Well, I wasn't going to take time to write until after Bianca had arrived and settled in (my ward and daughter of my heart for those not in the know) for the summer....however I had an experience today I absolutely felt the need to share. I'm not whining or bitching or anything, but I am flabbergasted and utterly appalled.
To cut to the chase, I was a witness to the most blatant and stupefying in-this-day-and-age act of discrimination I've ever seen. It was utterly shameless.
My personal assistant and her husband of her heart are looking for an apartment or house to rent. The woman said right off that she wanted a nice clean couple, no drinking no drugs, that sort of nonsense was not welcome. Understandable. Landlords do have to be discerning. She said she didn't run credit checks and didn't have time for all that nonsense and we should have known then that it was a too-good-to-be-true situation. Just the same they drove out to see the little farmhouse for rent and I figured I would go with them to be a live and in person reference. Anything to help the kids out. Despite going through some ups and downs of life lately, these two are good young people, in their thirties, holding down good jobs. One is ex-navy and the other is by far one of the best women I have ever come to know. Dedicated, loyal and fiercely protective of what she loves, I find those all to be great qualities.
We caught on right away, moments after arriving, that she was a seriously Christian woman. Okay. No problem. But we did make sure to park and drive so my "Get a Taste of Religion: LICK A WITCH" bumper sticker wasn't seen. Not that I care for myself, but knowing how narrowminded some people down South have proven to be about that sort of thing (already someone tried to deface this same sticker by crossing out LICK and writing in PRAY FOR...not to mention how often Ryanne gets accosted when she runs errands...so forgive me for being leery) we had Greg do a body block of the sticker at one point. Heh. So not funny, but certainly shake your head and laugh so you don't lose perspective. Regardless, I didn't want them being penalized for my beliefs.
I should have known this was a losing battle though when after looking at the cute little farmhouse in question we sat down to this woman's idea of an interview. Right out the gate...she began to preach to us. I get irked when people try to force their beliefs on me, but I kept very calm by tuning her out and humming "The Christians and the Pagans" in my head. It reminds me to be tolerant. I think it was a reasonable tactic to curb my own impulses toward intolerance. I don't hate Christians. I don't think ill of them in the least. I find all religions beautiful in their own way. Unfortunately, there are too many out there that can't say the same. She quoted the bible and, in order to be conversational, I quoted it right back. She lit up like a Christmas tree...until I told her I wasn't a Christian. Then it was "Oh. Well, I want to talk to you about that one day." (Read: Preach and try and force you to think like I do) But that was okay. I was there for other things and just figured I wouldn't be visiting my friends too often if they ended up hanging around this woman. The goal here was to obtain the cute little farmhouse for my friends.
But I daresay when the topic came up about what I write, she was just delighted by my success...until I told her they were Demons. She adopted a look like I'd stuck a poker up her ass. But hey. That's cool. Everyone has a right to like or dislike me. Like or dislike my books. Whatever their reasons. (I already lost a born-again friend because of the nature of my work. I realized then that I wasn't the one with the problem and that moment was no different.)
Mind you I am not bashing Christians. Everything I am saying is to set you up for the kill...the twist in my story. The turn you don't expect.
So she is grilling my friends about things that, frankly, I felt was often going over the line. You have to expose yourself to gain a rental home to some degree, but this was getting a little too personal and had no bearing on the business at hand that I could see. Then, it happens. She starts to ask them about their marriage. (Okay so I am leaving out the part where she bashed cats for ten minutes...and no, i didn't sit there and agree with her. I love my friends, but I won't do that for anyone.) Back to the marriage thing. When were you married? What date? Where?
Tell me what that has to do with a rental deal. Please. Someone. Anyone.
Being honest, Ryanne says, "Actually, we had a commitment ceremony. I was in a bad marriage for years and--"
"What?? You're not married? Oh honey, I don't rent to unwed couples!"
And then she proceeds to tell us that 'cohabitation' between unwed couples is against the law in North Carolina. That landlords are breaking the law when they rent to them.
There was a clang as my jaw hit the floor. Ryanne starts to bristle, starts to explain again why she won't legally marry anyone ever again. The woman actually says "It's real cheap you know. Doesn't cost you hardly anything."
"Until the divorce," I said, getting to my feet. As far as I saw, this was the end of the interview. Anyone who thinks they can say something like that and get away with it...well...there's no reasoning with them and I wasn't about to let my friends talk her around it in what would amount to groveling. I managed to keep my tongue, but I was horrified and I was so offended on behalf of my wounded friends. Their devastation, their shock and their outrage was palpable. We tried to laugh it off, but there was no way around it. This woman had just discriminated against my friends based upon their familial status.
And btw, NC State Law and the fair housing act says that no one may be discriminated against for age, race, sex, religion, or familial status. This woman had treated them like they were trash. Dirt. Lower than methheads in full tweak.
I told them to sue the bitch.