I like to think the best of people and that is what I did when a 55-ish year old man took an especial interest in me.
I met our landlord auditioning for a petsit on Rover a year and a half ago. He had a cat that needed care whenever he was out of town. The care of his cat was simple, although getting keys never was. He’d always ask myself, or any of my petsitting friends who would fill in for me when I was booked up, to sit for at least an hour to exchange pleasantries, and then more, because is an hour really needed for pleasantries?
Those pleasantries, in my case, evolved into exchanges over our careers and then his embittered relationship with his brothers, who he described as antisocial figures (a perspective I would come to doubt the more and more I learned about our landlord). Eventually when his mother became very ill, he asked my husband and I to housesit for him as his coop building would not allow a vacant apartment.
He said we could stay for no cost at all. Trying to be a righteous person, I insisted we pay for the utilities and common charges
Which is how we came the figure of us paying him $1200/month for his Chelsea 1 bedroom apartment.
He would have his costs covered, as he already owned the apartment, and we would have a consistent place for the first time in years to gather ourselves and rest after running amok in the city between petsits. Good relationship right?
But then I came to see there were conditions.
When I began to voluntarily offer my admissions counseling to the daughter of an ex girlfriend of his, I thought I was merely doing so of my own volition, because I wanted to help someone that was a friend of a friend.
However, it soon became clear that our landlord wanted to use my position as this child’s confidante and advisor to convince her to attend college in NYC, so she would be near him.
It didn’t strike me as too weird a request because her mother, herself, and him, still spent time together occasionally. Heck, not long after he left us his apartment his mother passed and he conveniently bought a home close to this girl and her mother. Maybe he was trying to get back with her mother? Maybe that would be nice as I knew her mother could use the help on her ranch, both physically and financially.
But I refused to advise this girl to apply to any school in NYC beyond Columbia, because none other NYC school offered strong programming signing with this girl’s interests. And boy did he get mad.
He saw he could not manipulate me into being his puppet to lure this girl closer to him.
Despite his angry and insistent texts that I reconsider, I would not provide this girl with advising that went against her goals. The whole reason I was working with her was to help her realize her dreams, and this man, not even her father or relative, wanted to control her through me.
The relationship with my landlord and myself was never the same after this. He never wanted to see me when he was in town. His emails to us became demanding and he played takesies backsies, at first offering to us the ability to move his stuff (his apartment borders on collector versus hoarder status) to make space for our own. But then we’d he’d come back on trips (a condition on our staying there was too scram whenever he wanted to visit the city), he began to throw tantrums demanding everything be returned to their original position.
Absent in his communication were any hints of warmth, nor appreciation for us making his home neater and cleaner than it had been when he moved in. His requests for suggestions to improve the poor heating situation fell on deaf ears. He’d ask a lot for us and then completely disregard what we’d say with no thanks for the work.
The final piece came in his moving our move out date up and up, and changing the dates he was visiting the city with an obvious intention to cause us irritation.
I’ve come to see through this man’s false veneer. He pretends to be generous. He said he would pay for this girl’s college tuition and he bought her a nice car when she got a driver’s license. However, he not only wanted to use me to get this girl to move away from her mother and close to him, he knew I was a financial investment because with my counseling she’d be able to get into a school with a large enough endowment to offer her a full ride.
The timing works out that we are getting kicked out of his apartment just as college admissions season draws to an end.
He’s an idiot though because I’d help this girl even without the apartment tethered to it.
This man makes me sick and he is trying to get a rise out of my husband and me.
But I will not let it stand.
I will continue with actions I find righteous and kind, and when we move out on Christmas (lol. I know! He made this our move out date), we will move out with our heads high knowing this man will not trigger bad actions from us.
He is bad and he wants others around to be the same.
Now I need to find a way to approach bringing up this creepiness to this girl’s parents. I’m not sure 100% if it’s my place to do so. Maybe the mom doesn’t care?
After all I lived through a similar position when I was younger.
We were so poor, my mom provided “massage work” to clients to help pay our rent. She allowed one of her clients to befriend me and at ages 12-14 I used to hang out once a week with a 35 year old man who would play video games with me and then take me out to dinner. It seemed generous and harmless and my mom certainly didn’t intend to harm get child through this arrangement.
My friendship with this man ended when I hit high school and knew my friends would ostracize me if they learned I hung out with someone in this capacity.
But later in life he’d start emailing me, attempting to solicit “massages” for extraordinary amounts of money. It scared me, for myself and for my mom, even if her massage years ended when she married my stepfather 16 years ago. I tried to reason with him that I appreciated his friendship when I was younger, but that this was inappropriate, but for years I received these solicitations in between messages of happy holidays and happy birthday…
It’s over now. I no longer hear from this man, and I don’t think my landlord wants to molest this girl, but I’m highly skeptical of my landlord’s intentions cause I’ve seen how poorly he can treat a person in his reactions to my not obeying his whims.
I’m scared for her. I’m concerned. What if one day she does something that goes against his intentions?
I’m sad I thought this man was my friend when he was just using me.