Curse words spewed out of my mouth and into the tenant’s face. This wasn’t the first time that I had been pushed to my breaking point by being screamed at, cussed out, and sometimes pushed around. As a landlord, aka property manager, I have many houses to manage all over every part of my city. I have learned how to deal specifically with each section of the public.
There are the elitist tenants who call me every second about everything. They, for the most part, cannot do any home repair items themselves. This includes changing air filters, smoke detector batteries, and resetting tripped breakers. They hide their ignorance by flaunting their money. They have been brainwashed into thinking money is the same as intelligence. They hide their loneliness by talking, whining, and complaining to everyone they meet.
There are the poor tenants who struggle to survive who blame me personally when they can’t pay their rent. They will drive to my office and threaten me if eviction is looming. They never call about maintenance issues unless it is dire because they just want to be left alone and don’t want anyone seeing the messy state of their frantic lives.
There are the young tenants who are living alone for the first time and need help with everything from how to pay rent, use of an online app to submitting a maintenance request.
Then there are the old tenants who live alone or with a spouse listening to the echoes of their children in the halls from years past. They look forward to any contact and will happily chit chat with someone who calls, from telemarketer to me or my staff, for hours.
At any given moment, I can go from being physically pushed and verbally abused to spending half an hour talking with the sweetest little old lady I’ve ever met. It took me a good year to learn how to maintain my composure during these swift emotional transitions. I had to create boundaries and try to stick with them, becoming never too mad, too attached, or too invested in any one person’s circumstance.
Of course, this doesn’t always work and sometimes I lose my footing. I have dropped my professionalism down the tubes and hit back, yelled back, babysat, bought food, bought clothes, and loaned rent money. I have regretted doing this most of the time. I usually end up getting taken advantage of once anyone sees that I have heartstrings to pull. I have people that have turned on me as soon as I helped them.
I would like to think I have learned my lesson, but someone will come along and test my boundaries and find them lacking. Setting boundaries is essential in this line of work, as in many others that deal with the public.
You have to work hard not to become jaded because people lie about anything if it benefits them somehow. My sense of humor and not taking things personally have really been the two biggest things to keep me successful in this career and not burned out and jaded.
I continue to always look for the little acts of human kindness that are shown periodically. That brings fresh air to every one of us. Sometimes those little acts are enough to keep going for.
By setting boundaries, keeping my sense of humor, and searching for human acts of kindness every day, I am able to survive this work and hope that I have made a difference to someone, somewhere along the way.