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absentee

Well now, here’s a real shocker (he said sarcastically). An absentee is someone who is absent or someone who absents himself or herself.

Who would have guessed that? (If you, with a straight face and in all seriousness, felt the need to answer “not me; not in a million years” then I strongly recommend that you reconsider any ambitions that you might have to enter a field that requires the reasoning, intelligence and/or literacy.)

You’ll sometimes hear talk about absentee landlords. What is said about them is often particularly nasty.

An absentee landlord is simply a landlord who doesn’t live on the premises. I’m not a landlord, absentee or otherwise, nor do I play one, or anything else, on television, but I’m going to say a few words in their defense. (If you weren’t a television watcher in North American 30 or so years ago, the bit about not playing one on television might not make any sense. Never mind. It’s not germane to the point and not worth explaining.)

Some people own multiple apartment buildings and some apartment buildings are owned by corporations. Even if the owners of the buildings or the owners of apartment-owning corporations wanted to live in a rental apartment rather than a single-family home or a condominium, they couldn’t possibly live in all of them at once. Therefore, they have to be absentee landlords in at least some of their buildings.

Yet without the investments from these people and corporations there would be far fewer apartments than there are and, therefore, there would almost certainly be more homelessness. That, in my opinion, would be a bad thing. To my mind, absentee landlords are not intrinsically evil and they provide a valuable service.

That having been said, if the walls and ceilings of your building are crumbling into near-collapse, the rodent residents outnumber the human inhabitants by a ratio of more than ten-to-one, and the landlord hasn’t yet come up with a really good marketing name to hang on the building’s front door, then you have a good reason to complain and curse your absentee landlord.

Alright, that third point—the lack of a clever name to market the building—is not a particularly significant issue, but I’d definitely complain about the rats and impending demolition by neglect if I were you.

I also want to talk about absentees in work environments, but that discussion is more appropriate under an entry for absenteeism, which is the next word in my dictionary.

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