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Don’t get too comfy

(early August events, as recalled in September)

On Tuesday of the following week, in-service training began for all new Jefferson Parish School System teachers. The next five weekdays would be our last opportunity to receive instruction on how to do our jobs. The agenda of topics would be rather broad, spanning textbook overviews, classroom discipline, and employee benefits. I was thankful for whatever last-minute instruction I could get, but I also felt increasingly anxious. With all my moving activities, I hadn’t found much time to prepare for my first day of school, which was just a week and a half away. Wednesday morning, the teacher’s edition binders for the Math That Works course was finally available for me to pick up at Bonnabel – At least I’d have a couple more free weekends to familiarize myself with the content.
Wednesday evening, I was flipping through school materials when Ono dropped by to deliver the lease for her stepmother. She mentioned that Janet was getting upset that I hadn’t paid the rent for August too. I had avoided bringing up the lease topic myself. I was becoming more and more uneasy about committing myself to stay here for a year. As much as I wanted to put the theft behind me, I was now only willing to sign on month-to-month. I also figured that receiving free rent for August would be a fair exchange for Janet’s offer to replace my stolen possessions. I didn’t ever really expect her to pay the full cost of a new computer system anyway, which would cost much more than a $550 rent payment. These ideas had been developing in my head, but I admittedly stalled in discussing them with Janet. I was, however, a bit surprised that it had gotten to the point of her being “upset” before she brought up the subject of lease and rent.

I called Janet to finally address these unresolved details, only to find out how bad our lack of communication had gotten. She claimed that the offer to replace my stolen items was made in the “heat of the moment.” Since then, one tenant of 10 years had given notice that she was moving to Missouri, and another tenant (the older woman who reported the burglary) was about to be evicted for non-payment of rent. Now, with only Ono and myself remaining as tenants in this apartment building, Janet was unwilling/unable to afford fulfilling her initial offer to me. Furthermore, she was unwilling to accept a month-to-month contract. She still had income from other apartment buildings she owned, but as a landlord myself, I sincerely sympathized with her misfortunes involving this particular building. I felt guilt in wavering on my verbal agreement to rent the apartment, but her “heat of the moment” offer had helped convince me not to split immediately after the burglary. With the offer no longer on the table, and lacking a month-to-month option, I permitted myself to benefit from our casual handling of the lease signing. I told Janet to keep the deposit, and I would move out by the weekend. She was quite angry, but I had to look out for myself this time. A drastic career change and relocation to an unfamiliar region of the country was enough of a challenge in my life. The need to become streetwise was apparently more than I could handle at this time. Once again I was on the move.