A Peculiar guy named Geremy

CategoryDaily Life

But then I resigned…

B

The last 9 years of my career has been a fun time filled with rainbows and daisies.  I managed an Executive Coaching practice within a company that had some of the smartest, funnest people that I’ve ever met.  I’ve had the pleasure of leading significant projects for top universities and Fortune 100 companies, and I did it with some of the best team members that I could ever ask for.  In fact, the other day I received an email from one of my favorite direct reports that said, “…all my future ‘bosses’ have big shoes to fill because you were the greatest!”  That message made a single tear slowly fall from my left eye, just like in the movies.

But then I resigned…

Elon Musk is famous for saying, “being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.”  With such a morbid image of the future, why would anyone in their right mind want to pursue this life?!

Well, my momma always told me that I’m a little peculiar!

I’ve got mega-ambitious goals for the future and I am “crazy” enough to know that with dedication, passion, and an insane work ethic, they’re going to be successful. One of my companies, Peculiar Enterprises, has the mission of positively changing the world through peculiar people, and this goal requires a more significant time commitment than the daily 12am to 2am schedule that I’ve had over the past few years.  Basically, I believe that If something is important enough to you, then you’ve a responsibility to do it even if the risk of failure is high!

So even as today is my last day as a full-time employee in a comfortable position at a cool company, I am looking forward to chewing glass and staring into the abyss of death.  Regardless of how much the glass hurts and how the abyss looks, I know that the other end is going to be an even bigger land filled with brighter rainbows and bigger daisies.

Best of all, this journey will be captured in realtime on Geremology.com!

Hey Driver….Take me to my Castle!

H

Tesla has a fun (and potentially scary) feature in their cars that allows them to remotely monitor the car’s major systems at all times. At first I thought that they would use this data to analyze my life, so I’d email ownership@teslamotors.com every week to explain any anomalies in my travels. “Dear Tesla, you might have noticed that I drove down my driveway several times with the trunk open yesterday. I did it because my driveway is too long and I got lazy when taking the trash to the curb. Don’t judge me.” This week was the first time that they used the monitoring system to inform me of something that they noticed with my car (and it wasn’t about my trash transportation habits).

It all started with this note:

As part of providing peace of mind and a great ownership experience, Tesla vehicles are equipped with telematics systems to provide remote diagnostics support. We have been notified this vehicle has been remotely diagnosed that the Power Switch and Power Supply would benefit from the latest generation components.

Moments later, they sent a tow truck to pick up my car, along with Enterprise to give me a rental car while my car is serviced. Somehow, I’d misplaced my license and when it was time for me to complete my rental car paperwork they couldn’t give me a car. I asked “even though I can’t prove that I have a license, can’t you just take my word for it?” Apparently I didn’t look trustworthy enough for them to trust me, so I was left without a car.

I called Tesla and said, “we’ve got a problem. I can’t find my license, so I can’t pick up the rental.” The wonderful service advisor paused for a few seconds (probably cursing me out in her head) and then said “okay, give me a few minutes…I’ll figure something out.”

I thought of the possible options that she might suggest:
– Walking
– Riding a bicycle
– Using a rickshaw, but I’d have to provide my own human
– Riding a unicycle
– Scooting on a razor scooter
– Riding a Horse (with a Tesla logo on the side)

Of all of these options, the one that she suggested was so far out of my mind that I didn’t that it was plausible. She said, “ok, we’re going to send you a towncar and a driver will drive you to wherever you need to go.” I said “what about tomorrow?” She said “If you don’t find your license tomorrow, then he’ll drive you tomorrow as well.” What a wonderful punishment for misplacing my license!

For the next 24 hours, I felt like a king. I laid in the backseat and I relaxed while my chariot took me from destination to destination. When I asked him to make a detour and go some somewhere else on my way home, he did it. When I was ready to leave the car, he opened the door for me. When I asked him to drive faster to see if he’d do it, he did it. When I tried to tip him, he said “no– I can’t take your money!” Then I felt guilty. No one man should have all that power!

The next day I got my car back and it drove better, quieter and smoother than ever before. So I planned to email Tesla: “Dear Tesla, Thanks for proactively fixing the issues in my car before they became issues. However, can I ask you a favor? Can I pretend to lose my license so I can keep the limo and driver permanently? I want to feel like royalty forever!”

Fingers crossed that they say yes.

