Just walk away

Rush Hour Traffic HoustonBY T.F. STERN

Yesterday a fellow called asking if I was able to make and program a key for a Ford Freestyle van.  I told him yes and asked where it was located.  He paused and you could hear him going through file folders and talking to himself.  He then read me the location which was on the other side of town; but still within my service area.  He wanted to meet there at 4:00, just as rush hour traffic would be part of the mix.  Reluctantly I agreed as I added twenty dollars to my fee; aggravation charge.

While enroute to the job the fellow called and said he was there waiting; it was 3:15.  He mentioned that it would be okay for me to come early because the place where the vehicle was located needed to close by 4:30.  Rush hour starts around 3:00 here in Houston so my travel time would still put me on spot around 4:00; as scheduled originally and it wouldn’t matter that I could “come early”.

Turns out he’d transposed the numbers so the address given wasn’t correct.  His cell phone number went into voice mail when he didn’t answer; my fuse was already burning short.

Knowing the area I figured out where he probably meant, at least narrowed it down to a couple of different storage lots.  The first one had all the numbers he’d given; but the last two numbers were transposed.  The folks in the office had not heard of him or the vehicle I was supposed to work on.  Calling the cell phone number again…still went into voice mail.

The other location was a storage lot two blocks closer to town so I asked the office manager the appropriate questions; sorry, not here either.  She did ask me to leave a short stack of business cards and asked if she’d mind her handing them out.  A line from a children’s story came to mind, “Oh, please, don’t throw me in the briar patch”…

My phone rang; it was my new favorite customer wondering why I hadn’t arrived.  He told me the correct address, which just happened to be the original location I’d gone to; but he had been in the back of the lot and hadn’t bothered to tell anyone he was there.

He met me at the front gate and explained how we had to hurry because we only had twenty minutes to make the keys before they locked the gate.  I figured I could get the job done; a few minutes to figure out the key cuts and ten minutes to program it would leave a few minutes to spare.

Car Transport Trailer Rig“Okay, so where’s the Ford Freestyle?”, it not being in plain view.  He asked if he could get into my truck and he’d show me where it was.  We drove to the back and he pointed to a car transport carrier (similar to the image provided).   There were several vehicles on the transport; the Freestyle was on the top level.  These were all stolen and recovered vehicles to be returned to their rightful owners.

I should give some background information at this time.  A week ago I got a call from an out of state car transport company asking if I could make keys to a Ford Freestyle van, asking prices and availability.  He said he’d have his local representative call me later in the day; but that never happened.   Last Friday he called asking if the local representative had contacted me and I explained that he had not.

You guessed it; this was the local representative; except that when he’d called earlier in the day he had misrepresented himself, never mentioned the vehicle was on a transport or that he’d had the opportunity to have this work done for well over a week and had decided to wait until rush hour to do the work.  Let’s not forget the lot closes in twenty minutes.

I turned to the fellow and said, “Get out of my truck”, followed by, “Close the door”.   I then drove off, leaving him to walk back.   If he started walking to the front right away, to where his rig was parked, he’d make it before being locked in when they closed up for the evening.  There’s another line that could have been added, “…and that goes for the horse you rode in on”.

Some times it’s better to walk away from a job.


T.F. SternThe Moral Lib­eral’s Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer, self-employed lock­smith, and gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since Jan­u­ary of 2005.