Thursday, August 24, 2006

You Can't Kill 'Em - Special Edition - You Be the Judge

Observe the following behavior:

-Name calling (not bad names, but cutesy irreverent names)
-Using things without asking (vehicles, tools, shop supplies, basically anything they can get their hands on)
-Never see 'em unless they have a problem or want something.
-Taking things that don't belong to them (in the real world, I believe this is called theft)
-Unreliable (saying they'll do one thing and then not completeing the job or doing it half-assed)

Now, is it just me or would all of these things rolled into one family piss you off? I've probably left a thing or two off of this list, but this is my brother-in-law and his family. The name calling? I swear he doesn't know my husbands' name. When he calls and asks for him on the phone, he's always got some stupid cutesy name to call him - always. C'mon people, at least one of you is in his 50's and the other one is in his late 40's. Grow up already. This is not a revered childhood name, just whatever stupid name he's thought up at the time.

The latest fiasco? Involves aluminum beverage cans. Here in Iowa we have a 5 cent can refund. You pay it up front and get it back when you turn in the empty cans at a recycling center (hence the term "refund") . The recycling center gives you a huge cardboard box with large plastic liner bags in which to facilitate this exchange. My hubs keeps one at his shop, and we collect cans at our home which he then may either take to the shop and put in the bigger sack, or just take in when he takes in the rest. A filled sack can get you something in the range of $20. It's worth doing.

Yesterday, Hubs walks in his shop to see the younger brat nephew lugging a filled sack of cans out the other door. WTF?

Hubs: what's up?
BIL: (nephew) is getting the cans
Hubs: I don't think so.
BIL: ...
Hubs: Those are my cans, I take them in, and I collect the money. I don't recall saying (nephew) could have them.
BIL: ... (mouth hanging open with dumb look on face - note:he does this expression quite well, has had years of practice)

Hubs said BIL left the farm a bit later throwing gravel all over from his spinning wheels. His mother was nearby (MIL). He asked her what (brother) was so upset about.

MIL: I guess something was said down at the shop that disturbed him
Hubs: Well, the last time I looked, I didn't go into town and scrounge around their place for something to sell.

I'm sorry if I come off being a bitch. I really am. I'd like nothing better than to be able to get along with my Hubs' family. Much as this woman has trouble with her asshat neighbor, I have these battles raging inside of what I should be feeling toward my in-laws and what I actually do feel. It seems every time I let the "good" angel sitting on my shoulder talk me into making the attempt to get along, they do something else to my family (remember this one?) and it just drives me right over the wall again. It's one thing if they don't like me, but it pisses the hell out of me when they treat my husband and family this way.

When my father-in-law was alive, this was his shop. His gas barrels outside. His electric, heating, and insurance bills. What he chose to do with his equipment and his building was his choice. As a father, he chose to open it up to his younger son to use. He provided his son with free fuel, and an open-door policy on the equipment. I have no problem with that. It was his son! My husband, the elder son, farmed and worked with his dad and he put a hoist in the shop to work on vehicles in the off-season, as well as collecting a vast amount of (not cheap) tools. Of course, he had no problem with his father using the tools and equipment as they worked together and it was a joint venture. Mutual respect.

When my FIL died eleven years ago, everything changed. Everything in the shop building that my husband didn't own, we bought from my MIL. Everything. The farm equipment, the shop equipment. Everything. We don't pay "rent" on the building, as such, but we pay all the utilities for the shop and my MIL's home, as well as the insurance. We pay for all the supplies stored within... the oil, the filters, the nuts, bolts, screws, and washers. Everything.

The first thing my husband did was to change the locks on the shop and put a lock on the fuel barrel, giving keys to only those people who needed one. We provided one for MIL (which she proceeded to use for many years, fueling up her car and mower at our expense), the hired help (one of their perks), and our kids. OUR kids. Who was one of the first people to complain? got it. BIL. He couldn't understand why the barrel was locked. He complained about the shop being locked, so MIL made him a key. He complained that Hubs locked his toolbox, so MIL chewed out Hubs, making his life miserable until he started leaving it unlocked again. No, he never did get a key for the fuel barrel... although he tried the ruse of saying he needed it to fuel up Mom's mower that he borrows. Uh huh. Yes, we provided fuel to her to mow her yard, but you think we're going to let you take it, full of fuel, to your house... mow... then come back and fill it on our nickel? You're NUTS. I can understand your dad letting you have all this stuff, but c'mon! You're 40-something years old and you are NOT OUR SON. We shouldn't have to pay your way!

In their minds (Hubs' sister and her family are the same way, only they don't live closeby) it's still "Dad's" shop. Still open to come and go as they please, to use it and anything in it at any time they chose, without asking. Using the tools and supplies with no thought to who has to pay for them.BIL uses all the oxygen? Oh, (Hubs), you're out of oxygen. More often than not, he doesn't even bother to tell him he used it all... it's just "surprise!" when Hubs or our son, now working with him, go to use something and it's gone. It does no good to tell BIL to replace it... he just says his wife has his checkbook, or she hasn't given him any money, or he just puts it off until it's needed and can't wait for him to replace it. Trust me, he's got this mooching thing down to a science.

Obviously, he's training his children well. Me? I'm getting pretty darn tired of it. I've stayed out of the whole mess as much as possible, mostly because of some things that have been said since I had my breakdown. I just steer clear of him and his as much as humanly possible and bite my tongue bloody trying to keep civil. What do you say when your husband calls up ranting and raving because the "asshats" have struck again? Those are the times I bless the stars I'm an only child...

I swear, I'm going to go off on them one day... and it won't be pretty. What would YOU do?