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Two weeks before Christmas and the darn stove broke. She had the ham butt in the fridge and was really looking forward for her first big dinner in the new place. Having just, six months earlier, relocated to Florida from Flat Broke Mississippi, she wanted to at least spend the holiday somewhat contented. A nice, down home roasted ham with sweet potatoes and string bean casserole would do the trick. The stove! The darn stove was a joke! From the week she moved into this place that contraption never was at full tilt. Her new friend and neighbor cracked her up when she said it looked like it had arthritis. The apartment manager sent over a handyman to fix it, and he informed her that the warranty expired in 1973. He couldn’t do a thing with it, so the management lady told her she was looking for a ‘ Nice used one’. Three days passed and still no stove. Finally, she called the office and told the woman ” I’ll just go out and buy one and deduct it from my rent.” At this point the lady had no choice but to agree, but she gave her a limit as to what she could spend. She didn’t care at this point. She needed that stove… and NOW! Yes, she agreed and when her new stove finally came, she sent them the receipt.

She never met the actual owner of the place. All she knew was that he was close to 90 and relied on the management company to run things. Mind you, that this was a  tiny 500 square foot cottage two blocks from the ocean… the reason why she settled for such a small place. When she had a rodent problem after moving in, she really wanted the old man to know about how his manager was running things. They wouldn’t let her get in touch with him. Why should they, when this is what goes on? Rodents, a shitty stove and amenities from ages ago. She had looked around before renting this place and the prices for one bedroom apartments was ridiculous. $1100 was about the max for her budget, and all the other places, mainland or beachside, were outrageously priced.

Christmas was around the corner, and despite this situation, she was thankful as could be expected. Recently divorced, with no kids ( Thank God) she at least had a steady job as a medical office receptionist and made a new friend or two. One of them was going to be her Christmas dinner guest, and thank goodness she got that stove installed. The management company got rid of the rodents, and now she needed them to work on the leak in the ceiling. Each time there was a heavy rain she needed to place a pot or two to catch the water. What could she do? If she could afford an extra $300 or $400 a month she could get the heck out of this place. But, she couldn’t and that was that. The real sad reality was because of this pandemic many neighbors and coworkers who owned homes were finding their own financial strains. She knew more than a few who were getting behind on their mortgages. She also knew of more than a few neighbors on her street who rented just like her, and were behind on their rental payments. Thank goodness she hadn’t reached that point…YET! Where in the heck were those politicians from both parties who were still blind to this despair? Many of them were millionaires, so how could they relate to her and the others? They couldn’t and they didn’t! She was no scholar, but she knew how the government found the money and the where with all to bail out those huckster bankers in 2008-09, and the larger corporations this past Spring. What did they give her? Oh, a $1200 one time check and that was it! No, if they could keep bailing out the rich guys, it was time for them to bail out  working stiffs like her. Well, she had the stove and she would have Christmas… and that was it!

PA Farruggio
Christmas 2020