As previously stated, Tom has relayed to me some strange stories about estimates he’s made at people’s homes.
I passed off an estimate to Tom recently and he told me to come with him on this one. This was just to see what he was talking about, because he already knew this one was one of those.
It was in Arcadia which, with this story and the last one with the old lady and the dogs, is starting to sound like an unfavorable place. It really isn’t. Arcadia is rather upscale and no news comes out of there for the most part, which is a good thing, I’ve found.
We were proceeding up a nice cul-de-sac with lovely homes, tall trees and a view of the mountains. It was one of those “if I had a lot more money, I’d want to live here” sort of places.
Then we get to the address. In Tom’s words: “Yup, we’ve got a winner here!”
In the driveway were four vehicles, only one of which looked like it actually worked. The other three were:
- An old, old Ford pickup that looked more like an impressionistic sculpture you’d find in a contemporary art museum embodying the decay of modern society, or whatever. There was a layer of faded green paint peeling off of a layer of faded yellow paint peeling off of a layer of deep-brown rust. There was an equally old shell on the bed. The interior of the bed was packed full of dead palm tree fronds.
- An RV that could comfortably house one person who owned nothing other than the RV. Maybe a bit younger than the truck, it looked like something you’d see parked out in the barren desert off the highway on your way to Vegas, or maybe in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart.
- A car with one flat tire and 3 missing tires… just the hubs, up on cinder blocks. The three rusted rims were piled in front of it next to a decrepit fridge with no door and a cardboard box filled with broken light bulbs.
The fourth car looked like it was bought for maybe $100 bucks off of a Craigslist ad, but was haggled down from $120 because the person selling it just wanted to get rid of the damn thing already.
The lawn was more green than dead and had been mowed recently. So there was that.
Tom and I proceeded up to the front door and rang the doorbell. No charging dogs this time, at least. Nothing actually; I thought he might not be home. Then from behind us, we hear a harsh and accusing voice: “What?”
Startled, I turn around. He was maybe 50 or so with a dirty long white shirt on and sweatpants. Unshaven, barefoot, and in need of a haircut that involved cutting off all the hair on top of his head and starting over.
Instead of answering the front door, he walked all the way around the house and came up behind us.
Tom says we’re here for the roofing estimate.
“Oh, yeah. Okay.” he mumbled. It appeared like he just woke up. It was around 2 PM. He gestured vaguely up at the roof. Tom inquired as to where the leak was, where he should look, what was going on, etc. The guy filled him in. He appeared to be waking up more and was moving into a more “normal” state.
Tom climbs up there and I stand on the front lawn trying to look like I’m supposed to be there too. The guy started going around and picking up those little brown spikey balls that fall off trees scattered across his yard and throwing them into the back of the derelict pickup truck.
(I started to Google “Brown spikey b” and then the option for Brown Spikey Ball Plant came up. It appears I’m not the only one. It’s called a Sweetgum Tree, or Liquidambar styraciflua, which you probably weren’t wondering but at least you now know. You’re welcome.)
Meanwhile, Tom was checking the roof out. He finally came down and started to let the guy know what was wrong: older roof, small hole in the flat section, repair job. Tom started writing up the contract. While we were waiting, I commented on that it was a nice neighborhood that he lived in.
“Yeah, it’s pretty quiet. They don’t like it when you shoot your gun off in your house, though.” he mentioned casually. That one took a solid 5 seconds for me to process. Tom either pretended not to notice, or simply didn’t because by now that kind of thing wasn’t unusual to him.
“Why would you do that?” I inquired.
He shrugged. “Well, I was kinna mad, ya know. And kinna drunk I guess. I was just shooting my gun into the fireplace. The cops came but I just hid. They couldn’t figure out where it came from.”
He then started to elaborate on how this one time he finally got tired of all those spikey balls falling off of the spikey ball tree, so he hooked a hose up to the fire hydrant across the street and blasted the tree with hundreds of gallons of water, knocking all the spikey balls off. Where he got a hose that size, I didn’t ask. I said something along the lines of, hey, if it works…
“But that made the city mad,” he said, then started laughing as if that were a really funny joke. I nodded.
Tom, ignoring all this, handed him the contract he’d just made up for the repair, gave him the standard disclaimer as to what to do after that. He seemed interested enough, and we left.
“Well THAT was weird.” I stated in the truck as we were driving off.
“Well, you didn’t even see what was in the backyard,” Tom said. At that point, such a statement made me legitimately worried. Turned out it was just a bunch of junk and trash, and another car. Where do people like that get all these cars from anyways?
Not surprisingly, that guy never called us back, and I’m not going to bother following up. I’d rather there be no sequel to that one.