Archive | May, 2012

The Pantsuit Missionary

1 May

They say not to dwell on the past, but to constantly be looking forward to what lies ahead. And I must say that on the whole I tend to agree with this widely applauded sentiment. But there are times (like tonight) when you’re hurdling forward at such record pace that it’s more than appropriate to look back.

It’s been two years and three weeks since I first embarked on my life-changing missionary journey and much has changed since then. A marriage, a dog, a new career and a house later I find myself more readily identifying with “landlord” than “missionary.”

In my current title of property manager today is the worst day of the month – the first. Rent collection. It seems I am never more hated than this day. And it comes around every thirty days bringing the same sad stories of people who just can’t scrape it together and the same maddening brushes with the ugly sides of the entitlement generation month after month. Today was no different. Today I had the pleasure of meeting with my supervisor and a particularly disgruntled resident to try to come up with a solution that would please his insatiable desire to be a constant thorn in my side. This resident has made a formal complaint against me to my corporate office because I have denied his (unreasonable) request that I inform him in writing no later than 48 hours prior to my staff using any form of any chemical (from paint to Windex) anywhere on the property. He is a super granola type and has an intense aversion to chemicals. I can totally respect that, but to inform him in writing every time we clean the laundry room on the other side of the property from him is a bit extreme. Anyway, that is neither here nor there… The meeting between the three of us was a well-meaning attempt on our part to please this gentleman. But that’s not at all how the meeting went. He wanted my job sliced up and served to him on a silver platter. He spoke about me with such hatred and looked at me with total disgust.

Now I don’t take these moments personally anymore. I can’t. Managing an apartment complex is like being the mayor of a small city, and with approximately 600 residents to look after I am certain that I could never make all of them love me. But I would be a liar if I said that the accusatory comments don’t occasionally cause some introspection.

I got to keep my job today (one of the benefits of being a notoriously hard worker is the favor of your employer), but I also did some thinking. Who am I? A landlord? That’s such a nasty word. People HATE landlords. It got me remembering a time when I was a preacher, a missionary, a truth-seeker, a traveler, a justice bringer… And as I looked over photos of those bygone glory days I smiled smugly.

This resident has no idea who I am… No idea who’s I am. Your beliefs may define you, but your experiences root you. My memories strengthen me. They serve as a constant true north. They remind me that I haven’t “lost it” or somehow sold out because I’m now thriving in suburbia. I am so thankful to have tasted and seen the reality of our God; so blessed to have spent those 6 months on the mountain with him. As I war on in this new battleground, I know I am still a missionary, just as glorious as ever… I just wear a suit now.