Saturday afternoon I was in Chicago sprucing up our vacation rental units. My Chicago manager Cami and I ran up and down four flights of stairs going in and out of virtually every room in the 5,000 square foot building. Bob’s father, Howard, came over and shot some excellent photos of the rooms, just in time to spruce up our property website. Everything was going well as I prepared to jump in the car and drive back to Minnesota. Then I realized that I had misplaced the fob with the car key.
Cami, Howard and I looked through every nook and cranny for over an hour with no positive results. With thanks I sent them home and spent about another hour and a half looking myself with no luck. By this time it was apparent that I wasn’t leaving for Minnesota on Saturday afternoon. The car was locked and parked in the garage. I called a locksmith and gave him the VIN number of the car. He told me he would be over in about an hour.
The car has those fancy programmable keys, which are really expensive to replace. The locksmith said over the phone, “Mr. Salyards, once you agree to our price of $350 I will start driving to your destination. Once I start my trip you will have to pay me, even if you find the keys in the meantime”. “Fair enough”, I thought. “I’m not going to spend another second searching for those darned keys anyway.”
The locksmith showed up and he was “so Chicago.” I mean, what would you expect a middle-aged Chicago locksmith to look like? You’d expect him to be a bit overweight; kind of “thick” like a Giordano’s stuffed pizza. His hair would be full and dark with facial hair so pronounced that he looked like he needed a shave right after putting away the razor. He talked in that “flat” Chicago accent. He was a nice guy and had me fixed up within 10 minutes of his arrival. In simple Midwestern style, he knew his business. When I asked his name he told me it was “Junior” about exactly the specific detail that you would expect from a Chicago guy. I responded saying, “So your father, he must be named ‘Senior’, right?” “Exactly”, Junior replied.
The locksmith asked me to pay in cash when I gave him my credit card. I asked him what he would deduct from the $350 if I paid cash. He offered to knock off $10. I looked him in the eye, smiled, and said, “You ought to be knocking at least 20% off for cash…I know you’re not showing any of this income to Obama and you’re in a 40% tax bracket.” He gave me the knowing smile that every IRS agent seeks to find without success. Cash is king for many reasons, not the least of which is the tax man. I paid with a card; the tax man loves guys like me.
Losing the key was a stupid mistake on my part but the free market took care of my problem. I was a willing buyer and “Junior” was a willing seller. In a place with 10 million people we found each other and did the deal. I’m $350 poorer, but I’ll not complain. I can drive my car again thanks to the fact that a guy named Junior learned a specific skill set and opened a business. That’s what makes the world go around.