“That really gets my goat”

Last week, Scott had an inquiry on one of our vacation rental homes.  The man wanted to come in two days, and stay for eleven.  Scott much preferring a house rented to a house empty gave him a discount, arranged to get the house cleaned at the last minute, and told him to come on.

It turns out the man spoke broken English (this can sometimes be a tip for a scam) and said he and his companions were Orthodox Christians and that as such, they celebrated Easter a week later than usual.  No big deal to us.  They could celebrate Easter whenever they wanted or not at all, as far as we were concerned.  As long as they paid their rent and followed the rules, we were good.

On the day of their arrival, Scott told me that the man would be coming by our house first to pay the balance of his rent. I guess it being last minute, he had only put the first half of the rent on a credit card or something, so he still owed quite a bit.  That was atypical, but OK.  Once he had paid in full, Scott would give him the door code and send him on his way.  We aim to please.

We waited a good part of the day, and no one showed up to pay, but mid-afternoon, the man called to say, “I’m at your house.  How do I get in?”  We looked out front.  He was NOT at our house.  Instead, he had driven straight to the subdivision where our rental houses are located, some 20 minutes away!  Scott agreed to meet him in Branson to exchange money and door code, and some time later, Scott returned with the largest stack of $20 bills either of us had ever seen.  97 of them, I think!  They had had a pleasant conversation.  The family was from Romania, and the wife was nice, so Scott was confident they were not drug dealers.

So all was well until last Friday, when Scott, working in our home office, received a phone call from a lady who owns another rental home in that same subdivision.  Her home happens to back up to the one these Orthodox Christians were staying in.  Note that this particular neighborhood is, well, upscale, to say the least.  It’s not a gated community, but the houses are quite nice and the home owner’s association has LOTS of regulations that are binding upon both the owners and the renters.

The lady who called was quite nice, but she wanted to let Scott know that there were GOATS tied up in his back yard!  Goats!!!  Who’da thunk?  Scott was. . . “shocked and slightly embarrassed,” but he thanked her and told her he’d take care of it.

He first reviewed the contract the renter had signed.  It said that there were to be no pets in the unit or on the property, and that having pets present would result in immediate eviction with no refund given.  Hmm.  I told him I thought the guy might try to get around that because I surmised that the goat was probably not a pet, but a Passover lamb that was going to be sacrificed (in our backyard?!?) shortly and would be the featured guest at a religious barbeque!

Scott then called the guest and explained the situation.  In broken English, the man said, “Aw, it’s only a baby lamb.  Give me a break.”  But Scott stood firm and told him that the goat would have to go.  And no, not just out of our yard and into the woods; out of the entire housing development.  And yes, Scott understood and would like to respect their tradition (I had told Scott it was a Passover lamb), but the homeowners association wouldn’t allow it, and the guest had signed a contract that there would be no pets.  The man agreed to remove the goat, but I have yet to hear exactly HOW he did that.  As in, did the goat leave the premises under its own power, or not?

I suggested to Scott that he change the word “pets” in future contracts to “animals,” just to cover all possible (Orthodox, Romanian) bases going forward.  As he said, “I’ve been running this business for several years, and I’ve had to deal with lots of interesting situations, but GOATS?!?!  I guess there’s a first time for everything!”

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