I live above a bar. Not just a bar, but a real dive bar. I like most elements of my apartment, and even the bar doesn’t bother me most of the time, but yesterday situation become untenable.
Yesterday morning when headed out to my car to drive to work, I discovered that some asshole had pried open the cover to my gas tank, removed the cap, and stuffed a white t-shirt into the hole.
Okay. Annoying. I figured someone had just siphoned some gas, so I removed the t-shirt, bent the flange back into place so the cover would close again, and drove off.
And immediately noticed massive engine issues that had not troubled my car the previous day.
So I turned right back around and took it to the mechanic next door and asked if they could check it over. Which they did, and confirmed my suspicions that someone had probably put something in the gas tank. My completely spurious guess was beer, but it could have been anything, really.
A few hundred dollars and a fuel tank flush later… the car is running well enough, but smoking a lot. Supposedly that will tone down after a while? The mechanic was really great, though, in that he put me at the front of the queue and got the work done fast enough that I was able to get my car this morning.
But… here’s what gets me. I think most people can agree that coming down to find that someone had poured beer into your gas tank would be a really shitty way to start a day/week/month. Like, hearing that, you would go ‘man, that would suck if it happened to me.’ So what sort of asshole do you have to be to go to some random stranger’s car, turn off that feeling of ‘that would suck if it happened to me’ and do that to them? Like… seriously. I can sort of grok the kinds of thoughtless harm we do to people to fulfill our own needs. I was annoyed by but understood people breaking in to my car to rifle through my console looking for loose change (which has happened twice so far this year). But… this… I just don’t get the sort of empathetic disconnect that would make it possible for someone to do this kind of deliberate harm. I mean… it’s not like they even get to watch the result of my distress. I just… I don’t get it.
But that was not my only encounter with assholery yesterday.
So I submitted a police report, knowing that there’s not really anything they can do, but very gratified to know that they’ve now digitized that shit, so I can just go online and file the report and not have to take up anyone’s time or talk to anyone.
And then I called my landlady. Now, I prefaced the conversation by saying that I understood that this wasn’t her responsibility, and that I didn’t think there was much she could do, but I wanted to let her know that I’d had several instances of vandalism recently, and to inform her of this one in particular. All that I asked her to do was talk to the owners of the bar downstairs and ask them to keep an eye on their patrons and try to discourage their regulars from vandalizing the cars in the lot.
She was extremely unsympathetic. At first she suggested that it might not have been people from the bar. It might have been people using the alleyway behind the apartment, because people used that alleyway. I told her that in the nine months I’ve been living there, I’ve gotten pretty familiar with the use-patterns around the building. The alleyway is used only rarely, and mostly by people walking their dogs. The bar sees pretty frequent and often belligerent traffic, and that it’s very likely that it was the bar. And then I asked again if she could just talk to the owners and encourage them to discourage their patrons from this sort of activity.
THEN she started gaslighting me. She said that she hadn’t received any reports of vandalism from the other tenants. I told her that I’d talked to two of the downstairs tenants, and both of them park their cars two blocks away because they’ve suffered vandalism before that they associate with the bar patrons. She suggested that I do the same. I told her that I am a small woman and not a burly dude like the other two tenants. I have to look out for my safety, and that does not include walking two blocks home after dark. Nor do I want to have to walk in the cold/rain, nor do I want to have to walk two blocks with groceries. And since I can never predict what night someone might decide to vandalize my car, I would have to consistently park far away. And no, I’m not willing to do that.
She remained unsympathetic, and she wouldn’t agree to talk to the bar owners. I’m going to talk to them myself today, but I don’t think it will have the same weight. I now wonder if the reason the other tenants didn’t bother to report the previous vandalism to her was because they figured out what I was too stupid to realize, which is that reporting it to her would only be an exercise in pointless frustration.
So… assholes abound, in a variety of flavors. And I… am looking for a new apartment.