The Lightbult Insight
Because of the May 1 holiday, I offered to pay my rent early. Typically my landlord – who in fact owns just the flat I live in, not the building – comes around to collect the rent at the beginning of each month. But he declined my offer, saying he’d be out of town over the holiday and I could just pay later. This worked fine for me because I knew that my pay was likely to be delayed because of the holiday as well – I could come up with the money earlier but it’s usually somehow nicer to get paid first.
When the landlord came by, during the second week of May, for the rent, he noticed that the light bulb above my door, in the stairwell, was not working and we looked around for a light bulb. We couldn’t find one, so he said he’d go out and buy one. “Don’t worry,” I said, “I’ll get one soon and change it.” It really wasn’t a big deal – I just had to go down one flight of stairs and turn on that light. “But it’s for everyone in the building,” he said, “not only you.”
First of all, the rent situation made me realize that while I may get frustrated with, say, getting paid late, there is a reciprocal quality to it: others may be more lenient with me. Granted, I don’t really ask them to be, but it’s still nice to experience it and better than the converse. The light bulb portion of the story is also illuminating (ha!) . Many landlords in my own country, and recently in another flat abroad, don’t fix things even when it is clearly their responsibility or they are dangerous, and they will use a variety of excuses to put repairs off. There’s also this idea of doing something to benefit the community, even if it’s a bit of a hassle to yourself. Granted, this is a light bulb we are talking about, but the idea is there, and enough in contrast to my own experience elsewhere – and it seems sometimes my own outlook – that it struck me as pretty remarkable.