A New Place Called Home

A

I spent 29 wonderful years of my life living with my four housemates who I called “Mumsie,” “Pops,” “Sistren” and “Brotherman.” Although I had many opportunities to move out on my own (including when I bought my own house), I realized that it would be a heinous crime to force my family to live Geremy-less. Well, after 350 months of preparation, I believe that they have finally come to terms with a Geremy-less house, so I’ve moved into my own wonderful place that I call home.

My Log Cabin Called Home

After waking up in my last bedroom over 4,000 times over the past 11 years, my mind is still getting adjusted to the idea of waking up in my own place. Over the past 3 weeks of living on my own, there have been instances where I woke up and looked around the room thinking, “where am I….whose house is this?!?” To be fair, with the massive backyard lined with fruit trees, private pool, skylights, heated floors, and high ceilings, it feels like this isn’t really my place, but in reality it is a dream come true. More importantly, my ol’ lady is happy as well because she has a nice private place to park and recharge at night.

Now the only remaining thing that I have to figure out is how my parents got food to magically appear in the refrigerator, the house to magically clean itself, and the dishes to magically wash themselves over the past few years, because somehow this house doesn’t seem have those same superpowers.

The 2014 Trilogy of Stress: Part 3

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Drive to work, do office work, drive to house, do handyman work, drive home, sleep, **repeat everyday for a month**. My full-time job didn’t really allow for several weeks of “apartment reconstruction” vacation time, so I spent every day from 7pm to midnight working on a host of repairs in my recently destroyed apartment. From installing a new toilet to wiring and installing new baseboard heaters without pulverizing myself, my to-do list was extensive and expensive! Luckily, with the help of a few good friends who helped me remove trash from the apartment and repaint several bedrooms, I was able to get a lot of work done in record timing. A month and a half later, the place was good to go once again, but I still didn’t have a tenant.

One day, I posted a simple ad on craigslist and within 24 hours I had over 50 people who were eager to view the unit. Since I didn’t a lot of time to show the apartment each day, I scheduled every prospective tenant for either 6:30pm or 6:45pm. Then I spent 6:30-7pm giving tours of the apartment while reciting my speech and carefully crafted choreography.

Most of the apartment showings were relatively mundane, until Sammy. Sammy called me to view the apartment, but couldn’t speak English very well. Somehow he understood the times that I was showing the unit and he came over on his bike…drunk. It was amazing to see how he was able to keep his balance as he rode down the middle of the street with a few cars following behind him—he must have had a lot of practice. He took two steps into the apartment and muttered “itakeit!” I said, “excuse me?” He said, “I like it. I take it.” I was confused about how he decided that he liked the place without even seeing a single bedroom, but I decided to humor him. I gave him an application and told him to bring it back tomorrow with the application fee if he’s serious. He took the application and said “I take it” and stood there. I think that he wanted to move into the place immediately. I said “you need an application to take it! He said “yes. I take it.” I didn’t know what else to say to him. I told him once again to take the application and come back tomorrow.” He finally left, stumbled down the steps, and struggled to get on his bike for about two minutes before he finally mounted it and rode away all zig-zaggily. He then proceeded to call me back everyday at 6:07pm saying “I take it” and nothing else.

After almost two months, I narrowed the list of applicants down to two families that I extensively screened. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get burned with a bad tenant again, so I required more information than ever before. I requested the application, a credit check, a lock of their firstborn child’s hair, a copy of their third and sixth grade report cards, and a single drop of blood. One applicant passed every single test and had highly favorable references so I offered the place to them and they enthusiastically accepted. Finally!!!! I found a new [hopefully wonderful] tenant that ended this trilogy of stress!

Throughout these challenging months, I learned a lot of lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life:

– Difficult situations are inevitable and you can’t control them, but you can control your response to them. Your response to those situations will determine if you’re a winner or a winer.
– In difficult times, we fly our true colors. Otherwise calm people freak out after an accident. Nice people turn ugly when confronted. Braggarts shrink in the face of danger. You’re not made in a crisis…you’re revealed.
– Sometimes it takes stressful situations and adversity to create success.
– It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill, as long as you don’t lose your cow!

I gained more experience and learned more life lessons over those months than any other 8 month period in my life! Although it wasn’t fun to go through challenges in several different areas of life concurrently, I know that I’m a better, stronger person as a result of it (even if it means that I grew a few gray hairs in the process)!

