What would you do if your landlord was also your friend and client, and had violated all three relationships, all at one time?
My workplace is a small cooperative spa in Northwest Portland. When I moved in, my massage studio was the only business in the place. I have brought in two other women, both estheticians
, and our space has gone from a grey, dark hole into a warm, beautiful and welcoming sanctuary.
The people I pay my (office space) rent to started off as my clients, became my friends and are now, as mentioned, my landlords. They work in the same building as me but they are often in meetings, or in their sound studio recording their radio shows, so I rarely enter their office area when I need to speak with them.
She in particular has become a close friend of mine. She still sees me weekly for massage. It's been kept very neat, I pay her the rent and she pays me for massage, no crossover or gray area financially.
So. Two weeks back she (let's call her L) gave me a check, which bounced. I didn't realize what had happened until I saw that my business account had overdrawn, which NEVER has happened before. I contacted her, of course, explaining that the check had bounced and asking for cash instead. It took two attempts at contact before she responded, and her response was something to the effect of, I don't know why that happened, and by the way I'm leaving town this week, so I'll just have my husband (let's call him T) pay you at the office this week."
That was Monday.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I made attempts (text and phone call) to contact T while I was at the office or on my way there, every time with no response. Thursday night I also messaged L, letting her know that T was not responding to my queries... which, surprise, she did not reply to either.
By Friday, I was feeling more than a little put out.
Friday, again at the office, I messaged T and asked if he was present, adding "please respond" so that, you know, maybe he would get back with me.
He did respond, saying he was NOT in the office, would not be all weekend, and sorry he couldn't help me.
This particular day I was seeing a very important, NEW client who had prepaid a month's worth of weekly massages. Naturally I'd like everything to be as peaceful as can be for her. However, about thirty minutes into a ninety minute massage, I start hearing noise - voices, mostly children, talking, laughing, screaming and horseplaying in the adjacent theater space (which, according to my lease agreement is not to be used unless I am informed first, due to the way the noise carries to the spa). It became so loud that my client actually commented on it. While she said it didn't bother her, it DID bother me and eventually I had to stop the massage and excuse myself to go have a word with someone.
I'm sure you can guess whose children were in the theater.
At this point, I marched into T's office, said something like, Hi! It's pretty loud in there, don't you think? And marched back out.
I was completely furious! Not only did he lie to me, but he potentially ruined a very important appointment!
After the massage, I was too angry to speak with T in person (and, I think he was ashamed and had fled the premises). I did reply to his text, noting that I'd seen him at the office, and had a little exchange with L later in the evening in which all I said was that I was too angry and wouldn't talk that day lest I say something I'd regret.
The problem, as I see it, is actually three separate issues. These people are being bad clients, bad friends and bad landlords, in that consecutive order. In my mind, although he was the one who was a jerk (and a liar), it is her that owes me money and had the responsibility to get it to me in a timely manner, and therefore this is her fault.
Lines have been crossed, and my ethics tell me I should not see either of them again for massage. I don't want to leave the space, since I've been there for a year and a half, put time and energy and sweat and money and love into it, and grown a highly successful business there. It would be bad for everyone if I did that.
What would you do?
The noise issue, by the way, has been ongoing (although it's rarely at the level reached Friday night), and there have been numerous meetings between Us, who run the spa, and Them, who rent to us and run the rest of the office building, to sort it all out. Promises are made and broken by Them regularly. I see us all leaving eventually, moving into our own location, but we're too young for that yet.
In the meantime... What would you do?