Friday, March 27, 2009

The Last Flatmate I'll Ever Get

I've always had language students live with me to help pay the mortgage. I'm pretty easy going, and most of my language students have ended up staying with me for much longer than they were going to. Renee from Indonesia was with me for 3 years, then Wendy from Hong Kong was with me for 6.5 years! Kitto was with me for 2 years from China, and I've also had short-term students from Japan and Brazil.

Wendy left me at the end of last year. My daughter was flatting and I had a reasonable sized 3 bedroom house that I was rattling around in. However, I really didn't want another student, as part of the deal of having students is that you are around cooking meals for them each night. I hate cooking, but apart from that, I've come to the time where I don't want to be tied down. If I get invited out at the last minute, I'd like to be able to, without having to cook a meal before I do. That applies to holidays as well.

So after discussing this with my daughter, we decided a flatmate would be the best answer and an advertisment was placed on Trademe. At the time, there were not many people applying for the position, so I took the first person who came along - and ran into my first difficulty. Fortunately this person didn't move in as he showed his true colours beforehand - you can read about it here !

Shortly after someone else came along. He seemed a likeable guy, friendly. Said he worked 3 days a week on Shortland Street as an Extra, and that he owned 10 rental properties, but had a negative cash flow so needed to rent one place out and flat for a while. I accepted this, and we arranged a date to move in.

I told him he could have the room upstairs, plus we could share a study, so he could put his computer and desk downstairs in there, alongside my desk. He asked if he could store a few boxes in the garage, and told me that they would be neatly stacked up to the ceiling, and he would use no more space than what was already there (which wasn't much). I reluctantly agreed. When my 'stuff' was at the end of the garage, I could still park my car, and walk around it to get to the Laundry without having to go outside.

I erected a garden shed, and moved my stuff to the shed so he could put a few boxes at the end of the garage.

He moved in end of February. It wasn't pleasant. The very first thing he did was argue about where he wanted to park the car, yet had he parked it where he wanted to, I would not have been able to easily get out of my garage. It took him 3 days before he moved the car where I asked him to.

He moved in on a Thursday. By Saturday I realised he had far too much in the garage than what he had originally said he would. Take a look...

As you can see - it's a). more than just a few boxes, and b). it's not really boxed up. And I can no longer get to my Laundry easily, or out the back door easily, because there is too much stuff, AND his bike was in the way. You can see just how much difficulty I had in parking my car in there by the following two photos...

You can see how in this photo how close I had to park to his stuff, so I could just get my car into the garage.

When my garage door shut, I culd not even walk around the car to get to the Laundry. The only way to my laundry now was to take the dirty washing out the front door, and then walk into the garage. Apart from the inconvenience, the house no longer had a back door that was easily accessible in case of any emergency.

On the Saturday, two days after he moved in, I asked the Flatmate to move his stuff to storage. He agreed there was too much and said he would. By monday nothing had happened, so I asked him to have it out by the end of the week. He refused and said he would do it in his own time.

This was not all.

The shared study - where he was meant to have only a desk and computer, was full of his stuff as well. So much that I could not even get the single bed that was meant to be in there on the floor where it belonged.. Let me show you..

Very little floor space as you can see as he was using this room as storage, which was never in the agreement.

Here you can see clearly the bed lying up against the wall - the only way it would fit, but useless in terms of anyone who might want to stay over!

And this is was what I was meant to share. He could see no reason why I couldn't work on that desk surrounded by all his stuff.

Anyway - my daughter asked if she could come home before she went overseas on 12th April. Of course my daughter comes first, and so I said yes. I went into the study where the flatmate was and asked him to clear his stuff out of the study as I will be needing the room for my daughter who was going to come hoome for a few weeks before going overseas.

