The long version of my move experience is there. I was subject to horrible transphobia (aggressively and repeatedly asking me my birth name and speculating about what it might be, along with being misgendered the entire day) at me, we ended up having a dispute about payment; their boss came round later and was conciliatory at me; I offered to wire him the money he said was owing just to get him off my door.
What I didn’t know at the time was that he was secretly recording that conversation without my consent. Which explains why he kept trying to steer around the conversation to try to get to say I was satisfied with the move on some level (ie the actual physical movement of objects.)
He phoned me this morning, slightly after 8am, while I was still in bed, asking after payment. On the phone he refused to consider settling for less than the full amount. I told him that if he wrote the entire thing off there and then I consider the matter closed. He didn’t budge. He also indicated that he considered the transphobia to be a private dispute between me and the driver; that as there were no witnesses or evidence I could provide immediately then he could not offer me even a derisory goodwill reduction.
The company in question is Man and Van Oxford, also trading as Taxi Vans Oxford.
I have talked with one firm of lawyers already; who have agreed I may have a defence under section 29 of the Supply and Goods and Services 1982 - because the amount in dispute is well under the Small Claims Track threshold I would not get a costs award. I am currently looking for a firm of solicitors who could advise me regarding a counter-claim under the Equality Act 2010. Any recommendations would be gladly received.
There are only a few things that require more trust than letting people move your house. Sex and surgery, perhaps. You are letting people take your life in their hands, at only slightly more an abstract than the literal. If they decided to betray you, they could do so much damage. They could destroy or steal your stuff - and not just the accumulation of media and junk that constitutes the bulk of the actual matter - but the important things and the paperwork. Your life.
I moved house yesterday.
I had packed at the weekend (mostly the media) but not everything, because I had booked packing and moving services. I went over to London after work, to spend a last night there. I woke up, I ate my breakfast bacon sandwich, and packed a bit more, listening to First Aid Kit (oh, the feels).
The movers turned up. They were friendly apart from the bit where they were consistently misgendering me.
Now, I get that a lot. I’m used to it. Especially when I’m in jeans and t-shirt and (horrifically) hadn’t even bothered shaving that morning. Half of you are probably nodding right now, and half of you are being incredulous and are about to flatter me, which is very kind of you but not actually true but just because I reply saying “no, look at my lived experience”, doesn’t mean I want you to stop, because it is your acceptance that keeps things worthwhile despite the shiftiness. I mean. I actually wrote a comic about this phenomenon (including the third party reaction), which I’ve just decided to post as the bitstrips mockup. The worst bit is, as always, the bit of me that hates myself for caring. I am not a better person for passing better. It’s an uncomfortable compliment to receive: what is effectively “oh, you certainly lucked out at not getting a particularly case of testosterone poisoning.”
I get it a lot. I have different coping strategies. Sometimes I will politely correct people. Sometimes I will throw a strop. And sometimes I will pretend it isn’t happening. That’s what I did this time. I don’t want to escalate things, not when they have all my stuff, my life, in the back of their van. It was just just possible that they had made an honest mistake. And even if they hadn’t, what could I do? They had all the leverage. My assessment of them was not improved by the casual racism during the drive. They were content to move my stuff still, though, so I played along, wanting this to be over as soon as possible.
As we pulled into the storage place on Botley Road, one of them called me by the wrong name. ”Is this the right place, Isabel… Annabel?” I continue to ignore this. ”This is the right place.” I say, a bit later. It is then obvious that he realises that I am a woman (not that he’d put it like that), but has been misgendering me because I am trans.
I pretend it never happened.
During the unloading one of them, when we’re the driver, acknowledges he’d got the wrong name for me (I think his colleague had told him), and said “Abigail. What name must you have been born with to be called Abigail?” I told him this was quite rude. Because I’m still not interested in escalating. They are still holding my life in their van.
I tell him that it was bad enough that he had been calling me “he” all day, but that was just not on. He tells me he sees things as they really are, not as people want them to be. He then offers several suggestions as to what my birth name was. ”Andrew? Alex? Adam? I bet it was Andy, wasn’t it.”
What the actual fuck.
Now, just to clarify. This is one question you should not fucking ask. Some of you know. I can’t help that. You never call me it, you do not tell anyone who doesn’t know, you don’ me even mention it. There is about one situation where it would be OK to use it, which is telling other people who knew me before but hadn’t got the news yet. If you violate this I will hate you forever, and I will fuck you over so hard if I am ever in a position to do so.
This is not just clueless insensitivity. He was probing me, trying to provoke me. He was looking for me to react, I think. If he’d hit a name that made me flinch, I’m sure he’d have started calling me that.
In any other situation I would have walked away, but they still had a lot of my stuff in my fan. I ignore him, basically. But any last vestiges of safety and trust has vanished. Any ability to pretend that things were tolerable had gone.
We go to my house to drop off the things I am taking there. We unload.
They want the money in cash, right then. I wasn’t expecting that. In retrospect I should have asked about payment. I get as much as I can from the machine. They say they might take part cash part cheque. I honestly can’t find my chequebook. I offer to make a direct bank transfer immediately. I can do that. He makes a show of calling his boss. While he’s waiting for the boss to call him back, he tries to get me to take their card. Like I’m going to fucking use them again. Boss calls back. I’m told that it’s not possible. Driver tells me he’s not giving me any slack, because I was difficult earlier. I tell him that given that he is lucky I’m offering any payment at all. He repeats: It has to be cash, now, one way or another. Normally I would offer to hock something to them until tomorrow. But no, just no.
