I Had a Rocket
Scientist on my Side
I don’t know
if I’ve ever told this story. I searched
for it on blogger and found nothing. I
seem to remember posting it, but apparently not. Anyway if I don’t remember no one else will,
frankly it is not that great a story.
has ever sold a house, particularly when they were ready to close on a new
house, knows it is very stressful. I am
told it is right behind divorce, and a new baby on the wheel of stress. In 1996, we were close to settling on a new
house and the sale of our current house fell through. The buyer found a crack in the basement
foundation caused by ground-water pressure.
He got scared and got out of Dodge.
ultimately cost me over $20,000 in the sale price of the house.
was still under the builder’s warranty, and the builder installed several 6
inch I-beams buttressed up against the crack to prevent it from further
movement. Several weeks later we had a
new buyer albeit at a much lower price.
The builder described this a "over-kill.
was concerned about the repaired crack and wanted his brother, an engineer to
look at it. The engineer brother drilled
a few small holes, poked around and made believe he was doing something. In actuality he was putting on a big act to
skim a few more bucks out of our price.
When he was
done he started spouting some mumbo-jumbo about the repair needing “active
resistance” and we only had “passive resistance.” He claimed a proper fix would require springs
and levers and who knows what to create “active resistance.”
Now it so happened,
that during this bull crap attempt to have me lower my price by another $5000,
we had Maureen, a friend of my wife’s visiting.
Maureen worked for Lockheed
Martin and had a doctorate in physics and propulsion. She was in fact, a Rocket Scientist with more
degrees than a circle.
rip-off engineer was through with his “active resistance” versus “passive
resistance” spiel, Maureen spoke up,
“I’m sorry, that doesn’t make any sense
“Well, what is it that you don’t understand,
the difference between active and passive resistance? It is a little
“No, what I don’t understand, is if
the current I-beams are firmly abutted against the wall, that could be
considered only ‘passive resistance’, but if the wall starts to buckle it will
be against these very substantial I-beams and the resistance will then effectively
become ‘active resistance.’ Your claim
is pure crap, you know it and I know it. If you buy this house your “active
resistance” fix will never be installed. It
is clear to me that you are just trying to rip my friends off.”
“That’s a pretty bold statement, do
you have any actual credentials. Because
I don’t think you know what you are talking about, are you a structural engineer?”
"No, but I do have a doctorate in physics and specialize in propulsion engineering."
I had to step in. “She happens to be a damn rocket
scientist. I have to think that somewhere along the line she has had to figure
out the concept of active and passive resistance, so if the builders fix is not
satisfactory, I guess we don’t have a deal.”
point the buyer stormed out saying he would have to think about it. In my heart I knew he wanted the deal. After he left I was livid. I told the buyer’s agent who had remained,
“Listen, I really need
this deal, but I will let it die in a New York minute before I bend over and
spread’em for this prick!”
agent actually apologized, but thought the deal would probably not go through.
The next day
another buyer put in a bid $5000 above the current bid. It was not as good a contract, as the financing
was not as solid as the first.
Resistance dude was furious when he heard of this new bid.
show the house, we were under contract, I’ll sue their asses off!”
explained to him that his contract at the time was contingent on resolving the “Passive
Resistance” issue and so there was no contract.
He dropped his request for compensation in lieu of the basement wall
issue and we took his bid as we didn’t want to lose the deal due to the new
buyer not getting financing.
I kind of
hated to let this bastard buy the house, but it was in our best interests. At least I got to see the look on his face
when he realized that Maureen had busted his bull shit scheme to squeeze a few
more thousand dollars out of us.
later when I drive by, that house is standing just fine. I am glad that, thanks to Maureen, we
actively resisted his bull-crap attempt to hold us up, while the passively
resistant I-beams continue to do the same to the basement wall.