He flatly refused. See in the first photo of the study above, he pointed to the bits of blue carpet and said she could live there no problem, around his stuff!!!! Seeing it was an outright refusal, I then gave him 2 weeks notice to move out, and told him he had to be out by 26 March. He refused and threatened me with court action over this, so I went and discussed it with my mother, who works for a lawyer. After writing everything down, my mother phoned her boss. We found because it is my own home, then the Tenancy Act doesn't apply, and he basically has no rights. So I typed up written notice requesting him to leave, as well as asking him to clear the study by Sunday. I then went to the police and asked what I could if he still refused to leave. They gave me trespass notices and said I could serve these on him. If he didn't leave, the police can then evict him. I really hoped it woudln't come to that. I didn't need the stress!

I gave him the written notice.

He stopped paying the rent. Initial agreement was that he paid 2 weeks rent in advance, and 2 weeks rent as bond (in case of damages that would be returned when he left). Unfortuantely, my mistake - I didn't have this in writing, so he said as far as he was aware he has paid 4 weeks rent in advance. This meant if he damaged anything it would be much harder to get.

Further - he refused to pay me for the internet as he reckons I was unhelpful getting him on it in the first place. Well. As soon as I heard he had problems, I suggested to him it was his WiFi card that wasn't strong enough to get to the modem upstairs. He didn't believe me. So I gave him the phone number and passwords to ring Vodafone - remember I can't use a phone. Vodafone told him his Wifi card wasn't strong enough to reach the modem (I am after all just a dumb blonde!) He asked if he could move the wireless modem downstairs, but I explained the wireless was hooked into that computer and so by moving the wireless, the computer upstairs would no longer be hooked in. I do use that computer as all the printers are attached to that one.

I explained I had a wireless USB Wifi on my downstairs computer and suggested he get one like that as it's strong enough. He promptly took that and used it. Now I didn't have to supply the hardware for him - but I let it go. So here he was - up and going on the internet on the second day. And he refused to pay the internet charges as I was unhelpful, all because I was kicking him out. I just changed the password on my broadband connection and cut him off. I saw no reason for him to use my Gigb allowance when he wasn't going to pay for it.

By Sunday morning, there was no movement on the study, so my mother came down and together we moved all his stuff to the garage. We left his computer and desk in there, but I was finally able to get the bed on the floor and make it up.

While my mother was there, he had a long talk with her. As I am completely deaf, and my communication skills are not so good in situations like this, I left it to her. As soon as he went out, Mum wrote everything down on paper to what he said so we had a record.

This is what she wrote... (I've put my answers in brackets).

1). He is upset that he has to move out after only being here for 2 weeks.

(Whilst I can empathise that he is upset, if he hadn't been so difficult, argumentative, and unhelpful it would never have happened. The whole reason he has to move out was that he refused to make way for my daughter who was coming home briefly before going overseas).

2). He is looking for storage today (Sunday) with the aim to move stuff from tomorrow (Monday)

(It took him 5 days to move the stuff from the garage. Even when he had finished, the remaining stuff he left in a pile using up the same amount of room. I'm not sure if he was being purposefully obstructive or not. In the end, I had to pack the remains up at the end of the garage myself so I could fit my car in.)

3). He told mum that I had said I don't watch TV, and said that he could take the big TV in the lounge and put it in his room, then reneged on the deal!

(Huh? Huh? Why would I let him take the big TV to put in his room? For one it wouldn't even fit!!! He's dreaming! Absolutely Nuts - !)

4). He said that I didn't ask for bond, nor anything in writing, so as far as he is concerned he has paid 4 weeks rent!

(The deal was 2 weeks rent in advance, the equivalence of 2 weeks rent as bond money (damages) and the first lot of rent in advance to go into my account on 12th March - unfortunately I didn't put this in writing so I have no comeback there legally, but he is now effectively living here for free - however by saying this he was lying.)

5). He told mum that I had misled him - that Anne was coming home end of April, but it is only March now.

(I told him that Anne 'might' come home before she goes overseas, and 'probably' in the first two weeks of April. I would never have said end of April as Anne leaves on the 12th to go to the UK. And anyway, this is the family home, and he has no right to think he comes first.)

6). He told mum that I had told him he could store stuff in the garage up to the curtain.

(The curtain is quarter of the way down the garage. I told him he could store stuff in the garage, but no more than what I had already there, that was moved in the shed. Had I allowed him to the curtain, my car would not fit into the garage - he's deluded!!! - Mum actually told him that she understood that he could store a few boxes but not as much as he had.)

