BREAKING: Crappy landlady continues being crappy

The thing about our landlady is that she’s one of those old school people who never evolved past the Soviet Union – and thinks she’s the shit because her husband (who, to be fair, is a nice old man) is a retired army colonel. And because they have a dacha. Or something like that.

She views me as a scary mongrel, because I speak Russian but somehow have American citizenship and because we currently sleep on a mattress on the floor (having blown *a lot* of money on an orthopedic mattress back in the day, we haven’t exactly been keen on getting a proper bed). She’s not shy about expressing those views either, as she stares at me through enormous glasses that make her look like a not-very-adorable chipmunk. You’d think that a woman who has two grown kids of her own would know better than to harass a hugely pregnant chick – but no.

She overcharged us for the water last month, and when I tried to point it out, she told me that I “have issues.” This month, she admitted her error, but went on to insist that it was somehow my fault. Naturally, my husband was away on an audition, which was precisely the time she decided she needed to show up.

“You wouldn’t let me calculate the water bill properly!” She accosted me as soon as she stepped inside.

“Um, with all due respect – I sat there with you for an hour and a half, trying to tell you that there was a problem with it.”

“The problem is with you!”

Talking to the woman is like having a conversation with Mt. Everest, if Mt. Everest smelled bad and came crowned with a weird, bun-like hairdo that looked like a potato were growing on its head.

Today, while batshit landlady was sitting in the kitchen being batshit, my boss called me. We spoke for maybe 2 minutes, but we spoke in English, which was Frowned Upon.

“They think they’re so clever, speaking their foreign languages, but they’re not clever enough to CALCULATE THE WATER BILL!” She spoke to the picture of my great-aunt that I keep tacked up on the fridge.

I pretended as though I didn’t hear her.

Suddenly, she was squinting at the picture.

“Who is this?” She asked.

“My great-aunt.”

“She’s not wearing a shirt!”

“Uh, yeah, as you can tell – she was a very beautiful woman.”

“Was she also foreign?!”

“Actually, she’s the daughter of a famous Soviet general, she worked for the UN, and she was a veteran.”

“The daughter of a general?!”

“We have a lot of generals in our family,” I said grandly. Which is sort of true, if two is a lot for a pretty small family (my mother’s, to be precise) but not something I tend to press on people, unless they happen to be wildly impressed by rank.

This revelation shut her up for a while, but she wasn’t about to leave without a parting shot.

“Is Alexey Nikolayevich [my husband she always refers to with respect, using both his name and patronymic] back in Moscow yet?”


“Good. I was starting to worry. You have a lot of strange guests around here,” she said in an accusatory tone, implying, I guess, that I’ve been cheating on my husband in the 8th month of pregnancy, or whatever.

The only guest I’ve had over lately has been a colleague of mine. Sometimes, delivery guys drop by with pizzas. One, a friend’s son came to pick up an external hard drive. But I guess I don’t need to do a whole lot to convince this horrible woman I’m a slut – I’m 26 and I wear make-up and little sundresses that look shorter on me now, due to the belly.

I’m much more creeped out by her implication that she tries to keep tabs on who visits us – undoubtedly by talking to the next-door neighbours. Or else she’s just making stuff up, which would be like her.

She left the apartment with overly large wad of cash we pay her every month, complaining loudly about how I “should not be allowed” to insinuate that she had ripped me off on purpose last month. Which is something I’ve never actually insinuated – she’s not a thief, she’s just kinda stupid and can’t count worth a damn and gets rude and defensive when you try to point that she’s multiplying the numbers all wrong.

I have a feeling she’ll try to evict us as soon as the baby is born. I mean, the woman gets horribly insulted when she forgets to give us the telephone bill – but then insists we somehow didn’t pay iton purpose.

“You didn’t pay the telephone bill!”

“You were supposed to give it to us, remember…?”

“You didn’t pay it!”

“How can we pay it if we don’t have the bill?”

“You needed to pay it!”

The Mt. Everest comparison is probably way too cool for this woman. I’m thinking of a brick wall in an old Victorian insane asylum just now.

I get it that so many people have it so much worse. Some end up renting from alcoholics who end up stealing their stuff, others end up renting from alcoholics who end up coming around every other day and asking for an “advance” on the rent, yet others end up renting from alcoholics who get them in trouble with the cops… but it’s my blog and I cry if I want to.

