A Peculiar guy named Geremy

CategoryDaily Life

The 2014 Trilogy of Stress: Part 2

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“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

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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?!

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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

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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

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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

Happy Peculiar Birthday Shades

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I once heard that silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone, so since 2010 I’ve made it my mission to loudly acknowledge those who wish me a Happy Birthday on August 3rd.

Facebook Greetings
Facebook Greetings

In 2010 I prepared handwritten “thank you’s,” uploaded each one to a Facebook album and tagged each respective person in their personal greeting message. In 2011 I personally acknowledged each person’s birthday greeting by thanking them on their Facebook wall. In 2012 I individually thanked each person via one of my Peculiar week episodes. Now, in 2013 I expect this 28th year of my life to surpass every previous year of my life, so I wanted to usher-in this year of my life by surpassing every prior birthday-thank-you effort with a special “thank you” gesture.

Peculiar Shades

This year, I ordered a collection of special two-tone Peculiar PPL shades in blue (my favorite color) and black/red (my favorite color scheme). Even though these shades are part of the Peculiar PPL product lineup, I wanted each person who said “Happy Birthday” to have one well in advance of its release to the general public. I also selected a special carrying pouch for each set of shades and included a thank you card and a matching Peculiar PPL wristband in each pouch.

Peculiar Shades

The difficult part was finding a way of delivering these fragile items to the 100+ people who I needed to thank. Since each set of shades needed a rigid structure to protect it while in transit, I ordered custom sized boxes to protect the shades without damaging them.

Peculiar Shades

Then after taking note of each person who delivered a birthday greeting via text, email, in-person, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I separated the list into two categories: hand delivery and ship via USPS. The task of collecting addresses to ship each item was quite time consuming and required me to use some strategic, unconventional means of gathering the data. For the people who I was completely unsure of their address, I sent them a message asking them for their information so that I can update my address book. Some people declined to provide the information, which is understandable for such a random request, but most sent it through without any questions.

Peculiar Shades

Then I spent every available moment from August 5th until August 21st printing labels, packaging the items, delivering them to the post office, then tracking each package to make sure that they were successfully delivered. I made sure not to publicly talk about this initiative so that each person receiving the shades would be surprised when it arrived in the mail. Now that 99% of the packages have been delivered (with 2 packages being delivered this week), I am happy to finally let the cat out of the bag!

Peculiar Shades

All-in-all, this entire effort cost in excess of $1,000 to execute, but it was worth every single penny! Here are some statistics for the people (like me) who have an appreciation for data:

  • Hand-Delivered Packages: 51
  • Shipped Packages: 70
  • Packages Shipped Internationally: 24
  • Furthest Package Destination: Warsaw, Poland

I know that it’s outside of the norm to give gifts to other people on your birthday, but that’s what makes me Peculiar and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Maybe next year I’ll figure out a way of mailing brand new cars to everyone!

Reason # 1955 why I’ll probably be an Apple Customer for Life

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It is no secret that I’m an Apple loyalist– in fact, I own the majority of current Apple products and i’ve used Apple as the inspiration for a shirt that I designed. My recent interaction with the Apple store presents a compelling reason for my attachment to the brand and it explains why I’ll likely be an Apple Customer for life.

As stated in a recent entry, my Macbook Pro died and Apple had to perform brain surgery on it. When I took delivery of my machine one week later, I realized a slightly annoying, unrelated issue with one of the built-in speakers. I returned to the genius bar for the second time and calmly explained the new issue to an employee who worked closely with the store manager. They both profusely apologized for the mishap and insisted that I choose any laptop case in stock as a token of their apology. I insisted that the free case was not necessary and I patiently sat at the table as they attempted to fix the damage to the computer.

Shortly after, the employee reappeared and explained that the computer would have to be sent out for repair, but since this was unacceptable by their standards, they insisted that they replace the computer with a brand new machine. I said “this computer is a year old, the warranty expires next week…are you sure?” He responded “yes…and we will upgrade you to the top-of-the-line Macbook Pro Retina model. Give me some time to transfer your existing data to the new machine and we’ll have you on your way!” I resisted the strong urge to jump over the counter and give this man a bear hug and instead I said, “this is unbelievable…thank you!”

Amazingly, this was the second time that this has happened to me and it solidifies my loyalty to a brand that ensures that the customer is always happy! More companies should be like Apple!

Spontaneous Diarrhea??

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Odd Side Effect

This is one of the medications that I’m taking and it has a possible side effect of “…[it] may cause diarrhea…Diarrhea may occur weeks to months after taking the drug.”

So they’re saying that sometime in the future I may spontaneously have bouts of diarrhea without warning??? How is this okay?!?! How do I prepare for this?? When do I stop preparing?

My Foot Fought with a Lawnmower and Lost

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On Saturday I took my trusty lawnmower out to cut the grass of my investment property and as I was finishing the job, it stubbornly refused to move forward. While I struggled to move the mower, my foot somehow slipped underneath it, which caused the mower blade and my right foot to engage in a painful, unpleasant rendezvous.

