As I’ve mentioned before, repossessing a portable building is one of the more onerous (albeit exciting) tasks in our portable building business. Yesterday though, we got a little bit more than we’d bargained for. But let me start at the beginning, which is about five months ago.
In December, we got a repossession order from one of the financing companies for a red barn with a white roof. This is fairly routine, and at least half of the time all we have to do is call and say, “Hi! I’m calling to see when would be a good time for me to pick up your building. The financing company said you don’t want it any more,” and the customer panics and immediately pays any past due balance on their bill to keep us from showing up and making good on our pick-up appointment. But when we contacted this particular customer, we’ll call him “Walt Warren”, he told us that the building was gone, and that he’d assumed we had picked it up already. He said, “I told the finance company my house was getting foreclosed on and to come get the building, and then it was gone!” Over the next couple of months, we gave it our best effort to find the building, checking at Walt’s parents’ house, his ex-wife’s house, and his new address to no avail. We checked Craigslist and the local paper to see if we saw the building for sale, but we couldn’t find it. We even contacted the real estate agent who was showing Walt’s now vacant home and found out which bank owned it and talked to them to see if they had moved the building. No one had any information for us: Except for Walt’s parents who said Walt was a good boy and if he said that we had picked up the building, then we had picked up the building, no matter what our paperwork said. It seemed to have disappeared without a trace.
Despite our lack of success, we kept the paperwork on the building with all of our research handy; my sweetheart said he had a feeling it would turn up. Well, yesterday, his prediction came to pass.
While driving through a highway interchange in a small Texas town, my sweetheart drove past a liquor store. This store was closed, being a Sunday in Texas and all, but in the parking lot was a red barn with a white roof, precisely the same as the one that Walt had rented and “lost.” My sweetheart noticed a car in the parking lot, so despite the “closed” sign, he went up to the door and knocked. A ginormous redneck came to the door with cut-off T-shirt revealing his confederate flag tattoo. (If this had been a cartoon, the tattooed flag probably would have waved when he flexed his muscles.) My sweetheart asked him if he knew who owned the building in the parking lot. Mr. Redneck said that he did, but that that person wasn’t there. My sweetheart asked him if he could get in touch with the owner, which Mr. Redneck attempted, coming back to the door five or six minutes later saying he couldn’t reach the owner. My sweetheart left his card and asked Mr. Redneck to have the owner call him as soon as possible.
After some brief discussion, we reasoned that “If he moved the building once to avoid a repo, he’ll move it again,” and we decided to pick up that barn right away. Later that afternoon, when Mr. Redneck was nowhere to be seen, we peeked inside the windows of the building and confirmed by the serial number that this was indeed the building we had been hunting. We loaded up the fugitive barn and headed on our way back to our factory to drop it off. I couldn’t help but notice that a neighbor of the liquor store was talking on her cell phone and pacing in her driveway while we were loading it, though. This did not bode well.
Several miles down the road, we encountered a white Trailblazer driving very slowly in front of us.
“Do you think they’re having engine trouble?” my sweetheart wondered aloud. Two men, one of them Mr. Redneck, swerved the car in front of us while shouting and waving, directing us to pull over.
“Uh…. no… I think they think we stole their building,” I said. Having no choice (other than vehicular manslaughter) we stopped the truck in the middle of the road with the building on the trailer, blocking one direction of traffic completely. At this point, Mr. Redneck lost his cool while his buddy stayed behind the wheel of the Trailblazer.
“F–k you mother f—ers get out of that f—ing truck I’m going to f—ing f–k you up you’ve got f—ing stolen property there and you’re going to go to f—ing jail and die mother f—ers go ahead and f—ing run me the f–k over you f–ks.” This diatribe was delivered all in one loud, long, rambling sentence, during which he displayed remarkable facility in using the “F-Word” as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, and an interjection. He also delivered this golden oratory while standing on the step up to the driver’s side of the truck, leaving a residue of spit, snot, and homicidal intent on the window. We dialed 9-1-1 and quickly explained our predicament to the dispatcher who sent officers from three surrounding towns and the county sheriff to the scene. I was relieved when they arrived, as Mr. Redneck stopped pacing in front of the truck as if he were prepared to leap through the windshield at any moment, and returned to his own vehicle to fume. When that happened, I snapped this quick picture of him in all of his cornfed glory.
That picture really doesn’t do him justice through, as you can’t see the spittle foaming at the corners of his mouth or the stream rising from under his feed store ball cap, nor can you hear the stomping of his boots punctuating his constant yelling of “F–K!”
The rest of the story is fairly sad to tell. Apparently, Mr. Redneck’s mother had purchased the building from “a guy on Craigslist.” (Most likely, Walt sold it and removed the ad before we ever got the repossession order.) She had no receipts or papers to show ownership and had paid cash. She’d been scammed. We had a repossession order with a clear description of the building including the serial number. Eventually, Mr. Redneck was sent home and we continued on our way to the factory with a police escort.
The building is still locked, so there may yet be another chapter or two to this story. What will happen when Mr. Redneck and his mom come to get their stuff out of the building? What if there are illegal goods inside like “The Barn That Went Up In Smoke”? What will happen to Walt Warren? Will he go to jail? Will Mr. Redneck track him down and “f—ing f–k him up”?