The Barn That Went Up In Smoke

Repossessing a portable building is one of the more difficult tasks at our portable building business.  It’s made even more difficult when the building “disappears” before all of the payments are received.  This happened recently and the situation spiraled almost out of control before the end.  Here’s the story.

A couple of months ago, we received a repossession order for a barn in a small west Texas town, we’ll call the town “Bucks”.  We attempted to contact the customer, who told us, “Aw, hell.  That building burned down months ago.  That’s why I ain’t payin’ on it no more.”  We drove by the property where we had delivered the building, and while the building was gone there was no sign of a fire.  We smelled a rat.

It seemed that the gentleman who had rented the barn, we’ll call him “Jasper,” had moved away from that home anyway.  The local building dealer there decided to do a little detective work to find out where Jasper and the barn were.  He had heard through the grapevine that Jasper had moved to an even smaller nearby town, that we’ll call “Brookston.”  The dealer drove up and down the eight streets that comprise the “city” of Brookston, and found the building in the yard of an unassuming home at the town’s one-and-only intersection with a blinking light.  He made a note of the license numbers of the cars in the driveway and left before he was seen.

Now, our dealer there is quite a character, and it seems that whenever he talks about anyone, he precedes their name with the phrase, “our good friend.”  Apparently, the Bucks Sheriff is among his “good friends” and he contacted him to check to  see if any of the license numbers he’d noted belonged to Jasper:  BINGO!  He had found Jasper’s new home and the building.

Yesterday, we sent our driver “Darren” (Read: “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy”) to join the dealer on a trip to Jasper’s new home in Brookston to retrieve the building.  The dealer called his “good friend” the Sheriff in Brookston to join them as well, in case there was trouble.  They arrived and could see the building behind a locked gate in the back yard.  It had an air-conditioner installed and was hooked up to both the home’s electrical lines and plumbing system.  No one responded to many knocks on the door of the home.  With the Sheriff’s nod of approval, they cut the lock on the gate, rounded up the pack of dogs who appeared to greet them and contained them out of the way, and approached the building.  It was locked, which wouldn’t have been such a big deal except that the serial number for our buildings is inside, above the door.  This meant that they could not positively confirm that the building was indeed the one that Jasper had claimed had burnt down.  Undaunted, and swayed by the preponderance of circumstantial evidence, they disconnected the plumbing and electrical lines from the barn, loaded it up, and left.

They thanked the Sheriff for his assistance, and drove back to the sales lot in Bucks and unloaded the building.  We had spoken with Darren on the phone throughout this process, and we were very eager to confirm that we had in fact picked up the correct barn.  As my sweetheart said, “You’d better hope that was the right barn you just stole from someone’s yard, or we’re all going to jail… and replacing a gate… and apologizing to a really pissed off barn-owner.”

Now, at this point you might think that you know where this story is going.  You might be anticipating an angry confrontation with the barn’s owner after we discover that we had indeed stolen some stranger’s barn right out of their yard.  You might think that, but you’d be wrong.

Darren and the dealer got out some tools, and removed the doors from the barn, and confirmed that it was indeed the building they’d been looking for.  We breathed a sigh of relief, and then Darren told us, “But there’s more.”

While Darren was talking to us on the phone, the dealer was on the phone with the Sheriff in Brookston, telling him that he might want to come to Bucks to see what they had found inside the barn.

When they opened the doors, they discovered a complete marijuana growing operation, complete with lights, pots and containers, specialized soil, fertilizer, sprouts, mature plants, and even a bong (presumably for quality control.)

On the Sherriff’s advice, they immediately closed the building, loaded it back up on the truck, and took it to the home of another of the dealer’s “good friends” not far away and off the beaten path.  This turned out to be good advice, since Jasper showed up at the sales lot a few hours later, angrily demanding to know where his barn was.  Thinking on his feet, the dealer told him that he didn’t know, that he only sold the buildings; he didn’t deliver them or repossess them.  Jasper left in an explosion of expletives and gravel as his tires spun his car away from the sales lot.

So, it looks like we won’t be getting our barn back for a while after all.  The Sheriff will be needing it after he catches up with Jasper and has a conversation with him about his horticultural pursuits.

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