Dodgy Landlord

Vieux Québec
QUÉBEC, Canada
May 24, 2012

Despite that I could continue staying on in this rooming house well into June, I've figured it's best to get out while the going is good. My landlord is a mysterious character.

I knew that I would have to move house before the end of term, anyway. When I moved in at the beginning of the month the landlord was upfront that he was trying to sell the place. He said that I would likely have to stay on a week-to-week basis beyond the end of May. I'm not even considering that option.

My landlord has exhibited a lot of questionable behavior over the time I've lived here. He's warned us tenants not to open the front door to anybody who comes knocking. He phrased it as "I owe a lot of money to a lot of different people and you might get punched in the face if you opened the door to the wrong person." He's been selling off every last possession, down to his neckties, screwdrivers, and other petty bric-a-brac in a perpetual garage sale. He's alluded to a passion for gambling. He talks constantly about going back to his home country where he intends to subsist as a hermit living off the land, fending for himself, growing all of his own food, stitching his own clothes, and having contact with nobody else. He says he plans to live the rest of his life out on less than $10,000. I'd guess he's somewhere in his early thirties.

Quirky as he may be, the two of us actually get along just fine. He's asked for my help re-configuring the house wireless router and for other technical advice. The times just the two of us have been hanging out together he's asked for more questionable direction. "Would it be worth it to marry somebody here who needs a Canadian passport if they paid me $10- or $20,000?", he asked me once. I advised him against that scheme, telling him: "That would take too long for all the paperwork: you couldn't return to Asia for many years, yet." He nodded his head along in accord with my rationale.

Québec City Walls
Knowing that I've traveled far, he's also asked for suggestions as to which country somebody with his features might be able to slip into and blend into obscurity. "What about Brazil? There are lots of ethnicities there, including Asians," he asked me once. I threw out the wild suggestion that somebody with his features might find the northern reaches of Burma around the Golden Triangle a good place to hide out, a place he evidently began to contemplate rather seriously, bringing it up in conversation again several times in further days.

Even with the sketchy landlord situation the final straw making me decide to move out didn't come until last week when the house was flooded with new tenants. There were only four other people living here when I arrived at the beginning of the month. I don't know if the landlord has dramatically reduced the rent or just gotten lucky with a surge of tenants in mid-May but we now total fourteen. Most of the newcomers hail from points across North and sub-Saharan Africa. They're by-and-large all tidy, polite, and quiet--but it's just well too crowded.

I've found a room in another house equidistant from both campus and the local library. I picked the keys up yesterday and have been schlepping my things over this evening. The new location seems far less fraught. A couple with two young children have converted their basement into a double mother-in-law apartment. I will share kitchen, bath, and common area with only one other tenant. We each have our own bedroom. The rent will be $50 less per month than it costs where I've been staying up until now.

Though things are looking up with my housing, I'm taking advantage of this three-day weekend marking Victoria Day to get away from the entire situation. I'll be meeting up with an old friend--my longest-standing friend, in-fact--who happens to be passing through the area.

Next stop: Montréal.