It's odd, the things that inspire gratitude in a person. Reading about MPP Michael Colle's intention to introduce private member's legislation called The Tenants Right to Know - forcing landlords to disclose bedbug infestations- really affected me. It's so rare that issues plaguing the poor find their way into the public discourse and public policy, and bedbugs are a deeply creepy subject that, at least for now, only torments those who have little power and no voice.
It infuriates me when workers and administrators, all pulling down fair salaries (and some more than fair), seem to shrug off their responsibilities to their tenants, to their jobs, and instead feel themselves to be victims when a hero like Joe Fiorito- mostly on his own- writes his damming columns. It's like the head of BP whining that he wants his life back when others have lost and will lose theirs.
I have sat across from a public housing executive who characterized Joe's last column on the subject as "one perspective." I looked at this well-dressed woman, who would never ever tolerate a family member being tortured nightly by these creatures, and I was instantly transported across the decades, back to a private boarding home stuffed with ex-psychiatric patients, back to a dark and gloomy hallway where eighty year old Anna still stands eternally in my memory, shivering and humiliated in a greying full slip, her arms crossed over her chest, black spots racing over the thin material, waiting to be doused with chemicals to kill the lice.
No workers or administrators cared about her, either. Though she had been someone's daughter, had been someone's friend. That is what makes everything so much worse, the notion that people know, even as they sit in fancy offices, or drive in expensive cars, they know and still, still, men and women are left to their plight.
Imagine being afraid to lie down, afraid to sit, afraid to turn out the lights.
Vulnerable people, decent people, people like you and I, not a separate species with different sensibilities, need champions. Colle has stepped up, and I for one salute him.