Rant time: Pet rent, food snobs and ice

Last night I swore I felt my kitty jump on the bed between my ankles. She has been dead for two or three years now, so that was kind of unsettling. I missed the kitty a long time, and then for a while I felt relieved that I didn’t have to deal with taking care of her any longer. Cats are pretty low-maintenance, but there is no good place in my apartment for a cat pan. And every time you want to go out of town for a couple of days, you have to ask someone to come in and feed it and give it water. Kitty was almost 16 when she died, so that was a long time to take care of her needs, which I enjoyed. Now I have a little boy’s needs, which grew in proportion to the decline in kitty’s health, sort of passing each other in time and effort. But last night, I thought, “Gee, I’d like to have a cat again.” Even knowing how ending her life (she was ill) destroyed me, and how I’d have to handle the same for another animal at some point, and even knowing how much of a pain a pet can be, for the first time since my cat died, I really felt ready. I wanted that animal curling up at my feet or purring in my lap on these cold nights. I was ready to deal with the hair on all my clothes again, buying stock in lint brushes and tape so I could brush everything off every day. But I won’t be getting one. Why? Pet rent.

I think pet rent is one of the biggest, most ridiculous scams perpetrated on apartment dwellers in the last 10 years. Everyone who runs any sort of large apartment complex now charges you pet rent. Look, I get it, pets can damage shit. Cats can piss all over everything, and people flip through apartments faster than you can blink. Then it’s a ton of work for the management company to deal with cleaning the place. That’s what deposits are for. Where I live, as in many apartment complexes, in addition to the regular security deposit, when you get a pet, you have to put down a second security deposit. Which may not be super fair, but that’s fine. If the pet causes damage, they’re covered. And if not, you can get it back. But some years back, apartments also started charging you RENT for the pet. I think this is a complete scam and, for me, (perhaps as they intended) is a big barrier to getting another pet. In addition to the costs of feeding them, vet visits, the litter pan stuff and the additional hefty security deposit, by my estimates I paid close to two thousand dollars for the privilege of my cat living with me. That’s just fucking ridiculous. They don’t charge you more rent when you have a kid, why penalize pet owners this way? It’s just another way they can gouge renters, and it burns me up. The only way I have to protest it is by not getting one. Or moving, which is not really an option right now.

In other news, the “food snob” debate came up last night when I was talking to a friend. I’ve been accused of elitism, of being some high and mighty person because of how I shop, cook, and what places I patronize when I dine out. It’s something that also burns me up. I don’t make the choices I do because I’m “too good” to eat at a shitty chain restaurant. I believe life is too short to eat bad food, sure. But I also work hard to buy organic and local and to support restaurants that do the same because it’s important to me. I’m trying to minimize the amount of proven-to-be-harmful pesticides in my body; to give my body a chance to process out those that I do ingest, instead of bombarding it all day long at every meal. If that’s not important to you, that’s fine, but I like going to a restaurant and feeling like the money I’m spending is helping to keep people employed locally, and keep the business open since the owners are here. I know a lot of restaurant owners, chefs, bartenders and farmers who supply food to restaurants personally, and I’m proud to support them continuing to be able to pay their bills, clothe their kids, drive a working car, etc. When you eat at Applebee’s, not only is the food terrible, and laden with pesticides, and potentially dangerous in other ways (mad cow), they’re headquartered in Missouri. I don’t have an interest in helping support Missouri’s economy while eating terrible food. And I think food raised and grown with care and though tastes better. And sometimes is better for the environment (sustainable farming of pastured animals). If that makes me a food snob, then I guess I am one. I instead like to think that food choices are a journey, not a contest, and mine is ever-evolving and continues to change. How I shop, eat and cook now is not how I shopped, ate and cooked 10 years ago, and 10 years before that was even more different. This is something that’s important to me and that’s why I make the choices I do. It isn’t because I’m an elitist.

Today, my son’s school was closed for something like the millionth day. My car gets stuck in the lumps of ice and snow in the parking lot at my job almost every single day. I’m really feeling a bit like Jerry Lundegard in Fargo in the scene with the ice scraper. I’m just done with winter, and there are several more weeks of it left. Please move along quickly. I’m trying to be patient but patience is running as thin as my blood in this cold.

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