I like those movies where you can choose an alternate ending. Those are cool. If only real life were like that... Here's the alternate ending I would choose for my situation:
Instead of hearing apathetic silence when I showed my landlord the moat, he would have said: "Don't worry, Lydia, I'll make some phone calls, and see about getting this cleared up right away. I'll let you know what I find out."
Instead of hearing: "That's not my department", when I showed the moat to Code Enforcement, I would have heard: "This is disgusting. I'm going over there right now, and try to find out what's going on with this. Don't worry, we'll get it figured out ASAP. Meanwhile, I'm gonna suspend HUDS rental license, and order that tenant rents be paid to the court in escrow."
Instead of DEP saying: "Yuk yuk, oh, well... I do drive-bys every now and then, and it looked fine from the road... yuk yuk...", I would have heard: "Yeah, I dropped the ball on this. I had no idea what was going on with it, because - frankly, I don't give a damn about those people who live over there anyway. They're just a bunch of poor, lazy bums who probably deserve to be poisoned in the first place. Just wish I could do more to hurry it along...." (No, that's NOT what I wanted to hear, but at least it would have been the truth.)
Instead of my landlord saying: "What the hell more do you want from me?! I made a phone call on your behalf!", I might have heard - "We're sorry you're sick, Lydia. Don't worry, we're gonna work with the City on this to make sure it gets cleaned up as soon as possible."
Instead of the Resident Coordinator laughing at me and saying: "Well, if you guys are getting headaches from the fumes, just close your windows ! lol...." I would have heard: "You're getting headaches? That's really wierd... I wonder if they might be coming from the fumes at the laundromat? Don't worry, we're gonna make some calls and see if we can't fix this, so it doesn't keep happening".
And, instead of that same person saying: "If you just spent as much time on school as you did complaining, you'd be done by now !" She would say: "I understand your worry, Lydia, this must be really stressful for you. If you need to talk, I'm here to listen."
Instead of the EPA conducting a make-believe investigation, with a pretend agent, I would have gotten an immediate injunction against HUD preventing them from operating a housing complex at this location, and an order to refund ALL tenants back rent for the time we were incarcerated here.
Instead of everyone saying: "She's just a crazy trouble-maker whose bored and letting her imagination get the best of her. We KNOW there's no REAL problem, because she's the only one whose complaining... Everyone else is really happy to live over there...!"; I might have heard: "Let's count our blessings that more residents don't think like her, because she's right."
Instead of court dates and eviction letters, I might have gotten honest explanations and apologies. Instead of patronizing and placating, I would have gotten REAL CONCERN, and REAL SOLUTIONS. Instead of arrogance and apathy, I might have gotten sympathy and support.
But, alternate endings only happen in movies. And, even then - only sometimes.