Crumbs, I don't care anymore

Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Mike (Jonathan Banks) in Breaking Bad. Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote Source: News Corp. Australia

THE other day I made toast for breakfast, munched it all up and spilled a bunch of crumbs on the kitchen bench. And I didn't care a bit.
I finished up my coffee and plonked my breakfast dishes on the sink, with total disregard.
I was irresponsible with the washing up. And it was brilliant.
You should know this. Life around our place is sometimes a bit like picking up hitchhikers for fun or plugging in appliances without making sure the switch is off first -  wild and a bit dangerous.
Sometimes we do the washing up right away, and sometimes we don't. Deal with it.
Yet, there was a time when our home lives weren't governed by this kind of reckless abandon. That time was when we rented.
Not once, but twice in recent years, my partner and I have found ourselves in a Today Tonight-style "Rental Hell", with experiences so scarring we couldn't get to a mortgage brokers quick enough and get ourselves saddled with a home loan.
I was reminded by our own horror experience last week when a colleague, frazzled and exasperated, told how her attempts to vacate her rental house were being frustrated by a pedantic agent who found it necessary to quibble over the cleanliness of every last fitting.
I saw the fear in her eyes and recognised it instantly. We've been there. Of course, there is nothing unpleasant about renting in itself.
And having more than two brain cells between us, thought we understood how renting worked: Find a house. Agree to pay the monthly sum. Live in the house like a normal person.
Being novices, we foolishly took point three to mean that frowned-upon activities might include a literal re-enactment of those meth-cooking scenes in the TV show Breaking Bad.
We had no idea they also included leaving laundry on the bedroom floor or crumbs on the sink on the morning of a routine inspection.
Besides the normal checks on the gardens and state of the house itself, we became accustomed to strange little notes from two of the most over-zealous real estate agents in Christendom, that were sometimes too personal, sometimes passive aggressive and which nearly always had nothing to do with well-being of the property.
Once, when I was still an eligible bachelor, sharing my house with a male student, our agent dared to suggest we should feel ashamed at the condition of our toilet bowl. "What if you have female guests?" she fretted.
At another property, after working hard to get the house looking spic and span before an inspection, we were gobsmacked to come home to find, according to the report left behind, that the "cleanliness throughout is still not up to standard".
There were comments about the cleanliness of floors, crumbs on the stove and stray hairs in the bathroom sink. It was our fault. We were living IN the house. *Slaps forehead.
But we did get a gold star in the sink department. "Dishes done" the report said with a happy tick. Yay us.
Property owners have every right to make sure their investments aren't treated like a pigsty and that problem tenants are punished when they break the rules, or worse, the doors.
But most people who rent aren't second class citizens (and, we readily admit 99.9 per cent of agents would be as aghast at this behaviour as we are) .
Renters are hard working people, trying to juggle busy lives.
They're people who want to make toast for breakfast and not feel bad if they wash the plate later.
Do they really have to buy their own home before they have that freedom?
This column was first published in The City Messenger and on advertiser.com.au