The 2014 Trilogy of Stress: Part 2

T

“Mister Geremy, I’m sorry, I won’t have this months’ rent, or next month’s, or the next month’s because my car didn’t have gas this morning.” This was the phone call that I received from my newest tenant who had been living in my apartment for a month and a half. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand how those two things are related,” I responded. “Because my husband came home drunk last night and my kids get their report cards tomorrow morning.” Apparently this lady is a world champ at non sequiturs! “I’m sorry, I still don’t understand. I’m on my way over to the house right now, and you can explain it to me in-person.”

I arrived at the house 20 minutes later and I rang the doorbell to the apartment. She walked over to the window to see who was at the door and after making eye contact, she quickly dropped to the floor and peeked at me as if she was invisible. I continued to stare at her for about 30 more seconds and then I said, “I can still see you. Can you open the door?” That’s when she got up, took off the lights, and walked back to the window to see if I was still there. I was.

I opened the front door of the house that I own and knocked on the apartment door that I own, which can be opened by a key that I owned and had in my pocket. Unfortunately the law prohibited me from opening my door of my house to get my rent from my tenant, so I had to stand there and continue to politely ask her to open the door. She never let me in, so I left—annoyed.

Instead of going home, I went to the courthouse to immediately initiate the eviction proceedings. The papers were filed in 10 minutes, but unfortunately this was the quickest part of the 6 month process to get a tenant fully evicted in New Jersey. Three months later, I had my court date where I faced a judge to plead my case for why I deserved the rent that I was obligated to.

If a tenant doesn’t show up to a landlord/tenant court case, the landlord automatically wins, so I was hoping for that outcome in my case. When they called my name, I followed their directions and shouted out, “landlord present!” Then I waited for my tenant to say “tenant present…” coupled with her usual irrelevant statement, like “my grandmother had a dog.” But luckily for me, she never showed up and I won!

I happily moonwalked over to cashier and paid for the eviction, but things didn’t go as expected. When she handed me the receipt, I said, “should I go over to the apartment and wait for you to lock them out, or…” She said, “in six weeks, a court officer will call you to make an appointment to do the lockout two weeks after.” I did the math in my head—six weeks equals a month and a half. A month and a half means one and a half more months of rent that I don’t receive. No bueno!

While I waited for judgment day to arrive, the tenant took things into her own hands…more specifically, a hammer— she took a hammer into her own hands and she used that hammer to destroy everything in the apartment. The walls that I paid a painter a lot of money to paint were all destroyed. The new carpets that I installed a few months earlier were ruined by wax and permanent markers. The appliances that were practically new were now busted and nearly unusable. She even smashed the carbon monoxide detector…what did the carbon monoxide detector do to deserve that?!?

After she wreaked havoc on the poor apartment, she called the township inspector and said that the apartment was in unhabitable condition. He inspected the apartment and gave me a list of violations that would put DMX’s rap sheet to shame. When I explained the situation, he said, “there’s nothing that I can do. You have a week to fix the violations.”

I had one week to renovate an entire apartment that I couldn’t legally gain access to. That’s when I decided to try one more unorthodox method. I went to the apartment and I knocked on the door once. When she asked, “who is it?” I said “hola” in a high-pitched voice. She finally opened the door and I said, “why are you doing this?” She said “I had your rent but then the cotton candy machine.” I was so confused that I got an instant headache trying to comprehend the nonsensical statement. I said, “I need to conduct a safety inspection of the apartment and you either need to pay the 5 months’ rent or move out within a week.” She said “no thank you” and shut the door. I didn’t even give her “no thank you” as an option!

I was able to delay the township inspection by another two weeks and I accelerated the lockout by two week. All of a sudden on the day of the lockout, a judge called my cell phone (this is never a good sign) and requested that I come down to the courthouse within 20 minutes for an emergency hearing. When I got to the courthouse (and waited 5 hours in the middle of the workday), the judge gave the tenant another 2 weeks to come up with the $6,500 that she owed me. After the court case, she said to me, “can you accept $300 instead of the $6,500? I have a sister who owns a rice cooker.” Wait, what?!? How does that even make sense? No. Two weeks later, the tenant didn’t have the money so the judge officially ordered for her to move out within 24 hours. I gave her an extra 72 hours to ensure that she had enough time to properly pack and move, even though at this point she owed me over $7,000.

When I finally got to see the apartment, it looked like a real-life train wreck. The walls were battered and bruised, electrical components didn’t work, and worst of all, the place smelled like dead everythings. This was the current state of my apartment and if I had any hopes of ever renting it out again, I had to get it back into livable condition quickly. This is when the third chapter of “the trilogy of stress” began…

The 2014 Trilogy of Stress: Part 1

T

What do you get when you combine an irresponsible tenant, a comprehensive IRS audit, three curious township inspectors, and an inconsistent web server that threatens the existence of your online business? You get the great Trilogy of Stress that plagued my life during the first half of this year! Over the next three entries, I will explain the three situations that converged to create back-to-back excitement and stress in my life over the past few months.

