Sunday, 19 August 2018

The true horror stories in modern Paris part 84

At the beginning, Mme. Landlord asked me each time she wished to borrow something from me.  Then gradually ‘borrowed’ became ‘taken.’  After 16 months, she would just take them and would be rather cross if I retrieved my things from her apartment.  Still, I made excuses for her, telling myself that it was her advanced age making her forgetful of manner.  Of course, she was miserly to the bone, but I did not want to see it then.  My plate was already full of dark sludge of the restaurant from Hell, I could not handle another type of evil.

So, I got to work in the cold month of December in her apartment.  I spent two days in total scraping off the old layers, filling up the numerous holes.  A professional painter would tell you that this was the most tedious work of painting, but I did it because Japanese would honor their promises.  It was becoming evident that Mme. Landlord did not see me as her equal, but that was natural.  France was her land and she had priority here over me.  I was never invited, I came to France on my will to learn her culture.  It would be audacious, even unpractical to expect a red-carpet reception.  Thus, it would have been sufficient to me if Mme. Landlord only realized that I was too useful to mistreat…to lose

I had underestimated her avarice, financial or any forms.  She even lied to me that her heater was not working.  She made me work in the unheated apartment during the winter to save her money, but I would not doubt her words.  I did not even touch her heater.  Mme. Landlord had taught many Japanese students and spoke fondly of their politeness, but what she really appreciated was their obedience.  She knew I would complete any hard task, once I took it upon.  She hated the black wall paper Jupiter had left behind.  Instead of paying a professional a lot of money to remove it, she opted to make me paint several layers over it.  I could see it was going to be an impossible task, compounded by the cheap semi-transparent paint she had purchased for me to work with.  However, a decedent of Samurai warrior would keep his or her promises.  It was going to be the last favor I would ever do for Mme. Landlord, and misjudging her personality was not going to be the excuse to break my promise.

So, I found a way to peel off the black wallpaper.  Unfortunately, it did not make my work easier because there were still many glues stuck on the wall and it was hell removing it a strip by strip.  I spent three whole days removing the glues, but Mme. Landlord was not satisfied by the result.  She insisted that since I removed the wall paper without her agreement, I had the responsibility to make the wall smooth and void of any glues.  She wrote an email to me so there would be no misunderstanding.  She wrote to me how her son and her family were appalled that Mme. Landlord was left to finish my lousy job.  If they had come, why did they not help their own mother?  Unfortunately, their mother had raised them with the ideas that migrants were the source of free labor.

Just in case you were thinking that I might have really done a lousy job, then let me tell you about this professional painter who was sent by the insurance company of the Syndic to paint the ceiling of Mme. Landlord.  There had been a leek on her roof.  The painter did a good job, but Mme. Landlord said it was NOT, pointing at the one tiny , oh, so tiny spot left near the window.  She refused to pay unless the painter did more extra works for her.  It turned ugly that the boss was summoned.  After the heated argument, the painters left fuming.  One of them insisted on shaking hands with me, but not with Mme. Landlord.  He told me that ‘That is a nasty woman there’ indicating that other French women were nicer.  I was much relieved to hear that.  I much prefer Mme. Le Pen for her honest acknowledgement of discrimination over the hypocrisy of Mme. Landlord who acted as a defender of the weak, the gay and the migrants while actually exploiting them.

To be continued.
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Saturday, 11 August 2018

The true horror stories in modern Paris part 83

If the Police kept the records of the city cameras that night, you would see me, a tiny Japanese woman pushing two chairs twice the size of herself across Paris.  My arm muscle ached but so did my heart.  I could not adjust to the sobering reality that Mme. Landlord was not quite a philanthropist that I had believed her to be. 

I remembered of this recent cocktail party held at Mme. Landlord’s apartment.  I felt honored at being invited so I dressed up for the occasion and brought a thank you gift.  Mme. Landlord happily accepted the gift and seated me on a chair.  I marveled at the group of French ladies as I thanked God for allowing me this rare glimpse into the French socializing scene.  

Then as more guests arrived I noticed that colored ladies were being seated near me.  Initially I suspected the dark-skinned ladies to be non-French speakers like me, but no, they turned out to be fluent in French who would have been capable of joining the discussion among the French guests who were seated the other side of the room.  The only time we were spoken to, was when Mme. Landlord gleefully boasted of having tolerance for diversity within her circle.   She spoke to her French peers how she was being respected by me, and that I wanted to repay her kindness by helping her with the re-doing of her apartment.  Indeed, I wanted to prove that I was not an ungrateful immigrant.  My sense of loyalty prevailed as I suppressed a small prickle in my heart.

