Panorama of San Bernardino

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I got into another argument with my monster-in-law.  She is the Argentine version of Godzilla to me right now. 

For those of you who don't know my back story, let me get you up to speed. 

My father-in-law Alberto died a little over a year ago.  My mother-in-law was devastated and my husband and I knew at seventy eight years of age that her living alone was not a good option.  She barely speaks English and doesn't drive on the freeway.  So, we cleaned out her house in West Covina and moved her into our newly decorated guest bedroom downstairs.  A couple of months later, masochists that we are, we moved my mom in too.  I suppose we wanted a matching set.

We found a tenant for my mother-in-law's house in West Covina house rather quickly.  Then, for some odd reason (hello, because my husband asked me to) I began managing the rental property.  If the tenant had a problem, I fixed it.  I didn't mind.  I knew my husband and his mom needed my help.  Plus. being a control freak is natural for me and I am convinced that I am the only one who can do things the right way.

It all blew up last week.  The tenant called me to renew the lease and I made an appointment for Saturday to do so.  When I called my mother-in-law from my lunch break to inform her of the appointment she said in her strong Argentine accent, "Why do you make an appointment with her?  That is my house.  I need to be there."  I took a deep breath and counted to three before I said anything, "Orieta," I replied, "Don't worry, of course you can be there."

They say no good deed goes unpunished and that is too true.  That next evening, my mother-in-law told me I was butting in where I was not welcome.  "I should be the one to talk to her.  I don't know why you called her," she said. 

I blew my top.

"I was trying to help you,"  I screamed.  "Do you think I have nothing better to do than call your tenant for you and renew your lease?  I work fifty hours a week and have my own rental property to worry about.  I could go get a massage on Saturday morning rather than drive you to West Covina." 

You are ridiculous," I added.  I was on a roll.  "You are the most ungrateful person I have ever met."

"Don't talk to me like that, I live here," she said in a stern voice. 

"Oh yeah, that's right you do live here," I responded with a turn of my head as I walked upstairs to my bedroom. 

Now, what is the moral of the story?  Is it, don't do things for others because you will never be appreciated?  Or is it, don't expect gratitude and just do things out of the goodness of your own heart.  The good deed is it's own reward. 

To tell you the truth, I don't know.  What I do know, however, is that I have to change.  My tendency to do everything is not limited to my personal life.  It is also my modus operandi at work.  Which is fine and good except that I never get the appreciation I think I deserve and get upset about it. 

Maybe the moral is that you can't please everyone, you can only please yourself and you should only go out of your way for those who are appreciative.

Or maybe there is no moral, just one rule.  Don't ever let your Godzilla like mother-in-law move in with you because you will live to regret it.

"But, wait", says the little voice inside my head, "Tell them the rest of the story."

On Saturday morning at eight a.m., my husband and I woke up and drove to Wrightwood for breakfast at a charming coffee shop called The Evergreen Cafe.  The mountains were covered in snow and I was glad I had worn my snow boots.  We waited for my sister-in-law Sally and my nephew Nicolas to arrive.  After an hour of my husband and I sipping on our coffee, my phone rang.  I went outside the cafe and climbing out of the car was Sally and Nicolas along with my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law Gabe.

My mother-in-law gave me a kiss on the cheek as if everything was fine.  I looked at Gabe with a scowl, "Don't you have an appointment with the tenant this morning?" I asked him. 

"Oh, we didn't make it," he said with a shrug. 

"Well, did you call her and cancel?" I asked him in a sharp voice.  "You need to call her and cancel."

As he fumbled with his words and then for his phone to make the call I smiled and thought to myself, amateurs.

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