Tuesday, August 5, 2014


In my line of work, (real estate appraiser), I see folks at home.  It's kind of personal. Hell, it's a lot personal, to have some stranger come to what is your supposed safe place, and wander through taking pictures, scratching notes on a clipboard, and asking about your septic system's functionality.  I always try to make folks feel at ease.  They typically need me to be there, but are not always all that excited about it.  

But once in awhile, folks surprise me.  

I see it all.  Hovels maintained as if they were the Taj Mahal, and McMansions on the verge of meltdown.  It will shock you to see how some folks live.  On this particular day, I had just left an 8 year old manufactured home, in the woods of eastern Havana.  Folks bought it in 2006 right at the peak of the real estate boom.  Brand new and shiny, and freshly installed on their own private acre.  As with many after the Great Recession, something went sour.  They've lost their palace, and the bank has it now.  This is where I come in.  Once again, I am to let the bank know how best to liquidate this property.  I arrive and find the front door has been kicked in, the A/C unit is gone, as is the water heater, ALL of the kitchen cabinets, appliances and  fixtures, and the shower and garden tub from the master bath.  Apparently those bath fixtures didn't fit through the stock bathroom door size, so the walls were "customized" to allow sufficient exit space. The place is a shambles, and is likely no longer worth much more than the land it sits on.  I ponder this on my way to my next appointment.  That type of scene is not at all uncommon.  Sometimes it's an angry homeowner.  They figure that if the bank is taking it, then so be it.  But if they can't have it, nobody can, so destruction ensues.  Other times, it's just the rural location and a home sat vacant too long, so local thieves step in, and help themselves to anything that may be cash-worthy.  Regardless, it's not the pretty side of the human animal.  

My next stop is a much higher end home, but again, it is under contract as a short sale.  Something went wrong in someone's dream, and their homeownership path is altered.  I'm a little nervous on this one.  I've just left the bad, and due to a miscommunication, this particular gentleman had been around home all day the day before, awaiting my arrival.  I however, had no idea he was expecting me, and so was a bit on edge as to the attitude I was walking into, today.  

Nobody is home, so I proceed with my sketches and measuring.  I'm around back when I hear a car horn blowing.  Apparently my truck was in the way of where HE wanted to park.  Here we go, I think, and steel myself for the interaction.  I round the corner to see an all black SUV with gigantic chrome wheels, FAMU Rattler plates, Pittsburgh Steelers stickers on the windows, and a necklace swinging from the mirror, consisting of 5 large rattlesnake rattles threaded on a leather cord.  Blaring from all 4 rolled down windows, so all the neighborhood could enjoy........ the twang of country music.   This was not what I expected.  Out of the vehicle climbs an older black gentleman with a big straw hat, and a scruffy grey beard.  Again, not what I expected.  I give him my name, and ask how he is doing.  Typical cordial pleasantries.  

T N T!! Taint Nothing Ta-me, my man!  Taint nothing ta me!, he exclaims.  

I can't help but smile, and tell him I'll go on about finishing my inspection.  He opens the doors, offers me a drink, and tells me he'll be outside mowing the grass.  I get inside, and see he's already pretty much moved out.  But the place is spotless.  There are signs of cleaning still ongoing, but predominantly, this place is move in ready.  I just keep thinking that this guy is out here mowing the grass, which looked perfectly fine to me, for a house he's losing in a short sale!!  

I finish my inspection, and head back out to be on my way.  Mr Homeowner stops the mower and asks about my bike in the back of the truck.  I'm used to this.  It happens.  But then he asks if I'm married.  Not any longer, I answer.  I suppose I had a funny look on my face, probably because I was trying to figure out why I had answered this way.  A simple "no" would have sufficed.  He throws up his hands.

Let's just call it vicissitude!

Again, I can't help but smile at this guy.  He keeps surprising me at every turn.  He tells me he lost his wife of 41 years, last year, and that's why he's giving up the house.  

I was gonna say, that if you are married, just be sure she rides, too.  

"Funny you should say that.", I told him.  "The young lady in my life now, does.  In fact, it's how we met."  He smiles broadly, and tells me that's an excellent thing.  

I hope to be in that exact same place in my life again, someday.  

This man is experiencing more than enough vicissitude right now, yet his positive attitude was infectious.  The man's head was high, and he was on his way, wherever that may lead.  I wished him luck on whatever the next chapter of his life brings, but after I left, I more felt that I should have thanked him.  Thanked him for showing me what folks can be.  Thanked him for reminding me what I always want to be.  Keep them guessing, but show them substance.  Put something in this world that is worth being there, even if it's something as intangible as simple good will.


BIG JIM said...

Nice one.

Anonymous said...

Is his last name Crumby by chance? This sounds just like a man I used to work with at the telephone company. If it is, I would have to agree with your assessment. I miss him since he retired a couple years ago. Good story.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

I needed that one.

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