"Grippers" #4(how to get homeless without even trying )

Recap: #1, Bob Slider is laid off; #2, Tracey loses her unemployment; #3, confronting finances over beer & pizza (click on “grippers” tab to view previous episodes)

Episode 4: Meeting with the landlord.

It was 8 a.m. Saturday and Bob was sitting in Tracey’s car listening to the singing of an engine not starting, waawaawaawaa. Tommy Parano, Bob’s good friend and next door neighbor, came walking over. Tommy also happened to be  a darn good auto mechanic. “Uh oh Bob, that don’t sound good. Pop the hood.”

It took Tommy ten minutes to figure out that the fuel pump was shot. “No pressure from the fuel line Bob. No pressure. The worst part is the pump is in the gas tank. It’s a big job to replace it. .We’ll have to get it into the shop.”

“Well Tommy, not this week. Bildot closed its doors yesterday. I’m out of work. The car will have to wait.”

“No way, man. I don’t believe it. Bildot closed. You were laid off. Oh man, that stinks big time.”

Just then a bright, red F-350 diesel pick-up with tandem wheels rumbled to a stop in front of the house. Bob said to Tommy, “Hey, that’s my landlord. Look, we’ll talk later.”

As Tommy headed back to his house Greg Margolese slowly walked toward his tenant. Bob’s insides sort of twisted because the usually friendly persona of Greg was nowhere to be seen. “Good morning, Bob.”

“Hey Greg, you’re up and about early for a Saturday.”

“Yeah, well I have to take care of a broken water heater over on 72nd Terrace and I wanted to talk to you anyway so—I thought  I would just stop by. You know Bob, you still owe me $700.00 for May and June 1st is Tuesday. You think you’ll have the money?”

Bob suddenly felt intimidated and embarrassed. He had known Greg for a long time. The man owned 18 houses and Bob had helped him out many times getting him discounts on building supplies and personally doing minor repairs for him. He liked to think that they were friends first. But this Saturday morning was different. Greg Margolese was exhibiting a “business is business” attitude. Bob nervously said to him, “Uh—I was going to call you Greg. Truth is, I have a problem and—look, wait right here. I’ll be right back.”

Bob hurried into the house and wrote out a check for $700.00. He hurriedly went back outside and, handing the check to Greg he said, “I would have asked you in but Tracey and Jake are still sleeping and I though it better if we talked out here. Anyway, here is the rest of May’s rent. Sorry it took so long.”

“Sure, Bob. that’s fine.So, what’s the problem? Will you be able to pay June’s rent?”

Bob felt himself getting a bit annoyed. “Yeah, I can pay June’s rent. That’s not the problem. The problem is Bildot closed its doors yesterday. Went “belly-up”. I’m officially laid off and I was thinking that maybe we could help each other out.”

“Bildot is out of business. I can’t believe it. What are you going to do?”

“Well, for starters, I was thinking that maybe I could do some work for you and credit it towards rent. I know I can get some work but that might take a bit of time. I have the truck so I can do some hauling and clean-ups.  In the meantime, I could start working towards July’s rent now. Whaddaya think?”

Greg took a breath and raised his eyes.”Look Bob, I have four vacant houses and five tenants late with rent. I pay mortgages and insurance on all my properties. I need cash. This economy has everyone hurting , me included  But, I’ll think about it and we’ll talk Tuesday when I come back for the rent. “

“Okay Greg, thanks. See you Tuesday.”

As Greg drove away Bob felt a chill run down his spine. Forking over the other $950.00 on Tuesday was going to leave them in a terrible spot. This is exactly what Tracey was talking about the previous evening.

He slowly headed back into the house. Tracey, sitting at the kitchen table, immediately said, “You know, last night at Carmine’s we never included in the money we owe, the phone bill, the cell phone bill and the three credit card payments that are past due. What about my car?”

“Tommy said the fuel pump is shot. It’s a big job. We’ll  just have to wait on that. You can use the truck. Hey Tracey— I need to have some coffee and think, okay.  Can’t believe it. Never thought about the phones.” He poured some coffee into his mug and walked out to the backyard.

Next time:  Episode #5; Running out of money

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