An allegory

Imagine this:

You needed someone to take care of your house while you were away. You can’t just leave these things unattended. Somebody has to run the pipes, run the heaters, check the mail, take in the paper, make the place looked lived in while you’re gone. So you hire a guy to do it.

You were a bit wary about this guy, but hopeful. After all, the last guy wasn’t quite up for the challenge, and this guy came highly recommended by some casual acquaintances of yours. So you gave him the keys, arranged to have his pay transferred from your account to his, and went on your way.

Every now and then, you’re in town and you check in on the place. The first time you poked your head in, there were a couple of things you didn’t love: there was a drip in the kitchen sink, dust lining the baseboards, and the bathroom had a bit of a smell. But there was beautiful new grand piano in the living room, so you went away feeling pretty good about it all.

A few months later when you came by, he was playing the piano, surrounded by dirty dishes and old bottles. You noticed a bulge in the ceiling and inferred that there was a leak. You should get that leak fixed, you said.

When you came back the next time the bulge had grown, the edges were brown, and, the paint was peeling on the wall beneath it. Fix that leak, you said. He didn’t even stop playing the piano to listen.

You were worried, so you came back again soon afterwards, and saw that the ceiling had caved in under the leak. That’s it, you said. You seem like a nice enough guy. And it’s nice that you got this piano. But your job is to keep my house from falling apart, and you are not doing that. So you’re fired. Get out.

No, thanks, he said. And he stayed and continued to play the piano. You couldn’t get him to move. You yelled and screamed and waved your arms and still he sat and played.

So you went to the police for help. Sorry, they said. As long as he’s in your house, we can’t force him to leave. You can’t leave your house unattended. And furthermore, until he goes, you have to keep paying him.

Furious, you returned to the house with someone else who was interested in taking care of the property for you. For the first time, he stood up from the piano. Who is this, he said. This is the man who is going to take your job, you said. We’ll see about that, he said, and disappeared deeper into the house. While you and your new potential house-sitter stood agog in the living room, examining the hole in the ceiling, the water damage stains down the walls, the mould spreading across the studs behind the drywall, and the pristine grand piano in the centre of the room, you heard a bang from above.

You ran outside to see that he had fired a confetti cannon from the roof, and you collected a number of papers from your neighbours lawns. They were pieces of wallpaper torn from your den. Each one had a picture of your new house-sitter and big block letters reading ONCE PUNCHED HIS KID BROTHER IN THE NOSE and SMOKED WEED IN COLLEGE and CAN YOU TRUST HIM? And your neighbours came out of their houses and insisted that you send the new guy away. In the end, you had no choice. You potential new house-sitter went home, and you stood in the living room, watching as the man you were still paying to take care of your home sat down at the piano and started to play again.

You went to the bank and tried to stop payment, but they told you that they couldn’t legally allow you to stop paying the man watching your home.

The next time you visited your house, there were more holes in the walls – some of them with posters thumb-tacked over them, and some not – and a few of the floorboards were coming up. The time after that it was worse, and the time after that it was worse again. Your house became a cavern of mouldy 2x4s and rotten drywall, sheltering a gorgeous, spotless grand piano.

The police wouldn’t help you. The bank wouldn’t help you. Your neighbours, who increasingly complained to you about your house being in a state of disrepair, still put up a huge fuss whenever you brought someone else to take over the job. It turned out your occupant would occasionally buy them cookies and they still considered him a bang-up guy. And besides, have you SEEN that PIANO? How LOVELY it is! What good CARE he must take of it!

All that was left for you to do was to stamp your feet impotently against the cracking floors of your once sturdy and perhaps even comfortable home and scream GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!



Dear Canada:

Election Day is October 19th. Please make sure you are registered to vote.