The UnHoly Duo Saga continues. I attended a ‘conciliatory meeting’ with one half of the twinset yesterday afternoon. She had a screaming toddler with her and a mousy little attendant who was introduced as ‘the one who answers the telephones.’
Inside the conciliation room, we proceeded to bring forth our case notes.
Once again, I was chided by this person for not declaring in my rental application form my disability and the detailed specifics of my needs.
We were there to talk about end of lease conflict (I am accused of leaving the premises in a dreadful state) but over and over, this person persists in reiterating the irrelevant – and in fact illegal – demand that I disclose my disability. The fact that she is mentally fixated on this, and repeatedly points to the beginning of my tenancy, i.e. the application form, with threats and insults, is very telling. It shows that this whole fiasco is a direct result of a long festering vendetta centred upon her repeated theme, spun out in as many twisted ways as she and her twin in this fiasco can think of. A libretto of deliberate discrimination, no less.
When I reminded her that a) it is against the law, and b) she was behaving and speaking in a discriminatory way, she flew into a semi-rage (muted, no doubt by her awareness that this was an official premise and there was an conciliation officer hovering around).
“Well, everything that is said inside this room is inadmissible in the court of law, so I can say whatever I want!” she declared, making a sweeping motion across the room with her hand as added emphasis.
True. The conciliation rooms are meant for people trying to strike an agreement and hence whatever happens within is not admissible in a court of law.
She then presented me with a bizarre emotional outburst.
“You’re not the only person with problems, you know! My husband is dying! Do you understand, DYING!!! Do you want me to cry in front of you? Do you? Huh? Do you?????”
I replied softly and calmly, reminding her that although I am sorry for her grief, this is nevertheless a meeting about official legal matters, and we are not communicating on a social / personal level. I also politely suggested that perhaps her colleague, the one whose name appears on the official document of lodgment, should perhaps have been the person to attend this meeting instead?
I received another chastisement in response.
“Let me remind you again, you’re not the only one with problems! We all have problems, you know!!!!!”
Empathy is an Endeavour of Consciousness. It is not a magical innate quality. Empathy – i.e. the ability to project oneself into the mental-emotional landscape of others – is most definitely not a prevalent feature in any human mind. The lack of empathy is not solely an autistic feature. In fact, I have met more empathic autists and empathic neurodivergent people than not.
What utterly confuses me about this particular human is that despite her declared suffering, she seemed to have absolutely no empathy (and make no effort towards acquiring any empathic understanding) for any other state-of-mind apart from her own. She also displays no ability whatsoever of discerning the difference between personal ‘problems’ (which any living human being experiences as a fact of life) and the legal rights of a person with disabilities.
As for the farcical process of conciliation (in our case anyway), despite my willingness to negotiate a fair gesture of compromise, she stolidly refused to budge on her demands for full admission of guilt and payment – the latter of which is three times the amount quoted to me by numerous cleaning companies for the job at hand. Conciliation can only happen when both parties are amenable to the idea. In this case, the UnHoly Duo are not only adamantly discriminatory against a person with disabilities (and such great gusto displayed in their modus operandi) but also probably having a grand time perpetuating the sad stereotype that real estate agents around the world seem to have gained notoriety for.
In the meantime, even when we proceeded to the main hearing room for instructions on the procedures leading up to and the date of our official case, the toddler continued to shriek. Nobody told her to remove the screaming bundle of joy. Surprising, to me, given that this was supposed to be a courtroom of sorts. My head was pounding by that time. But there was no point in complaining. I would like to think that I could summon enough grace from within my frazzled containment to let this go. The child is innocent. The fault lies with the adults who are playing rabid games.
Anyway, on the way home in the bus, I contemplated the situation.
I felt sorry for this person. Resorting to emotional scare tactics, using her own personal pain as a weapon of attack upon a disabled person in an official situation. Threatening. Bullying. Insulting. Bringing an innocent toddler into the fray – the screaming child no doubt caused me immense sensory distress, those piercing shrieks were excruciating, and she seemed to delight in my agony. Did she use the child? Or was the child merely a convenient prop to her confusing Theatre? I do not know.
Everything that took place inside that room is inadmissible, you see.
I arrived home – where I call home for the next few months anyway – with a tremendous sense of relief and gratitude. A beautiful home provided by a generous friend. An Angel by my side. A network of caring friends far and wide. Ah, yes! I am thankful for Grace – incarnated in wonderful people who are holding me up in a beautifully orchestrated chorus of support. And just as the feelings of exhaustion and the urge to give up and give in came rolling my way, I reminded myself that I must stand my ground, because it is not just my ground I am standing upon. This ground belongs to all who are supporting me. This ground belongs to all who are unable to stand as firmly as I have been gifted to do.
If I do not stand up and speak, I would lose my Voice. I am not in some grand mission to right all wrongs and save the world. Change? Perhaps, I do hope, that I may contribute towards positive change, in some small way. But that is not my main mission in life. I speak out because I have a Voice, and I speak as a symbol for all who may still be afraid to use their own Voice. Or are unable. My small, resolute little Voice is thus added to the Common Voice. This is my humble contribution. Nothing earth-shattering. Just a Voice inside a growing Voice that needs to be heard and respected. That is all.
Vexatious, yes. Interruptive, yes. But not for me the shrouded four walls of a confidential conciliation room where nothing said or done is admissible. I look forward to the final Hearing. Regardless of outcome, my purpose is to walk the walk, and walk it in the light of truth.