Well, the day of the formal eviction arrived, the day the poor tenant is literally thrown out in the street. I had lined up to come: a Deputy, the Rent-a-Center guy, a helper (the law says I have to move her stuff out while the Deputy watches), my attorney, and a locksmith ($125 just to come). While waiting for the locksmith, my helper (my carpenter - $25/hr) couldn’t believe we could have a key for the door and not be able to open it. So I unlock the door, open it 2 inches, and the security chain she’d installed pulled tight. We jiggle it a bit and it just falls away. What? It turns out that she installed it backwards; instead of tightening when it gets pulled tight, it slips off. Now, it was just a matter of pushing away the sofa jammed against the door. All this time, I am thinking about the locksmith, now on his way and counting his dollars already. He actually was disappointed to arrive and find he had no work to do - and he was worried that I’d stiff him. I didn’t of course.
When we got inside, what a surprise. She had removed nothing, nothing other than her most important clothes. The place was packed full of furniture and.. “stuff”. Some of the stuff was not unpacked from her move here, but mostly, it was spread out all over. We went through the home, room by room, and it was the same story - packed full of her junk. Then we got to the garage and what did we find there? In one corner, all her garbage, piled high in bags (thanks for the bags, Barb). In the other corner, a Ford Escort, no keys, no title, and registered to someone else. Groan.
The Lawyer saw all this stuff and offered to find some help for me. He disappeared and later his secretary appeared in his Cadillac, with 2 men and a woman. We settled on a price and all five of us went to work. Two hours later, there was a monster pile out by the road. I’d brought lumber over from the barn so we could walk on it and not get muddy (the frost was just leaving the ground - we could not have picked a muddier day for this to happen). It was totally inadequate; we all ended up with muddy shoes and a mess on the floors.
Talking with the Deputy, I asked how long we had to leave this stuff here before we could get rid of it (thinking: dead grass). He wasn’t sure and called the office to find out. When he got off the phone, he had two things to tell me. One was the answer to my question: 30 days. The other thing was just what I didn’t want to hear: we had to have everything “off the ground and under cover.” New law, one that the Deputy and my attorney didn’t know.
There was a collective groan upon hearing this. We thought we were done. Now it all had to be moved back! If we’d known this in the beginning, it would have been easier than what we had first done. What we ended up doing was to take the most valuable stuff and crowd the porch with it. Most of the remainder was put in the garage, stacked around the car and the trash. What was left, a pile 10x10x6’, was tarped over securely and left by the roadside. We hoped that would not cause a problem.
Then we examined the home. Well, there had been a burst pipe in the upstairs bathroom. That would be easy to fix and if we were lucky, there wouldn’t be others. But it had flooded the ceiling and walls below it, ruining the sheetrock. And the toilet was broken and plugged with pieces of plastic and her shit (literally). So I have to get a toilet too. Then we noticed her paint job. She’d painted some of the kitchen cabinets a bright red and left others white. Since there were no handles on them any longer, all the white was dirty from her hand marks. Then we saw the trim. Formerly a dark green and brown, it had been painted with one coat of white, which of course clearly showed the color below. Now we have to paint ALL the trim, not just what she did, as we’ll never be able to match the original color. Further examination showed that her kids were handy with paint too. We found bright pink paint in numerous locations on the walls and carpets. So, now we have to paint many of the walls and replace the carpets (they were old anyhow).
The final straw came a day later, when I went to check on the sump pump. It is badly needed there at this time of the year. Two days without pumping and the furnace motor will be under water. Well, the pump worked, but all the discharge pipes were broken. Here I was, in the evening, with no tools and no parts, and I had pipes that needed fixing NOW. There are no stores anywhere near this place - it’s 20 miles to any kind of city. So, I took some baling twine (as a farmer I knew of a hundred uses for it besides holding hay bales together). Here was Use #101: tie together a broken plastic pipe. I then wrapped the pipe and twine with 2 large trash bags and tightly wrapped more baling twine around them - Use #102. Then I turned it on and pumped out the water. Yes, it leaked like a sieve but the pump was faster, so the water left. It was then I discovered another problem: the pump wouldn’t turn off. So I unplugged it, a sure-fire way to make sure it was off, but not a very good solution as it needs to be on every few minutes. That meant another 70 mile trip the next day, Easter, just to turn on the damn pump. We did this on the way to New York, and Monday, we returned home early, picked up another sump pump (for $102), and some supplies, and I went back to fix the pipes and replace the pump. Of course, the pipes were between the floor joists where it was hard to work. And the basement is dark, with a single light bulb, right where my head would knock against it (and cast a shadow on everything). And there are heat ducts everywhere. You cannot go anywhere without hitting your head on one; it’s the Basement from Hell. A couple of hours later, all was fixed and the new pump turned on, pumping merrily. Only it won’t turn off either! Now, I read through the instructions and am disappointed to discover that, yes, I did do everything right. I checked the outlet and found it working correctly; it has to be the switch.
Lee, my carpenter called. He has the old pump working! The solution? Plug one line into the back of the plug of the other. If they are plugged into two separate outlets, as I found them, they won’t work. Go figure. Now to clean up the new pump and return it. Cleaning it up is not so easy as there is something in the water that blackens everything it contacts, and the black does not come off easily with soap and water, even with brushing. Every day, my hands turned into a black mess. I’d work at night to get them, not clean, but presentable as long as no one examined them, only to blacken them the next day. Maybe now, they will get clean and even stay that way and we can tackle the other problems that we have there.