Since my interestingly unusual talk with The General two weeks ago, I kept driving cars down to Florida then hopping on a plane and flying back up north. Monty in the Maine office had a non-stop line of cars to get moved down south, and I was staying busy and making some money. Well, sort of.
Each time I left, Monty would pay me for half and then promise to pay me the other half when I returned. But when I'd get back, he wouldn't be in the office. He would leave me the paperwork and a check for half of the next car I was moving, with the keys hidden. So we never got a chance to settle up on the back end of what he owed me. After five cars, I told him that we needed to catch up on what he owed me. I flew back in, and he was out of town. But he left me a note that I was free to sleep in the garage out back of his house. It was really more of a tool shed, but it was shelter and I figured I could manage there for a couple of nights.
The day he returned, I walked into his office and he had books and accounting ledgers all open and laid out on the counter. "Good morning, Monty," I said cheerfully.
"I only wish." He looked sad.
"What do you mean?"
"Bill, I'm afraid an error has been made. A terrible, terrible error."
"Sorry to hear that, but I'm sure you'll figure things out. Now, about the $1250 you owe me."
Monty buried his face into his hands. "Oh my God. That's the thing. You'll never believe this, but I made a grave accounting error. I don't have the money to pay you."
I was stunned. "What do you mean?"
"Bill, I miscalculated, I made a mistake. I wasn't paid enough to pay you what you are owed."
"You're kidding me, right?"
He held up his hands like he was surrendering. "I only wish I was."
"Monty, I did the work in good faith for you--"
He interrupted quickly "And you did an excellent job, I must say."
"Then you have to pay me for it."
"I can't. I really can't. Look at these books, its all here in black and white. Clear as a bell."
I looked at the books, but they made no sense to me. "Clear as mud," I said. "Monty, you made me a promise, I'm not going to let you cheat me."
Monty put his hand on his chest. "Bill, I'm shocked, I'm hurt. How could you think I would ever try to cheat you?"
"Bill, I'm wounded. You cut me to the quick. I think you are a wonderful human being and a superb driver, I'm only here to help and support you."
"There's just no funds for it. But I can give you advance for this next car going to Florida."
"There won't be a next car, if you won't pay me what you owe me, I'm out of here." I started out the door.
"Wait just a minute. If you are in fact leaving, then we need to settle up."
"You said you couldn't pay me what you owe me."
"No, no, I am referring to what you owe me."
"What I owe you? What are you talking about?"
"You spent several nights in my apartment out back, you'll owe me $50 per night for that."
"You gotta be kidding me? You want to charge me rent for staying in the tool shed?"
"Its a very nice apartment."
"You are out of your freakin' mind." I stormed out. And I will never go back to Maine again.