So here we go.
“Yeah,” I answered. “You know of anyplace that’s hiring?”
“Maybe. You still in Greektown? Can we meet?”
“Sure am. Sure can. Where?”
“Mama Sitta’s in thirty?”
“K. CYA there!”
I cleaned up a bit, pulled on a fresh shirt, and headed down to Mama Sitta’s. It was just two blocks away, and I found Eddy talking with the bouncer at the front door. He turned when he saw me coming, and gave me a big smile.
“John!” He says, and shoves his hand at me.
The skinny awkward kid who smoked too much pot in high school was now clean cut, with a designer shirt and shoes that probably cost as much as my month’s rent. He’s still Eddy, though, with that big nose and those small eyes.
We greet, he says goodbye to a bouncer he clearly knows personally, and then we go inside.
It’s Wednesday night, the restaurant has only a couple of people, and the bar side is empty. He takes a stool there like he owns the place, and summons the bartender with a wave. “Two Grosse Points,” he says, then looks at me. “You’re okay with Artisan beer, right?
“Sure,” I say. I don’t really give a crap, but this was a job interview situation so…
We chit-chat for a bit. Catch up on old times. The last time I saw him was during my second year at Michigan State. Then I get around to asking, “So you work here?”
He shakes his head. “Nah. My boss owns this place, so we come here a lot. He’s gotta steal his money back somehow, right?”
I bob my head in agreement, and then decide to go for it. “So, what kind of business are you in these days?”
He pauses to crack open a pink dyed pistachio, and then pops it into his mouth and smiles. “Property management.”
“Really?” This does sound promising, people still need a place to live.
“Yeah, and that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“My company’s got a contract to take care of a bunch of rental units, and we need a manager.”
“I dunno, man.” I said, “I’m not the most handy guy on the block.”
He laughs, “Nah. Not that kind of property manager. It’s for taking care of old people’s apartments. You don’t even have to meet ’em, you just pay the bills and see that they’re taken care of. It’s all done online.”
“Whoa,” I nod. “Yeah…Uh…That does sound interesting. How many units are we talking here?”
He shrugged. “A couple hundred.”
He saw the look in my eyes and laughs. “Like I said, you never meet ’em, just keep an eye on them.”
“Sounds like something somebody in Indonesia could do. Why are you hiring local?”
“Data Crossing Act,” he says, referring to an effort by the government to restrict online jobs being outsourced to overseas. “Plus, we want people we know and trust on this. When I saw you were looking for work, I thought it was great timing.”
“Last guy quit?”
He bobs his head. “Yeah, he caught a ride out of state. Didn’t want to be here anymore.”
I couldn’t blame him, Detroit was supposed to be having it’s zillionth renaissance, but it sure didn’t feel like it.
“So, you in?” He says, giving me a serious look.
“Yeah,” I said like an idiot, “Definitely.”
We had a few more beers and memories, and I wander home.
The next morning, my Keurig is buzzing out a cup of coffee when there’s a chime from my system and a Direct Message from Eddy pops up with an attachment. I follow the instructions, download the software, and let it run. Once it comes up, I take the day to read through the docs. After dealing with the software True Blue Insurance used, this was a piece of cake, which is a good thing, because the docs read like they were translated from Russian- badly.
Like Eddy said, the job is simple- I monitor the master accounts for a legion of seniors rental units. If the unit accounts are low on funds, I go to a series of designated accounts, take money and top the unit accounts up so the bills are paid and everyone is happy. Each unit has a number, and it’s all anonymous. I can’t even see where these units are, I assume they’re in Detroit, but they could be anywhere.
Finally, if there are any issues, I’m supposed to let Eddy know.
It’s stupid data grunt work, but they pay a bit above minimum and it doesn’t look like it will take more than a few hours a day. I can use the rest of the time to hunt for more work, or whatever.
It takes me a few days to get up to speed, but once I have it down I’m sweeping through the list in no time. It flags any issues, so it’s not hard to find the accounts that need checking, and each day gets a bit faster. Pretty soon, I’m playing online Poker more than I’m working. I tell myself I’ll start looking for another job soon, but never seem to get around to it.
This goes on for a couple months, and then one day something happens- I get hauled out of bed one night by an emergency message from the system. Bleary eyed, I stare at the message window.
“Unit 556847932 has lost contact, please advise.”
I don’t know what to do. I call Eddy.
He’s high as a kite, but comes down hard when I tell him the message. When he’s done swearing, he says “Send me the number. Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it. Just…Everything else is okay, right?”
“Then don’t worry about it. You’re doing a good job, Johnny. The boss is happy.”
I smile. “Oh yeah? Cool.”
“Sure is. I gotta go. Let me know if you get any more messages, ‘kay?”
Then he’s gone, and the place is dark again.
I go to bed, but as I’m trying to sleep a thought strikes me.
How the hell do you lose contact with an apartment unit?
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