Today, one of my Oxbridge students came to me with a little problem. She'd been banned from her home.
I won't go into all the Drama that led up to this. Let's just say it involved a clan of vampires, a love triangle, and a slight case of mistaken identity. You can make up your own story from those clues, I'm sure, and it will probably be much better than the actual series of events. But the end result was that she couldn't get to the skybox home she'd constructed, and the land owner had not returned her objects.
I agreed to help her out. One of the first things was to get the story of what had happened...well, her side of it, anyway. It seemed to me to be a simple case of a minor mistake in etiquette on her part and a problem in communication, interpretation, or both.
The next step was to go to her land and see if the stuff was still there. If it was not, it should be a simple matter to show her how to find the lump of returned prims in her Lost and Found folder, and show her how to rez them again and recover them properly. But, when I arrived, sure enough her house and furniture were still there. I also took the time to look at the parcel details. It was Private Estate land, and it appeared that a vampire family owned the large parcel. I had to assume that my student friend was there as a guest, or perhaps was sub-letting from the clan. The Estate Owner was an old friend of mine, Derbor Torok.
As I was noting these details, still hovering in my friend's house, I received an IM from the head of the vampire family...the parcel owner. He wanted, reasonably enough, to know what I was doing there? I told him politely who I was, and my mission. He demanded I come down and talk to him face to face, so I did.
Unfortunately, the gentleman was both fairly new to SL (a bit over three months old) and did not speak much English. After a brief exchange, he brought over another person, a woman with whom my friend had had the conversation that led to her being banned.
I again explained my mission, saying that I was sure the whole thing was really a misunderstanding. I asked the owner most politely if he would allow my friend back. I agreed that he did not have to, and that it was his right to allow or ban anyone he liked on his land. I then asked, if he chose not to allow my friend back, that he return her things.
I guess my translator was not working well, because shortly after that I found myself booted off the parcel.
I related my failure to my friend, and explained how she could get her stuff back, if the land owner didn't return it in a reasonably short time. She should be able to go back to the region, in a parcel adjoining the land owner's, cam in and retrieve her objects.
I also told her, if she continued to have problems with the land owner, to contact the Estate Owner, my friend Derbor. I figured that, as long as I have to deal with Vampire Clan Drama, I should share the joy!
But why, you may ask, am I telling all of you this sordid little tale? It's very simple, Gentle Readers! This is a perfect example of Second Life's Golden Rule in action. That rule is, "He Who Owns the Land, Makes the Rules." Regardless of what the lease or the Covenant says, a land owner is an absolute monarch on his little piece of virtual land. If they choose, they can ban you. Without warning, without explanation, without recourse, and without refunding the rent that you just paid them yesterday. They don't even have to return your Stuff (although most will, they don't want your prims cluttering up the joint). They don't have to listen to pleas, arguments, or excuses. They don't have to put up with intermediaries like me.
Am I angry at the landowner? No, not a bit. Everything he did was within his rights. I'm actually grateful that he let me stay long enough to get a few words in. He could've just ejected and banned me without even saying boo. I'm only disappointed that we were not able to communicate more clearly. (Of course, if he ever comes to Masocado, I'll be gleefully happy to return the favor! Muwahahaha!)
I will leave you with the same parting bit of advice I gave my friend: "Next time, don't rent from vampires. Their clans breed Drama as well as Undead Stalkers of the Night."