At this point I run to my house, lock the door, and call the police. My landline is dead, which increases my panic, and it takes several tries to get through on my mobile.
They start banging on the door, demanding their money. They claim they are going to call the police and have me arrested for stealing (which I know is nonsense, the debt is a civil matter, but they might lie.). And my police dispatcher confirms that there’s nothing else showing. They are lying.
Eventually a police officer comes round. Actually pretty quickly, I’d phoned 999 at 1610, and he arrived at 1657. I tell him what happened, he makes sure I am safe, and he gives me some advice what to do in future. (I am to call 999 again I feel threatened by them.). Nothing immediate to be done, though.
I start posting to social networking. My housemate comes round, and makes everything a bit better.
Then the boss man comes round.
My housemate answers the door. It seems he’s not there to demand money but wants to talk about what happened.
He had been told a version where I had been refusing to pay because of one of them calling me “mate”. Which… Obviously he knows he did a wrong thing because otherwise he wouldn’t lie about it. He hadn’t been told they had threatened to call the police on me, he hadn’t been told I’d done the same. He is profusely apologetic, basically asks me to avoid naming them on social media, and says he will get back to me on Monday after he’s had a chance to talk to the driver.
That’s about it.
We’ve moved the furniture to its final positions, mostly. Liz came round. I slept reasonably well. The kicker is, we didn’t even finish the move. I hadn’t disassembled the big furniture and the van was full. I’m going to have to do it again. :-(
sometimes tumblr’s US-centric social justice makes me so fucking frustrated. Right now sweden’s third biggest party are literally neo-nazis and our elections couldn’t even get onto trending tags today, goddamit.
Okay, so the post is gaining notes and people are confused, so to explain what the hell is going on:
Swedish elections held were on last Sunday, 14th September. We’ve had a right-leaning government the past eight years and after this there will be a change of power. The new party, Socialdemocrats (S) gained a total of 31% percent. The old party, Moderaterna (M) gained 21%.
Sverigedemokraterna (SD) gained a total of 12.9%. Their policy is racist, Islamophobic, anti-immigration, anti-refugee, anti-diversity, anti-LGBT+, and anti-feminist. Basically, they tick every box on the douchebag lottery.
If you’re here to argue that they’re ~not actually~ Nazis: 1) Fuck you. 2) Fuck the horse the you rode in on. 3) I hope you get stepped on by a moose, you ignorant asswipe.
- they literally started as neo nazis. They have used a Neo-Nazi movement as campaign slogans,
- party members have assaulted immigrants with iron pipes (tw for racialised violence),
- worn Nazi symbols
- supported and helped build Neo-Nazi group SvP.
There’s probably more, but I don’t have links on hand.
They’ve been having rallies and demonstrations all over Sweden, and people have shown up just to turn their back on them and protest (this post explains it better).
In the 2010 elections, SD were pretty much considered no better than neo-Nazis and only got 5.7% votes - it put them in 6th place and was just enough to get them into parliament. In the elections before that, they got about 2.9%. In the past four years, they’ve grown exponentially in Sweden.
They’ve also run extremely extensive PR campaigns, appealing to the youth, kicking out members “exposed” of being racist, (note: these members often end up in SvP) and picking up buzzwords from the Socialdemocrats’ ideology.
29% of votes they gained this year were from swing voters who previously voted M, and the biggest gain have been in the south, in small towns and the countryside:
This is not something that’s just going on in Sweden. Europe has seen an influx of extreme-right parties over the last decade or so, often thinly disguised as a party that puts ‘traditional values’ and ‘national interest’ first.
In Greece and Hungary they’ve already been in power. In Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Finland France and UK, extreme-right-wing parties have been voted into the EU.
Because here’s the thing: we’ve forgotten what it looks like. We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve turned Nazism into a cartoonish lampoon of goose-stepping, uniforms and moral lessons that “we’ll never be like them~”, ignoring the fact nationalism is not as cut-and-dry two ends of an extreme but exists on a scale.
People have been apologising for SD’s actions for a while now because they’re not considered “extremist enough” to be neo-Nazis, because they don’t share the same beliefs, because they’ve “publicly denounced” SvP.
But the same people still get hurt. Still SD has the institutional and systematic power and privilege to oppress, degrade and humiliate people of colour, which they already have done. Stop making excuses for them. Stop making leeways for right-wing-extremists because that is how they gain tract.
Please spread this.
Important to note that they are part of the rising antisemitic right-wing that’s gaining traction in Europe as well, since that was somehow left out of this post.
One assumes they left it out because Nazis automatically imply anti-semitism. Right? RIGHT? *is actually afraid people have forgotten the connection*
Messy. I worry that for the Scots, the YES vote has become essentially a gigantic Vote of No Confidence in Westminster and the Westminster Party system, which I share. As someone who has a house in Scotland, lives in Scotland when he can, and adopted his wife’s clan name as his middle name when we married, I hope that, in the case of a YES vote, life in Scotland continues to be as good or better than it is right now; and that in the case of a NO vote, the fractures between people of different opinions heal rapidly and that Westminster’s recent offers of concessions to Scotland are real.
I don’t get a vote, which is a good thing, as I’d probably be a Don’t Know until I got to the ballot box, and would then choose based on a hundred different reasons, including how much I disliked any particular politicians and whether the sun was shining that day and whether I was particularly missing Iain Banks.