I’ve got a fire a-burnin’ in my bones.
They say hell hath no fury like the wrath of a woman scorned, and I reckon they’re right.
(Note how my lived-in-the-south-since-age-12 southernness is coming out. It’s getting serious, y’all.)
THE INCIDENT THAT INVOKED MY FURY WAS THIS:
I recently moved into a newly renovated building, in what is seriously the best location in Asheville. (In Montford and only a block away from the downtown Basilica – for those of you who are familiar. Literally the best you could ask for.)
That’s not what I’m mad about.
You see, renovations in this building are still happening. The upstairs units are finished, but the downstairs ones are nearing completion. Finishing touches are going on, and all that jazz.
Last week, one of these finishing touches was to refinish the bathtubs.
I came home Tuesday afternoon to the rank smell of it. It was AWFUL. Worse than gasoline, the rankest paint you’ve ever smelled, a month-old decomposing trash pile in the middle of summer, dog breath, and the world’s worst diarrhea.
I found the guy who was working on the bathtubs, and asked him to do something about the smell so I could bear to be in my apartment for the evening.
“Sure,” he said kindly. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but I’ll open the front door and windows and close them before I leave. But don’t worry, this stuff is non-toxic, and it sets in 24 hours.”
How did I know?
I had all my windows open, expensive air purifier going on full blast, and I still woke up vomiting and with a splinting headache.
I evacuated to my car for the night, and got lucky enough that a friend woke up to pee, saw my text, and let me come sleep on his couch in the wee hours of the morning.
Next day: still a headache, and still pretty damn nauseous.
I tell the property managers about the whole situation, and while they’re sympathetic, they claim it’s still non-toxic.
I don’t believe them, so I have the bathtubs guy email me the safety data sheets.
There are inhalation warnings ALL OVER this document, and the inhalation risk is “Category 1,” which is the worst category.
I tell this to the property management company, and they offer me $100 for a hotel for Wednesday night.
Long story short, I can’t spend Thursday night there either because the toxins are still in the air, but I’m basically just told that I’m being “too sensitive” and to suck it up and deal with the smell… or evacuate at my own expense. (At least, that’s how I interpret it.)
I have a chemist friend come and check it out for me, to make sure I’m not crazy. He assures me that if I can smell the chemicals, they’re still in the air.
The next day, I send the safety data sheets of these chemicals to my Dad. He’s VP Operations for a set of manufacturing plants in North America, so by nature of the job, he lives by OSHA manuals like a Southern Baptist preacher lives by the Bible.
We review the document for the bathtub paint, and he affirms my suspicions: No, I absolutely should not be breathing this in.
Then we review the document for the activator that “sets” the paint, and his first reaction when reading the chemical makeup is, “Yeah, this is some pretty nasty shit.”
We also discover that according to BOTH of these documents that there were very specific air quality safety precautions that weren’t followed. And that because of that, I’d essentially been chemically hotboxed in my own apartment.
BUT IT’S SOMETHING ELSE THAT PISSES ME OFF EVEN MORE.
He tells be that BECAUSE there are “no known cases” of the fumes of these chemicals making people chronically ill or killing them, they’re allowed to be labeled “non toxic.”
Non-toxic. Even though ingesting them could literally kill you.
And here’s the real kicker…
EVEN THOUGH it’s pretty much common knowledge that these fumes DO MAKE PEOPLE SICK.
Factories get shut down for days when this kind of stuff is applied. Businesses have to close up shop while these chemicals are cured and ventilated.
“It won’t make you chronically ill or kill you,” he tells me, “but it’s probably going to make you pretty sick for a few days.”
WHAT THE FUCKING HELL?!?!
WHY IS THIS ALLOWED IN SOCIETY?!?
To make matters worse, I tell this to the property managers and owners of the building. They keep throwing “non toxic” back at me. They keep telling me that I just have a sensitive nose.
NOT THE CASE, DUDES.
They offer me some compensation, but it’s considerably less than what this whole fiasco actually costs me. I’ve pushed back against them on this, and thankfully won the argument.
I’m a little pissed off about the way I was treated, yes, but that’s a minor issue.
I’M PISSED OFF AT SO MUCH MORE
I’m pissed off that five men will only take a woman for her word when she invites a man nearly twice her age to validate what she’s saying.
I’m pissed off that people who know they’re in the wrong look for ways to weasel themselves out of responsibility.
I’m mad that dishonest businessmen have manipulated the system so they can legally sacrifice the health of their employees or “smaller” people, just so they won’t get in the way of their dishonest gain.
I’m mad that my landlords, property managers, and the bathtub guy genuinely believed their materials were non-toxic, because the label said so. I’m mad that our government allows decent people like them to be duped so easily.
I’m mad that the “non-toxic” fumes in my apartment may have killed a small, innocent animal.
I’m mad that we can be told flat-faced lies about things that affect our health, and it’s “legal.”
I’m mad that OSHA, a workplace standards company, doesn’t have higher standards in this regard to protect honest, hard-working people.
I’m mad that broken, dishonest systems have been in place for so long without anyone questioning them.
I’m mad that they’re still in place with no question.
I’m mad that people with more money get more of a say.
And I’m mad that business-as-usual still has a stronghold in our society, and that it acts like a 300-pound angry toddler when we ask it to budge. It just throws a loud, angry fit and shits itself.
BUT LOOKING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT COIN, I’M SOOOOO GLAD THINGS ARE CHANGING.
I’m glad that in everyday terms, “non toxic” means go ahead and give your baby a bath in it. Let her swallow it. She might not like the taste, but she won’t get sick.
I’m glad that as “everyday people,” we are raising our standards.
I’m glad that solopreneurship, small business entrepreneurship, and lifestyle companies are becoming more of a thing. I’m glad that good, responsible businesses are gaining traction. I’m glad that consumers now expect corporate responsibility.
I’m glad that social media is making everyone and everything more accountable for their actions.
I’m glad that old systems are breaking down, and that newer, better ones are replacing them.
I’m glad that education about EVERYTHING is becoming so easy to attain. Instead of doing a year-long thesis you pay thousands of dollars for, you can just pay a few hundred bucks to an amazing person who’s made it their mission to educate online… and learn just as much or more.
I’m glad that I see this movement rising every day…
That my clients are all people who have BIG HEARTS for what they do, and who do the things they do from a genuine place of wanting to make the world better. That I get to help them make a positive difference in the world.
I’m glad that I get to do business with people and not faceless companies.
I’m glad that I get emails from you guys telling me that my copywriting videos and tutorials have helped you get the kind of attention your ideas deserve.
I’m glad that you and I are on the forefront of this change, and that we’re doing it together.
And I’m glad that we are changing the world in a positive way.
BASICALLY, I’M GLAD THAT WE’RE ALL HARNESSING OUR RIGHTEOUS ANGER FOR THE GREATER GOOD.
Basically, I’m glad that we’re all harnessing our righteous anger for the greater good.
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