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Early in our tenancy of our last apartment, we accidentally spilled canola oil all over the carpet, smack in the middle of the living room. Thus began the War Of The Stain. For the next year, we battled that oil stain.

We soaked up as much oil as paper towels would hold. This went on quite literally for weeks. In between paper towel changes, we attacked that stain with every method known to man.

We scrubbed it with dish soap and water, and flooded it with white vinegar.

We threw powders down to soak up the stain and then vacuumed up the powder.

We tried professional solutions from Rona.

We even rented a steam cleaner and attacked the spot, which disappeared beautifully for a little while and then, like a ghostly blood stain in a horror novel, it reappeared, dark and incriminating.

It was unsightly. It was embarrassing. After several months of scrubbing and moaning and worrying and trying new suggestions from the Internet, we covered it over with a large white rug from Ikea, and tried to forget about it. Every time we lifted it up to vacuum, I would try again, fruitlessly, to lighten the stain with more vinegar. More soapy water. More Nature’s Miracle. But nothing worked.

For 12 months, that spot’s existence laid heavy on my soul. It felt like the physical example of the things wrong in my life – my frustrations with my work, my struggle with my weight, my depression. It was all the fault of that damn spot!

Before we moved out, I insisted on hiring a professional cleaning service to clean that carpet. Perfect Husband warned me that it probably wouldn’t work and that we should just kiss our damage deposit goodbye, but I wanted to try. So we hired a carpet cleaning company… and hallelujah, the stain came out. Unfortunately, our landlord’s wife had to let the cleaners in, so she saw the stain before they could remove it.

” I was really relieved that stain came out” she said to us when we came to do the apartment inspection that night.

“So am I!” I said, “I was really worried.”

“Because that carpet was pretty new.”

“I know, it was an accident. I’m glad it came out.”

“I was really worried, you know. Because that carpet was pretty new.”

“Yeah… I know.”

Our relief lasted three days, until we started getting calls from our landlord (whom we unaffectionately nicknamed Semen Breath for no particular reason).  The stain had returned, and further attempts by the cleaners (free of charge) had not been successful.  I was always apologetic, but they wanted to speak to my husband about it. The SB family has always persisted in dealing with my husband, since my husband is clearly The Man Of The House and thus in charge of all financial decisions. However, Perfect Husband, being a banker, can’t just pick up his cell phone in the middle of the work day the way I, as a dog trainer, can. We have told them this many times. But would they deal with me? No.

Whenever Perfect Husband called back they were out, so he left messages indicating that they could take the damage deposit if they needed to. Mrs. SB called again today. Twice. Wanting to talk to my husband. I left her a message saying (again) that they could take it from our damage deposit. When she caught him home, my husband’s side of the conversation went like this:

“I’m not sure what else there is to say… I’ve already said in my messages that you can keep our damage deposit if you need to…

“…I’m sorry to hear that. Well, obviously you have to do what you have to do…

“…Yes, well, you have our damage deposit. If you need to take more of it, then you need to take more of it. We understand that we are financially obligated to let you keep that money to repair…

“…Well… if that’s the case, I’m sorry to hear that, but we are only financially responsible for the amount of our damage deposit…

“…No, it was not pet related, so you can’t actually take it out of our pet deposit. That is a separate deposit and you cannot legally take it for damages not related to the pets…

“…If that ends up being the case, I’m sorry to hear that. But you can only charge us for the damage deposit. We are only financially responsible for up to that amount…

“…As I’ve said, if you need to keep our damage deposit, we understand and you have the legal right to do so…

“…No, we can’t give you more money than that. We gave a damage deposit…”

and so on.

They still insisted on meeting with him in person. He tried to get them to stop into my work on Monday, where I could easily put a dumbbell down for five seconds to sign a release of our damage deposit, but of course my signature isn’t worth anything, because I’m just a woman. So he has to go in to them tomorrow, and fight with them further about the extra money. I’ve added it up, and they have called us like fifteen times over the last week, and we keep telling them the same thing. At what point does this become harassment?

Owning property has its pains, but I am very glad I will never have to deal with landlords again.

Or that damn spot.

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