02/28/13: Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership and Vinfen

by thiswinteralso

February 28, 2013

Yesterday, I went to Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership and met my Vinfen worker and a Vinfen housing specialist there, which the housing specialist had left me a voicemail the night before to tell me to do.

The housing specialist introduced me to the people at the front desk by saying “This is Lena,” and then coughing.  She did the same thing, coughing even more loudly, when we met the Metro Boston employee who was going to have me sign documents.

I finally said to the Vinfen housing specialist “You don’t have to introduce me to people; I can do that.  Also, please stop coughing at me.”  She said “I wasn’t coughing at you,” and “People have to cough.”  I told her that she wasn’t telling the truth about her behavior.  She said “People have been sick.”  I said “There is something sick about the way that I’m being treated.  I’m doing the best I can.”  She said, in a rude and condescending tone of voice “So are we, Lena.”  I said “Unfortunately, I’m sure that’s true.”

Twice while the Metro Boston employee was explaining the documents that I had to sign, I had a question about what I was signing.  Both times, he answered the question incorrectly.  The first time, when I thought that he was probably wrong, I went to the front desk and asked to speak to the person with whom I had had previous conversations at Metro Boston over the past few months and whom I had mostly found to be helpful.  I was told to call his office number, which I did.  He showed up and answered the question and then left the room.  The second time that the Metro Boston employee who was supposed to be helping me erroneously answered a question, it was to tell me that I couldn’t write the amount that had to be paid for a security deposit on a lease.  He said “The property manager does that.”  I said “I can write it there.”  He said “No, you can’t.”

Even though I had no reason to distrust the property manager, I wasn’t about to sign a lease that left a blank for money; nobody should sign a document that does that.  I realized after several “Yes I can” and “No you can’t” sentences had passed between the employee and me that I wouldn’t be able to have a conversation with him about it and that he would do what he was saying he was going to do, which was to white out the number that I wrote for the security deposit as soon as I’d written it, even after I’d signed the lease.  I knew what the number was; I wasn’t wrong about it, but he insisted that I couldn’t write the number, that the property manager had to do it.

He raised his voice to me and I walked out of the room rather than to continuing saying “Yes I can” while he insisted that I couldn’t.  I went to the lobby and called the person from whom I had asked for clarification before.  This time, I also said “I’m being badly treated by that employee, and I’m going to stay in the lobby until you’re here.”

He walked out of his office a few minutes later, with the other employee, and told me to go into the room where my Vinfen worker, the Vinfen housing specialist and the other employee had been.  In front of all of them, the person whom I had called for help degraded me in a way that has never happened to me before.  He accused me of having been disrespectful to every employee at Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership since I was first there months ago, which couldn’t be less true.  He told me to stop asking him for answers to my questions and that the other employee was trained to answer the questions.  Continuing to speak loudly and to interrupt everything I said, he told me “If you continue to be combative with (the other employee), I will call security and have you removed from the building.  Can you continue this transaction without there being one more incident of you arguing?  Do you understand?  It’s a yes or no question; can you or can’t you?”

I tried to talk to him, and he continue to yell at me, saying “YES or NO?”

I realized that I would be forced to leave the building, and that I wouldn’t be able to sign the lease, either, if I continued to try to say that I deserved to be respected or to imply that I deserved to be treated like a person.  I stopped talking.  He said “I’ll take that as a yes.”

Somewhere in the midst of his tirade, I asked if I could write the number for the security deposit on the lease, and he said “Yes.”

I’m going to have to write the rest of this tomorrow or the next time that I can use a computer.

Copyright L. Kochman, February 28, 2013 @ 8:05 p.m.