This series began with Solomon’s phrase that he did not know how to go out or come in. That would adequately describe most of my transitions in life — poorly done. So I decided with the huge transition from my 45 years in California to a massively new chapter in South Carolina, I should take a swipe at improving my negative numbers.
Hence the series of blogs called “Goodbye” as I journeyed and journaled through sundry vicissitudes of my season in California.
Now that the goodbyes to California are intentionally worked through (by me, anyway), it is my delight to look forward to South Carolina. Hence the Hello series.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in Pastor Eadie’s office, discussing how to come into the Southern culture appropriately. She was graciously sharing her wisdom on sundry different aspects of the culture.
Eventually the discussion turned to office space. She is the head of the police Chaplaincy in Spartanburg and that very day she had done a ride along. While out, she had seen a house for rent in the business district that drew her attention.
She and I are both people of action (a gracious term for “terribly impulsive”), so we jumped in her car and went to see it. One look and I knew it was probably not suitable, but I called the realtor who had it listed for rent, and made an appointment to talk to him the next day.
He agreed that it was not a good fit for what I wanted, but took me to look at another place he had listed. It was also less than compelling.
Finally, he suggested I talk to his son who was freshly graduated from Clemson and was working for a large commercial real estate firm in town.
He bragged about his boy for a while, then pulled open his desk drawer and handed me Greyson’s card.
Greyson and I met later that day. I wowed him by knowing (all the way in California) that Clemson is famous for football and engineering (in that order), having produced a very high number of NASA personnel over the years.
I also ribbed him over the fact that his father didn’t have to look very far for a business card from Greyson.
I explained the oddities of my situation. He said all the right things about getting on it immediately, so I left for California.
A week later, I got an email from Greyson with data on three commercial sites that were everything I didn’t want.
I wrote back and said, “Hey! Were you present when we talked?” I admitted that his properties were wonderful, for someone else, but that I had a really unusual wish list and would he please work at getting me what I want?
A long silence ensued.
I wrote him off, spent evenings on the web looking at property in the Spartanburg area, especially south of 85 and west of 26.
He eventually surfaced with two more options. One was so rectilinear in every regard, I groaned. The other was quite interesting.
So the dance began.
I fired off questions. He hunted down the somewhat peripatetic owner and extracted answers. I sent more.
Finally I put a challenging time line in front of him. I would send him my financials on a Monday. He would get them approved within 48 hours. He sends me the lease and we get it hammered out by Wednesday.
I fly to Spartanburg on Thursday. Look at the property on Friday, along with another property, make a decision, sign and fly home.
I pushed hard. Could he make it happen?
He assured me he was up to it. Youth and inexperience are wonderful foundations for unbounded optimism.
So documents were scanned and emailed. Phone calls went back and forth.
The boilerplate lease he offered was awful. 100% of the risk was on me, and no responsibility on the owner except to cash the checks.
I pushed back saying it was a wonderful lease for a landlord, but I am a tenant. I would like some shared risks!
Basically I educated him on a number of things he had never seen in the fine print of the boilerplate. He was a bit shocked at some of the things I found — like the landlord could sue me, I had to pick up the tab for his attorneys if he sued me, but I could not sue him for anything, any time.
He had no idea that paragraph was buried in there.
Anyway, we did a bunch of iterations, the landlord pushed back on some things. We were still dickering over the phone when I flew through Dallas on Thursday, but when I got to my computer on Thursday night, about 11:00 p.m., there was a remarkable lease waiting for me, with more than I have gotten from any other landlord.
Friday morning, I met the owner.
I hate doing business exclusively through a middleman which is how the last three leases were negotiated. I wanted to meet the man who would be my landlord, look him in the eye, shake his hand and hear his story.
Much to share there. Bottom line is, he passed inspection with flying colors. I think I will be his best tenant ever and he will be a great landlord.
I looked at the other property, decided this one would be better, and signed the lease for five years, with two five year extensions.
Then I called Pastor Eadie and told her it was all her fault.
My coming in to South Carolina has begun wonderfully.
Oh, just as a point of reference. My current California lease is 42 pages, plus the imaginary pages that have recently emerged from the fertile creativity of the landlord. By contrast, my South Carolina lease is three pages.
I’m gonna like it in South Carolina. We can get on with the process of building something, without all the paranoia.
Copyright July 2018 by Arthur Burk