7). He told mum that the deal was that he could share the study, and so shouldn't have to move because Anne was coming home.

(Mum told him yes, study was to be shared, but not used as a storage. At this stage he told mum that he sees no reason why Anne just can't fit amongst his stuff.)

8). Mum told him he had no rights under the Residency Tenancy Act Section 5 Clause (n), as he is living in the landlords own home. He asked her very rudely 'are you sure about that'. Mum said yes she was, as she has had 30 years law experience. Once she had said that, he took a more gentle approach.

9). He said he would dispose of his rubbish

(He did)

10). He also said he asked me to fill in a form for the tenancy tribunal, and said I had refused.

(He never asked for this, and in any case, it's not a requirement of law as this is my own home, and not under the residency act.)

Anyway he has left. It's left a bad taste in my mouth, and I'm not likely to get another flatmate. I will get another language student once I have hearing again. Interestly enough, a friend of mine knew him from 20 years ago. (I wish I had known this before he had moved in) I asked my friend about him and they said he couldn't be trusted, and was dishonest. Obviously he hadn't changed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I will never be an Air Traffic Controller!

I've always had a problem. Right through my life, this particular problem of mine has caused either great hilarity, extreme embarrassment or made me feel very dumb. Especially if it was pointed out (yet again) by my big brother. I thought I was alone.

You see - I cannot tell which way is left, from which way is right. I'm left/right challenged. If someone tells me to turn right, you have a 50/50 chance that I'll turn left instead.

I remember the day I was in the car showing someone where to go, and I was pointing left and saying ....

"turn right, right, turn right here - what are you doing? I said Turn right!"

My friend stopped the car and said quietly..

"I did turn right"

"But I was pointing too - didn't you see?"

"Show me which direction you were pointing" he asked

I pointed 'right' again.

"That's left" he said

'Oh' Silence. Then uncontrollable giggling.

See what I mean? It's a real real problem.

No matter how many people have given me tips to tell what is right or left, you 'write' with your 'right hand', and when you open the thumb and forefinger of your left hand it forms an 'L' for 'Left'. It makes no difference, none at all. I just can't get it.

So I've been googling for answers on the internet. There's nothing much out there that tells of the 'why', but there are some interesting facts and figures.

Firstly, I'm not alone. At least 15% of the population have some trouble with left and right. In fact researchers thing it may be as high as 26% as there is a certain number of the population that will not admit to having a problem for fear of ridicule. That certain number is... MEN! (If they don't like asking for directions - they're not about to admit they're left/right challenged!)

So - of those 15%, it is more likely that people with a left/right problem are Female. Researchers actually think it's more even that than but again, men won't admit they have a problem.

Research says it has nothing to do with IQ. I already knew that because I love maths and can solve complex programming problems when trying to manipulate data. But it's a relief that research backs it up. I can't wait to show this to my brother!!!

If you have a left/right problem - you are more likely to have poor map reading skills. This doesn't apply to me - as I can follow maps very easily having just self driven down the coast of California from San Francisco to San Diego not only in a strange country, but also driving on the opposite side of the road to what I'm used to!

If you have a left/right problem - you are more likely to be left handed. Again this doesn't apply to me as I am strongly right handed as shown in this online test I completed.

I got talking about this area with my friend Bron. She admitted she has a problem with vertical and horizontal. This probably means if we were to pilot a plane or spaceship, we probably shouldn't captain it together!

We found another online test that tests your left/right abilities and we both did it for comparison. The first test was up/down - nice and easy - both of us got a 10 second score for this one. The second test was left/right. Bron flew through it getting a score of about 11 seconds. But I found it incredibly hard, and scored a whopping 37 seconds for that. You can try it out yourself here . If you do the test, I would be interested in your results so please comment on this blog with them and tell me how you did.

I found the test incredibly challenging, that it almost hurt my head to figure it out. I'm sure if I had taken any longer, I would have ended up with a bad headache.

