About 6 months ago my niece Julie told me that she got a letter from America (the New York City Court part) stating that her landlord reported that she hadn’t paid her rent.
She not only had paid it but as she was out of checks she got a bank check and gave it to her super as usual.
I won’t go into all the details but since when she got the bank check the money was taken out of her account she didn’t know that they hadn’t received her rent until she received this letter.
The Super remembered giving the check to the landlord who obviously mislaid it. Julie went to the Landlord, showed him a copy of the check and advised him that she couldn’t cancel and replace the check for 90 days.
He understood and she continued paying her rent each month until the check could be cancelled and the money put back in her account so she could pay that month’s rent.
She never gave it another thought.
Until yesterday when she called and mentioned in conversation that she received another letter from the Court.
“What did it say?”
“I don’t know I didn’t read it.”
“Email it to me”
“You’re scaring me.” (This is a giant no no. No one in the family is allowed to scare her. She hates that. She gets all red and her knees shake.)
“It’ll be fine. Just send it to me”
When I get the letter I see that her failure to answer the first letter gave a win to her landlord and he can now take over the premises, namely Julie’s apartment.
“Remember that first letter you got from the court? What did you do with it?”
“I threw it away. I had settled it with the landlord and I didn’t like looking at it.Why are you asking me this? Am I in trouble? My knees are shaking. FIIIIIX THIS MATTIE”
“Let me call the court. I’ll take care of it.”
And fix it I would. I had visions of Julie, Violet and Dan with those 2 shitting dogs living with me.
I phoned Housing Court and spoke to a court officer. I explained the situation and since Julie had told me that she had back and forth emails with the landlord proving everything she said I was hoping that he would just vacate the order (a term we learned in court)and that would be the end of it.
This was not to be. It seems that she had to go down there and apply for a date to appear before a judge.
I asked if we could come down next week. (I needed time to break this to her).
“That’s a bad idea. A marshal has already been ordered. I’d get here asap.”
Now let me explain my role in the family. When ever any of my sisters are not readily available my job is to make things better.
That used to be my father’s job and he was great at it. But he died so each of my sister’s were there for their own families and Marcia (Julie’s mom) was also in charge of me until I got married when dave promised to be responsible for me until he wasn’t then Marcia got me back. But my 2 of my sister went and died and Marcia lives upstate so frequently I am the one to fix stuff.
I called Julie who took it like a big girl.
“Whaaaat? I have to go to court? My arms and legs are flying off in different directions.”
“I will pick you up tomorrow morning. We will go to the court and show them your proof and all will be well”
“I won’t have to go before a judge?”
“Maybe not”. I wasn’t exactly lying. I really did hope we could take care of it with one visit once they saw how pretty she was.
The next day bright and early Julie and I drove down to the area where all the courthouses are.
Julie was somewhat calmer. I never did tell her the part about the marshal to avoid having her collapse like a noodle.
She was even cheerful. Now that we were taking care of it she felt better. All these courthouses brought her old boyfriend, the bank robber to mind.
“This is like memory lane. Here’s where he was tried the first time. Oh and that building is where his parole was revoked. Good times.”
I won’t go into all the details but it was a no go on squashing it that day. We had to go down to housing court and sit in the gallery while one person after another came up before the judge.
There were a lot of rules most of which were completely ignored by everyone but me and Jules. Years of playing cards while watching “Judge Judy” when Julie was supposed to be working and I was supposed to, I don’t know, clean or cook or whatever housewives do, prepared us for proper court behavior.
No court officer had to point to us and remind us that silence was the rule of the day while the Judge was on the bench. We texted each other.
“Could that woman’s skirt be any tighter?” You know , court stuff.
Anyway our name was called and a man came up to us and gave Julie a series of papers with her court date and letters to send to the landlord and the marshal.
“Don’t worry” he said kindly “The marshal has been called off.”
Since that was the first time Julie had heard that the marshal had been called on, she looked at me accusingly.
We left and went to pick up the car which was parked in a lot with a very deceiving sign that suggested a special of $9.99 all day with tiny letters underneath saying every half hour.
I paid the $33.00 and off we went to lunch.
“I really learned my lesson. No American letter will ever be ignored by me again”
We both agreed that it was a very interesting morning.
Julie found the housing judge very pro tenant and said she was glad we weren’t there for anything more serious.
Which immediately reminded me that many years ago while we watched the news about this guy killing his wife I made dave promise that if he ever found me wanting that he’d wouldn’t kill me he’d divorce me.
That was one promise he kept.
We sat there patting ourselves on the back for a job well done when I had a sudden thought.
You know the apartment was in Dan’s name. If anyone was going to go to the slammer it was him.
We enjoyed the rest of our meal with the thought that even if this court date goes to shit, we’re home free.