They Erased the House

Married air force personal with sufficient grade and time in service are encouraged to live on base. Folks in key supervisory positions are obligated to accept the offer.

There is an upside: It’s close to the job. Rent, though not a bargain by any stretch, is not subject to unannounced increases.

There are some downsides to such an arrangement. First: becoming acquainted with the civilian population is more difficult. Second: living under the thumb of someone with authority behind a large gray desk is not always a comfortable situation. Worse than an HOA.

Before moving in an inspector performs a detailed inspection, noting the condition of literally everything and then filing his report under the new occupant‘s name. When it’s time to move out the process is repeated. Normal wear and tear, other than interior paint, is not often a consideration. Condition must compare favorably with the report on file, or the occupant must pay to make it so. One of my supervisors, the shop chief of my airborne communications/navigation shop was confronted with such a situation.

The house in which he and his family had lived for the previous three years was in good condition except that kids had written on the outside walls with pencils, using his house as a message board. It had to be removed or pay for new siding.

He tried everything – soap, bleach, cleanser. Nothing touched it.

Of course, the neighborhood kids had all come to watch, probably the message writers, as well. A first grader in the group suggested: “Why don’t you erase the house?”

“WHAT?”

“At school we use erasers all the time.”

Someone produced a yellow pencil with an eraser and the writing vanished. He drove to the base exchange and bought two-dozen art gum erasers, passed them out to the kids with a promise of money in exchange for their labor.

By the end of the day the condition house was the way my friend had found it, and the neighborhood kids had some walk around money.

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