This would be a good time to say that this story is not for the faint of heart. If you get queasy at the thought of injuries, it would be best to leave this entry and read one of my other posts, like the 2012 in review post. For everyone else, we will now proceed to the rest of the story…

The lawnmower shredded the tip of my sneaker and everything inside of it—namely, my toes (link to disgusting photo of sneaker) and I was horrified at the result of the interaction. I quickly dragged the lawnmower inside and called my mom’s cell phone as I ran/limped to my car. My conversation with my mom was simple and straight to the point: “Hey ma, the lawnmower just cut off my toes and I’m going straight to the hospital. You can meet me there.” My mom, who was presumably quite scared at the information that I just shared, gave the phone to my dad. After I repeated the same phrase, he said, “we’ll be there soon, but you shouldn’t drive…call an ambulance!” I quickly estimated that an ambulance would take about 10 minutes to get to me and the hospital was about 10 minutes away, so I responded “my car is faster than the ambulance… I’m going to drive.”

Now, I’m pretty sure that Tesla didn’t intend for their voice control system to be used in such dire situations, but it was quite helpful when I said, “navigate to the nearest hospital” and directions immediately popped up on the screen. Twelve minutes later, I arrived at the hospital, ran through the emergency entrance (with extreme pain shooting down my foot), and approached the receptionist’s desk. I pointed to my badly frayed sneaker and exposed bones and said “I got into a really bad accident with a lawnmower and need medical attention as soon as possible, please.”

The lady behind the desk slowly said “ohhhkaaayyyyy, whaaaaat’sssss yoooourrrrr naaaaameeeeee?” I responded, “first name is Geremy… G as in green – E – R as in red – E – M as in Mary – Y.” She said “Ok, that’s J-H-R-A-L-I… last name?” I said “sorry, no, it’s Geremy with a G…G-E-R-E-M-Y.” She said “Ok, G-E-R-A-R-D… last name?” Usually, I wouldn’t mind this playful banter back and forth, but in this particular moment, I had a foot that I needed to save. My conversation with the secretary would’ve taken much longer if a nurse didn’t pass by the desk and say, “OH MY GOODNESSS, WE NEED TO FAST TRACK HIM NOW!!”

In the next 30 seconds, the nurse put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me to the emergency room with the speed of an F16 fighter jet. While we speedily traveled to through the ER, I explained the situation to her— “I was mowing my lawn and the lawnmower decided that it wanted to mow my foot instead.” She said, “please never mow your lawn again… I’ll pay for a landscaper for you!” Then she put me on a hospital bed, hooked me up to an IV and assembled the best medical crew that I’ve ever encountered in order to conduct the “SAVE GEREMY’S FOOT” mission.

The Operating Room

They contacted a podiatrist to come to the hospital while they simultaneously prepared the operating room, assembled a few nurses, and took X-rays of my feet. At the same time, my parents arrived at the hospital and saw my weird foot situation. I knew that it was really bad when my mom couldn’t stop staring at it and my dad couldn’t stare at it at all. While the staff made preparations to operate, I used the opportunity to shoot a barrage of questions at the doctor. My questions included, but were not limited to:

  • I’ve got a trip planned to California this week, can I still travel? (No)
  • Can you upgrade all of my toes to titanium toes? (No)
  • Is this the worst case that you’ve seen today? (Yes)
  • Are you upset that I’m bleeding all over your bed right now? (No)
  • Am I supposed to be screaming and crying right now? (Probably)
  • I’ve got to play the drums tomorrow.. do you think that you can patch me up in time to play it? (Are you serious?) Very serious. (No)

YES! This is the foot that you're looking for!

After the doctor answered about 50 of my rapid-fire questions, they wheeled me into the operating room and wrote “YES” on my foot to make sure that they operated on the right one. I mentioned, “I should probably use the bathroom before you start… I don’t want to urinate all over your table while I’m passed out.” They responded, “we’ll give you a bottle to use,” but before I could say “I’m not going to urinate in a bottle in front of 10 people,” I woke up in the recovery room and it was all done.

The next morning, the doctor said that although the injury was bad, I would’ve lost half of my foot if the blade impacted my foot 1 inch closer to the heel. In the end, they were able to save 4 of my toes and they had to severely shorten and modify one toe in order to avoid losing it altogether. With such a serious injury, I am quite thankful to God that I will still be able to walk after a few weeks of recovery and all I lost was my vacation, parts of my toes, and some blood.

Regardless of the condition of my toes, I will not let it ruin my stride. It’ll take more than two major foot injuries to slow down my progress. I’m motivated and I’m going places…even with my partially amputated toe! Through it all, I can sum up my experience with one word: Grateful. Grateful to be alive, grateful that it wasn’t much worse, and grateful that I’ve got a wonderful support system (including my brother, who texts me every few minutes to see what I need).

Need Anything??

A Peculiar guy named Geremy