This morning, as I was peacefully going about my business of trying to do yoga while having a hard time bending over, wishing I could take Aerius, and being unenthusiastic about practicing (listen, I have ragweed allergies I am unable to fully medicate, so it’s frustrating), I was interrupted by Madeline and Gus barking in the “there’s someone at the door! Someone at the door!” mode.
I do have a very loud doorbell (it plays “On top of old Smokey”), but for some reason approximately 50% of callers refuse to use it, preferring to knock inaudibly on the door. So I’ve learned to interpret the barking. Gus going nuts usually means another dog/baby carriage/hobo with a shopping cart is passing the house (he disapproves of all three); Madeline going nuts usually means “A new friend is coming over to play with me!”
Anyway, I opened the door and there was a dude standing in front of the house with an odd expression on his face.
Dude: Hey, I’m from the City of Toronto. Why haven’t you removed the construction debris from in front of the house yet?
(Since we’re renovating the house, there were two old doors, a broken old countertop, a bunch of old floorboards, and assorted other stuff littering the front of the property and generally making it look like hillbillies live here. I know, I know.)
Dude: I’ve warned you 4 times already. It costs the property owner $94 dollars every time I do.
Me: I’m the property owner. I haven’t received any bills.
Dude: [non-commital shrug]
Me: Who did you speak to before?
Dude: Some guy.
Me: Did you give him the bills?
Dude: I left them on the door. Look, you need to get that trash out of there, or it’s going to cost you a lot of money.
Me: Oh…OK. I’ll deal with it right away.
So, being me, I emailed Ben in a fairly panicky way (he’s away until tomorrow), asking why he’d never told me that the City was fining us for doing the urban equivalent of having broken-down cars on the front yard, whether he’d been paying the bills and not telling me, or if we owed the city $400 that I didn’t know about. He called:
Ben: What the fuck is going on?
Me: Why didn’t you tell me about this?
Ben: Because it never happened!
Ben: Some guy from the city came by and asked if we had rats. I told them I’d seen them in the backyard and they were living in the abandoned house down the street. That’s all.
So I decided to clean up the front of the house a bit, because it really did look awful and that can’t be good for business, and maybe he had warned Ben to get rid of the junk and Ben had forgotten. Fortunately I was able to get some of the stuff into the garbage bin, including some heavy bags (I tipped the bin on its side, rolled the bags in, then used a floorboard as a lever to get it upright again – I am a GENIUS), some other light stuff into the vestibule downstairs to be dealt with later, and the remaining debris (two old doors and a broken-down bookshelf) fairly neatly stacked against the wall. I mean, it still looks less than ideal, but much, much better.
And as I was tossing stuff down the stairs and exercising my intuitive understanding of physics, I was pondering why a city employee would lie about the warnings and the fines, since it was easily verified – I mean, if the city had already fined us $94 x 4 times and we hadn’t paid, you’d better believe we’d be getting all sorts of bills and collection notices. I once forgot to pay the utility bill, and it was not pretty – and wouldn’t stand up to investigation.
And then it hit me. The sign.
It’s entirely possible that the dude hadn’t knocked on the door at all. He wasn’t standing on the steps, he was in front of the house, looking up at the window. It’s entirely possible that he made up the whole story on the spot because he saw an opportunity to stick it to a no-good pinko commie lib. That this wasn’t a city employee doing his job, but a Ford fan doing what Ford fans do best: being a bully and an asshole.
Honestly I can’t think of another explanation.
Anyway. I feel a bit shaken, so to cheer myself up I’m posting this photo of Dennis Quaid with a fat pug: