#7 Real Estate Man
Every Real Estate Man needs a LeRoy Jones, an all purpose handyman who can get it done. LeRoy was no craftsman but dependable and finished what he started. A slightly build man with an engaging personality, he would do work gratis when he had a free minute or two for older less fortunate people in his southwest Philadelphia neighborhood. Real Estate Man, he charged as much as he could get. As mentioned, his work was not perfect, sometimes further from perfection than others. By way of limited example: while building a deck LeRoy somehow enclosed a decorative backyard ceramic frog under the deck encasing it forever unless the deck was totally dismantled and rebuilt. the tenant chose to allow their beloved frog to stare up at them (with on top of the head frog eyes) through the spaces in the 1x6 deck boarding rather than have LeRoy go through the tear down and rebuild process. The deck itself was beautiful. Encouraged by the quality of the deck, in spite of the frog, the couple retained Le Roy to finish the cellar in their tiny row house. Always can use an extra room in those houses. Le Roy did, in fact, do the drywall but neglected to tape, sparkle or paint it. That was extra. Bit scammer, bit crook, always there to try a new project whether it was beyond his skills or not. Sometimes a Godsend in an emergency and sometimes a Goddamned in quality of work. But he got it done. In addition, Real Estate Man loved the fact, whatever LeRoy’s faults, he loved to work.
Real Estate Man”s story:
Elizabeth was an art student enrolled in the University of the Arts. I had a lot of tenants from that school as I owned a number of buildings within a couple of blocks from campus. My apartments were less expensive that the luxury dorms the University had recently built.
Elizabeth called one morning informing me that original tiles were falling out of her shower surround. I don’t see why they’re only about 75 years old Considered an emergency if Elizabeth wanted to shower without drenching the apartment underneath.
Almost the moment Elizabeth called, Le Roy came into the office looking for work. A daily ritual that I looked forward to; enjoying a slice of Le Roy’s banter, even if there was no work available that day.
Now, of course, Elizabeth’s shower. Short with the conversation today. Le Roy quickly dispatched to save the day. Actually, it was a 2 day job ;tile cement board secured, tile glued, caulked and a day to dry
After a positive work progress briefing from LeRoy at the end of the day, I left the office for home.
Checking the emergency line remotely from my house, I had one message. It was from Elizabeth, “Did you guys see my cat? I can’t find him. I asked you to make sure the apartment door was closed. Any idea?”
I had no idea, of course, but felt that news could be delivered in the morning from my office.
Next day I listened to my emergency voicemail and heard a small explosion. Elizabeth “The cat is behind the tile. You SHUT HIM UP IN THE WALL. I need someone over here NOW!” Acting no longer the polite art student with obviously caring parents who probably were paying $50,000 some a year (even with the savings on my cheap apartment).She must have discovered the cat behind the wall after her first call.. Muffled,plaintive “Meows” in the night?
Owning a cat myself — I understood Elizabeth’s pain.
Quickly I called Le Roy explaining the situation, he said he understood the urgency.. Le Roy true to form, was on the job immediately. I called Elizabeth and tried to talk her off the ledge ,which I thought I was able to do. That morning Le Roy, under the watchful eyes of Elizabeth, deconstructed the wall and removed the cat. He then reconstructed the tile shower stall.
Elizabeth finished out her lease, continuing to pay the rent on time every month. She graduated from the University of the Arts and I’m sure is on her way to great things.
I did a final inspection of her apartment before any deposit was refunded. Elizabeth’s place was spotless as I expected. Just one thing remained. A beautiful 2'x3' framed painting on the wall. Only that.
The picture was of two men looking exactly like Le Roy and me inside a wall being tile by a cat ,presumably looking like her’s. The cat had a carton bubble saying “Bad men” (as in “Bad Kitty?”) Elizabeth’s parting shot.
I gave it to Le Roy. He earned it.
Elizabeth received her full deposit. She earned it.