This story happened a while ago. And I've been trying to think of the best way to tell it. It's sad, not funny. But even the sad stories sometimes need to be told. Because while the funny stories make us laugh, the sad stories can help us learn.
We will call him Tenant D.
When Jon and I bought this particular property we inherited several tenants. Tenant D was what was called a long term tenant. He had been there for years, was now paying month-to-month and had made no mention of leaving any time soon. He was a rather private individual so about the only thing I knew about him was that he was single and a chain smoker.
I receive a letter from Tenant D informing me that this was his 30 day notice. He was moving. Jon and I had to go down to do some work on another apartment so we combined our exit inspection with that. When I talked to him, I found out he was dying. He didn't go into the specifics, but based on the empty medicine bottles I later found in his bathroom after he left, he had cancer along with a plethora of other things.
He had moved to Chattanooga so that he could help take care of his friend who had cancer. Just as his friend received the good news that he was in remission the friends wife found out she had cancer. So Tenant D stayed to help. Tenant D owned a ranch in the Midwest and upon receiving his own news decided to return. He implied that it was terminal. So he was going to fill his bucket list and then go home to die. He packed up his truck and trailer and left a few days later. His bucket list included fly fishing off the coast of NC, wrestling an alligator in Louisiana, and shooting a wild boar in Texas. Once he'd put his feet into the ocean in California he'd return to his ranch.
He was gracious enough to pay the whole month's rent and then to let us know that he was leaving early. We were grateful since we knew the clean up would be horrendous. He was the typical bachelor who wasn't exactly a clean freak. So the place was dirty. But it was the years of excessive cigarette smoke that about did us in. For weeks we used gloves as we bleached every surface in the entire townhouse. We bleached walls, ceilings, cabinets, and light fixtures. We ripped up carpet and painted EVERYTHING. We put in new appliances, new floors, and scrubbed bathrooms.
As we scrubbed yellow and orange water left trails down the walls. Our clothes reeked and we would strip at the door, when we got home, and immediately put our clothes in the washer on extra sanitary.
We weren't able to go to nice restaurants the entire time we were renovating because we knew we smelled horrific.
The kids gagged and talked about how nasty cigarette smoke was. They mentioned people we know who smoke and asked if they were going to die soon. My son googled smokers lungs and they gagged again.
Caitlin made the comment to me that she thought smokers were dumb people. When I asked her why she thought that, she said -
"Because everyone knows it kills people. And people who smoke stink really bad. So why do they smoke if they know it makes them gross and kills them? I don't like people to think I smell bad and I don't want to die. Yuck!"
The tenant implied that he only had months left, so he might already be gone. I wrote this story so that his life would have a purpose. So that someone else could benefit from his one bad decision so many years ago. Please don't start smoking! And if you do, please stop! There are so many free resources out there to help. I know it's difficult. I've watched family members go through it. But the results are worth it. We love you and want you around for a lot longer.