I met with my landlord and signed the lease.
It’s funny how having a little money changes your perspective. The last time I saw him, I was so frightened that my hands were shaking. I haven’t been that scared of someone in years.
This time, I didn’t even stand up when he entered the room.
The Surgeon coached me on the telephone about what to say to him.
“He wants to raise the rent $100,” I told the Surgeon earlier in the day.
“Fuck him! He’s not going to get it! He’s negotiating; he doesn’t want you to leave. You’ve got him over a barrel. Draw this out as long as possible. Don’t sign anything! Don’t respond to him until the very end! Then he’ll be helpless and scared, because he won’t know if you’re moving and he won’t have a new tenant and then he won’t make a profit for the year!” He sounded thrilled, as if he was engaged in some life-or-death cage fight with his mortal enemy.
“You really want me to haggle and bargain with the landlord? Like we were at a garage sale?”
“Welcome to New York, Kid!” His voice was ecstatic–the voice of a man cheering for his team in the Olympics. “You’ve gotta get with the program! Get your elbows out! You are way too Whitey McWhitebread! How can you do all the crazy dangerous stuff you do and then be intimidated by a prick like this? He’s not GOD!”
I groaned. “How do you have the energy for this? Don’t you ever get tired of fighting with people?”
“No!” he shouted happily. I pictured him bobbing his head like a deranged cockatoo. “This is what I do! I’m really good at it!”
He is. He is indeed.
“Call me back when you’re done with him! Ask him what he’s willing to do for you if you pay him in cash instead of with a personal check! Because then he won’t have to declare it to the government! NO TAXES! He wants that!” Dr. Crazy Greedhead Cockatoo.
“But I am going to pay it to him anyway. Cash or check.”
“No! Listen to me: that money is worth a lot more to him in cash. Just don’t tell him that you have the cash on you. Don’t tell him that you’re willing to give it to him right away. Dangle it! It’s a carrot, you hick! I’m telling you–play this right and you can get your rent reduced! Tell him you could probably go to the bank and get the money out if he does something for you! If it’s not good enough, tell him that you need to call your lawyer and go to your room and give me a call and I’LL talk to him. Yeah!”
Oh my God, I thought. What I said was: “Okay, sure thing.”
I will never tell the Surgeon this, but I will tell you, Gentle Reader: I simply did not have it in me to bargain hard with my landlord over, like, a few hundred bucks. Forget it. Not worth it! SORRY! Maybe this is one reason why rich people are rich: they will fight each other tooth and claw over two months’ car insurance money. Who knows? Not me! I’ve had enough stress and humiliation this month, thanks!
I made the landlord one offer. He accepted. I signed the paperwork and he left.
It still hasn’t hit me yet.
The Surgeon called me back. He couldn’t wait twenty minutes. “Well? What did he say?”
“He only raised the rent $5 and I gave him the cash.”
“NOOOOO! You could have gotten more! You are going to learn how to deal with these things, Margo. You’re not in the sticks anymore! Want me to call him right now? By the way, I hope you are not running around in flip flops. There was an article in the Times about all the bacteria on the street. I don’t want bacteria on my feet. I mean, your feet.”
We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.