However as I carried the heavy chairs up four stairs up to her apartment alone at midnight after having witnessed the two faces of Mme. Landlord for the second time,  (the first time was described in the episode 82), I had to concede that I had been used by Mme. Landlord all along.  She knew that I was suffering from chronical insomnia because of the unsympathetic bar-restaurant below me.  And yet she chose to take an advantage of my weak state.  

Mme. Landlord was the last band of the pyramid of predators.  The goliath on the top who bends the order and morality; the sycophants who conspire to build a system around the Goliath, leaving a trail of victims that got churned up behind, and at the bottom are the hyenas who preys on the victims.  Profit may not be much, but can achieved with less investment.  A hint of kindness is all it takes to extract whatever left in the wounded victims.  Which one of three types of predators is the worst, I wonder.  The Goliath is heartless, the sycophants are shameless, but the hyena may be the most cruel.

It was around this time that I noticed that things went missing every time Mme. Landlord visited my place.  To be continued.

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Saturday, 4 August 2018

The true horror stories in modern Paris part 82

She was chatting away about her grandson and how well she was getting along with her son and her daughter in law.  Mme. Landlord and I were in Leroy Merlin, a hardware shop in Paris.  Paint needed to be purchased to paint her apartment, the one that had been left in mess by her former tenant Jupiter.  Not knowing that she was lying I offered to help with the big task because she had put on an Oscar performance of a crestfallen old lady.  Besides, her son who lives in Paris would surely help his old mother too?   To this Mme. Landlord replied as ‘Oh, no, I cannot ask my son (and his wife).  They are raising children.  Their time is precious.’ I let pass this inconsiderate comment about my time being insignificant as a childless single woman because Mme. Landlord was from the generation when women’s worth was measured solely by the number of children she bore and raised.  She cannot be accused of the general opinion.  To her credit, she had shed off racial discrimination that was prominent among the older generation.

Or had she?  Her eyebrow moved up as Mme. Landlord spotted some paints with the reduced price.  She asked a shop assistance if it was suited for painting over dark color.  The assistant replied ‘Non, it is semi-transparent.’  Now Jupiter had left black wall papers on the wall and yet Mme. Landlord wished to paint the walls in light beige. She should have a professional painter remove the black wall paper or invest in high quality paint.  She chose neither because the both options were costly.  She purchased the cheap paint and decided that I should paint many layers to compensate the poor quality.  And yet such was my loyalty to her that I did not oppose.  I wished to help her economize, just like I did all the printing jobs she needed for nearly two years. 

I had to carry all the heavy cans of paint back to her apartment because Mme. Landlord would not spend 50 euros for delivery.  Mme. Landlord thought I deserved some reward and served me a pumpkin soup.  It was the weakest soup that I had ever tasted that even water would have had more flavor, but ‘it is the thought that counts’ I told myself.  Then one of her gentleman friends knocked on the door.  She had asked him to come give her some advice on the best way to paint her apartment.  I was amazed by her transformation.  She behaved coy and flirtish, her voice was a pitch higher than the one she would use with me.  Well, that’s French woman for you, I was amused…until she started telling lies. 

The gentleman said the painting of the entire apartment was a bit much for an amateur woman like me.  He advised Mme. Landlord to use a good quality paint to compensate for my want of stamina and experience.  I was relieved that he had spoken some sense into her, however, Mrs. Landlord replied ‘oh, I have bought the best that the shop recommended to me.’  My French had improved enough to understand her lies, but my speaking ability was never to be on par with a native speaker.  As soon as I opened my mouth and uttered a few words of French, Mme. Landlord spoke over me to shut me up.  She went on to say to the gentleman that it was me who insisted on doing this favor for Mme. Landlord because I wished to repay her for her kind services.  It was true, but the minute she boasted it publicly, it lost its class.  I felt used by Mme. Landlord to impress her gentleman friend. She went on to plead him to tie two chairs on a small lorry.  The gentleman obliged and asked if she wanted him to deliver the chairs to her other apartment.  Mme. Landlord declined saying that she could not be so impolite to her good friend.  And yet, as soon as the gentleman left, she turned around, back in her normal tone, and told me to deliver her chairs across the old town of Paris at 23:30 at night.  On her lips there was a sheepish smile, but her eyes were malicious.