I remember the day exactly! The morning was great, which was mostly due to the delicious bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats that I had for breakfast. Then when noontime came, I took a quick trip home to see if my Amazon.com package was delivered. I checked the mailbox and  I didn’t see the package that I was waiting for, but instead I found a letter that I hoped that I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever get. The world immediately paused, my vision blurred, and I started sweating like a pig in a bacon factory. I held the dreaded letter in front of my face and re-read the name of the sender several times to make sure that I was seeing correctly.

The Department of Treasury – Internal Revenue Service.

I didn’t order anything from them, so this couldn’t be for me. Do they have the correct Geremy? Is this a second refund check? Are they congratulating me on how much taxes I’ve paid so far?

I opened the letter and the exact wording is a little hazy in my mind now, but here’s the gist of it:

Dear Geremy,

Congratulations! You have been selected as the lucky recipient of an IRS examination audit from 2010 through 2013! Now fasten your seatbelt because you are in for a fun, scary ride with your IRS agent! Be sure to cooperate, otherwise that new, shiny Tesla that you bought the other day will be ours.

Love,
Your friend the IRS

I immediately ran inside and called the agent to politely decline their invitation to the audit, but unfortunately this was not an option that was available to me. Instead, he explained that I needed to gather a few pieces of documentation and present them in a meeting scheduled to take place in a few weeks. The documentation that he requested included:

  1. 1. Receipts from every single business related expense from each of my three businesses
  2. 2. Every single receipt, check, and expense from my house
  3. 3. Every single source of income received over the past few years (including that time that my sister gave me $10 to buy her a passion tea lemonade from Starbucks)
  4. 4. Every single bank record for the past few years, including deposit statements and cancelled checks
  5. 5. Every record of every business mile that I’ve ever driven, including a short description of why it was a business mile
  6. 6. My diary of my innermost thoughts and feelings from 1988 through 1999, including that part when my best friend died and I cried.

I didn’t know where to start, so I immediately thought, “well…I guess I’m going to jail!” But then I realized that there is no place for a long-eyelashed guy like me in jail, so I regrouped and formed a plan. Instead of outsourcing the entire task to an accountant to reverse-engineer my tax returns, I was determined to find every document that they requested and use the entire situation as a learning experience.

I came up with a plan of finding all existing records and getting copies of records that I lost or never received. This plan required many, many long nights, and lots of help from my amazing team of assistants. The assistants called every place where I’ve spent money over the past 4 years and they sent scanned copies of each receipt for my records. While they did that, I crazily ran around and ravaged the house looking for every document that I’ve ever received.

When the day came for the dreaded meeting, I expected to meet with a man who was 7 foot 19 inches tall with a loud booming voice and brass knuckles that he wore at all times. I also expected him to randomly punch me in the face every few minutes while yelling “TAKE IT LIKE A MAN,” but luckily I was wrong. The agent was my age, quite pleasant, and he completed the entire audit in about 45 minutes. At the end, he printed a summary of the examination, requested a few more documents and he sent me on my way. Just like that, the incident that stressed me out for months was over in under an hour with a relatively favorable outcome! Best of all, I didn’t get punched in the face, they didn’t steal my car from me, and I didn’t go to jail to become the boytoy of some guy who is infatuated with eyelashes.

That morning I drove home and let out a huge sigh of relief that I survived the process without any bruises, but then everything changed when I received a phone call regarding my newest tenant who was determined to make my life into a nightmare…

How’s Your Foot?!

H

By far, the most common question that I receive from those who are familiar with my lawnmower incident is: “how’s your foot doing?!” Therefore, I’ve decided to publicly answer the question for everyone else who might be wondering:

My foot is fine. In fact, it’s far better than fine!!

Since amputating 1/4 of my toe, my weight has slightly decreased by a few ounces without going on any extreme diets. My right shoe fits slightly better without that pesky, long middle toe in the way. I have one less toenail to clip, which has saved me approximately 20 seconds each time I clip my toenails. I can run slightly faster than before. Finally, I don’t have any residual pain as a result of the toe injury (including mental pain, now that I’ve fully paid off the $20,000 bill from the surgery).

