“It was the 10th of the month—and Maria was late on the rent again!” local businessman and landlord, Declan Orso, exclaimed. “So, I am sure you could imagine the disgust on my face when I stormed over there Tuesday morning, while she was getting her kids ready for school and saw what was really going on…”

Orso would go on to depict a “heinous scene” in which all four of her kids had bowls overflowing with milk and cereal. Not to mention the fact that there were two different kinds of cereal boxes on the table. He also noticed that one of the kids appeared to have a new backpack. His hunch was confirmed by a backpack with only one or two holes that was discarded by the trashcan.

“I just don’t understand it,” said a dejected Orso, “After all I have done for Maria—she has the audacity to go out and buy potpourri of cereal, new backpacks… All while the rent remains unpaid!”

According to Orso, he is not alone in this struggle. Many of his friends at the country club have noticed a similar, disturbing trend with their tenants.

“I don’t want to speak out of line, but I know for a fact that Maria gets government assistance. I have seen the food stamps left out on the table before—and she still, for whatever reason, can’t pay the rent on time. I mean… If the government was paying for my meals… Must be nice!”

Orso and I had met at a local coffee shop for the interview. He was wearing a nice suit and it was getting late. Close to 9 a.m. So, I asked him he had to be off to his job. He said no, but after a deep pause loaded with melancholy, he admitted might have to get one—if things with Maria continued at this rate.

“It is sad really… I think the children’s father is out of the picture, so if Maria can’t pay me, there is no one else to collect from. My father, who invested in this housing complex back in the 60s, used to tell me all the time on the way to my golf lessons how important it was to save money. It is a damn shame that he’s not around to impart that same wisdom upon my tenants.”