Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Egor: Creating problems with the system
I am having a fight with Egor at the moment. In case you don't know who Egor is, he is Tanya's eleven year-old son. Egor's claim to fame is his abuility to play chess really well. A couple of years ago I could beat him at least half the time, now I basically can't even touch him. He will play in the national chess championships in Minsk in March.

Anyway, the fight started when we decided to charge Egor rent for his room. We have a two-bedroom apartment and he sleeps in one and Tanya, Anya and I sleep in the other. My thinking was that by charging him a little rent, we might be teaching him some lessons in responsibility. Also, the thought occurred to me that we had been feeding and housing him forever without any of that cost being paid back in any way. Our argument originally was that he was in our family and wasn't able to pay for himself, and so we agreed to pick up the tab. But with times being the way they are, the thought came to me that if I just rented the room out, we could get maybe $30 or $40 a month for it. Why should we pay for Egor when we could be making some money?

So about a year ago we started talking to him about the situation. We had a lot of arguments about it. On his side he kept on about how we were "family" and that he should not be treated as if he was a stranger. He said that in a way we had an obligation to allow him his space to grow up in and that this is supposed to be the way it is in all families. And you know, I heard these arguments, but to me we are living in really hard times and the thought of having a debit where there could be a credit seemed to me to be simply bad business. I mean, he is only going to be living here fore a few more years anyway, why not maximize my profits while there is still a market for the service?

The negotiations got hot and heavy but to make a long story short, I basically told him that come New Years, he needed to pay or I was going to rent the room. Tanya took up the job of being Egor's advocate, and throughout the negotiations she kept on pointing out that there was no way that we could throw an eleven year old boy out on the street and basically he had no way to pay the money for the room. My point was that this was his problem, not mine. My job was to do business, not listen to a bunch of sob stories from non-paying guests.

Just before midnight on New Years we came to an agreement. Tanya agreed to pay Egor's rent, which was set at only $10 a month for 2007, but would go up to market prices in five years using a formula which allowed for a higher percentage of the market price every year. A lot of tears were shed over this and it was made clear to me by both Tanya and Egor that this deal was not to their liking, nor did they think it was fair. But, as obviously they had no choice and I clearly was not going to back down, they signed and, at least for a moment, I thought we had some peace.

Bu then two days ago I had a notice dropped on my desk. The paper said that I had been using a corner of Egor's room as an office space and that up until now I had been receiving this space for free, with only the payment for the electricity and phone (internet bill) as my monetary responsibilities. It went on to say that in light of my new ideas regarding Egor's living in the room, it was now clear that having a "free" office space was clearly not at all in Egor's best interests. I was therefore asked to pay a "computer" tax of $10 a month, an amount that would be raised each year according to formula.

Now, this to me was kind of cute. Egor's only eleven and therefore doesn't present too much of a threat to me. I took his paper with a grain of salt and left it at that. But this morning, when I went to my desk to check my mail, I found that I had no power at my desk at all. The computer didn't work, the lamp didn't work. Nothing. I checked the lines and all seemed to be in order all the way back to the fuse box which for some reason had a lock on it. Never had a lock on it before. This was all mighty strange. Over breakfast I mentioned about the power problem to Tanya and Egor and they told me straight out that they knew all about it and that they were the one's responsible for cutting off my electricity.

"Why did you do that?" I asked.

"You haven't paid your computer fee yet."

"You weren't serious about that, were you?"

"Why shouldn't we be serious?"

"But you can't just charge me taxes whenever you want to. The world doesn't work that way."

"Your world does." These are exactly the words that they used.

"But I am losing money by not working…" I complained.


"Ok, ok, I get it. Turn on the power and I'll pay."

"Pay, and then we'll turn the power back on." were their last words.

Right. Well, as you can see, we have an impasse. To me though, this whole deal really stinks. To me, these two are not my friends but rather nothing but a couple of ungrateful bums. I carried them for years on my back. Why couldn't they simply understand my need for money? It's just business, plain and simple. Everyone needs money. This is what the world is all about isn't it?

Anyway, as of this moment I am thinking of simply cutting the lock, turning on the gas and then putting my own lock on the terminal. After this, I am going to put a lock on the door to Egor's room and he is going to have to answer to me personally for his comings and goings. This business of whose territory it is has gotten out of hand. I am the landlord here. I say what happens in my territory and if he doesn't like it, he can leave. I can rent the room for five times what he pays and without any troubles. Why should I listen to an eleven year old? Who does he think he is anyway? And you know, that's the real problem; these people simply do not understand who is boss around here.

  • Note: For more about what is going on as of today in the Belarus/Russian oil conflict, please see the latest BEING HAD Times

    More soon...