If my right foot was a business on Yelp, I’d write the following review:

FIVE STARS!!!

I’m rarely wrong when it comes to things, but in this case I was. I expected to have a negative experience that would trigger painful flashbacks for the rest of my life, but I couldn’t be wronger. As a result of this experience, I feel like Iron Man. One minor lawnmower mishap birthed a host of benefits that I will enjoy forever. My cholesterol levels have decreased, I can now type 120 words per minute, and best of all, I can walk on water…only with my right foot…for a fraction of a second.  Thank you!!

The Slow Crawl to Hemrittis

T

On Friday night, I was driving home when I pulled into a parking lot to get a bottle of water from my trunk. As I got out of the car, I heard a voice saying, “excuse me! I’m a new driver and I’m lost.”  When I looked up, I saw the face of an older lady sitting in a car and was visibly nervous.

I walked over to her car and said “where are you trying to go?”  She responded “hem-rittis.”  I asked “is that a city?”  She responded “hemrittis.”  I was confused, so I went to my car and googled “hemrittis.”  Thanks to Google’s ability to read minds, it said, “did you mean hepatitis?  hemroids?  emeritus?”  I followed the link to emeritus and it provided me an address for a senior citizens community a few miles away.  I explained the directions to her and she said “I’m scared to drive on the highway.”  I figured that her destination was only 15 minutes away, so I could have quickly guided her there before continuing home.  I told her “I’ll guide you there— just follow me,” and we set off to hem-rittis.

As soon as I pulled out of the parking lot, I realized that this wasn’t going to be the smooth journey that I envisioned.  I drove at a slower than normal speed on the highway—55 miles an hour— and she was zooming along at a whopping 12 miles an hour.  I’ll let that sink in for a second…. Geremy = 55 mph  her = 12 mph.  I slowed down to 2mph to allow her to catch up to me and then we both drove at a stead 20 mph pace down Route 80 on our way to hem-rittis.

About 45 minutes later, we arrived at Emeritus and I tried to ask her if this was the place that she was looking for.  She drove right past my without even looking at me.  I thought, “um, what just happened!?!?”  I got out of my car to run after her (she was driving around 5 mph so it wouldn’t have been tough), but then she suddenly stopped the car, walked towards me and gave me a huge hug.  She said “one day I hope to help you like how you helped me today!”  I wished her a pleasant goodnight and then I drove home feeling happy for two reasons:  1) I helped someone who was stranded in an unfamiliar place, and 2) I could finally drive at a normal speed again!

I drove home slightly faster than usually in order to compensate for my slow limp down the highway earlier.  While driving home and reflecting on the experience, I made a mental that I’ve got a friend at Emeritus…even though I don’t know her name, age, or any other information about her besides the fact that she pronounces Emeritus as hemrittis!  Hopefully that’s an adequate identifier for me to use when I visit her again to say hi a few months from now!

The Hamsteriffic Gift

T

The Hamsterriffic Gift

Me: “That toy hamster looks so real!”
Them: “Geremy, it is real…and it’s yours! Surprise!!”

This is the conversation that took place on the Friday night when my kiddies surprised me with a pet hamster. I teach a group of wonderful teenagers every Friday night and sometimes they like to surprise me with gifts…like a real-life, four-legged, living-and-breathing, hyper hamster.

I was floored with their incredibly thoughtful gesture, and speechless at the same time that I was the new father of a hamster. But when I finally gathered the words to speak, I said the first thing that came to mind— “a hamster?? Thanks so much! I appreciate the gift, but I can’t take him home because the two guinea pigs would destroy him!” It’s true—those gpigs are ferocious…I raised them to be attack-pigs for protection.

Since the hamster couldn’t be returned to the pet store, he needed a new home. So we devised a two-pronged approach:

1. I’d call every available animal shelter and pet shop in the area to see if they’d accept a happy little hamster.
2. They’d post “free hamster with free delivery in 30 minutes” on all of their social networks. Then we’d sift through the list of willing candidates and deliver him to the first suitable owner.

After 45 minutes of monitoring all responses to the urgent request, we found a loving, willing family of four who took him and named him “Spike” because of his Spiky hair (a byproduct of him urinating all over himself). Then I reimbursed the kids the full cost of the hamster, plus $1 for their trouble.

This experience made me realize three things:

1. I should be ready for any kind of gift when it comes to my kiddies, including living, breathing things.
2. If someone is willing to give you a life, they really care!
3. Geremy + Hamster = No Bueno

A Peculiar guy named Geremy