As I begin to box up my humble belongings and leave yet another apartment in Madison — this time for good — I would like take a minute to thank my landlord of two years, whom my roommates and I not-so-lovingly call “Granny,” and all Madison landlords for the many valuable lessons I have learned as a tenant during the past five years.
Thank you for allowing me to live in your house, pay you two-thirds of my monthly income every month for the past two years, and use the rest of my income to help heat the house. You were right; there’s really nothing that could’ve been done about that. Storm windows, insulation and fixing holes in the wall wouldn’t have helped a bit.
Living in your house really allowed me to get closer to nature. Who doesn’t like doing that? One valuable lesson I learned is that a can of Raid is perhaps the most versatile tool during the months of April through October. Those carpenter ants from the rotting back porch are fast little buggers. They can run, but they can’t hide from the power of Raid.
Thank you for yelling at us about the box elder bugs all over the inside of the house. You were right; they really weren’t so bad; we were blowing “infestation” way out of proportion. And they don’t bite, which was a really nice thing to learn because they often ended up in our beds, our showers and occasionally our food.
Granny, I learned a lot about mammals too in the past two years, rodents in particular. Did you know that mice can climb on top of an eight-foot tall bookcase? I didn’t either, but they can. They can do all sorts of things up there like have babies and die and stink up the living room. Who knew?
Squirrels are really smart and flexible. They can get into a window that is just cracked open an inch or two. It’s OK that you didn’t put screens or storm windows up when we asked you to. The squirrels came and went freely in the house for a couple weeks and nobody was the wiser, until, that is, one got stuck in the kitchen. He didn’t do much damage though, so it’s OK.
I had never seen a real bat until I moved into your house. That was interesting. I actually saw three the first fall I lived there. Thanks for that experience, Granny; I might not ever see a real bat again. And you were right; there was probably nothing you could have done to get rid of all of the bats living in attic and flying around the house at night. We dealt with it, just like you so caringly said. Besides, a rabies scare is a good way to miss a couple days of school.
You also taught me about the law and our rights. Do you remember that letter my roommates and I sent you threatening to call the building inspectors if you didn’t fix the porch that was rotting off of our house? I wrote that, and your friends at the Tenant Resource Center told me all about how to do it. I’m quite proud of how professional it sounded. I’m sure you liked it too.
Granny, you also taught me about the value of a good winter jacket. Remember that night when it was minus 20 degrees with the wind chill and our heater broke? Well, our house got really cold really fast. And I know now why you refused to find us alternative housing for the next two days — it was because you wanted us to appreciate our warm clothing. Thanks to you I really did appreciate everything — all of my jackets, socks, gloves and sweaters — by wearing everything at once for two whole days.
Granny, my other landlords have taught me a lot, but you taught me more than any of them combined in the two years I lived in your house. I would not be the wise person I am today without you. I only hope that all other students who are searching for housing right now are lucky enough to find landlords as good as you.
You know what? As an extra tip you can keep the interest you earned over two years on our hefty security deposit. I know you weren’t going to give it back to us anyway, but, heck, you earned it.
Your grateful (former) tenant.
Laura Rego ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in marketing and management; she is the former advertising director of the Badger Herald. She would like to thank everyone at the Badger Herald, past and present, for four years of great (although at times hazy) memories and a learning environment like no other. She’ll see you at the 40th Anniversary Party!