Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Tag


I don’t understand how someone can just walk off on an obligation without giving two hoots how it hurts others. “You’re the Psychologist,” my son says. “You ought to know the answer.” OK, I can come up with an answer, but that still doesn’t help me really “get” how someone can just walk away.

To tell the truth, I could understand it more easily if it were someone who’s been raised in poverty with little hope for the future. It still doesn’t mean that I ‘d like it. But in this case it’s a young American woman who could afford to go to Australia, apparently with the intention of staying for the year they allow. No, I don’t get it, and I don’t like it.

Given all the awful things going on in the world, this hardly qualifies as one of the more horrific events. But it’s a heartbreaker that should never have happened.

Anyway, here’s the story. Since my granddaughter was in High School she has dreamed of going to Australia. Recently she was finally able to do it having found a program that would allow her to stay and be employed there for a year. In anticipation she had paid off her student loans and earned and saved enough to get there and sustain her until she got a job.

On the way, she spent time in New Zealand where she worked as a Nanny. Then, at the beginning of 2015 she went on to Australia with a work visa allowing her to stay until the end of 2015. She got a job in Brisbane at “Cucina by Toscanis” which she enjoyed and they enjoyed her. All that was left was to move out of the hostel into a nicer home. That happened on February 3 when she and two other American girls signed a lease until the middle of May. Needless to say, her joy delighted us all. Yes, joy. A rare thing in today’s world.

Now here comes the lesson – two, actually. (1) Don’t be too trusting, and (2) Don’t ever sign a lease where you could be responsible for someone else’s debt. What happened? One of the co-signers sneaked off without telling the other two, leaving them with the total commitment; not only for the weeks ahead, but also for the weeks she hadn’t been paying.

My granddaughter was the only one with a job. The other honest signer was paying her obligation with saved money and was looking for a job. The lease was to expire in the middle of May at which time the landlord’s daughter plans to move in.

The cheater left behind at least three victims: my granddaughter, her honest roommate, and the landlord, who insisted the two remaining were responsible for the entire debt, including the payments the deserter had not been paying. Met by an impossible situation, the two honest roommates consulted RTA Queensland and learned that, given the circumstances under which the lease was written, and the delay in discovering the indebtedness of the third roommate, there was no choice but to negotiate directly with the landlord.

Unfortunately none of the three victims was effective in negotiating. The landlord stuck firmly to his legal rights in spite of the fact they simply could not be met. The two roommate victims were unable to meet the demand. So they advertised and found two couples who wanted to rent the unit for the remainder of the lease time and referred them directly to the landlord., expecting one of the couples would sign a lease.

Unable to afford to stay, my granddaughter had to leave her job and get a flight back to the States. Her employer offered her to come back to the job if she was able to return to Australia. The two victimized roommates notified the landlord of their departure date. My granddaughter’s assumption was they would then work out a payment plan for their part of the obligation. All that was needed was information about when the new renters had taken over.

Unfortunately, negotiation requires direct conversation with all parties involved. This did not happen. The landlord insists on full payment of the entire debt. My granddaughter doesn’t know if he has new renters. In short, everyone has been hurt, and no fruitful negotiations have followed. Three people hurt and struggling because of one dishonest, irresponsible person.

The lessons? (1) Trust but verify. (One thing attributed to Ronald Reagan that I find useful.) (2) Never commit yourself to pay someone else’s debt. (3) No matter how legal it may be, one cannot get money out of an empty pocketbook. (4) Sometimes compromise is necessary. (5) Negotiation can’t happen if the parties involved aren’t talking directly to each other with the understanding that each may have to sacrifice something in order to gain.

Two young women recovering from dreams shattered. One very non-joyous granddaughter back in the States, unemployed, trying to pick up the pieces, sort out all that has happened and decide where to go from here. A landlord who leased his property in good faith, left with a loss. Sad lessons learned. And no effort on the part of the one who sneaked off leaving others to suffer the consequences.




The new header is Holland America’s Oosterdam. Definitely not the best photo, but I’m going to leave it for now. I’m still having trouble mastering the header thing.

Still reporting on the Australia/New Zealand trip, I want to tell you about one of our favorite things in New Zealand – the Taieri Gorge Railway. The train was waiting for us right on the dock at Dunedin, initially named New Edinburgh, later re-Christened Dunedin, the old Celtic name for New Edinburgh.

Our hosts were volunteers enthusiastic about old railway cars and routes. Seated at tables, we were served light refreshments as we traveled hills and gorges, over bridges built specifically for this revitalized train. Occasionally we paused at old station stops, greeted by people selling mostly home crafted wares.

I found it hard to imagine how they made it there in their in their vans, but I was told there were roads through the mountains. Chatting with one woman I realized what an ideal life it was for a craftsperson who liked isolation.

Doug – the real photographer – spent his time on the platform between cars, getting some fabulous shots, while I hung out inside, chatting with the folks from Rhode Island who shared our table.

I would have bought a gorgeous hand knit scarf, but the seller took only New Zealand cash, and I survived the whole time there without acquiring any local money. Credit cards and even dollars got me through.

Anyway, I’m including here a couple of my photos from the trip. Strongly recommended journey!

Taieri RR cars

Taieri RR stop

Posted January 12, 2013 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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