The air conditioning buzzes pleasantly in the background. My toes are curled up on the new carpet. No mosquitos, fleas or roaches are pestering me. My doors all close solidly, the floors are straight and the windows all have screens.
If I get thirsty I can wander into the kitchen, set my clean glass on a clean counter and have a drink of water sans suspicious black flakes. We are having a sleepover tonight and the crowd of visiting boys are relaxing comfortably in the living room and playing games.
Across town my old neighbors’ lives have also changed. They’ve been armed with photocopies of the Tenant/Landlord Laws and a copy of my letter with permission to use it with their own info added. The landlady has decided to add improvements to the houses that ask and fire alarms and extinguishers to all of them. Walking or pedaling 3 miles away to pay rent via money order is no longer a worry. Everyone can see now that in the lease it says they can mail a check to her.
So this battle has been won. Thanks to an oppressive landlord’s greed my family was able to break our lease early and get our full deposit back. Unfortunately, the tale of a bullying landlady is more common than I would have thought. We often think the rich oppress the poor but that isn’t accurate. It’s actually those in power bullying the ignorant. Education is always the trump card. No matter what color, age or sex you are knowledge is always power. With the internet available for free at every library and most shops there’s no excuse not to self educate.
In America, the power is with the people but only if we are aware enough to take it. If we choose to remain in ignorance our complaints have no more value than dust. The end of this tale is a happy one but only because we used the law and stood our ground. Fortunately we all have that power and can use it for the good of our neighbors.
Oppression will always be with us, but so will our ability to empower ourselves.