I was going to write about wine today, but I’ve got a great story, so I’m rolling with it. And the story has evolved as I told it to The Brother and it started getting intertwined with several other recent events. Now I feel like a Brady Bunch episode where various events lead to a hubris for Greg. Except it’s nothing I needed to learn, I already knew it. It was just interesting how it all ties in.
I’ve been in a discussion on and off for a couple of weeks on the subject of a family who has chosen to walk away from their home. They don’t have to. The market moved against the property that was purchased at the height of the market, but they’ve had no adjustment in the mortgage and their income has remained robust. He is an executive and the home is over a million dollar home. Even with the market adjusting. They couldn’t get a modification because of his income. The bank opined, correctly, that they didn’t need it. So they quit paying and they’re going to have the bank take back the house. They are justifying their conscious and willing breach of contract by calling it a “business decision”. There, that makes it all sound okay doesn’t it? Except Ford made a business decision that the lawsuits from deaths in Explorer rollovers would cost less than fixing the vehicle, and people died. I worked for a guy who filed away every file that had a title policy to be typed between 1975 and 1977 and didn’t have it typed. At the time the company had one typist and she had a heart attack so they fell woefully behind in the whole on policy production. It was a business decision. Even though the customer paid for the product, he did not deliver it. I won’t even get into all the loan officers and what they did between 2003-2007. We know.
Business in this country has lost it’s way and now we think it’s okay to behave like that. I really believe this can all be traced back to the Reagan Administration, but we all know that I think every thing that’s wrong in this country can be traced back to the Bonzo Great Communicator. (And Professor Cousin, who happens to be brilliant concurs) We’re supposed to do whatever is best for us with no regard for those around us. So business moved their operations overseas because that was best for the Corporation, not so much for the workers. The steel industry is a great example. Now the title industry. And of course the auto industry. The right thing was never to build those behemoths they’ve been putting on the market. The right thing was to put American engineers to work finding a brilliant way to build a fuel efficient vehicle that allowed us room and comfort while honoring the planet and environment. But that’s not what we did. Detroit made a business decision. In 1985, (during yet another gas crisis) an edict came from on high at BMW, reduce emissions, increase fuel efficiency in the over all line. A German business decision. Now, the eight cylinder versions are still beasts, but not as bad as American luxury vehicles. The 745i will get 26+ on the highway. The six cylinder versions, however, get decent gas mileage. My 2001 525i still gets 32 on the highway. At 105 with a curb weight of 4200lbs. And they ate Detroit’s lunch.
Which gets us to yesterday’s adventure. Every Monday I have to check on each of the properties I manage for my broker. I have roughly 30-35 stops to make on Monday. I check for occupancy when the former owner still lives there and break ins on the ones we’ve taken over. I arrived at a site yesterday while on the phone. I was setting an appointment to show another site, talking to a woman I had never spoken to before but was referred to me by a guy I had watching that site for me. (I always engage several neighbors in protecting my sites from vandalism and squatting) They want good neighbors and I get referrals from that practice. Anywho, as I walk into the house I can hear water running. Water is not my friend. I had an agent turn on the water at a site that I had it deliberately turned off at and ruin all the flooring. So hearing water running sent me into overdrive. And it was REALLY turned on. So I went upstairs expecting a faucet to be on and nothing. No running toilets. Nothing in the kitchen. Checked the garage, all was good. Walked out the back door and saw a hose running from the back of the house to the neighbor’s fence, through the fence and into his pool. At this point I was so distracted, I set the appointment and hung up. Then I started ticking through my options in my head. I resisted the temptation to go pound on his door and scream at him. I called the police instead. As I was talking to them on the phone this guy actually comes out and was in front of the house and motioned that he wanted to talk to me. I conjugated some words in a manner he has probably never heard strung together before, unless he’s been caught stealing from someone else. I was still on the phone with the Police when that little Tourette’s moment occurred and that got me three cars. When I came downstairs this asshole said “Let’s talk this out”. I was out of my mind. There was nothing to “talk out”, I caught him stealing from me. What’s to “talk out”? He explained to me that he and the neighbors had been taking care of the lawn and this place, mowing the lawn and watering and such at the request of the former owner. I found this fascinating because the house was an utter shit hole inside. Interesting that the former owners who lived like pigs would care so much about the landscaping. Then he went on to explain how they wanted a good family to move in and his wife was baking cookies for the people who were being shown the house. At this point I was looking around to see if I had magically transformed myself in to a barefoot bumpkin in overalls with a straw hat because ANYBODY handing me this line of crap must have thought I just fell off of the freaking turnip truck. WTF DUDE!!! That shit just enraged me. Then the little butt pirate goes on to explain that he used to be in the mortgage business and he knew how all of this worked. The fireworks went off, the flags waived and the band played. I resisted the temptation to retort “Oh, so you were a LO, that’s why you think it’s OK TO LIE TO ME!” But I didn’t. I just kept repeating “You’re stealing water, that is not ok”. Then I ask the $64,000 question. If you were so concerned about this house, why didn’t anyone call the number on this sign I’m standing next to? Then the Police show up. This town has a pretty decent Police Department. They’re for the most part not too overworked and they’re all pretty cool. The lady cop takes me in to the house and I take her out back, point to the hose and say “There’s just no explaining this, it is what it is”. Then she says “Well, he says he’s been taking care of the yards.” Oh honey, hasn’t anyone lied to you yet today? We have a service that takes care of the yard and we both know that this City has an ordinance regarding landscaping. Every other house I have in this town gets a phone call from the neighbors if there is one blade of brown grass, but not this one. This one the neighbors water the lawn and mow it and fill their pool with our water. Even though we’ve both seen my yard sign with my phone number on it. Why did not one of these concerned neighbors pick up the phone and call that number? OK, she says, what would I like to see happen here. Well, I have posted no trespassing out front, and as far as I’m concerned he’s trespassing and should be taken to jail. However, you’re a really good cop and you talked me out of it. Now go scare the crap out of him and let’s call it a day. Done deal.