Thursday, December 14, 2006

Speaking of Christmas...(Which I Wasn't)....

I'm flying under the radar this Christmas, purposely. It's arrived all too quickly for me. I just can't seem to get with the spirit. Maybe next week as Christmas Day approaches, my mood might change. I'll enjoy the day doing 'my own thing', as is my wont to do. Gone are the days when I catered for the 'masses', whether privately or in restaurants/resorts...thank goodness! Now, I seek a peaceful, relaxed Christmas. I understand why!

The last couple of years that I lived in Cairns, I wanted a break from the hospitality industry, so I gained work in a real estate office at the northern beaches' area of Cairns. I was employed as receptionist/secretary/property manager.

A couple of weeks prior to Christmas, tenants, a young family of five, came to me in search of cheaper accommodation. The 'thirty-something' father, an upright, gentle man who was, obviously, a hard worker and who obviously cared dearly for his wife and young children, had run into a few difficulties on the work-front. I hated the thought of losing them as tenants as they took very good care of the rental property in which they lived and always paid their rent on time, if not a day or two earlier. They were a very nice family.

I tried my utmost to find alternate housing for them but I had nothing suitable on our books. The whole situation saddened me. It was the week before Christmas. Their lives were being turned upside down and inside out. I was losing a lovely family, decent, good tenants. I felt for them. They were battlers trying vainly to do the right thing. They may not have had much, however the children were loved, always clean, well-mannered, dressed simply, but immaculately.

With cap in hand, the father came to me one day, saying he had found a house through another agent. Apologetic, he said he hated having to go to someone else but he could see no alternative. I understood. As hard as I tried to help him, it was out of my hands as I didn't have a property to suit his needs. Our mutual dismay and disappointment was clearly visible to anyone who may have witnessed the drama as it unfolded.

Feeling glum and defeated, I rang the owner of the rental property to inform him of the situation. I had never met the owner of the house face to face. He lived across in Weipa, situated way up north on the west coast of Cape York, on the Gulf of Carpentaria. I explained what had been happening with the tenant and his property, leaving nothing out of my report to him. In silence he listened. Finally, he said to me. "Lee...thank you for keeping me informed. Here's what I'd like to do. Has the family moved out yet?"

I answered, "No...but they are in the midst of packing their possession etc., and will be moving out tomorrow."

"Okay," continued the owner of the property. "You ring him or go around to see him and offer him this. I hate to lose good tenants and from what you have told me these are good, worthy people. I'm prepared to forego his rent for four weeks. And I will not raise the rent in the foreseeable future...and that could be a far distant future. I would rather take care of worthy tentants than have a vacant property. That might help them out a bit."

When I found my voice, I thanked him profusely as we completed our conversation. Grabbing my car keys, without wasting a minute, I raced out of the office. As I drove up to the rental property, the father was in the process of loading up his vehicle. He looked surprised when he recognised it was me leaping out of the car. Breathlessly, I related the conversation I had had with the landlord. As I passed on the offer to the tenant, I couldn't stop smiling. I will always remember the look on the father's face. Finally, he reached out and hugged me. I returned the favour, both of us had tears running down our cheeks.

Now, that's what I call a 'Christmas present'!

The family remained in the house and were still tenants when I left Cairns to live on Newry Island. I can't remember the name of the landlord, but what a generous, wonderful, empathetic man he was. I hope Karma treats him well.


  1. That was a truly wonderful example of Christmas spirit, I am sure Karma would be kind to that landlord, who I might say would never had known any different had you not been so caring yourself.
    Cheers Margaret

  2. Thanks, Margaret. I hadn't thought about this story for quite some time. I guess the proximity of Christmas reminded me.