I Paid John $5.00 A Week Not To Shit In My Parking Place
# 8 Real Estate Man
Real estate is more than just sticks and bricks. Above all, it’s a people business. All the more challenging for anyone in real estate because the agent sees people at home, with their families when their guard is down. Everyday pressures closing in. Frequently the demands change but the solutions remain the same.
Today, many people eschew any type of stable life, whether it’s by choice or necessity. Cities are inundated with homeless and a freewheeling transient population, mostly young people, that choose to live in tents, vans or other temporary shelter. For extended periods, many of these these itenerate souls reside on land owned by someone else. No lease, no rents, no responsibility to any Real Estate Man. They seem to be here today, somewhere else tomorrow. Poof, only their scat remains. What ever your political preference, cities suffer.
This is a story how Real Estate Man handled this anthropological problem long before the current plague of street feces threatened to swamp many of the most beautiful cities in the United States.
Real Estate Man’s story:
Back in the early 1990’s there was a man named John. He was a precursor of rootless (by choice) young people today. He had a loving family in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. John, however, opted for alcohol, bedroll and backpack of all his worldly goods for a lifestyle. Unfortunately, his space was my space. I’d purchased a building in Center City a couple of years prior. It was a small mixed use building consisting of 5 apartments, a pizza shop and a parking place out back. The parking place was snuggled in between my building and the building behind it. The car park was secluded, cozy, perfect. Neither car nor human inhabiting there would be noticed by the swirl of business and peopled buzzing around in the heart of famous Rittenhouse Square.
The space was rented for parking at $300 a month (a princely sum in the 90’s). It was unusually leased to a Philadelphia lawyer or businessman who drove to work in the day and left town at 5:00.
John crashed there at night
An uneasy truce prevailed between John and me with an unwritten contract our understanding was that John vacate the space with bedroll, backpack possessions during the day and enjoy a degree of informal solitude for the night.
John’s hours of occupancy were 6:00PM (or so) until 8:00AM.
This implied agreement was observed by John and me until I received a call from the lawyer whose car was the current daytime occupant of the parking space. In an elevated voice, “Real Estate Man, I’ve put up with this for months. I step out of my car and squish a turd. I think someone is living back there!” The lawyer is right, of course, but I thought John got all his stuff out of there by 8:00AM. I guess John didn’t count on cleaning his own street plumbing.
Now don’t get me wrong. $300 a month was money I needed. I could also foresee this happening with subsequent parking tenants for all the years John graced this Earth. Action had to be taken.
John and I always had a fairly good relationship. He was truly a likable guy. He was affable and knew how to work a room. Charming in a street person type of way. It was not only me, the Pizza Guy gave him a his pick of pizza every day.
This was going to be delicate:
Me: “John, I hear someone is shitting out back where you live. Do you know who’s doing that?”
John: “It’s not me!”
Me: “No shit John? Tell you what, I’ll pay you $5.00 a week to make sure no one does .:..or if they do, clean it up.”
John: “Done deal!!”
Just then, it occurred to me that I was paying John, not to clean up but to refrain from shitting in MY parking place. How ironic is that?
I didn’t get another complaint from the lawyer. I religiously paid John $5.00 every Friday. The system worked for about 6 months.
John asked for a raise to $6.00 a week.
I didn’t hesitate.
Wrote a rental increase notice to the lawyer. His parking place rent was now $304.50 a month.