The Thernardiers Got Nothing on These Jokers

Four times, my friend went into her apartment office and request work done on various things in her apartment, including her stove so she can feed her many children. Four times they filled out a work request.

Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing.

Wednesday when I was there she asked me if I would go in with her. The response we got was impressive, “Oh, absolutely, let me just fill this out right now and the maintenance guy will be up there within the hour.”

Nothing happened.

Thursday I went up again and stood outside the office for twenty minutes with various other disgruntled tenants. We shook hands and complained about the management. Four different managers in five months. Ridiculous. We shivered in the 40 degree weather. My kids waited right beside me in the car with the heat on because it was too cold stand outside the locked apartment office.

Nothing happened.

Today I called again, introduced myself to the same girl I always talk to, and got the same response, “Oh, yes ma’am, absolutely, their stove you say? Someone will be there within the hour!”

My prediction? Nothing is going to happen.

I’ll call them back this afternoon. I’ll stay on them, like I usually do. I’ll use my best, uber-professional, educated vocabulary. I will be kind but firm. We expect results today. My friends have been advised of their legal rights. We are not afraid to contact our lawyer friends or escalate this to your management company.

It’s going to take a miracle to get a response.

And the real rub? These are not the same managers I wrote about in May. Nor the same managers I wrote about in September.

All over my city, poor people are being taken advantage of because of their accents or their education levels or their inability to navigate a difficult systems. They are paying exorbitant fees, being told they have no rights, being nickeled and dimed out of every cent the management can squeeze out of them.

I’m not talking about some systemic problem.

I’m just talking about the people I know in my life.

Maybe it’s not like this anywhere else, but the Thenardiers and their ilk are alive and well in Austin, Texas, thank you very much, in the form of big corporations hiring poor managers while the investors get rich off the backs of the working poor.

“Everybody loves a landlord
Everybody’s bosom friend
I do whatever pleases Jesus don’t
I bleed them in the end!”

Sounds about right to me.


Updated in 1/5 to add: I called the apartment office at 11:00, at 2:00, at 4:00 and at 5:00 yesterday, the day I published this post. In the last phone call, I told the woman who worked in the office that if they did not make repairs before Monday it would give me time to contact my lawyer friends and find out what steps we needed to take in order to start legal proceedings since the tenants had been reporting problems for over eight days in writing with no response from the management.

I got a text from my friends at 8:00pm. The maintenance guys showed up at 6:30 and fixed everything in the apartment that needed taken care of. On a Friday night.

I’m perfecting my well-placed privileged fit and throwing in references to lawyers and reporters. (I did call the news once. That’s another blog post.) If I say so myself, my fit is pretty darn effective, but it shouldn’t have to be this way.



8 comments on “The Thernardiers Got Nothing on These Jokers

  1. Kelley Nikondeha on said:

    my heart breaks at the truth of it, the contemporaneity of the Thenardiers and the poor who suffer under them.

  2. Christie on said:


  3. Christiana on said:

    That’s terrible.

  4. Caris Adel on said:

    That’s horrible. And….how does it get to be that cold in Texas?? o_O

    • Texas is a large state.

      And I lived in southern AL for years, and winter temperatures routinely dipped into the upper 30′s. 40-degree winter days in the American South aren’t exactly unheard-of.

  5. pinkbriefcase on said:

    Thank you for being a good neighbor and friend.

  6. Pingback: Scenes from the class war

  7. The Navigator on said:

    In many states, when necessary repairs have not been made, you can withhold rent and either either pay for the repairs yourself or else put the money in an escrow account until the repairs are done. I don’t know Texas law specifically but I’d guess that, even there, something like that could be done. You’d be well advised to make certain that you notify the landlord in writing exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and of course keep copies of what you send them, as well as photos of needed repairs and receipts for any work done.