The Profile of Sal, Our Landlord
The mere mention of the term “landlord” may bring some unpleasant feelings in some people because landlord are often associated with capitalists who have never known the meaning of the word “struggle” in their Life. In the American society, house ownership has been a thorny issue and thus most people resort to rental residence. However, renting is not an issue, but what bothers many is the way to relate with their property owner. Media houses report cases of some cruel landlord whom they term as “people who have never known the meaning of struggling in life.” However, such notion is overblown because some landlords are kind people who understand that people at one point struggle in life to make both ends meet, and thus may be forced with difficulties of paying rent among other issues. Our property owner Sal is one such person. Sal is a 51-year-old man of Italian origin. I have never seen him harass my parents when they delayed in payments or talk to people in a harsh tone. Although, he appears happy and privileged, a keen glance at his look portrays a thoughtful person who encountered problems in the past. I decided to investigate about his experience, just to ascertain my feelings towards him. I interviewed him, as well as interviewed Job his best friend and Kelly his close relative.
I met Sal in his apartment one evening after securing an appointment with him the previous day. I had never visited his house before, and thus I expected to see flashy gadgets that befit the status of a capitalist. However, Sal’s home was just ordinary with normal setting that portrays a resident of a humble person. He seems to have lost the taste of luxury and his behavior portrayed a person who understands what he was doing. I learned basic information from him before venturing into deeper past of his life. Some other information I had acquired from Kelly and Job through a social media interview.
Sal was the lastborn in the family of two boys and one girl. His position as the lastborn in the family and the rich environment spoilt him from his childhood days. When I asked him about his upbringing, he looked thoughtful at me and said, “I hope you will learn to discern the environment within which you are living in and take every opportunity that comes your way, regardless of your social status.” He told me that as an advice because he thought I came from a very rich background. He informed me that his childhood life was wasted because his parents lavished him with expensive gifts. At the age of two, Sal had numerous toys and clothes. His family was wealthy. His father traded in petroleum products and his mother worked with a non-governmental organization. As a result, Sal grew up accustomed to an easy life.
At the age of 13, Sal said he felt he had grown enough to face life on his own. He had longed to visit the US since he was five and always pestered his parents to take him to states. He had heard beautiful stories about the US from his mother friend’s who were WE citizens working with an NGO in Italy. One of her mother’s friends called Marina, noted with keenness the aspiration of Sal, and was willing to take him to the US. Marina is Job’s mother, who was a friend to Sal, whom I interviewed through the social media. Job described Sal as resolute in his determination and therefore, it was not a surprise that he pressured his parents at such a tender age to allow him go to the states. Although he was the lastborn and loved by his parents, Sal and his siblings did not spend enough time with their parents since his parents were always busy. Sal said “we were accustomed to our house help than our mother” and this gap with the parents might have triggered his desire to go to foreign countries.
Sal managed to get to US through the help of Marina, and she even registered him as a US citizen. Although his parents did not travel with him, he was issued with lump –sum of money for education and other expenses through Marina. Marina registered him as his son, and Job, Marina’s biological son, found a brother and friend he was longing for. Sal adjusted quickly in the US. Marina enrolled him in school, but his heart was not in education. Job claims that Sal thought that education was meant for the poor intending to be employed in future. Sal said, “I started dodging schools and instead visited high places, such as clubs and gambling casinos.”
The desire to make money drove Sal to try gambling in Casinos. Sal told me that luck had been on his side since the time he was born to the extent that he became a US citizen by lack. He, therefore, stopped school completely and focused on gambling. Sal justifies gambling, but does not recommend it to people below the age of 25 because it makes them irresponsible. However, he attributes gambling to talented people, whereby he claims, and “there are some people who were born with lack, and can win when they gamble.” Since there is no gauge to ascertain the degree of lack in an individual, Sal advices all youth to focus on education and secure tickets to a good life.
Sal was indeed lucky in his gambling business. He won more than he lost in his gambling and became very rich. He bought some properties, cars and established a number of businesses. For fear of his property being confiscated, Sal registered them under the name of his American wife he married at 19. Sal trusted his wife so much and they were blessed with two children. He raised his family in affluent and everyone was happy because no one lacked anything.
The joy of Sal’s family was short-lived. For ten consecutive times, Sal lost in his gambling business to the point that most of his properties were seized to pay debts. He went from being a millionaire to becoming a poor person. As a result, his wife began to date another man and took away his children. His wife and children moved to another city. He then began to consume alcohol on dairy bases and lost many friends who could not degrade themselves. Kelly, his closest kin in the US, described Sal as “a man whom heavens and the earth shut their doors at the mention of his name.” He had no one to run to for help because all his close associates had disserted him. Sal describes that episode as the most testing period of his life. He says that even the government turned against him because the court threw away the case seeking to recover some of the properties registered under the name of his wife.
Sal’s suffering made him realize the essence relatives for the first time since he came in the US. He contacted his relatives, including his parents, and they helped him to settle down to a meaningful life. With his family’s help, he cheered up and became more independent. He found an employment at a building site and eventually formed his own company. He began to save cash so that he could live with his children and take care of them by himself. As his life progressed, Sal too settled and grew into financial independence. Although he misses his family, Sal says that he has learned how to cope on his own. He does his own laundry, cooks delicious food, and cleans his residence. He registered the possessions under his name. Good news for his lonely life is that he recently obtained the custody and guardianship of his son.
Sal has learned his lesson very well. He claims that lack of education contributed to his suffering because he had no certificates to land him a good job. He also blames the marriage law in the US, which does not give a man an opportunity to recover the property he sweated to acquire. He claims that the property should be shared equally between divorced couples only if they all contributed in equal measure to acquire it. From the gaze in his eyes, Sal has a deep scar in his heart caused by his wife’s decision to ditch him for another man. Nevertheless, he remains a good property owner, middle-aged man with potential, though he has, was 51.