I’ve had landlords so scary that the supreme rulers of Hades, Beelzebub and Moloch would run away screaming, which is exactly what I do when I see my landlord approaching, tentacles dragging behind him.
I once managed to get a two-month delay in paying a particularly terrifying landlord by sending him an unsigned cheque. When he got round to asking why it was unsigned, I told him I had “writers’ block”. He’d vaguely heard of that ailment, so he let me off.
With my bitter experience of landlords, I had no problem believing a shocking report sent to me by a reader in China. The landlord of an apartment block in Jining city, Shandong, decided to squeeze extra money from his tenants by making them pay to use the lift. Residents were “taking it too frequently”, he told reporters, using it daily, not just to go out, but to come home too! Outrageous! Lifts sometimes suffered breakdowns, which wouldn’t have happened if they were not being used, he pointed out with unassailable logic.
Tenants argued that they had to use the lift because he had rented them flats in an 18-storey building. He brushed aside such irrelevancies and showed what an incredibly nice guy he was by offering lower prices for folk “travelling” to lower floors – and a corresponding surcharge for everyone above floor 12.
I sent copies of the report to friends who live in swanky highrise buildings to punish them for being richer than me. A couple from Europe replied that they’d seen something similar in Italy, and a guy from the US city of Denver said he’d seen an apartment block sign that allowed 30 return trips a month, with cash required for additional rides. The sign said: “The stairs are still free.”
One woman said that if this happened in her building, she would call her neighbours and arrange lift-pooling. “I’m taking a little tripette to the lobby tomorrow morning; would 20 of you like to share the cost of the ride?” I suppose she could hand out canapés and make it a social thing.
But then I realized that most lifts have cameras these days! The landlord would have video proof of cheating. No, if I was in her position, I would wear an extremely large frockcoat (like Neo’s in “The Matrix”) and hide children, spouse, domestic helpers, dogs and the like among my legs.
A colleague sent me a link to a book which predicts that the coming energy crisis will make all lifts pay-per-ride and make all low-floor homes worth more than luxury penthouses.
Can’t wait. If any reader wishes to swap his luxury penthouse for my aged first floor apartment, drop me a line. I’ll organize lift-pooling parties to get up and down. And if no one’s travelling one day, I’ll just stay in my luxury penthouse. “Sorry, boss, can’t come to work today, can’t afford the lift.” Worth a try.
I need to stop here and write this month’s rent cheque. Wait. I feel an attack of writers’ block creeping up on me.