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Not an everyday letter, not an everyday landlord

Mississippi Musings

Landlords don’t have the best reputation. They are the owners of the castle, and we’re the peasants dividing our hard-earned produce with the lords of the land. We chafe under their rule, obligated to make those payments but aware that we need their space to produce an income.

We complain when the trash doesn’t get removed or the air conditioning breaks down. They complain when we set the thermostat on 70 in the summer and 75 in the winter. Our role is to demand more services and better maintenance. Their role is to hold on to as much of that rental income as possible. So, we push and pull against each other, but the irony is that we need each other.

While technology has changed the way business is conducted, for most of us, we still need a PLACE to conduct our business. Some business owners also own their space, but many rent their offices. I have been in business for myself for eight years now, and I have rented offices for that entire time. I have toyed with the idea of buying a building, but costs or availability or liability have prevented that course. And I continue to rent.

For all of those eight years, I have rented from one landlord, Mr. Eddie Daigle. Ed is a sweet curmudgeon. He insists on calling me Miss Nancy even though he is my senior by a few years. I have threatened to call him Mr. Ed, but I just keep picturing that talking horse and, so I refrain.

Ed is, truly, a self-made man. Years of hard work and perseverance have left him comfortably well-off. But his old “frugal” habits remain.

When I was invaded by large, black ants and asked for an exterminator, Ed brought me over a can of Raid. When I complained about a loose board in my wooden floor, he suggested I step over it. And when I asked for official mailboxes at our building, he hit me with a bill for $100.

Each year, like clockwork, we negotiate a new lease. I do not initiate this process. In fact, I try to keep my mouth shut as long as possible, because I know I’ll get hit with another increase. Any complaint about these increases is met with this response… “Do you want me to increase your rent by 10% each year or 20% every other year?”

And each year this negotiation is handled in a good-natured way: me objecting, Ed insisting, both smiling through the whole process. I try everything from begging to batting my eyelashes.

Usually, we both end up giving a little.

Yesterday, as I sat at my desk, Ed walked in my door. He quietly deposited an envelope on my desk and went on his merry way, delivering like envelopes to everyone in the building. As I read the contents of his letter, my eyes filled with tears. This is what he said…

“Over the past several months I have watched our great country come to a grinding halt economically. … So in an effort to help as much as I can I’m asking each of you to reduce your monthly rent…”

Surely, this was not the real Eddie Daigle! He continued…

“Now, there is a catch. You knew there would be one didn’t you? I’m asking each and every one of you to pray for our country and for the leaders of our country.”

He went on to thank each of us for choosing his building and expressed wishes for our continued success. He said, “…perhaps each of you will be able to help others likewise.”

I was overwhelmed by his generous gift. I take his challenge and pass it on to you. Mr. Daigle, I salute you!

Nancy Lottridge Anderson, CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Clinton, (601) 924-9828. Her e-mail address is nanderson@newper.com, and she’s online at www.newper.com. Her column appears frequently in the Mississippi Business Journal.


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