front for that, he had no money on him so the check wasn’t done. I googled him and came up with nothing. I thought that was encouraging. I was an idiot.
We met a second time. He neglected to bring money again. I told him we didn’t run the check without payment while I’m starting to think something’s going on. Who forgets the money a second time, especially when you profess to really needing the apartment?
Third time, blizzard. I canceled. Fourth time, he canceled. Then it got really interesting.
His probation officer called.
Mom, you were so right about taking a giant step back when talking to strangers. Many of them are so full of shit, it turns their blue eyes brown.
He has a record going back to 1980: simple assault, criminal assault, theft, car jacking, and oh yeah, he’s a convicted level two sex offender, which is what he got put in prison for. I asked the PO how old the girl was (I knew she was female because he’d mentioned that in his rather twisted account). PO said, “Age of consent in MN is 16. Let’s just say she was far younger.”
That did it. I saw red. I may not enjoy being around kids much (they’re noisy and germ-ridden), but I’m right there if anyone fucks with them. They’re the only real innocence left in the world.
I remarked, “He said the lord saved him, he was walking the straight and narrow now.”
PO said, “Prison is full of believers, because they get sold this bill of goods that all you have to do is say you’re sorry and you’re forgiven.”
We had quite a conversation. I really enjoyed talking to the guy. Made me want to take him to dinner so I could pick his brains for a book.
The minute we hung up, the pervert started calling me. I was still digesting the revelations, so I let it go to voicemail.
Since then, he’s called a dozen times, left messages, and the one time I picked up, he didn’t say a word. Can we say loony tunes? I turned off the phone. I have to get some work done.
But I’m unsettled, yes I am. The building is full of young kids. No way would I let a sexual predator loose in there. He’s GONE. Someone else will have to give him that second chance.
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