Today started off like a normal Tuesday. I was off work so I lazed around the house drinking coffee and doing a little bit of writing. I left my apartment about ten a.m. with a mental list of errands to be run when I saw it. A white envelope was lying on the ground just outside my apartment door with the apartment complex’s name emblazoned in the left corner with my apartment number written in large black sharpie across the front. I had never seen anything so official outside my door in the nearly three months I’d been living here so obviously I was intrigued. I had a gut wrenching feeling as I tore open the envelope to reveal I was being fined. What could I have possibly done to get a fifty dollar fine? Well a few weeks ago was my birthday and one of my gifts was a gift card to a local sporting goods store and I spent some of that money to buy a large Memphis Grizzlies flag. I thought it would be pretty cool to hang it over my balcony to show support for the most popular sports team in the area, you know show myself as a true Memphian. I bought the flag and nailed it to hang down over my balcony to show anyone who cared that I was a proud supporter of our local team. I even joked as we drove away from the apartment that we didn’t need a security system because the Grizzly was looking out for us. It was a show of pride in the community but my apartment complex didn’t see it that way.
Apparently I was in violation of the lease agreement because I had trash/debris on my balcony. A Memphis apartment complex literally called the Memphis Grizzlies flag debris. The letter went on to say that if it was not taken down immediately further action would be taken presumably eviction proceedings. All over a flag that I thoughtfully hung from my balcony making sure it didn’t hang too far down to block the view of the apartment below me. That was something I seriously took into consideration when hanging the flag. It in no way affected any other person except for me and my wife who’s balcony it hung from. I stood on my balcony and gazed out at the other apartments around me searching for similar violators and much to my satisfaction I found screen doors dismantled and propped against the railing, and dead plants littering the balconies of adjacent homes. I wonder if those people got a fine for having that outside? I doubt it. There is an apartment in my community with a gay flag hanging as mine was in full view of everyone that has been there since the day I moved in. I don’t have a problem with it but how can they be allowed to keep their flag but me a supporter of a team that has brought our city together be reprimanded, fined, and threatened with eviction?
The Grizzlies have done so much for Memphis as a community and as someone who recently relocated to the city I wanted to show my support but was met with anger by an apartment complex that up until this point I had really liked. Nothing offensive or obscene was hung from my balcony. There was nothing wrong with what I did, however the fine folks who allow me to live here had a problem with it. They specifically sited in the lease that no trash or debris was to be on the balcony. The Grizzlies flag is trash? Is that really the message you want to send to people? I just find it completely absurd that I’m not allowed to hang a flag from my balcony that is bothering nobody. I took the flag down, not because I no longer support the Grizzlies but because I can’t afford to pay fines every month and face eviction. You would think the locals could be more sympathetic to showing love for the hometown team but apparently here, where I live in Memphis it can’t be tolerated.