Yes – in the court room! Our appearance was scheduled for Monday. I had wanted to give a young man a break to help him make something of his life. He wanted to rent the apartment and had two jobs in order to qualify. Something went wrong after he moved in. He lost both jobs and started falling in with a bad crowd. Empty promises of being able to pay were common. After three months of patience, phone calls, letters and texts, I could no longer afford to pay the mortgage on the property or the mounting utilities that he never bothered to transfer. And I couldn’t afford the stress any longer. This situation wasn’t fitting #5 of our Blueprint Builder, my DMP, or any measure. This transaction was of benefit to no one, not even the neighbors. So the eviction request was filed.
As I walked toward the court house that morning, I pondered the situation against my new self I am building. How would my future self like to approach this? With great love, for one. The young man was a personable and likable guy. I really would like to see him do well – especially coming from such a rough background. “I greet this day with love in my heart,” I repeated to myself. “I greet this day with love and I succeed.”
Inside the court room, the crowd was clearly divided. Landlords and tenants were physically separated in the waiting area and everyone seemed to have a grumpy look on their faces and in their attitudes. I saw my tenant and his brother, and smiled at them. I sat near them and said I hoped they’d had a good Thanksgiving holiday. They smiled, shook my hand, and we had friendly interface. The rest of the crowd looked at us as though we had already lost our minds.
“All rise,” the bailiff announced as the judge took his seat. The judge asked those who were represented to stand and come forward. My attorney had not yet arrived, but I went up in line to let the judge know he was not there yet. He noted my case, told me would wait for my attorney for my case, then proceeded. Case after case — and generally two outcomes.
“Do you agree that you owe this landlord money?”
“Yes, sir, but …”
“Judgement found against you. Landlord, you may seek the owed money and take possession of the property. Next.”
If the defendant said no, then the judge would issue a trial date to settle the dispute, then move on to the next case.
The court room was cleared in about an hour. Each case only took about 5 minutes. I watched my tenant’s face begin to sadden, then turn to fear as the court went on. He had a rude awakening at how serious the situation was. I really hated to do this before Christmas, and I was hoping he had more family members that might take him in, but this ball was on a roll and there appeared no way to stop it.
The judge was finally done. “Can you please call your attorney and see when he might arrive? I’ll have my assistant do the same.” “Yes, sir.” I could not reach him, but I appreciated stepping outside for a moment for another reason. I pulled out my movie poster, flipped through the copy of Og I carry in my purse for a little inspiration, then went back in. The judge had stepped out to get a coffee.
“Ma’am, is there anything my brother can do to keep his apartment?” the brother asked. “He just needs to pay the rent, but at this point, you two have to convince the judge that he can.”
“Well, if I move in with him and help, can we pay you back quickly for everything owed? I’ll get the utilities changed over today.”
The judge walked back in before I could say anything.
“You may return on Wednesday. We have notified your attorney,” he said.
The principles we have been learning seemed to bounce back at me like from a mirror. “Here’s the payment plan we want to work out with you, we both start new jobs today, the utility company is right across the street, we’ll take care of that today. We’re actually going to DO IT NOW!” And they DID!
On Wednesday, my attorney met with all of us before seeing the judge. The guys had proof of their new employment, the utility bill change-over, and had drafted a payment plan that would work for all of us. We all went up to the judge, explaining what we wanted to do. My attorney asked that my interests be protected. Judgement for the money was awarded, and the judge agreed that if the payment plan or the rent were missed by one day, the possession would be immediately granted.
The young men are now on their way to building a new life, a good life. They were very happy. I was happy to be able to get the money without having to go through another rental screening. My attorney was happy that I was happy. And for the first time in the two days of encounter, I saw the judge smile. He was encouraging the young men to appreciate the landlord they were doing business with and to make sure they held their end of the agreement. I think he was pleased to have been a part of turning a situation into something far more positive than it started out. So was I. The Gal in the Glass smiled broadly that night.