While all this is very interesting, I can find nothing about why. Why does my brain not allow me to see left or right correctly? With huge difficulties, I can eventually work it out, but it never has been, and probably never will be instantaneous like other people.

I do hope my surgeons are not one of the males that don't admit there is a problem of left and right. Maybe I should shave a big X into my head before next monday on the side I need the operation!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Just what part of DEAF do people not understand?

I'm still gobsmacked at the continuing sagas that happen around me when it comes to my deafness.

Two weeks ago I had the following conversation.

Person 1: "You should read Robyn's blog - it's hilarious"
Person 2: "Yep - Robyn you should write professionally"
Me: "Well - I would if someone would pay me!!"
Person 1: "I still can't believe some of the things she has to go through when people just can't get it that she's deaf and can't hear on the phone"

I then explained for the others who haven't read the blog, how my friend answered the phone for me one day, and explained calmly over thephone that I was deaf and couldn't her on the phone, yet they still insisted on talking to me. This went on for some time until my friend had to ask 'Just what part of DEAF do you not understand'.

I've told her that next time it happens just tell them I'm dead - it may be easier for them to understand why I can't come to the phone!!

Anyway person 3 pipes up...

Person 3: "Why don't you just get those flashing lights so you can tell when the phone rings"
Me:. (trying not to be sarcastic) "ooooo I didn't think of that" but then I had to explain to her "I still wouldn't be able to answer the phone at all as I can't hear on it to pick it up"
Person 3: (Realising she has made a mistake) "oooooooo of course giggle"
Person 3: "So why don't you just get an answerphone then?"

I gave up after that, while Person 1 was having trouble getting up of the floor as she was laughing so hard!

Then there's today. My alarm went off again today. At the moment, when my alarm goes off, my company that monitors the alarm rings my daughter to let her know that the alarm is going off. She told me when I got home that she had a missed call from the security company today.

So I get onto the internet relay and rang the Alarm company. Asked for someone to help me with my alarm, got put into one department. On talking to them, they then transferred me to the monitoring department. They promptly hung up on the relay operator. I had the relay operator ring back, and asked to be put through the monitoring company and the conversation went something like this...

Me:. Hi - My name is Robyn . I am totally utterly deaf. At present when my alarm goes off, you contact my daughter on her cellphone, however she's going overseas in a couple of weeks, so I need you to contact me instead. As I can't hear on the phone, can you text me on my cellphone?

Alarm company: "no"

Me: "Not at all"

Alarm company 'No"

Me: - "Well - as I'm totally deaf, is there some exception you can make in my circumstances, or some solution you could come up with to help me with this, otherwise I see absolutely no point of having my alarm monitored, and paying a monthly fee. Do you?"

Alarm company: "Well - we could fax you or email you"

Me: "Well - if my alarm is going off, the chances are that I am out, therefore I'm not home to pick up emails or faxes" (She has to be blonde right?)

I then asked for her manager, who then put me through to someone else.

The long and short of it is that Yes - the alarm company CAN txt me alarm alerts and will do so from now on. But... Fax? Email? That's hilarious! I think some staff training is necessary in this company!!!

In the meantime I know have 8 voice mail messages on my cellphone, of which I have absolutely no idea how to listen to. Sigh - probably should just delete them!

Monday, March 2, 2009

I have a Surgery Date !!! Wheeeee !!!!

30th March.

30th March

30th March

30th March

30th March

Whew - it's such a relief. Never ever have I ever looked forward so much to have my head cut open. If they could do it tomorrow I'd even be happier, but this at last gives me something to look forward to, and the hope that I might hear something other than my confounded tinnitus all day. The only unfortunate thing is that I will not be able to hear my daughter say her goodbyes, before she goes off to the UK indefinitely on the 12th April. It would have been so nice to be able to at least converse with her properly before she went. But I'm still pleased that things are finally moving.

It's been quite an emotional week. The blow of ACC declining funding, the hope that the Cochlear Implant trust will pick up the tab, and then the hope realised with a date in concrete. I'ts a Monday :)

More tomorrow.....

28 days to go, 28 days to go.......