Sacked by the "downturn", an unemployed architect touring the country in a bus...



I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I've been evicted!

I've been working 12 and 14 hour days in the wood shop.  The first day, I called the landlord, Bob Athelier and introduced myself, and as Lonnie had suggested, I asked if we could adjust the position of his camper in the driveway next to the building in which Lonnie's shop is located so that I could pull in my camper, too.  The landlord, asked "Are you living in the camper?" I said I was for the moment and he said "I can't have you living there."  I said OK and he said I could park in another spot slightly up a hill, "next to the tractor", and I said OK.  So, for the next few days I parked where he had told me, and went away at night, parking in a gravel lot at the defunct Old King Mine (which is now a tourist attraction,) and also in compliance with the town ordinance against sleeping in a camper in the town of Jerome.  Now, working 12 and 14 hour days means I would arrive at 8 and leave at 8 or 10.  Tonight at 8, I was hemmed in by a police car, whom I soon learned Bob had called with a complaint about me.

I was not allowed to ask any questions of Bob, or the officer, Charles, whom I had met a few days ago and with whom I had a very friendly chat at that time.  Now Chuck asked for my license and registration, which I latter realized was strange because I was parked, not driving, but of course I gave it to him.  I said, "Has someone complained?  Chuck said "I'm not here unless there is a complaint, buddy."  This was the only touch of friendliness in an otherwise icy cold, professional exchange.  I was instructed to remain in my camper and not talk to Bob during what turned out to be a lengthy check of my papers via radio, but I stood in my bus doorway and overheard Bob saying that I had been rude to ask him to move his camper, and that I would arrive at 4 a.m. (not true) and leave at 10 p.m. (true,) and I was therefore living there (I'll leave the determination of the truth of that to the reader.)  Then Chuck made me listen to Bob say he owned the building and the road and the whole area and he wanted me out now and that the officer would watch me get my belongings from the shop.  Lonnie was there and he had had a lengthy conversation with Bob, but I was not permitted to ask one question or make any comment.

I collected my stuff from the shop, which took about 45 minutes, while Bob, Charles, and Lonnie chatted and watched.  Lonnie's wife Renee came in and helped me, and informed me that Lonnie had also been evicted because of this "incident."  She said "If it's any consolation, we've been evicted, too."  I said "That's just another bad thing, making two wrong things, and it only makes me feel worse.  I'm sorry."  Lonnie had been losing money on his wood shop business for some time, and has no savings whatsoever, and had been counting on the sale of the shop to me to pay the mortgage on his home, etc.  I hauled my tools and chair prototype parts out to the bus in about 15 or so trips.  About mid way I managed to say to Bob, "I'm sorry for any misunderstanding, and I won't try to change your mind because you are within your rights, but I was just trying to start a business and move here.  It would help out Lonnie and it would help me out, and 'man to man' it's too bad it's not working out."  This got no comment in reply, so I kept packing.  Well there was some comment actually, about me watching TV... I said "I don't mean to contradict you, but I was doing e-mail, to promote my business.  I don't have any TV."  But, this got no where.

About mid way, I asked Renee to ask permission for me to pee, and to say I have an enlarged prostate, "May I use the bathroom?"  This, of course, was to emphasize the humiliation of the situation.  I apologized to Renee for putting her to it, but I had to pee.  I was given permission.

After I was packed, I motioned for Lonnie to come over from the group and I gave him a hug and said "I'm sorry," and "You are a great man," I chose "man" instead of the more common and milder "guy", he had treated me wonderfully these last few days and was still being classy even through this, "and I want to be your friend."  He understood and smiled and said "we'll talk."

A few moments later, he came over to the bus and handed me my rent check and noted with characteristic gentle humor "good thing I hadn't cashed it yet!"

I drove out of Jerome and down to the Cottonwood WalMart, where I am now.

Bottom line is, I've been evicted for having a good work ethic and parking 12 and 14 hours.

I think it's unlikely Jerome will work out; without the shop, there is no point.  But I know what I want now, I just have to find a place to do it.

Sigh.

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