Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Trusting Your Gut Instinct

I have been wrong. But I'm usually not wrong if I follow my gut instinct.

Even when my intellect tells me, "don't be silly!", I tend to ignore that and do what feels right to me. Getting in on that great opportunity? Great? Or not so much? Trusting the gut is probably the best thing you can do.

When Alex and I were first married, we rented a nice house in San Francisco. It was a fairly big place and pretty modern. Unfortunately, it was not in one of the best areas, but we weren't worried. (I've lived around gang bangers most of my life and so has Alex.)

The thing that did worry me a little was our landlord, Ron. Ron was a Lt. Colonel in the Army and there was something a little "off" about the guy. For example, I came home from work early one day and heard music being played on our stereo. Walking up to the landing, I see Ron and a lady friend, sipping a glass of wine and chatting.

Ron's explanation was that he came over to make sure all the washers in the sinks were working properly. Uh huh. Oh and he brought me and Alex a bottle of wine. Uh huh. Was I over-reacting? I wasn't sure, but I was sure this guy was on the wrong side of eccentric!

Ron made it a practice to come up and do maintenance on this new house about 2 or 3 times a month. (I have never had such an involved landlord in my life.) He just worried me a bit. But, hey! Ron was an Army officer so he must be okay, right?

After we lived there for 6 years, Ron came over and told me he was going to put the house on the market. He asked me if Alex and I would stay until the house was sold, because it was much more attractive with people living in it and our furnishing complemented the house. Oh sure Ron. That sounds great. Now what's in it for me?

Alex and I decided we were not going to get divorced (after all) and that we might as well go look for a house to buy at that point. We gave Ron our notice, packed up and moved out. We returned to clean the house and something told me to bring along a camera.

In all of my years as a renter, I have always had every cent of my cleaning fee returned. I leave a house or apartment spotless when I vacate it. In this case, the cleaning deposit was $2500 and I wasn't about to give up that money.

Before we left, we had shampooed the carpets, cleaned the blinds, polished every surface in the house and washed the windows. It was immaculate. I went through the house and carefully photographed every room. I even went so far as to photograph the inside of the oven and refrigerator. Alex was laughing at me because it was so obvious that the house was clean. Uh huh.

About 2 weeks after we moved, we got the letter from Ron. I was all happy, thinking oh boy! Here's our refund! Uh, no. What Ron sent us was a letter saying that he was keeping the $2500 and we owed him an additional $700 for "damages". There were no damages. The man had itemized that we had left 14 wire hangers in the closet and he was charging is $5.00 each for the removal of said hangers (which included his time, you see.) There were also itemized charges for burned out light bulbs (replacement, removal of burned out light bulbs, and Ron's time). Say what???

Okay, there is no way this jerk is getting away with this. I got the forms and filed a suit against Ron in Small Claims Court. Alex and I went into Court not having any idea what to expect, but I did bring my photos. Long story short, of course we won and Ron was told to return every cent of our "cleaning deposit" to us. The photos had made it perfectly clear that we had indeed left the house in perfect condition.

Trust your gut!

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