19 thoughts on “BREAKING: Crappy landlady continues being crappy

  1. Someday you can put her in a novel or a play and make her immortal. She is already pretty vivid in my mind. Dostoevsky’s landlady was probably just like her.

  2. dude, your landladys right to be suspicious.e we listened to surkov read allen ginsburg. it doesnt get stranger than that

  3. “I have a feeling she’ll try to evict us as soon as the baby is born.”

    From memory most communist fairy tales are populated by landlady’s just like yours — I grew up reading the Maoist versions where, in the end, the smug young kid wearing a red scarf always handed one over to the Children’s Youth Something Or Other for punishment. Which was generally death.

    So… what are the legal protections (contract law?) for tenants in the former, and future, USSR?

    Evictions here can take months, even years with all of the appeals. It took my step-father eight months to get a couple out of his rental property, and by the time they left they hadn’t paid rent in a year.

  4. You think she hates you and thinks you’re a slut because of your youth and beauty? She’s “just jealous,” right?

    Also, it sounds like this woman has a mental illness. Some sympathy and consideration is in order in this situation. I would think.

  5. 1. You fail to grasp the mentality of such women – all younger generations are “slutty.” My mother’s generation? Sluts as well. When it comes to pregnancy, they believe in shapeless maternity wear, no make-up, and generally staying out of sight. Anything else is unbecoming of a pregnant woman. It’s not about “jealousy” per se (though it could be part of it, on a subconscious level), it’s about what is and isn’t “proper,” to them.

    2. How much “sympathy” or “consideration” do you think this person would have if we were a few weeks late with the rent? She’d have us out on our asses in a day, baby notwithstanding. Also, mental illness ≠ Special Right to Treat Random People Like Crap. It’s insulting to mentally ill people to suggest that her behaviour is in excusable and anyone subject to it has no right to complain. You don’t have to be Mother Theresa to see the situation for what it is.

  6. Natalia, I’m sorry to hear this. Sounds downright horrible. Your landlady is a petty, soulless person always on the make. Moscow is full of people like this, unfortunately.
    I recall you had some problems in your last flat as well. Not good for a pregnant girl to be dealing with this kind of shit!
    I’ve got British landlords at the moment. In a British way they can’t tell you anything straight and you’re left guessing about what the problem is. But also, in a British way, they make sure we see very little of each other and communicate via e-mail (tho they live directly above me!).
    So guess, at least your landlady has some mild interest in whether you are alive.

  7. Natalia,

    That sounds like an awful landlady. Unfortunately the only thing that will change the mentality of people like her is time (or, to be harsh, as an Estonian saying goes, ‘the only thing that will fix that is the grave’ – not her per se, cause I don’t want to wish for anyone to drop dead, but the mentality could.

  8. I think I must have lived with her long-lost Finnish cousin or twin in a commune in Finland several years ago. It was horrible enough having this woman act as though she was our landlady when she wasn’t (I’m American of Slavic ancestry, therefore Russian to her, which was Bad; my husband is Central Asian and dark and handsome, which was OMG SO BAD). I can’t even imagine what it would be like if she had been our actual landlady with power to do anything other than insult us a lot and piss us off. You have my deepest sympathies!

  9. This is genuinely my first experience with a shitty landlady, and I have honestly been flabbergasted (I’ve been really lucky up until now) – even getting them to fix the toilet is an up-hill fight (all because of her, her husband is happy to help, but he’s away frequently). My husband’s seen worse, thank God, so he takes it in stride.

  10. I’m so sorry this woman is being so crappy when you least need it but on the bright side, she is perfect research material for a comedy script. 🙂

  11. Just found your blog through Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Twitter and… Love. I’ve been personal blogging for years now and it’s constantly nagging at me that it might affect employment opportunities. I mostly try not to care, but it’s hard when it seems every professional’s blog that I read walks on eggshells so as not to upset employers or prospective employers. I find your blog refreshing and inspiring.

    Also… your landlady is crazy with a capital C, not crappy!

  12. hahaah – I’m still laughing at this…the batshit landlady…only in Russia!

    Except I have batshit apartment complex neighbors in the states -who fit into a similar vein…Batshittery is not limited to old babushkas in Moskva! haha.

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