Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Ballad of the Sad Freeloader

I knew she had been staying with Mum for way longer than she was supposed to, but other than tentative inquiries from my siblings: "Hey, is that girl still there?" I wasn't aware of anything untoward. Mum never mentioned her. I hardly saw Julie as we led our own separate frenetic existences, coming home to crash and then up in the morning for another round of madness.

Then my birthday happened and everything had to slow down. Mum called. Siblings called. Julie took me out for lunch. And somewhere during all this I learned of the freeloader and the extent of the nuisance she had made of herself in our house.

She came for a weekend. She stayed for a month. In that month, she left of trail of snotty Kleenexes in her wake. All over the house. In that month, she expected my mother to wake up at 6 every morning to send her to the hospital (she's doing her housemanship) and pick her up. She expected my brother to do this as well, but Chubs got fed up and in a typical Jacobs response, stopped talking to her or answering the phone when she called:

"Auntie," she wailed. "Auntie! I can't get a taxi." If she had just stayed in the quarters the hospital provided, a taxi would not be a problem. But a determined freeloader will freeload for as long as she can.

"I'm leaving this weekend," she said, every weekend since she came. Then the weekend would arrive and she would make "donno". As in act stupid. Or oblivious. As in not move out for another week.

When Chubs told me she was making Mum drive her around, I was livid. As the information sunk in and started to curdle I could feel the rage rise in my throat. If my family was "too nice" to do anything, it would devolve on the family thug (i.e. me) to take matters in hand.

I called to tell my brother that I was coming back to JB next weekend to "help" this girl, a second cousin, move out.

A second cousin I hardly knew. I remember her as a very thoughtless kid who cheerfully destroyed other people's property. The only things that came to mind when her name was mentioned were "stupid" and "spoilt". To think of this stranger squatting in our house and driving up my mother's blood pressure (only her children are allowed to do that) was more than I could stomach.

Oh, I would be polite. But there would be no room to negotiate. She could either accept the lift, or she could have her things thrown out and the gates locked on her when she came home.

Mum found out I was coming. At first she thought I was coming to collect my present. When she learned of my true purpose, she was distraught. Yes, in coming to get rid of this nuisance I was just upsetting Mums further. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

In typical Malaysian fashion, Mum didn't want a confrontation. I said there wouldn't be one.

"Why are you coming back?"

"To kick that bitch out of MY house!"

"Aiya Jenny, don'tlar, she will go by herself."

"I don't trust you. You have been saying that for a month now. She won't go unless you kick her out. You're not gonna. So I will."

As I was driving back to JB (I was sleepy and took my time so it took me all of five hours) I wondered about the perfect outcome. I didn't really want to fight. I wanted it to be all solved when I got there so I wouldn't have to deal with it. Then I could concentrate on my wonderful birthday present and having a good time and being spoiled rotten.

There was no question of being merciful and just allowing her to stay. Some people are users and they walk all over you if you let them. And the longer they're there, the harder they are to dislodge. As Jules pointed out, it was not like she had no place to go.

When I pulled up outside the house, Mom came out grinning and opened the gate for me. She moved the dogs as I negotiated the car in. Then she gave me a big hug and wished me a belated happy birthday.

Inside, the Chubster was on his Xbox.

There was no third person present. The room she had been occupying was in darkness.

Chubs glanced at me: "You don't have a job."

I wondered briefly whether my boss had called to complain about me and tell my mother that I was now jobless.

No, that was not what he meant.

Apparently, the Mums, had finally cleared out the pest. And she had gone kicking screaming, a nuisance till the last. She made Mum drive her to her new quarters. And wait there 30 minutes where some poor doctor or other came to help her move. Apparently the fairy princess was above carrying her own luggage.

"Why didn't you just ask her to unload the car so you could leave?"

Mum sighed. "Anyway there was nice music on the radio."

All of which meant that I didn't have to kick anyone out. How delightful. Like my new Nokia 6500.

And I woke today to nice fresh appam and roti canai at Kerala Restaurant. Then it was a trip to Pasar Tani (Mums moved tentatively towards the orchids but resisted). Ivan stayed in the car and played one of the games on my phone. I traipsed after Mum carrying stuff.

We got home and I fell fast asleep while Mum made a really nice lunch.

Everything is so...peaceful.


Nessa said...

Gangsters and warlords know this trick: get a rep as a hard ass early on and your work load lessens as the years go by. Are you related to Attila the Hun?

Jenn said...

How do you deal with pests? There IS a limit, you know...

powertothepeople said...

I was wondering why you were taking it so coolly. Thought you'd gone all gandhian on me.... Hee hee ignorance is bliss.

Jenn said...

Not likely is it, Smacks. I just hadn't paid attention. I should have, knowing what kind of people they are.

Blood always tells.

Marge said...

Oi, what a tale - glad to read the freeloader is gone. Though some part of me was hoping to find out how the "family thug" would kick out the pest!

Jenn said...

I don't think my mum would have appreciated it. But come to think of it - she kicked the girl out because she didn't want me to be upset by a confrontation. It was me she was thinking about, rather than that waste of space.

boogs said...

Hey, I had a freeloader once! I'm like your mom Jenn, an accomodating softie. I emphatise too much and sacrifice my comfort. I hate confrontation as I have faulty tear ducts whcih dampens the effect. Anyways I let the anger boil in me too long and when it spilled, I almost brought the house down with my yelling (amidst tears of course!) and bashing. Yup, I actually beat up the guy. Didn't send him to the hospital but he did leave the house bruised and not just his ego. Had a strange reaction to the explosion of anger after that....was incapicitated with stomach cramps!