To be continued.
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Sunday, 29 July 2018

The true horror stories in modern Paris part 81

After the phone call, I felt like a fool that I had just spent a whole day feeling lousy about myself for having denied Mme. Harmonie the access through my apartment.   Caution told me to have the message heard by a French speaker, but I was convinced that she was making a demand that she did not deserve to make.  So, I wrote another refusal message to Mr. Pride and the syndic, adding that I did not appreciate the aggressive tone of Mme. Harmonie.  She never sugarcoats her words, which even her own employee admitted to me later, but I did not know that her usual tone was less soft than other French speakers.

Thus, I was astonished when I received an email from her that she did not call me that day.   It turned out that I had replayed her old message making plans for our first meeting, which took place a month ago.  A mistake is a mistake, so I apologized to her in writing immediately.  Part of Japanese culture is ‘swift apology’.  Japan is too small a nation to live with a reputation of ‘a loser who does not acknowledge one’s mistake.’  The only case we stubbornly refuse to apologize is when the recipients have elaborated the facts.  We have compassion for the victims, but not any more if the victims turn into something else who treat the compensations they received like it never happened.

Back to my mistake.  I had jumped to the conclusion.  Mme. Harmonie deserved an apology. She further demanded a public apology in writing, which was fine except she also criticized Mme. Landlord whom I still adored at the time in the same email.  I had also heard that Mme. Harmonie had spoken rudely to Mme. Landlord who accused the restaurant for having dumped their commercial rubbish into the residential area.  I felt I had let down Mme. Landlord, so, I wrote an apology note to everyone in the building about my mistake, adding my plea to Mme. Harmonie that she should leave Mme. Landlord alone after this.

That night I wondered why I did not practice my usual caution before accusing Mme. Harmonie, and then realized with horror that I was acting with the sense of license as a victim of the restaurant from Hell.  That it was so easy to blame someone without checking the facts, shocked me.  I felt self-righteous and blamed someone for something she did not commit.  In a beat I shifted from a victim to a perpetrator.  Disgusting but I had acted like Mr. Justice, the most hypocrite of all!  (Please, refer to the episode 71~73 for the details about Mr. Justice, or

I became afraid for my soul.  The traditional potion passed down through my family protected my body, and the teaching of my Samurai ancestors saved my sanity, but my soul was still weak.  I finally acknowledged the importance of religion.  Their function was to shield our soul from corruption.  My soul was in jeopardy indeed.  However, it was not just the restaurant from Hell that pushed me towards the religion.  It was Mme. Landlord, an atheist who dared to take over the God.  
To be continued.
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Sunday, 22 July 2018

The true horror stories in modern Paris part 80

I am not above revenge, but it is necessary to take a realistic approach to it, considering the time and effort one must invest in the process.  Probably the most common motive would be the desire to make your enemy regret his or her past conducts, which may be possible if the enemy was an individual, but not if you fell prey to a collective perpetrator.  There is less fear with breaking laws together with one’s partners in crime.  There is no guilt in forsaking a human being in a long physically pain if you can blame someone else for the choice.  The characters involved in the restaurant from Hell (Mr. Pride, Mme. Empathy, Mme. Harmony, Mr. Brave) have stomped all over their neighbors for nearly 18 months and still have slept well at night because it is a typical lynch mentality.  The notion of regret will never come to them.  Thus, I must treat this like an accident just like the time a couple of Colombian men robbed money from me through threat.  Sure, I felt sick at the time, but it passed and the same will happen with the restaurant from Hell too.

Or will it?  The encounter was brief and one-off with the criminals, but I had already been exposed to the restaurant from Hell for more than one year when the Syndic contacted me about Mr. Pride’s new demand.  The restaurant needed to access my apartment to fix a leak on their low roof.  Normally I would be more than happy to oblige, but Mme. Harmonie had just told me to live with my windows closed forever.  She flatly refused to insulate her kitchen ceiling unlike many other decent restaurant owners in Paris.  And now she was sending workers into my studio through the Syndic so she did not need to say ‘please’ to me.  Pouring oil onto fire was another email sent by her partner demanding that I must cooperate for the comfort of the clients of the restaurant.  Comfort?!  I had been robbed of good night sleep for 12 months at this point.  In the end I would cooperate, but I could not roll over and accept the tyranny immediately.  So, I denied them access.

I was feeling lousy about myself when my phone rang.  I missed it, so I dialed 666 to retrieve the message.  I was on the busy street when I heard a woman’s message in French.  I did not catch each word, but it was Mme. Harmonie.  Under the situation I thought she was repeating the same demand on me directly.  The action I took following this call, made me realize that my soul had begun to be affected by the dark side.  I do not recommend revenge because longer you are exposed to the darkness, higher the risk of joining the dark side.  This has to be the most tragic thing that could happen to you, but a long stress will weaken your defense eventually.  To be continued.

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