Friday, June 16, 2017

do you have a son, she asked

Once, maybe a year ago, a woman who does not actually live in my building and who has been verbally abusive to me on many occasions*, got into the elevator with me and a senior, white-haired black man who has lived here, as I have, since our building opened 9 years ago. The woman's mother also moved in here when the building opened but her mother rarely leaves her apartment. So I guess this daughter is being a good daughter, visiting her mom, maybe running errands for her.  I have never seen 'this woman' bringing groceriers to her mom's place or bringing anything.

This woman found out I have an adult daughter who has shunned me, now, for almost 17 years. As soon as she learned it, the woman shifted from being someone who nodded hello to me in the elevator or waiting for the elevator to someone spitting verbal abuse towards me. "It your fault your daughter hate you", she say. "I know you did something, I know you must be a bad mother."  I endured a few of these verbal assaults but this is my home. I should not be serially subjected to hurtful, abusive talk from a stranger who doesn't know one damned thing about me, other than my race, or about my daughter.  I trembled inwardly when I would see this woman. I often felt tears smarting just at the sight of her.

Having both experienced emotionaly abuse many times and having once been a lawyer who helped women escape emotional abuse, I knew how to put a stop to it. I knew this woman's mother was accountable for all her guests behavior, including the behavior of her daughter. I knew if I submitted a written complain, our property manager would warn the abuser that if she kept on emotionally assaulting me, her mother could be evicted.

My report angered my neighbor's adult daughter, as one might imagine. She began to verbally harass me for snitching on her and she continued to bring up my lost Katie Joy. Tears would be streaming down my face and I would stand there like a child, frozen, weeping. I made some verbal requests for the woman to stop but, like every abuser I have ever known, she wanted to see me upset. She enjoyed seeing me cry. She would say "You are crying because you know I am right. You won't see your daughter again until you deserve to have a daughter and I bet you never get to see her again."

So I reported her again. Both reports in writing. Strike three and her mother would have been evicted. So this witch stopped abusing me about my daughter disowning me.

And, just fyi, tears are streaming down my face as I write this, as tears always stream out of me if I dally in thoughts about my daughter in any connection for more than an instant.

Being a bully, and nasty, this women looked for other ways to abuse me.

She had her mother's security fob, the fob necessary to get the elevator to go to any floor but the ground floor. It is a security measure. It states in all leases that residents should only admit their own guests. It states in the leases that letting persons unknown into the building is a lease violation and doing so consistently could lead to eviction.

So this bully would wait until I entered the elevator, wait until a stranger entered the elevator with us and then offer to let them up.  She likely did this regularly. I did speak to her about it, pointing out that if someone has a legitimate reason to be in the building, and the only legitimate reasons involve visiting specific residents who are supposed to let people in. I pointed out that she had no idea who she was letting up. She was silent as I said this and then waived some guy onto the elevator with her mother's fob.

I submitted a written complaint about that. Her mother was informed that she cannot give her daughter the security fob and that the daughter can't let people up.

So, after this two write ups, the bully was very, very angry with me.  She was furious that I took steps to stop her emotional abuse when she would not stop when I asked and she was furious that she got that security fob taken away because then she had to wait to be let into the building and up the elevator. She does not leave here. She is not supposed to have a fob. I didn't care if she used her mother's fob but I did not like how she let lots of people in.

Bully did stop bullying me. And she did stop letting persons unknown to her up the elevator. 

A couple times, her mother had just buzzed her in (buzzing someone in allows one of the elevators to open and deliver one's guest to one's floor) but the bully missed the elevator and I was also waiting for the elevator. She asked me if I would let her up, not very pleasantly pointing out that it was my fault (it was not) she had missed her mother's buzz-in because I had hit the button for the elevator. But I let her ride up with me because I knew she really has a mother, on my floor as it happens. And I am not an asshole.

Letting her up a couple times lead to my longwinded point. The last time she, not very sweetly, demanded I let her up because her mother's buzz had failed to let her up, I let her up. Then, just as the doors closed, an elderly black man who, as far as I can tell, does nothing but go outside to smoke cigarettes. He doesn't seem to go to church, as so many of my black neighbors do. And he smokes a lot of marijuana in his apartment. I know this because he lives two floors directly below my apartment and he likes to blast loud music when he is high, like at 4 a.m. I have gone down at 4 a.m. to ask him to turn down the noise. He does not answer. Later, he has told me, he thinks he must have been asleep to which I had responded "Well I was awakened by your music and it went on all night."

