In the small claims court system, the people are not represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. They are represented by their own incompetent selves. This is my story.
F’er v. Douchebag Landlord (DL) – it kind of got buried today by the whole Blagojevich impeachment trial. Unfortunately DL showed up for our trial.
If you remember, and why wouldn’t you since you’ve been stalking me on this blog for way longer than is really acceptable, I moved last June. On a Thursday. We returned the following Saturday to finish cleaning, scrub down the kitchen, appliances, bathrooms, vacuum the floors, and I even washed the goddam patio door to really give the place a nice first impression when one walks in the front door. We’re nice like that.
With that we put our parking passes on the counter and slid the keys under the door as agreed upon. I emailed our agent the address of my new hideout so he could return our one month’s security deposit. In July I emailed him again because I wanted the money to purchase a Pocket Fisherman. In August I emailed him again because I exploring my metrosexuality and wanted the money to purchase a Finishing Touch hair trimmer. By mid-August I decided being a metrosexual was too much work and that a Flowbee would be more practical so I left him a voicemail asking where my money was. In a clearly altruistic effort to prevent me from catching a terrible case of buyer’s remorse he kindly had been holding my money and not responding. In September I felt the urge to raise my tool quotient by purchasing an Ed Hardy shirt, so I emailed him again politely requesting my money and asked if “other avenues” to collect needed to be considered. I meant small claims court, but he must have thought I meant I was going to send over a couple of thugs with a ball gag and the cast of Deliverance because he responded. He requested that I please hold off because he was totaling some bills and would be able to resolve shortly. On October 3rd, almost four months after we moved out I received in the mail a check. For $28.25. I know I’m a simple man, but I can assure you that $28.25 is considerably less than our monthly rent. And not nearly enough for that Ed Hardy shirt.
He was kind enough to include some bills for painting, carpet cleaning, and some other crap. And he was kind enough to put his own personal heading over the summary of charges called “routine painting and clean-up, normal wear and tear”. Which is clearly excluded under the lease. So that was pretty much the equivalent of pleading not guilty to murder charges because you only killed the person.
I emailed him again asking if he’d like to reconsider before I take him for an ass-whoopin’ from Judge Judy. He clearly thought I had said Judy Jetson and went back to his intial strategy of ignoring me and hoping I’d go away.
I didn’t, and today was my day in court. It was a slam-dunk case so all I had to do was avoid eating a box of Suzy-Q’s for breakfast and passing out in a diabetic coma. I brought a copy of my lease, a copy of his bills, the email thread showing what a dick he is, and a picture of him humping Baby Jesus in a nativity display just in case things started to go horribly wrong.
I watched a couple cases before mine and the judge was keen on pointing out the stupid mistakes people made that put them in the position of testifying before him. He even asked age, occupation, education and schools. I thought about telling him I had a degree in veterinary technology from that place that advertises on the matchbook covers so he’d lower the bar for me.
Eventually our case was called, I chose to be sworn in on Lincoln’s inaugural bible but they said it was unavailable and I didn’t want to cause a fuss. There were some formalities like introductions, although I was a little thrown off when he asked what ice cream would best describe my current relationship. Eventually things got rolling and I walked him through my exhibits without much problem. I, of course, got chastised for not taking pictures before and after moving, for not doing a walk-thru after we moved out, and for having too much sugar in my diet but it was otherwise smooth sailing. Next up, he passed the defendants some rope and during the questioning they fashioned a noose, placed it around their necks, paged the hangman and got lectured by the judge for being dumbasses. Turns out because he owns multiple units he is considered a “sophisticated landlord” under state statutes (although you couldn’t tell from the ugly ass sweater he was wearing) and held to higher standards, including advising the renter of any damages within something like 30 days and returning the deposit in like 45 days. Don’t quote me on that since I knew I had already won and my mind started wandering to what Crystal Bernard may have had for breakfast that morning while the judge was reading from this law book. Eventually he finished with all that legal mumbo-jumbo and asked if I had anything to add. I had plenty to add but realized that anything I said could only make things worse. If there’s one thing I learned in my decades on this planet, it’s to shut the fuck up when you’re ahead.
He entered a judgment for the full security deposit and my court costs. DL wrote a check on the spot. I drank his milkshake. I drank it up.