Inevitably, the expectation exists to engage in conversations and attempts to bring the group Human Rights claim and my Nuisance claim to closure, what with the hearing date set for Oct 1.
With two of us receiving BC Housing’s private market rent supplement (PMRS) – one of us on the Human Rights Claim, and another not on any claim – any settlement needs to consider helping the one left behind get out.
In this case, the one left behind happens to be the person who first came to my door entreating me on more than one occasion, to find more about the pamphlet she had on smoke-free housing.
I felt reticent to spend more time at the computer in a smoke filled suite, and embarrassed for telling her I didn’t want to do it. I was still mobile, painfully so, but still mobile enough to get out of my suite to get away from the habitual times that smokers congregated. However painful that was, leaving the apartment for the park and fresh air remained absolute in the circumstance we lived in. She was not as mobile. I spent my time in my suite on the computer looking for a place to move, which was turning into a never-ending story.
So eventually, I accepted her entreaties and her $40 to purchase ink, from her limited income of about $500, so she could have copies of the documents we found. We found a plethora of secondhand smoke and smoke-free housing documents, emailing four on to management, asking to be part of a committee working on smoke-free housing. Ah, the days when we were allowed to email.
This was before the crisis at the end of March 2008 when more crying women knocked on my door, and which proved to be the catalyst for a group report on the scope of the secondhand smoke problem three weeks later. Having a computer, my typing skills, once more, were in demand.
As I wrote previously, BC Housing gave us PMRS applications which were filled out, and BC Housing granted us the PMRS in 2008, but did not issue the subsidy, stating that we were on a waiting list.
Two of us receiving the BC Housing PMRS, and moving out on the same day, resulted in water-cooler talk around, how did that happen? Was it for health reasons? Was it because we were the proverbial “squeaky wheel?” It's a mystery, and the files are X-files.
In the colloquial understanding of how this came about, there exists consensus about how this came about, and the underlying script reads like this.
“My best guess is, because, you know, you wrote them, called them, so frequently, that essentially every communication from you gets elevated directly to their legal department, until to the point where they, just like, give this woman what she wants and then we can, all of us, get on with our job. That’s my guess what happened.”
That’s the squeaky wheel explanation. Being sick, strained, and in distress from coping with secondhand smoke from tobacco and marijuana receives less credibility as an explanation, than the squeaky wheel reason.
Apparently, the two of us who received the PMRS, well, that’s a great thing we did for ourselves. It’s an incredible thing we did. We completely empowered ourselves to have done that. It’s incredible.
So, I’m incredible by being vexatious. The two of us are incredible for being vexatious. We’re incredibly vexatious. Not quite the same as incredibly vivacious.
Facts don’t matter. Apparently you must be incredible at empowering yourself and vexatious too, to get away from secondhand tobacco and marijuana smoke, and to get a PMRS.
And so now we must continue to be incredible and vexatious, incredibly vexatious to support the woman left behind, who must also rise to the standard of incredible and vexatious. Her health vulnerability just doesn’t factor in.
Invariably, the ‘grandfathering’ word receives air time. “But is he grandfathered.” “Yah, he’s grandfathered.” Apparently the fact remains that property managers cannot discriminate against smokers and non-smokers. Non-smokers just have to accommodate smokers’ addictions. Just take a commercial break when smoke comes your way. Go take a stroll in the park.
The underlying theme, the underlying scripts, spoken or implied remains,
“That’s the way we do things around here.” “You don’t know how things are done around here.” “You don’t know the law.”
Being a bit testy on this grandfathering concept, I say the person’s name twice, and reiterate one more time, surprising myself at how quietly I stated:
“Grandfathering is not a license to smoke. It is mitigated by health, safety, and quiet enjoyment. It is not a concept in and of itself, that is an umbrella that denies everything else. It just doesn’t. There would be no need for nuisance laws, quiet enjoyment, or human rights if it was just contract law that was in place. You wouldn’t be doing this. We wouldn’t be doing this.”
I managed to silence the conversation.
Now I add to my rant: secondhand smoke is no different than smells from pig farms, mushrooms farms, garbage, idling cars, and mold.
Many of the other claims that existed came about as a result of one smoker; In the McDaniels case, a few smokers. We have substantially more smokers with a count in 2008 numbering 39, and currently around 55. Fifty-five smokers lighting up minimum one pack of cigarettes a day (20). A few smokers admit to being 2-3 pack-a-day smokers. What does that multiply to? Is that exposure to secondhand smoke substantial enough? If the problem can’t be fixed, get us out of here, into the market where there is no-smoking in suites and no smoking on the property available, and let us get on with our lives.
We all become shaped by the time we live in and the circumstances we live under. We become what is required. Others identify us in terms of what is necessary to live in that time, space, and place. I have been identified, we have been identified, as incredible, empowering ourselves, and vexatious. These are the skills, knowledge, and attitude required to successfully accomplish being smoke-free. Being made sick, and medical documentation just doesn’t cut it.
Funny, we feel exhausted, close to shut down, signing off the claims, walking away, demoralized, because we all are not as powerful as management, the insurance company, and the lawyers, and they are more powerful than the dismissal decision.