Funnily, he was complaining to me because property management had called him at 8:30 to report the many complaints about his all night stereo noise.  At first, I considered keeping it private that I had been one of the complaints. It is not my nature to lie. Sure I tell some white lies but, at some fundamental level, I have always been more at ease with telling my truth. And, yes, I recognize my truth may not be the same as another's. So I told him, out at the bus stop around 8:45, that I was sorry he had been awakened by property management but I was one of the people his stereo had kept awake for hours. He said "Why didn't you come to my door and say something?" So I told him how I had tried that and he had not responded, even though I pounded loudly over his stereo.  "Man," he said, "I musta been asleep. I got to get me a house or a duplex, live in a place with less neighbors."

Here in Berkeley, there is no smoking of anything in rental buildings with six or more units. It might be more than four units. Whatev. I think he had voiced wishful thinking to live in a place where folks couldn't report him for smoking illegally.

So I had reported this guy and he remained just as genial to me as he had always been. And he knew I had reported him. And he has never blasted his stereo at all, as far as I can tell. I do smell his marijuana. I let that slide. Its ciggie smoke that really bothers me but he is careful to smoke his cigarettes not just outside but across the street, away from residents' windows.

So. The emotionally abusive bully, the old codger who likes to smoke marijuana to loud music and I all find ourselves on the elevator. Emotionally abusive had long since taken to not acknowledging me unless she needed me to let her up. This day, she very pointedly directed her request to be let up to the music-loving pothead. Then, speaking as effusively as possible, even a little flirtatiously to an old man she was condescending to, she talked to him, turning her back to me to signal that I was not a part of the conversation. And I remained silent. One elevator ride isn't long enough to have a fight. This guy, the music loving pothead, is always friendly to me. He is also sharp. I think he saw that the abusive bully was making some kind of point. He talked to her, but he glanced at me, too, to include me in the dialogue. I remained silent.

Then she asked him if he had any grandchildren. She had tried to get him to open up on several topics. She so wanted him to be effusive with her, as she was being with him, to drive home her pettiness, to make sure all three of us knew I was excluded. Like it was a blacks only elevator chat.

Fuck her, eh?

I did not respond to her but I did respond to my neighbor. Not her neighbor. Her mother's neighbor. She doesn't know that I see this man all the time and we have a friendly connection.

He said, slipping into some kind of guardedness, or so I thought I detected, he said "No, no grandkids."

"Do you have children?" she asked, all smarmy sweetness, batting her eyes, pulling up her chest to emphasize, I suspected, her bosom. Not that she was interested. She was interested, I believe, in making me feel left out.

"I have one son," the man said and said no more.

"Well, there you go. There's still time. You will be a grandfather someday. Just you wait."

Then the man said "My son, he in prison."  He did not say, but it sure felt like this to me, that his son is in prison for a hella long time, like too many black men in this country. His voice held years of grief. I heard it. But emotionally bullies apparently don't pay attention to people when they aren't trying to hurt them. When she was mean to me, she tended to be note perfect in judging how her unkind words attacked me. But she was clueless about this old man with a black son in prison. She had not seen his whole being droop when she asked if he had kids. I had. Then I was glad not to be in the conversation.

The old man, with one black son in prison, probably for a hella long time like this culture does to black males, got off on the 4th floor. Bully and I rode up to my floor, her mom's floor in silence.

I wanted to say "You know how black men get locked up for decades. That man's son might never be out of prison in that man's lifetime. It was insensitive of you to prattle on about his future grandchildren."

And I know, with all my being, that this man had also done a long stretch in prison. And I remembered I have never seen him with anyone. And I thought about my belief that he is pushing seventy, if not in his seventies.

Since that passing encounter, which I am sure the old man forgot for he had forgotten me telling him I was one of the folks who had complained about his late night stereo booming, I have wanted to ask him about his son, how much time he has left. I never would ask that question, not just off the bat. Maybe if he and I struck up a friendship, hung out a bit, had a cuppa together. Or a joint. He offered me a joint that day at the bus stop, the day he got awakened at 8:30 a.m. for his loud stereo.

Bitch bully?  I don't think I've seen her in a long time. If I have, she had been ordered not to talk to me so she could be around and not speaking to me. Thank goddess.

She once said I had to have done something to lose my only child. Crying, blubbering like a baby, I sniffled and cried as I said "You don't know anything about me, much less my daughter, you don't know what you are talking about. Please stop. I haven't done anything to you."  This was the turning point, when I realized I had to file a written complaint, invoking the lease clause that says residents ar responsible for the behavior of their guests.

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