I left the house at 2:00. I needed to run a few Sheltie-friendly errands.
The phone rang. The bluetooth in the car picked it up and displayed the number. I didn’t recognize it, so I let it go to voice mail. Here’s the message:
“Hello, Mrs. Ranney, this is XXX at XXX apartment complex. You’re listed as John XXX’s emergency contact. Could you please call me back as soon as possible?”
Okay, what do you think went through my mind as I’m driving along?
1. My son is dead.
2. The apartment blew up. My son is dead.
3. The apartment caught on fire. My son is dead.
4. My son fell down the stairs and is in intensive care. He will die.
5. Someone burgled my son’s apartment and my son was shot. My son is dead.
I made it back to my driveway (Sir Barksalot, having spotted a squirrel, was barking furiously). I disengaged the bluetooth and, with shaking hands, called the apartment complex with my cell phone. This is the conversation:
“Hello, this is Karen Ranney. I’m sorry, but I forgot the name of the person who just called me. About John XXX.”
“Oh, yes, that was XXX. Can you hold on a moment?”
Flash is still barking like mad.
“Hello, Mrs. Ranney, this is XXX. Can you hold for a moment for the apartment manager?”
“Hello, Mrs. Ranney, this is XXX, the apartment manager. Can you hold for a moment while I close the door?”
When she finally came back on the line, my blood pressure was about 50 points higher. Flash was still going nutso and I couldn’t shut him up.
“I just wanted to explain a situation we had earlier. Thank you for calling me back.”
“Yes.” At this point, I was physically incapable of asking, “Is my son all right?” I didn’t want to hear the news. I didn’t think I could process it.
“We had a problem with the apartment below John’s.”
“There was a water leak in the bathroom. Our maintenance man did some investigating and it turns out the leak was originating in your son’s apartment, in the bathroom. I called him, but he didn’t understand what I was talking about, so I went over there and showed him. He needs a new shower curtain. The one he has is in really bad condition.”
“Okay, let me see if I have this straight,” I said. “You want him to get a new shower curtain.” At this point, I was staring through the windshield at the closed garage door. A little bit of WTF was beginning to break through my dread and terror. I was still shaking (and would, for another three hours).
“Yes, as soon as possible. If he continues to allow water to leak around the outside of the tub, he will be responsible for the charges to repair the ceiling. Maybe he could get one of those curtains with magnets on the bottom, but he needs to ensure that the shower curtain is on the inside of the tub when he’s taking a shower. Oh, and he needs to make sure that the floor is clean around that area so we can caulk later.”
“So, you want him to get a new shower curtain and make sure the curtain is always inside the tub and the floor is dry.”
“Okay, then. It will be done in the next few hours.”
I hung up, immediately called my son and asked, “What the hell is going on? Is your shower curtain ratty?”
“I guess I could replace it.”
I would have been rolling my eyes a lot at this point, but I was still so super pissed that I couldn’t see straight – literally. I’ll tell you why in a minute.
“Go get a flipping shower curtain, clean the area around the tub and for the love of God, make sure the floor is dry when you get out of the shower.”
After the new shower curtain was installed, the area cleaned, John called the apartment manager and told her he had a new shower curtain. “Will that be enough to solve the problem?” he asked.
Her response? “It sounds like it will, yes.”
Here’s why I’m angry (still):
My son is “different”, but that’s okay. We’re all “different” in our own special ways. God knows I am. He has Tourette’s Syndrome and schizophrenia. These two conditions do not make for a social butterfly personality. He is the sweetest, kindest, nicest person I know. I’ve never heard him say anything bad about anyone. He will never be a master of communication, however. That’s okay. I pretty much like him the way he is.
By calling me when it wasn’t an emergency, the apartment complex manager was as good as telling me she knew my son was “different”. I suspect she was waiting for me to confirm that fact to her. Good luck waiting until hell freezes over, lady. I’ve come up against a hundred different educators and other “professionals” when I was fighting for my son’s right to have an education befitting his IQ. He has a great IQ; he’s just “different”. I was homeschooling back when homeschooling wasn’t cool. Whatever John learned that day, I augmented it. He wasn’t going to be dumbed down just because his synapses worked differently from most people.
When I got inside the house, I was so upset I had to open a word file and start typing. Sometimes, when emotion blindsides me, I have to write it out to figure out why I’m feeling what I’m feeling. I realized it was fear, first. Then, anger on behalf of my son. A little protectiveness and more anger that the apartment complex handled this stupid situation the way they did. Irritation at myself that I’m such a polite Southern Belle. I should have given the woman both barrels verbally. Something along the lines of “why the hell did you call me about a friggin’ shower curtain?” But John’s lease is up in a few months and I didn’t want to cause him any problems.
But I’ll bet you that they don’t renew his lease. Maybe because he’s “different” or because he’s been living there for a while and San Antonio rents are skyrocketing. They could probably get $200 more a month with a new tenant.
The whole situation has left me with a very bad feeling. I can’t protect John from the bastards of the world. He fights enough internal battles; he often doesn’t notice those outside of him. I want him to move to a place where they won’t be discriminatory, but guess what? The world is filled with people who are unaware, unknowing, and unkind.
I hate discrimination. I hate prejudice. I hate elitists. This woman, this apartment complex office, demonstrated all three.
Or maybe I’m just too sensitive when it comes to John. Sometimes a banana is just a banana. But I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why I was given an emergency phone call about a shower curtain.