Erin's Journals

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Just a thought… To be trusted is a better compliment than being loved. [George MacDonald]

This week I met the man who lives in our basement.

I know that could be the opening line of a Stephen King book, but it’s a real life story and one that has some interesting background. So settle in, and I’ll tell you our story of a man named Iman.

Last year at this time, Rob and I, planning to spend the winter in California at the home we purchased in the spring of 2019, decided that it would be best to have someone in our home for the winter. We thought that it would afford us added security and, in exchange for a lower-than-market rent, we’d have somebody keeping an eye on the place and maybe even watering the two little palm trees out on our deck.

We’d have someone here, even when we weren’t in California, so that if we took a trip, they’d watch over Molly for us. Besides, we knew that affordable rental properties are at a premium on the Saanich Peninsula, so it seemed a real waste – a sin, almost – to have this place empty when we could be helping someone else, while also helping ourselves.

My friend Nancy, whom you’ve heard me mention numerous times, put out her feelers and found a woman – an engineer – who worked at a company near us and was looking for accommodations. The woman was a perfect fit and she was kind, gentle and quiet; we loved having her living in the fully furnished, above ground, one bedroom that came with our house. Free deer sightings, too!

It worked out beautifully until she found herself in a position to buy her own starter home. Unfortunately, when she told us this, we were just about to leave for our winter down south. What to do? We would have no one to help the house look occupied (um, because it was) or to keep an eye on things in our absence.

Fortunately, she found a co-worker who was in need of a place just like the one she was vacating. But the timing was just not good and we didn’t get a chance to actually talk to or meet this man. What to do?

Once again, it was Nancy (and her husband) to the rescue. They met up with our prospective renter and not only approved him on our behalf, they almost fell in love. Also an engineer, he was quiet, gentle and likely to become a perfect tenant. So he moved into our home in our absence. We kept in touch via text, he paid his rent on time every month and even though we’d never actually met this man who had full run of the place, it all worked out beautifully.

Then, his work got in the way. When one company merged with another, he found himself travelling to work in Toronto while his possessions were still in our place. And when COVID hit, he was grounded in Ontario while we were scurrying to get back to Canada. Our paths didn’t physically cross until this week.

To make a long story short, he came “home” to BC this past Monday. Just as we were told, he’s kind and sweet: he greeted us with gifts of an old Beatles album he found at a store on Queen Street West, plus some lovely saffron and candies from his homeland of Iran.

He’ll store his few things for now, but plans to come back to stay with us in the future, once his time in Ontario has wrapped up, while his family hopes one day to buy a home here. We’ve already given him a realtor’s name for when that search begins, however far down the road.

Some might say it’s foolhardy or risky to have a stranger in your home when you’re not there, but rightly or wrongly, Rob and I see things through the lenses of trust. We trusted our tenant and friend who was moving out to recommend someone who’d be a good fit for us; we trusted our other friends to vet him and see if his predecessor was right.

We trusted him to care for our place like it was his own – because part of it was – and we trusted that doing something for someone who needed it was just the right thing to do. He was everything our friends said he was (and more) and we look forward to getting to know him better when he comes back. Our doors will be open to him.

We believe that sometimes you just have to trust and believe in the good in people. After all, we’ve certainly been the grateful recipients of an awful lot of it, Rob and I.

Thank you. Back with you here on Monday.

Rob WhiteheadThursday, August 20, 2020