On the day I decided, once and for all, to post the Gary Farmer Gallery story on discoarse.com, I went to the post office to find a check for $470 from my former landlord, Steve Yablon, aka Chamisa Management. The check was less than half of my original $985 deposit. I had been charged for 23 hours worth of cleaning at $22.50 an hour for a total cost of $517 as my "exit fee" for having been removed from this property by these consummate flippers. They kicked us out to renovate and then sell. We cleaned the place fairly well, I thought. Now I get to go stand in a small claims court just for the pleasure of hearing a judge say, "Mr. Pleshaw, I think it's completely fair that you were charged 7 hours at $22.50 to clean a washer, a dryer, and a refrigerator. These folks who own this building (of course) have more rights than you."
Let me state with no equivocation what's wrong with this country. People with big money get to screw people like you and me and there's very little recourse. We, in turn, as the happy poor are supposed to just suck it up and walk away. Not me. Not anymore. I've got the Internet - so, it turns out, do kids like Micah Wesley. I've been through a lot of hand-wringing over that piece, mostly because I didn't want to be "unfair" to a business that had potentially screwed people over. As Deborah Lamal said to me, "We're talking about $400."
Well let me tell you - $400 is close to a month's rent for me. It's a month worth of groceries for many. It's around half of the next damn security deposit that someone like me has to pull out of thin air when some property manager decides to jack you just because he knows he can.
The courts do next to nothing for people like us. If a business or a person decides to be unscrupulous to a regular guy like me, all I can do is get angry and try My Level Best not to go Postal. Newspapers rarely want to run such stories because they're so scared of getting sued that they tend to err on the side of the business that's doing the screwing.
This is why blogs exist. The Lewinsky story, odious as it was, might never have broken without Matt Drudge. I am *waaaaay* lesss interested in the President's sex life than I am in knowing which businesses screw little people when, in the hopes that the court of public opinion and public pressure will get people to change their ways and play fair.
Whoever doesn't play fair with me or my friends will get blogged. End of story. You don't like it, then LEARN TO PLAY FAIR. In a perfect world, perhaps, we'd move into the actual vigilante stage. Call this the information vigilante stage. Reputation is everything in the age of the Internet. Think about that as you plot your next move.